Friday, February 22, 2008

Brother Yun and the Western Church

I recently became aware of a Chinese pastor by the name of Brother Yun, who now has an evangelical ministry to the West. He speaks no English, so his presentations are through a translator. His life story is told in the book, "The Heavenly Man," with Paul Hattaway (can be found at through the links on the left of my blog). It was compelling reading...which is code for "In a minute dear, I have to finish this chapter!" God's faithfulness to this man through trials like we in the West cannot imagine makes me desire God more. His life of nearness to God uniquely qualifies him to comment on the state of the church in the West. 

He states (on page 295):

"Before I travelled to the West I had absolutely no idea that so many churches were spiritually asleep. I presumed the Western church was strong and vibrant because it had brought the gospel to my country with such incredible faith and tenacity. Many missionaries had shown a powerful example to us by laying down their lives for the sake of Jesus.

On some occasions I've struggled while speaking in Western churches. There seems to be something missing that leaves me feeling terrible inside. Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China (Brother Yun notes elsewhere in the book that the house churches in China rejected any foreign preacher who would not preach for at least two hours at a time!!!). 

In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up  and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord. 

...It's almost impossible for the church in China to go to sleep in its present situation. There's always something to keep us on the run, and it's very difficult to sleep while you're running. If persecution stops, I fear we'll become complacent and fall asleep. (emphasis added)"

Asleep?! Cold and lack the fire and presence of God?! That is quite the indictment, yet it is so very, very true! Why is this? Brother Yun identifies the reason quickly and succinctly as our material riches. We rely on our bank account, on our job, on our political system, on ourselves, on anything but God! The devil doesn't have to inspire persecution here; he keeps us down with our own riches. Yun then attributes the life of the church in China to the high level of persecution. In essence, persecution is a good thing in the light of eternity! Isn't that just like God to turn something completely inside out with His truth? 

We in America tend to think that we are the epitome of Christianity; it is from us that the rest of the world should learn. In God's economy, that just isn't so. I "happened" to receive an e-mail newsletter from Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr (Highlands Study Center) at the same time as I finished this book. He writes some thoughts as he returns from a short-term missions trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma). He says, "I come home deeply chastened for how western I am, rather than pleased with how Christian. I come home deeply disturbed by how much I take for granted the material blessings God has granted me and my family. I come home shamed by the passion, zeal, hope, and fidelity of the people I went to instruct (emphasis added). They, instead, instructed me. And, last but not least, I come home longing to go back."

How should we as believers respond? I don't have an answer... but I believe we could start by throwing ourselves at the foot of the Cross in repentance for not valuing our Savior as we should, for not following Him as we should, for not proclaiming Him as we should, for not fearing God as we should. We should seek Him with all our heart. We desperately need to find Him; we desperately need His presence; we desperately need to be changed by His grace. And the world desperately needs us to faithfully bring His love to them....

I intend to write more on Brother Yun's story and thoughts. I hope you will get the book for yourselves, for I know you will be blessed by it. 

1 comment:

dora said...

I know this comment is late considering this post was in Feb, but I have just happened upon your website.

Bought and read the book 'The Heavenly Man' a few years ago.

Things have changed since then.

He has spoken at several churches throughout Europe and America.

One church that he spoke at in America was Rick Warren's church.
I saw the video on the internet.

Still, the book reads like the book of Acts, which should be the norm for the Christian church today.

God bless.