RSSArchive for the ‘china’ Category
Posted August 8th, 2008 by Jen in china, family life, persecuted church, politics/world news
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It’s a landmark day. Today marks the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Unlike any opening ceremony in Olympic history, China has outdone itself, and the sleeping giant awakens.
My niece, Karen, recently returned from China with her school band. The Catalina Foothills High School Marching Band (Tucson, Arizona) was chosen to perform in the 2008 pre-Olympic festivities in Beijing, and she was the most excited 16-year-old girl you could imagine. She plays clarinet and oboe, and did the U.S. proud.
The band played atop the Great Wall of China, at the Juyong Pass, as well as a Forbidden City performance, along with tours of Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Peking Opera, the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Zoo, and much more. I loved this photo of the driving hazards enroute to Beijing.
All in all, still not sure why the Olympics are being held in a country that practices infanticide, extreme censorship, communism, and very limited religious, political, or social freedom.
Moving across the continent to Eastern Europe, the news is anything but festive. Russia has invaded Georgia.
Reuters reports that Kakha Lamaia, a member of Georgia’s National Security Council, says that the two countries are “very close to war.” World powers around the globe are calling for an end to the violence, which is fierce and is escalating.
Immediately after President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin enjoyed the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, mentioned above, these two world leaders met to discuss the situation between Russia and Georgia–more specifically, a separatist territory of Georgia known as South Ossetia. Most South Ossetians hold Russian citizenship and have close ties to Russia. Russia is claiming there is ethnic cleansing going on in South Ossetia, and thus they need to come in and save the day.
My take is that Russia wants to take back part of its territory, once held for most of the two hundred years prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. And they see an excuse to move in, with the unrest in South Ossetia. Russia is mad that Georgia has sought NATO membership–why should they care unless they feel that this move is in defiance of their rulership, and of course a threat to their security?
Still not sure why President Bush is convening with a dictator-on-the-rise like Vladimir Putin.
Proceeding along to the North American continent, the biggest news comes right out of my cozy home. I was served breakfast in bed, for no apparent reason, by my seven-year-old daughter.
I rolled over to a fried egg and a little voice that said, “Mommy, I made breakfast for you!” She served it up with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, all to my utter surprise about where this flight of fancy originated. Never mind that the egg was over-easy and let me stress the “easy,” and the coffee was cold, its origins uncertain, the only option being the left-over coffee still in the pot from yesterday, which would explain the temperature. But the toast was excellent!
Not to settle for anything minimal, my daughter continued her morning homemaking. “Mommy, put on your best dress and come downstairs,” she called through the door. Curious as the mother hen that I am, I quickly complied, and entered the kitchen-converted-to-a-ballroom.
JJ had picked out some music, one of my old Amy Grant albums, and had created a festive atmosphere everywhere I turned. Surely this rivaled Beijing. Streamers were hanging from the ceiling, the table set with this unique combination of childhood and womanhood–fine wine glasses accompanied by paper plates and plastic silverware wrapped in crepe paper. I twirled and danced with my girls, and even my boys.
Apparently, the egg and toast were not enough, so she proceeded to make French Toast for the whole family (minus Dad, who was already gone to work).
Still not sure why I got so lucky as to have breakfast in bed for no reason at all.
photo credits: CFHS blog, FoxNews
Posted November 27th, 2007 by Jen in book reviews, china, persecuted church, religion
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The Heavenly Man: the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
The story of Brother Yun is inspiring, painful, seemingly incredulous, and certainly in season. The Heavenly Man details the life and ministry of this Christian house church leader in his own words, also interwoven with accounts from his wife, Deling. A large portion of the book describes the countless ordeals of intense torture that would kill any man, but these reports are offset by Yun’s testimonies of miraculous healings, visions, dreams, and many other supernatural events. In fact, that is the theme of the book: with great persecution, the Church will see the miraculous hand of God and will grow.
Brother Yun, Liu Zhenying was his given name, was born in 1958 in Nanyang in the southern part of China’s Henan Province. He spent his childhood in a farming village of 600 people, in a little mud house with a straw roof. He worked the fields like most poor children, along with his four siblings, and received little schooling.
China became a communist nation in 1949 and thus Brother Yun was born into a spiritual and political climate that was void of all Christian fellowship and Bibles were nowhere to be seen. Mao Tsetung (Zedong) ushered in communism and death; his policies of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries centered on mass executions, and Mao himself claimed to have killed 700,000 during the early years of his founding of the People’s Republic of China. However, the U.S. State Department puts the number at several times that amount. Not only were Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts slaughtered, Mao targeted the leaders of the former government, former employees of Western companies, rural gentry, and anyone whose loyalty was suspect. His policies of forced collective ownership, including a ban on all private food production and a ban on private land ownership, led to what is thought to be the largest famine in history, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Brother Yun reports that in his Henan Province 8 million people starved to death.
In 1974, Brother Yun was 16 years old. His entire family became Christians overnight when his father was healed of cancer. Yun’s mother, who had heard the gospel in the 1940s from a Western missionary, had become a Christian, but in the ensuing decades of Mao’s dictatorship, was spiritually starved. However, this one night when her husband lay dying, she heard a voice say, “Jesus loves you.” She immediately recognized the voice of God, and told her children that “Jesus is the only hope for Father.” They all prayed throughout the night, and by the next week their father was completely healed. Yun relates that this was such a powerful event in his family’s life that today, over 30 years after Jesus healed his father, all five of his children still follow God.
Yun’s mother couldn’t remember much of the Bible, but she told all she knew to her family. Yun began to long to read the words of God for himself, but this was during the Cultural Revolution when Bibles were scarce. People were allowed to read only Mao’s little Red Book, and if caught with a Bible, it would be burned and the owner would be publicly and severely beaten, along with his entire family.
A most curious series of events followed, as Brother Yun, a mere 16 years old, began to fast and pray for a Bible, such was his passion to read God’s word. He had a vision one night, in which two strangers gave him a bun of fresh bread, which they pulled from a red bag, and upon putting it in his mouth, it turned into a Bible.
His mother and father were afraid their son had gone mad, as Yun frantically searched the house for a Bible. But lo and behold, a knock came to the door, and the same two men from Yun’s vision were waiting there, and slipped through the door the same red bag, which contained a Bible. Yun later finds out that these two men were sent by an evangelist from a far off village, who had received a vision from the Lord instructing him to give his Bible, hidden underground for safekeeping, to a certain young man.
This young man was Brother Yun, and despite having only three years of education, began reading his Bible, one character at a time with a dictionary at his side. After reading through the whole Bible, Yun memorized entire chapters at a time. Within the first month, he memorized the Book of Matthew, and then on to the Book of Acts. During this time, Brother Yun received another visitation from the Lord. He felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a voice tell him “Yun, I am going to send you to the west and south to be my witness.”
Yun started preaching at age 16, and because no one had a Bible, his preaching consisted mostly of reciting the books of the Bible that he had memorized. People would stay up all night just to hear him speak, because they too longed to hear the Word of God. Within that first year of preaching in neighboring villages, Brother Yun led over 2,000 people to Jesus. Persecution was immediate. All of the new Christians in the first village where he spoke were arrested and beaten. Yun’s name was on the Public Security Bureau’s “Wanted” list because of his evangelizing.
Soon after, Yun was married to Deling, through the matchmaking of their mothers. She is a lovely Christian woman and shares parts of this amazing story as well. She recounts the story of her and Yun going to the marriage registry office to apply for their marriage license. After waiting a long time, Yun didn’t come out.
The pressure against Brother Yun and other Chinese Christian house church leaders mounted, and the torture and abuse at the hands of the Chinese police and other government officials is unspeakable. In his 23 years of ministering in China, Brother Yun and his family were continually on the run, he was imprisoned three different times for a total of seven years, and yet people came to Jesus by the thousands.
Woven throughout the most intense scenes of torture is always the strong presence of God. Yun shares many personal accounts of divine healings, people being delivered from demons, and other miracles. During his first imprisonment, Brother Yun survived a 74 day fast. His second time in prison, the PSB beat his legs so badly that he was crippled, yet he walked out the front doors of the prison and escaped. Yun describes that escape of May 5, 1997, walking past guards and through open gates:
After many trials and long periods of agonizing separation from his family, Brother Yun finally escaped China and now lives in Germany with his family. The last several chapters of The Heavenly Man are his reflections on the Western church as well as a description of his new focus on the Back to Jerusalem movement.
I understand why many people are deeply moved by this book. Reading about a man a world away who has to beg, pray, and fast for months just to get his hands on a Bible, while I have ten on my shelf, makes me a bit uncomfortable. Brother Yun has some sharp words for the Western church:
I’m trying to keep perspective here, because I realize that different nations have different battles and their own unique burdens, and it’s not always fair to make direct comparisons. However, Brother Yun’s experiences in China have much to teach us in the West.
Brother Yun’s incredible ordeals in China have led him to a deep desire for not only Chinese brothers and sisters to know Jesus, but all the world. In chapter 24 of The Heavenly Man, Yun describes the Silk Roads, key trading routes that first brought herbs, spices, treasures, new religions, and invading armies in and out of China. Some accounts say that Christianity first traveled down one of these roads from Jerusalem to China just decades after the resurrection of Jesus.
It is the goal of Brother Yun and the Back to Jerusalem movement for the gospel to travel full circle, out of China and back to Jerusalem. The nations along the Silk Roads are home to the three strongholds of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, with more than 90% of the people groups who haven’t heard the gospel living here. Yun describes meeting Simon Zhao in 1995 in Central China, a believer who spent 31 years in prison for his involvement in the first Back to Jerusalem movement in 1950:
Fascinating. The Heavenly Man, the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun is a powerful book that I recommend to all Christians wanting to challenge their Western faith and enlarge their Christian worldview.
This review is part of the Chrysalis November Christian Book Fair.