Denny Kenaston - The Remnant Magazine
There is a powerful anointed church in China. She is a beautiful bride prepared and waiting for her Bridegroom. I have read short accounts of God's testimony on the other side of the globe and been deeply challenged by their lives. Recently, at our Youth Bible School, we had the privilege of hearing a detailed account of many of their lives. Two men closely connected with the persecuted church in China shared their story. When the meeting was over, I sat and interviewed these two men, asking them specific questions which I felt would help us American Christians get a vision. This article is an account of that interview:
Bro Denny: When I was listening to you, I wrote a few questions that I had wanted to ask you. One is about fasting and prayer. How much do the people fast and pray in the house churches of China?
Bro Ren: Let us take prayer first. The leaders of the church in China try to pray three to four hours a day. That is normal. But then there are some brethren who are totally committed to pray. Almost every minute they are awake, they are praying. They cannot even be elders in the church because of the amount of time they spend in prayer. They have two kinds of leaders in the church. They have spiritual leaders, who fast and pray; then they have practical operational leaders, who are active in everyday affairs of the church. The praying leaders are praying for the whole church, and especially for the practical leaders. They are not in a preaching ministry. The operational leaders go to them for direction and wisdom. Very few Westerners have ever met these elders. These men are older men who cannot travel anymore, so they are mainly in that ministry. It literally keeps the church on track. They hear from the Lord and give answers to the practical leaders.
Bro Paul: I know a brother who never sleeps more than two hours a night. He prays for 22 hours a day. The brothers and sisters pray always, and there are many all-night prayer vigils. I have been to some of these prayer meetings. By morning, the floor is slippery because of all the tears that flow during prayer.
Bro Denny: What about fasting? What part does fasting play in all these testimonies we have heard?
Bro Ren: There are two kinds of fasting in China. Most of the pastors have to fast because they don't have money to buy food. It is a natural part of their lives. The other kind of fasting is out of a burden for someone or some spiritual issue. When you read from Brother Yun's book, you will read how he fasted one hundred days to get one Bible during the Cold War revolution. He was eating a small bowl of rice each day; that is all. That means there was no time that he wasn't fasting. After one hundred days of prayer and fasting, he received a Bible in a supernatural way. That story is there. It is not in anyway special. The people fast like that often.
The first time we sent about twenty people out to preach, nineteen of them were arrested; one came back to report. Everyone else was detained for six months. We sent another group. The same thing happened. One lady came home on a stretcher. They smashed her skull. She was paralyzed, but later God restored her. When there is such resistance like this in one specific location, then the whole team goes to fasting and praying. Usually this kind of fasting will break the yoke within thirty days, and then the gospel has free course. When there is a real resistance, the teams do not try to push the gospel. They just go on their knees and wait on the Lord to hear His voice for direction on what to do. They just keep silent and continue to fast and pray. This is a very practical part of their lives.
Bro Denny: Do they have corporate fasting where the whole church joins in when a need comes up?
Bro Ren: Yes, they do. Let me just give you an example about when the group Eastern Lightning kidnapped all of their leaders. I met with the leaders from maybe ten different house church networks. They would all say, "We have started once a week for fasting and prayer for the release of these leaders". That was something pronounced all around the body of Christ in China. When Brother Yun was arrested the whole church in China was fasting and praying.
Bro Denny: How do the Acts of the Apostles compare to the Chinese church? What does the Chinese church believe about the Book of Acts?
Bro Paul: They would say, "We are there. It is our normal Christian life". They believe that Acts is a demonstration of the normal Christian life. It is a testimony of the resurrected Christ, and He is still the same today. They do not believe that miracles have passed away.
Bro Ren: We have to understand that the Gospel that is preached in China, is a little bit different. The emphasis is not only intellectual and mental messages. It is fifty percent preaching, fifty percent showing the power of the Gospel. There is always an expectation and readiness for miracles. It is normal that anytime when the message of the Gospel is pronounced, there is going to be a demonstration of the power of God in that situation. People can see clearly that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is the Savior of the world. The church of China is not praying for miracles, but they are living in miracles. It is like Paul said: it is the normal Christian life.
Think about the challenge of the countries west of China, like the many Muslim countries. The only thing that can really bring an opening to these people is a demonstration of God's compassion. You have to show them that you have something more than all these gods they are bowing to. You have to prove your case, instantly and on the spot, that this is true - that Jesus is alive, and that He is the Savior of the world, and that He has all authority.
The Chinese house churches are living in the time of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit is working in their lives. They are just trying to follow the wind of the Holy Spirit. It is something we miss. We always want to settle, and we hope that the Holy Spirit will settle with us and just be with us as we create these centers and places where we hope the Spirit will be moving in a mighty way. We have to understand that God's Holy Spirit is moving all the time. We have to be very flexible. We should with the maximum effort join the Holy Spirit where He is working, not trying to work ourselves. It is always better to partner with Him, to find out where He is active today, where the battle is going on, and join Him there. Then we will be blessed with souls, and also the blessing will be reversed upon us.
Bro Denny: That leads me to my next question. What about missions and methods of evangelism? How do our Chinese brothers live out the Great Commission?
Bro Paul: Their theology and methods are really quite simple. They believe there is only one reason why God has left them here on earth: that is to evangelize the lost. Anyone who is not actively pursuing this holy purpose is missing the mark. The Great Commission cannot be compromised. Their methods are anointed preaching with signs following. The leaders instruct the evangelism teams to go to a new village and inquire about the worst problem in the village. Then they are to go and minister to that problem and show that Jesus is the all-powerful Savior. With this success, they turn to the people and preach Jesus to them.
Bro Ren: I will give you a beautiful example of how this worked for two young ladies who were sent to a village to share the gospel:
These two sisters, eighteen years old and very tiny, came to a village of about three hundred people. There was one big problem. There was a man who was possessed by demons. Somehow, the Communists were able to count that this man had twelve demons in him. He was learned in five different languages. He was so powerful that twelve heavy farmers could not hold him back. They tried with chains and wires, but he had the power to break free. This man happened to live at the entrance of that village. The whole village of three hundred people could not walk on the road, but had to walk in the forest, because the man decided that nobody was going to pass through his property. Whenever anyone stepped through the property line, which was invisible, the man would come out with a jungle knife in his hand, shouting, "I'm going to kill you!" Everybody was afraid. It was like this for many, many years.
Now, these two young ladies came asking, "What is the biggest problem in this village?" Everybody pointed to the crazy, demon-possessed man's house. The sisters turned around and started to move towards that house. They were walking and praying. The whole village came out from their houses. Everybody wanted to see what would happen. They knew where the invisible line was, and if they step over that line and enter into his property, they knew what would happen. He would fly out with a jungle knife, half-naked, with a crazy look in his eye, and all the demons would drive him forward to them.
Sister Lee, one of the young girls, was leading. The two of them entered onto his property. The man ran out through the door with a knife in his hand. This sister lifted up her hand and said, "In the name of Jesus, stop". This man became frozen. He stopped in mid-air, like a statue. He couldn't move back, and he couldn't move forward. This man was as a stone. He couldn't do anything. He could not stand. His eyes were totally frozen.
This happens quite often in China. We know by experience that the body is frozen by the Holy Ghost, but the person can hear with his ears. You can share any message you want to with this kind of person. He can understand every word that you speak. Sister Lee went next to this "statue" and started to proclaim the Gospel. She then, through the name of Jesus, cast all twelve demons out of this man. He was instantly delivered. He melted in that spot, like butter in sunshine. He fell down onto the ground and was completely restored. The first words he said were "This Jesus is Lord". He was wonderfully saved and restored.
There was a very special group of people who stood together in the village that day. There they stood, the two girls on each side, and the man who used to be possessed in the middle of them. He was talking to these sisters, and together they entered into the village. As they passed the doors of the first house, the families one by one confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. The whole village with three hundred people surrendered to the Lord that evening. These are very simple Gospel methods: problem - solution -salvation.
Bro Denny: With results like these, they hardly need us Americans to help them. We should be learning from them.
Bro Paul: Actually, that is not the case. They very much need missionaries who can come help them and work together-but as equal brothers, not as Western leaders leading the show. That day is well and truly finished, and it is easy to see, they do not need our leadership. This is causing a great burden on the Chinese church. I sat in a meeting when one of the house church leaders stood up and said, "We just don't understand why people are racing into China from the West with their own vision and ideas, doing their own thing". He continued, "Why don't these people come and ask us what God has given to the church?" They are all bringing their new visions, and it is actually damaging the advance of the Gospel in China. The proud westerners do not even think to ask the Chinese church. The key is that first you must find out what vision God has given His body in China, then how you can be part of that vision. Do not bring a new vision.
Bro Denny: Let's move on to another important question. How do the Chinese Christian's evaluate AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY?
Bro Ren: They feel like the church in the West is playing games. They are troubled with all the LAUGHTER in the meetings. They are broken and weeping in their assemblies, and we are telling jokes. This brings very different results. They feel we are bound by traditions and programs and therefore cannot follow the Holy Spirit's leadings. We have to make sure we have that direct line to the Holy Spirit and seek to hear His voice. We can never overemphasize the difference between the followers of Jesus in the West and in China. These followers in China hear their Master's voice, and they follow Him. This is actually a very simple theology. The Christians in the West have been able to eliminate Christ and His direct presence in their midst. I have a feeling sometimes that the whole Christianity in the West could be going for years before they discover that Jesus has not been with them for a long time. He has gone somewhere else. He is not with them anymore.
Bro Paul: The personal message I got from Bro. Yun is that of Jesus asleep in the boat. His whole point was that so many people in missions, in churches, and in ministries start out with the power of God and great visions. But, then people think, "Okay, we can row it ourselves now. Thank you very much". And Jesus goes to sleep in the boat. Great storms arise. They have to wake Jesus up before it is too late to calm the storm. Make sure Jesus isn't asleep in your church, in your family, or in your life.
Bro Denny: What does the Chinese church believe about the Holy Ghost? It seems very evident that they are a powerful people. How does this work out in their theology of the Spirit?
Bro Paul: They believe it is God's command to every believer to be baptized by the Holy Ghost. They also believe that we must have continual fillings as our life goes on in the Lord Jesus. This is the primary reason for all the amazing things that we have shared in the meeting. Imagine how different the American Christians would be if millions of them would be filled with the Spirit.
Bro Denny: What does the Chinese church believe about holy living? This is an area of much confusion here in America. The professing church is filled with worldliness.
Bro Paul: They are conservative Christians. They order their lives according to the word of God. Many do not have Bibles, but those who do study much to see what God says about living a Christian life. Their women are modest, in spirit and in their clothing. The Chinese culture is different from American culture, but what they wear is modest.
They are all poor, so they have no problems with fashion. This matter of holy living is a real problem to them when they try to relate to Christians from the West. They struggle when denominations try to claim them as "one of us", when they are very different.
Bro Denny: Some of the testimonies about healing are amazing. They cause me to sit in astonishment as I hear them. Could you elaborate on the subject of healing a bit more? How often do things like what we heard tonight happen? What is their theology of healing?
Bro Ren: First, let me answer the theology part of the question. They have a very simple theology about healing. They believe that God is a healer. It is simply one of the many manifestations of His holy character. In America, you believe that God can heal. In China, they believe He does ALL the time. It is according to your faith and ours. You receive what you believe. The people are poor and cannot afford to go to the doctor. Because of this, they have to trust in God in ways that American's do not. Healings happen all the time, but people also have sickness that they have to deal with. Poverty and persecution brings extra hardships upon them, and thus they get sick more often. Sometimes God heals, and sometimes He does not. God is sovereign.
Bro Denny: Could you also comment on some of the other miracles that you share tonight? It is hard for us to relate to so many supernatural happenings. How does this affect the church there?
Bro Paul: They believe in a miracle working God. At first, in the beginning of the revival, everyone was astonished as well. As God began to work many miracles, the church just began to expect miracles. It is not a distraction as it is in the West. Miracles happen at a meeting, and the preacher just goes right on preaching the Gospel. THERE IS AN EXPECTATION THAT GOD WILL CONFIRM HIS WORD WITH MIRACLES. Eighty percent of the church has experienced miracles of some sort or another. Because of this, they expect them. They never glorify the miracles; they glorify God. The gift of miracles is in the Bible, and God works through this gift to honor His name.
Bro Denny: Have you ever heard of someone being raised from the dead?
Bro Ren: Oh yes, it happens quite often. Many times when someone is killed, or dies from persecution, the leaders will go where the body is to pray and find out if God would have the person live again.
Bro Denny: I have often said in my preaching, "When persecution comes, true unity will come with it, because there will be no mixture with the world". In light of this, what do they believe about unity? We have all this ecumenical confusion here in our land.
Bro Paul: Again, their theology is very simple. Their unity is based on the essentials of the faith and true marks of discipleship. They say, "Disciples witness, and are persecuted because they witness". This is where the lines of unity are drawn. There are differences among them, but they do not allow these to divide them in the war for souls. They believe there is more that unifies them than there is that separates them.
Bro Denny: Could you comment on the name given to these Chinese Christians. I am referring to the name "house churches". What is the significance of this name?
Bro Ren: The name signifies several different things. First , the name is given because they meet in houses. There are several reasons for this, and I will comment on them in a moment. The second reason has to do with a distinction between them and the registered churches, which meet in buildings. The last reason is the most important one, they call themselves house churches out of conviction. They meet in homes because they believe it is more biblical. It is also true that they have to because of persecution, but the primary reason is evangelical in nature. Even if the government of china allowed them liberty to meet openly, they would still meet in houses. Meeting in homes is one of the greatest keys to the tremendous growth of the church. The more meeting places, the more they can win the lost to Christ. In addition, when they meet in houses, it does not cost them any money. Finances often slow church growth.
Bro Denny: Could you tell me what the church services are like when they meet together and feel free? I know there are times when they have to be quiet, but what is it like when they are free?
Bro Ren: The Chinese Christians are a lively, responsive congregation when they gather in freedom. They sing some hymns and some choruses, and the singing is wholehearted. During the preaching and open testimonies, there are lots of amens and hallelujahs. They meet in forests and caves to do this so they will not be heard.
Bro Denny: You mentioned in your presentation that revival has been continuing for decades. Can you give me some reasons why it does not grow cold or stop?
Bro Paul: As I see it, there are two reasons. First, the church is busy fulfilling God's purposes for it on the earth. That purpose is evangelism. As God's people do His work, He continues to pour out His Spirit upon them. This is a secret to ongoing revival. The Chinese church has a powerful vision of the Great Commission. They believe it is the Church's responsibility to preach the Gospel to their generation. The second reason flows out of the first. Because of their persistence in preaching the Gospel, they are persecuted repeatedly. This persecution brings purifying, and that brings more anointing. These two work together to create an atmosphere of revival.
Bro Ren: There is another reason why they still have revival. The church leaders are careful to give the Holy Spirit His place in directing the work. They allow God's Spirit free course to move how and where He will. They see the American church as one that is too organized. The leaders have a saying about revival that I feel is helpful. They call it, "How to kill a Revival".
- Man wants to organize it to suit his understanding.
Bro Denny: Could you comment on the eschatology of the house churches? What is their end time theology?
Bro Paul: Their theology is again very simple. They believe that Jesus Christ is coming again. He is coming for His bride who has made herself ready. As far as the details of how all this will happen, there are some differences. These differences do not divide them. The strongest point of their theology has to do with evangelism. They believe the gospel must be preached among all nations, and then shall the end come. They get this from Matt. 24:14. Because of this belief, they have strong convictions about evangelism. They believe that if you are not actively busy preaching to others, you are hindering the second coming of Christ, and you need to repent.
Bro Denny: For my last question, let's talk a little about the leaders of this movement. The church is growing at a very fast rate, and yet it is underground. Therefore, it would be hard to give much formal training to the leaders. From an American perspective, many would believe you cannot lead a church until you have had much formal training. Obviously, this training is not happening in China, yet the church is thriving. How can this be? Can you explain some of preparations the leaders receive?
Bro Ren: Most of the top leaders are very poor. The strongest point of their character is love. They pour out their lives for the persecuted sheep in China both in labors and by subjecting themselves to the dangers of imprisonment. One wrong move and they sit in a prison cell for five or ten years. This is love as many in America have never known. They do train their leaders. The training, however, is very simple. They train them in three major areas. Let me state them briefly.
* They teach them how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and walk with Him daily. Then from that walk, they must learn how to witness for Christ in a dangerous hostile environment.
* They teach them how to die daily and how to die really. These are both very important because of the persecutions leaders face.
* They teach them how to escape the police when they are caught, and how to escape from prison if God says "Run".
The word of God is very important to these leaders. They have memorized and internalized many chapters of the Bible. They cannot carry a Bible around in their hands, so they make sure that they can carry one in their heart. The fire of the Holy Ghost is also very important in ministry. These men are constantly being empowered by the Spirit. This is leadership in China, and this is how the church spreads so rapidly.
Bro Denny: Thank you for taking the time to share with me. I am deeply challenged by the answers to my questions. I know the hearts of the people who will read this article. They will be thrilled and humbled by our Chinese brethren. May God help us. We lack in so many of these areas, but we want to change.
(Bro Denny continues) This concludes the interview about the Chinese House Churches. What can I say?...
Zion in America must reckon with Zion in China. "This God is our God for ever and ever". When Communism closed the doors to China in 1949, there were one million believers in China. Now, fifty years later, there are eighty million disciples of Jesus Christ. There are also many true Christians in the registered churches. Christ is building His Church in China, and the gates of hell are not prevailing against her. Praise ye the Lord. Dear brothers and sisters, let us repent of our lukewarmness and unbelief... and let us believe God for mighty things. The persecution will come. Most Christians in America acknowledge this. We need to get prepared.