One day last week as I was about to begin my meditation time I felt led to go look for something to read in my husband’s book closet. His theological books were his treasures, but they don’t make for easy reading. As I stood before the open closet looking at the shelves filled with boxes, I thought, Now what? The answer came quickly, Pull the third box. A powder-blue book cover grabbed my attention—The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun. That was the one.
While The Heavenly Man is one family’s story, it is also reveals a glimpse of the amazing birth of the House Church movement in China. Brother Yun was born in 1958 in a remote farming village in China. His family had a sliver of information about the existence of the Son of God named Jesus. His illiterate mother remembered a few Bible verses she’d been taught as a child before Christian missionaries and their message were eradicated by the Communist Revolution.
When Yun is 16 years old, his father becomes terminally ill. Facing starvation, the mother prays to Jesus for help–loudly, desperately, continually. Her prayers are answered. The father makes a miraculous recovery and the family is the first Christian outpost in their village. Yun becomes a fervent follower of Jesus, calling in heavenly guidance, and begins a movement of spirit akin to the tales of Paul and the first followers of Christ as told in the Book of Acts. Like those earliest believers who faced the wrath of the Roman Empire, the House Church Christians of China suffer the persecution of the Communist government. But from the crucible of suffering comes strength and determination to follow the path of Jesus.
Encouraged by continual divine intervention, Yun evangelizes wherever he goes, often in prison. Despite cattle prods and beatings, he never denies his faith, although he admits spiritual pride occasionally sends him on a rough road. His wife, Deling, and their two children also endure hardships beyond the imagination of most Westerners, all for the sake of the gospel. The ripple effect of their faith and others like them has inspired tens of millions of Chinese to meet secretly in House Churches and continue pursuing the Great Commission.
This is an unfolding story of Spirit working in our midst. In the darkest places, among the cruelest regimes, the Light still shines. If you’re looking for real inspiration, and perhaps a life purpose, pick up a copy of The Heavenly Man.