The Heavenly Man: The remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun

the-heavenly-man-coverWhat do you think the reaction would be if this song was taught in your church next Sunday?

From the time the church was birthed on the day of Pentecost
The followers of the Lord have willingly sacrificed themselves
Tens of thousands have died that the gospel might prosper
As such they have obtained the crown of life.

Chorus:
To be a martyr for the Lord, to be a martyr for the Lord
I am willing to die gloriously for the Lord.

Those apostles who loved the Lord to the end
Willingly followed the Lord down the path of suffering
John was exiled to the lonely isle of Patmos
Stephen was stoned to death by an angry crowd.

And the list goes on for four more verses, describing how each apostle died… by stabbing, beheading, and crucifixion, by being hanged or pulled into pieces, by being cut in half or skinned alive, and so forth.

Then comes the final verse:

I am willing to take up the cross and go forward
To follow the apostles down the road of sacrifice
That tens of thousands of precious souls can be saved
I am willing to leave all and be a martyr for the Lord.

What do you think? Would this be a popular song in our church culture? Called Martyrs for the Lord, it comes from the Chinese house churches. It’s a good example of the giant gulf between the perspective of those Christians and the believers here in the west.

I’ve known for a long time that Christians in other parts of the world are persecuted for their faith. But I didn’t really know what to do about it. What was the best way to pray for them? Is it helpful to write various government departments or officials? Or would that make matters worse?

Moreover, what exactly did that persecution entail? What attitude did those believers have about their many trials?

Then we were given this book. Reading it shook me to my very core.

Brother Yun is one of China’s house church leaders. God called him at an early age to be His disciple and witness, first to China, and then around the world. Yun’s tenacious hold on God in the face of appalling persecution and torture forced me to take a good look at my own faith. Am I truly willing to give up everything… comfort, belongings, family, health, reputation, even my very life… for the sake of the Gospel?

Reading through so many pages that describe years of imprisonment, beatings and other forms of torture could be depressing, but God shines victorious in every circumstance. Miracles abound, the lost are saved, and the church grows. Most amazing to me is Brother Yun’s attitude in the face of such extreme suffering. He learns to embrace his trials because they bring him closer to Jesus.

Brother Yun’s notoriety finally made ministry in China impossible, and he was force to leave the country. (His escape is yet another amazing example of God’s sovereignty.)

After many years of separation, God finally brought Brother Yun, his wife, and their two children together again. The family now lives outside of China, where Yun is an ambassador from the Chinese house churches to the church in the West. He has many suggestions on how western Christians can pray for and partner with the church in China. As he speaks to believers around the world, Yun exhorts us to wake from our slumber, submit to the Holy Spirit, and give our lives in service to the One who came as a servant.

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