The heavenly man at an Edmonton church
From imprisonment to freedom, Brother Yun never up his faith.
He starts by teaching us “Jesus loves you” in Chinese, pointing to the sky for “Yesu,” his eye for “ai” or love, and his knee for “ni” or you.
Brother Yun is known as the Heavenly Man. I heard him speak recently at The Summit West church in Edmonton, Alberta. Yun is one of the founding fathers of the Sithim Chinese Fellowship, a house church network of hundreds of millions. He also is one of the main directors of Back to Jerusalem, a Chinese missionary movement to the unreached parts of the world.
As he tells his story, I cry.
President Mao had all but wiped out Christianity in China. Meanwhile Yun, at the age of 16, came to Christ, memorized the New Testament and proceeded to lead 2,000 souls to Christ, all within one year.
Over the next few years this teenager established many churches. Then he and his colleagues began training new believers, leading up to three meetings a night, seven days a week. They created their own hymn books using Scripture. They baptized hundreds of new believers a night in frigid ice water to evade the authorities. Then they began raising up elders and deacons, and in January of 1984, Yun was imprisoned, considered a dangerous counter-revolutionary and criminal.
In his autobiography The Heavenly Man, Yun recounts the events of several imprisonments where he was repeatedly tortured with electric rods and other means of punishment. At one point, he says he fasted for 74 days without food or water. Following that fast, every single man in his cell – murderers, rapists and thieves – came to Christ.
During another stay at a maximum security prison, Yun’s legs were bashed and broken. He was unable to walk, so fellow inmates had to carry him to the toilet. One day, God told him to walk out of the prison.
“At this point, I began to negotiate with God,” Yun tells us, and we all laugh, a bit relieved that he is, in fact, human. “I reminded God there were five double gates between me and the outdoors, and that two guards stood at each gate with guns.” Then, he says, “Jesus told me, ‘This prison is real. But I am the Truth. And the Truth will set you free.’”
He then proceeded to pull himself up, take a few stumbling steps, and walk out of prison – somehow, the gates were left open, and his fellow prisoners and believers were eyewitnesses to guards looking right at him but not seeing him.
Go and share the light
After the service my friends and I gather in the sanctuary. We’re headed to the inner city with gift bags full of socks, sandwiches, bottles of water and gospels of John – inspired by Yun to take our country for Christ.
Linda lives in an orange tarp tent.
I hug Linda, ask her, “Do you know Jesus?” She says, “Yes, God met me on January 7th. But I keep wondering – why did he wait so long?”
Why do we wait so long, friends?
“We have the light in us,” Yun told us. “Now we must go and share it with everyone we see.”
Is the phrase “to take our country for Christ,” from Mr. Yun?