Thursday, September 24, 2009

Clouds of Witnesses: "The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story Of Chinese Christian Brother Yun" Part II

I started "The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun" this past summer. I posted my first review on 7/1. Little did I know that I would be engaged in so many other activities that it would take me this long to finish only 17 of the 29 chapters. Since my last review I read from chapter 6 through 17. This portion of the book deals with his years of brutal incarceration in a local jail and then in a labor camp for four years. The authorities demanded that he renounce his ministry and name his brothers and sisters who were his associates. He never did, even when he expected a life sentence or execution as his reward. Still he endured beatings by fist, blunt objects and electric batons. He also faced unsafe, unsanitary living conditions as well as near starvation. While Yun describes these conditions in unflinching detail, he focuses the reader's attention not on his misery and pain but on his experiences of being in the Lord's presence, how the Lord brought deliverance to him many times, and how the Lord turned bad situations into good, all the while providing Yun with continuous opportunities to spread the Gospel. Wherever Yun was held, he always left behind new brothers in Christ, even among the prison staff. In one encounter with a prison official, that official told Yun that he did not understand the Bible. Yun told him that if he repented of his sins and became Christ's disciple, then he would receive understanding from God concerning what the Bible says. That official did just that and not only was saved and received illumination concerning Scripture but also he was healed of an illness. One particularly memorable chapter chronicles the transformation of a brutal rapist and murderer into a disciple before his execution. (Yun later led his parents to the Lord.) It is interesting to note that when Yun witnessed, he did not ask, but commanded obedience to the Gospel, a command which was obeyed by his hearers. Is this just a cultural thing, or are we missing something here in the West? All throughout Yun's incarceration, whenever God brought comfort to him, that comfort came mainly through Scripture verses brought back to Yun's memory. Yun's earlier obedience in reading and memorizing Scripture helped make this possible. Visions were also a means used by the Lord to sustain Yun. The supernatural workings of God play a big role in Yun's story; in fact, some of the miracles described in the book have generated some skepticism. One miracle in particular has generated some controversy; Yun fasted in prison for 74 days. I know that sounds impossible; I can remember how in Britain in the 1980's, imprisoned members of the Irish Republican Army fasted until death. None of them lasted more than thirty days. Yet when reading "The Heavenly Man", a Christian, even a modern Western one like me, must approach any testimony of God's dealings with individuals with a belief that God still works through miracles to accomplish His purposes. That does not mean that we must accept every account of supernatural happenings. When I was a pastor in North Carolina, I met a woman (not from my Church) who claimed that God caused her to float ten feet up in the air. On television once I heard one evangelist claim he saw someone under the power of the Holy Spirit do a thirty foot back flip. One reason I can discount these two stories is that such displays serve no purpose, while the miracles described by Yun served God's purposes for Yun perfectly. The 74 day fast was not planned in advance. While Yun was in prison, he was told by the Lord to abstain from food; Yun had no idea the fast would last so long and his attitude for God's power to sustain him that long is one of humble gratitude. Yun makes no sweeping claims for authority because of the fast. As I read the account, I believe I was reading a true modern day account of God's supernatural power in action on behalf of one of his servants suffering for the Gospel. One more post on "The Heavenly Man" will appear on this blog once I finish it. I urge any reader to read this book. It is a blessing and a faith-strengthener. ("The Heavenly Man" was co-written by Paul Hattaway. Here is a link to another book he authored.)

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