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The Heavenly Man

As a boy I would often dream of being a fire fighter or a race car driver or other adventurous professions. Never once did I consider being a martyr for Christ.

Imagine for a second, God taking a young half-starved boy from a poor village in China and using him to preach the gospel, despite a prolonged life of torture and imprisonment. This is the remarkable true story of brother Yun, a Chinese Christian.

At the age of 16, Liu Zhenying (Brother Yun) became a follower of Christ. The year was 1974, the Cultural Revolution was still raging throughout China, and Bibles were hard to come by. Brother Yun and his fellow Christians in his village had no idea what a Bible even looked like, with the exception of one person in his village who vaguely remembered having seen some hand copied Scripture portions and song sheets, but never a whole Bible.

Desperately hungry for a Bible, Yun would fast and cry out to God every morning and afternoon to be filled with His Word. And so, for the next 100 days he continued to pray. Suddenly one morning at 4 a.m., after having received a vision from the Lord, he heard a knock at his door. Two men appeared before him and handed him a red bag, where inside laid a Bible. From that moment on, Brother Yun would carry his Bible everywhere; sleep with it, and devour its teachings at every given opportunity. This would not be the first time God would answer his prayers.

For any Western reader, the claims of miracles, visions, premonitory dreams and impossible escapes from prison are unfathomable. I admit that the countless interchange of human sufferings and wondrous blessings were hard for me to swallow all at once. At times I struggled to attain a balance between laboured chapters on martyrdom and feeling compassion.

Yet, despite all the harrowing tales, one is compelled to draw a deeper insight and inspiration from this book. If anything, one should take hold of a deeper appreciation for the Bible, the power of prayer and a constant reminder that outside our frivolous world of Playstation and fast food, someone is praying for a Bible or imprisoned for owning one.

I think Brother Yun sums it up best in the last few chapters of the book:

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When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Church buildings will never bring the revival you seek. The pursuit of more possessions will never bring revival. Jesus truly stated, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there’s nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord.

I’m left wondering how free the West truly is? It’s a frightening thought that maybe we’re in fact the one’s in need of missionaries …

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