The Heavenly Man, autobiography of Liu Zhenying, co-written by Paul Hattaway
This Christian book of the year in 2003 is a gripping autobiography of a living, Chinese house-church leader and encourages and causes introspection for all those interested in knowing what it is like to be persecuted in the world today for being a Christian. Hard to believe for those of us living in free countries where you can worship anything or nothing at all, but this is a reality for many Christians around the world today.
Captivated by this book for approximately 6 hours one Sabbath afternoon, i followed down the life story of “Brother Yun”. Born into a poor family, where his mother had once been a Christian before Mao took over China, then fell away, then came back to Jesus, Yun started to hunger and thirst for the Word of God. A teenager, he was so anxious to have a Bible of his own, that he fasted and prayed many days for one, so much so, that his family became concerned for his health. Then, one nite, he had a dream of someone coming to his house bringing a loaf of bread. The next morning, an elderly man came and deposited a Bible with him! Stories like this, how God miraculously provided things and dreams and brought him into contact with just the right people at just the right time — this gives encouragement that Gid indeed is alive and working actively in the affairs of mankind today.
His escapes from the clutches of the law, his experiences in prison, the dedication of his wife, all are memorable episodes. Of the two important lessons i received from this book, the one while he was still in China has kept me thinking. After around 4 years of prison, he returned to his family, and immersed himself “in the work”. He would get up around 5am, pray and study the Bible for 2 hours or more, spend nearly the whole day until midnite teaching and preaching in various homes. He was excited to be “working to spread the gospel”, but after a few months, he realized he was working “for the work”. This realization made him take stock of why he was doing this, and he realized it was a selfish desire to “do the work”, and he was not doing it solely for the glory of Jesus Christ. After this, he spent more time with his family, and learned to wait more upon the Lord’s direction, rather than just accepting call to come and teach and preach, and wear himself out quickly so that he could not be able to help the growing church at all.
And the church did grow, amazingly fast. As an aside from the book, i have found some detailed research on the number of Christians in China, and the estimate is …….. 103,000,000, praise the Lord! Numerically, this would make China probably the 3rd or 4th most Christian-populated country in the world!
God led/allowed him into prisons where he could do evangelism. The stories of the hard hearts won over to Christ, of the 70+ day-long fast, of the parasite worms crawling under his skin and out his pores, all are very amazing, and encouraging to see how God has guided and protected him.
The second important lesson i received from this book, is how “persecution” is carried out in different countries. He was persecuted physically in China, but on the whole, the other Christians were supportive of him. But when he got to the West, some people started spreading rumors about him, and telling people he was not really a true Christian. He was shocked, wondering how anyone who had never met him could say such hurtful things about him. A German Christian friend told him: “In your country people persecute Christians with sticks and stones, but in the West, we persecute them with words.” Yun responded that the words hurt worse than the physical abuse he suffered, and he suffered a lot, including electric batons shoved into his mouth which he says “made my brain feel like it was about to explode”.
His current goal is to train 100,000 Chinese Christians to evangelize the areas along the Silk Road, “Back to Jerusalem”. He doesn’t believe in anything magical about Jerusalem, just that he wants the gospel of Jesus Christ to make the return portion of the leg from when it came out of Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago. Just think, such an army of Christians evangelising the most hostile area in the whole world to the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is an exciting vision, and i wish him well.
Even tho he is not Seventh-day Adventist, it looks as if God is definitely using him. But he must keep all the commandments of God to really give him glory. I just pray that someone will give him the Three Angels’ Messages, and he will accept them one day. May we SDAs be as earnest and dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission as Yun is. If not, God will spue us out of his mouth, and use humble, dedicated people who are earnestly “following the Lamb wherever he goes”.