Friday, August 16, 2019

The God of Peter

The following is an excerpt from The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun by Paul Hattaway. Brother Yun recounted his testimony and ministry in China to Hattaway which Hattaway turned into the book.

Hattaway is the founder of Asia Harvest. The most recent edition of Themelios positively reviewed another book Hattaway wrote called Shandong: The Revival Province. For what it's worth, the review calls Hattaway "an authority on the history of the Chinese church" (among other things).

That said, there's some skepticism about the miracles in Brother Yun's life. The miracle that seems to receive the most criticism is the one I've excerpted below (along with Brother Yun's 74 day fast). At least from what I can tell, it seems many of the criticisms against Brother Yun can primarily be traced back to another Chinese Christian living in Germany named Titus Pan. Pan's pseudonym is Lin Mushe.

However, some people are skeptical about Pan too (e.g. here, here).

Before we left for Shaanxi that evening we asked God to prepare the hearts of the people to receive his Word. While praying, I suddenly saw a terrible vision that shook my soul. The others told me I startled them when I shouted out, "Hallelujah! Jesus' blood has overcome you!"

Everyone stopped praying and asked me what the matter was. With sweat on my brow I told them, "I saw a terrible evil vision. A black, heinous creature came after me. It had a horrible twisted face. It pressed me down on the ground and sat on my stomach so I couldn't get up. With one of its hands it grabbed my throat and started choking me. With its other hand it grabbed some steel pliers and tried to shut my mouth with them. I could hardly breathe. Then I saw a great strong angel fly toward me. With all my strength I poked my fingers into the eyes of the evil creature. It fell to the ground, and I was carried away to safety by the angel. I shouted, "Hallelujah! Jesus' blood has overcome you!"

After telling what I'd seen, we prayed and shared the Lord's Supper together. We committed ourselves to the care of the Lord. The three of us – the two young sisters and I – arrived in Shangnan County in Shaanxi. Shangnan is an isolated mountainous district in the extreme south-east of the province. Most of the impoverished people there had never seen outsiders before.

The local believers were informed of our arrival and three days of meetings were hastily arranged. Leaders from several counties gathered. On the first day I shared the history of the cross throughout church history and mission. On the second day, around 1 p.m., I lost my voice. The believers suggested I take a rest and let my co-workers share in my place. I asked Sister Juan to preach on the salvation of the cross.

Neither of these two women had spoken in public before. They'd never even stood in front of a crowd! Sister Juan was so nervous she fell down on her knees and cried. Her Bible fell to the ground. Everyone had compassion on her and prayed for her.

I was taken to a room so I could rest. When I lay down I meditated on the message I'd shared that morning.

Suddenly I heard a loud noise! Several PSB officers kicked down the door to my room. They grabbed me and held me down on the bed. One officer lay on me, pinning me down with his weight. With one hand he held me by the throat. With his other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out his ID card. He shouted, "I come from the Public Security Bureau. Where do you come from?"

Immediately I remembered the vision I had seen of the dark monster.

Two other PSB officers took a rope and tightly bound my arms behind my back, as well as binding the rope around my chest, back and waist. One of the officers noticed a red wooden cross that was attached to the wall, with the words "For God so loved the world" inscribed on the horizontal piece of the cross. On the left and right were written, "He hung on the cross" and "He took our sins upon himself."

The officers read those words and laughed loudly. They tore the cross from the wall and tied it to my back with the ropes. Then they started to kick me furiously. Blows rained down on my legs, arms, chest and ribs.

The owner of the house came and knelt down before the officers, begging them to release me. He said, "This man is a good man. He's done nothing wrong. Please arrest me in his place."

The officers kicked and pushed him out of the room, shouting, "You can never pay this man's debt."

For the first time I had the honor of literally bearing the cross of Christ on my body! They triumphantly marched me off, bloodied and bruised, to Shangnan township. I was reminded of the verse, "For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena." 1 Corinthians 4:9.

When the townspeople saw me bound with rope and that I was carrying a big red cross, a story began to circulate that "Jesus from Henan" had come. Many people crowded around to witness this remarkable sight.

As I was paraded through the streets, a police car drove slowly in front. Through a loudspeaker they proclaimed, "This man came from Henan to preach Jesus. He has seriously disturbed the peace. He has confused the people. Today the Public Security Bureau has captured him. We will punish him severely."

I was made to kneel down in the dirt while officers punched me in the chest and face and repeatedly kicked me from behind with their heavy boots. My face was covered with blood. The pain was unbearable and I nearly lost consciousness as I lay on the ground.

They lifted me up and made me stagger down another street. They were determined to make an example of me to as many people as possible.

I lifted up my head and caught glimpses of people in the crowd. Some pitied me and wept. When I saw this it really strengthened my faith. When I had the chance, I softly told one woman, "Please don't feel sorry for me. You should weep for the lost souls of our nation."

When the onlookers heard my voice they cried even more loudly. I was paraded through the streets for half a day. When night fell they took me into a big courtyard inside the police station.

They didn't loosen my ropes, but they did take the wooden cross off my back. They locked me inside a large interrogation room. I noticed the door was made of iron and the windows had iron bars on them.

Some evil-faced officers came in. They questioned me with great gravity in their voices. The Lord spoke to my heart, "In the hidden place your Father shall protect you."

They shouted at me, "Where exactly do you come from?"

"Henan," I replied.

Then I remembered that I was a wanted man in Henan. I didn't want to tell them the name of my home county or town because I would get many believers into trouble, so I shut my mouth and determined not to answer any more of their questions.

I felt that God wanted me to pretend I was crazy, like David had done in the Bible. I lay down on the ground and acted insane. I rolled my eyes back in their sockets and spat like a madman. I didn't say a word. The PSB were frightened and were convinced I was crazy.

Many spectators had crowded outside the window and looked in.

One officer went to another room and made a telephone call to Henan, to try to find out who I was from the authorities there. The other interrogators went with him to hear what was said. They left me alone in the room and shut the door. I was still tightly bound by rope so they saw no chance I could escape. The onlookers also gave their attention to the telephone call, and crowded outside the window of that room to listen.

At that moment, with everyone's eyes off me, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, "The God of Peter is your God." I remembered how angels had opened the prison gates for Peter to escape. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14.

The rope that bound my arms behind my back suddenly snapped by itself! I didn't tear the ropes off, but kept them loosely in place. I decided to try to escape, and if caught I would claim I was trying to go to the toilet. With my arms still positioned behind my back, I used my mouth to turn the door handle and I walked out of the room!

At that moment God gave me faith and courage. I reminded myself that the blood of Jesus Christ protected me. I walked through the middle of the onlookers in the courtyard. Nobody stopped me or said anything to me! It was as though God had blinded their eyes and they didn't recognize who I was.

I walked through the courtyard to the toilet block in the northern part of the compound, about 30 feet away from the interrogation room. As quickly as I could, I pulled off the rope from around my body. My hands, arms and shoulders were still numb from being bound by rope for so long.

Because the front gates had been locked, the only way out of the compound was over an eight-foot high cement wall. The wall had sharp glass embedded in the top. I stood there for a moment, stared at the wall and prayed, asking the Lord to heal my hands and body.

I decided to try to leap over the wall. I saw no other choice. I was trapped and at any moment the officers would come and grab me. What happened next is not possible from a human perspective, yet God is my witness that what I am about to tell you is the truth.

First I pulled myself up onto the wall as high as I could manage. I looked over the top and saw that on the other side was a ten-feet-wide open septic tank.

As I hung grimly onto the side of the wall, all of a sudden I felt as if somebody hoisted me up and threw me over! I jumped so far that I even cleared the septic tank! A Scripture came to mind, "With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." 2 Samuel 22:30.

The God of Peter wonderfully helped me leap over the wall and escape! I believe the same angel I had seen in my vision helped to lift me up.

Darkness had fallen in the mountains. I ran blindly through the hills and forests. I had no idea where I was heading, but just sought to put as much distance between the police station and myself as I could.

As I ran I spoke out the Psalms with a thankful heart to the Lord, "Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man…. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes." Psalm 112:4,6–8.

Many times as I ran through the darkness I slipped over, but God guided me with his abundant mercy. After several hours I'd climbed over two mountains and crossed a river. Suddenly in the darkness I heard someone shouting, "Brother Yun, where are you going?"

A man approached me and asked, "Brother Yun, why do you look like this?" He saw the blood and scars on my hands and cried, "What has happened to you?"

It was about midnight. I couldn't see who it was, so I asked him quietly, "Do you believe in Jesus? Do you know me?"

The man replied, "Yesterday and this morning I attended your meeting, but this afternoon when you lost your voice I ran back to my farm to do some work."

He hadn't heard about the arrests earlier that day. In God's provision he had enabled this man to leave the meeting just minutes before the PSB came. This brother was a hardworking farmer who had many chores to attend to each day. He was working in the field at midnight, spreading fertiliser on his crops, trying to catch up with the time he had lost while attending the meetings.

I told him, "I was captured by the PSB this afternoon but the Lord has rescued me from their hands. He helped me escape over the police station wall. Where am I? Can you help me?"

This dear brother told me, "Come to my home and change your clothes."

"No!" I protested. "There's no time. The most important thing is that you take me to see my co-workers and your church leaders."

This brother's farm was a long way from our meeting place. He immediately put his load on the ground and led me down a very narrow pathway until finally we came to the house where I'd been arrested the previous afternoon.

When we arrived we heard people loudly praying. They were crying out for me before the Lord, interceding for my release. When they saw me they could scarcely believe their eyes! They were amazed that the Lord had rescued me from the hands of evil men. They changed my wet clothes, bathed my scars, and lovingly wiped the blood from my face and hands.

I encouraged the Shaanxi believers. I prayed for them and placed them in the merciful hands of God. I taught them, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22. They confidently told me, "We will continue by obeying the words from the Bible."

Everyone wept.

Before daybreak, after a final prayer, the three of us left that place and went to another destination by car. The embarrassed authorities searched everywhere for me but couldn't find me. A few days later we safely returned home to Henan.

Our trip to the west was a journey of tears and marvellous protection from the hands of evil men. We were truly dependent on God's mercy, poured out in response to the many fervent prayers of the brothers and sisters.

When I arrived back in Henan I met Brother Xu, Brother Fu, and my dear wife. When I saw them I quoted the Scripture, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8–9.

Brother Fu was excited to see me. He said, "A few days ago during our prayer meeting your wife had a vision. A voice said, ‘Yun has been arrested in Shaanxi. He needs a great miracle to get him out.' We told the church and everyone immediately fasted and prayed for you."

After hearing these words I wept tears of thankfulness for God's love and mercy.

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