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‘The heavenly man’ in Red Deer

by Doris Fleck

 

Next month, Red Deer will be one of only three Canadian cities to host Brother Yun, a key leader behind China’s explosive house church movement with an estimated 100 million adherents.

Exiled from the Communist country since 2001, Liu Zhenying, known as Brother Yun, will be speaking at CrossRoads Church on March 12 at 7 p.m.

“We are extremely honoured and thrilled at this chance to host such an instrumental servant of God!” says Tracy Minke, pastor of Outreach Missions at CrossRoads. “As Christ followers in North America, we tend to lead lives that are so full and so fast we often don’t make space for the Holy Spirit and can miss hearing the Spirit’s whisper that is so important in following Him.”

Yun’s best-selling autobiography, The Heavenly Man, chronicles his conversion to Christianity, the persecution he endured, as well as God’s supernatural intervention and miraculous healings. The title comes from the name by which Brother Yun was known among the house church networks.

During one night of police interrogation, he answered, “I am a heavenly man!” instead of revealing his true name, to protect other Christians. Co-authored by Paul Hattaway in 2002, The Heavenly Man has been translated into 50 languages and sold more than 1,000,000 copies.

Now, at age 60, Yun is the highest profile proponent of the Back to Jerusalem movement, an evangelistic campaign by Chinese believers that began in the 1920s. The goal, as Brother Yun articulates it, is to send at least 100,000 Chinese missionaries to the 51 countries between “the Great Wall of China and the Western Wall of Jerusalem.”

With a large part of the ministry focus at CrossRoads on persecuted believers, supporting national pastors and work with Muslims, Minke explains, “The ministry of Back to Jerusalem is a perfect match.”

Yun became a Christian at the age of 16 in 1974. With his father ill with lung cancer, his mother, who had grown cold in her faith, felt a deep sense of desperation. If her husband died, it would leave the family without any income, so she contemplated suicide. But one evening she heard a voice saying, “Jesus loves you.” In tears, she repented, immediately rededicating her life to God. Then she gathered their five children to pray for her husband. The next morning her husband was well and everyone in the family, including Yun, put their faith in Christ.

Yun desperately wanted a Bible, but under Chiang Kai-shek’s Communist regime, anyone found with God’s word could be imprisoned or even killed. Yun decided to fast and pray, eating only one bowl of steamed rice every day. On the 100th day of his fast, he saw a vision with three men walking down a hill, pulling a large cart of fresh bread. The old man leading the cart asked Yun if he was hungry. Yun said “Yes!” The man took a red bag of bread from his cart and asked his two servants to give it to Yun. When Yun put the bread into his mouth, it turned into a Bible.

When he woke, Yun heard a faint knock on the door and someone calling his name. Standing before him were the two servants he had seen in the vision. One of them held a red bag in his hand and in it was a Bible.

Yun read the Bible in less than a month and began memorizing whole books. As the story of how he received this Bible spread, Yun evangelized throughout China, leading about 2,000 people to the Lord in his first year as a Christian.

He soon became one of the most-wanted “criminals” in China. For spreading the gospel, Yun was repeatedly imprisoned, beaten, tied up, tortured with electric shock batons and had needles jabbed under his fingernails. Yun continued his ministry in prison where many prisoners and even some prison officials became Christians. He is renowned as the only person to ever escape the Zhengzhou Maximum Security Prison. In obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, he simply walked through a series of doors and out the main gate, apparently invisible to the guards.

The main sanctuary at CrossRoads can hold 1,200 people, but the church is preparing for overflow options. An offering will be taken for the ministry of Back to Jerusalem.

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