China: Autumn Rain in China
In August 2005, a van pulled up outside a hotel in a city in China. Within moments, an elderly Chinese woman emerged from the lobby and quickly clambered into the van, which then accelerated out of the parking lot. Waiting intently in the back of the van was a young missionary from Melbourne, Australia. The van would now be driven in a circuitous route through the congested streets to allow the Chinese woman and Western man a chance to communicate without surveillance.
Outside was a burgeoning city displaying every sign of commercial progress. Massive concrete fly-overs vied with magnificent high-rise architecture for dominance of the sky-line. Bill boards and neon signs advertised every high-tech gadget and fashion label imaginable. Yet the Chinese woman's story revealed a different aspect to life in modern China.
"The government passed new laws in March this year. Before, they used physical violence to intimidate us. Now, they have changed tactics. They watch us closely and follow us everywhere to collect evidence. Then they prosecute us in the courts. I cannot meet together with my co-workers. It's too risky right now. Several of our underground presses have been busted by the Security Police and many of our leaders have been arrested. Their goal is to stamp out the underground church entirely. But we are not discouraged. We know the gates of hell will not prevail against the Lord's church. I've decided I want to serve the Lord full-time now. The rest of my life belongs to Him."
This woman was a contact from the underground church in China, which numbers nearly 100 million believers. Her work is to arrange the distribution of Bibles to house churches in several provinces. The young Aussie was a Bible courier. After months of hard work hauling thousands of Bibles into China, he was excited to finally meet face to face with an underground Christian. He told her how a team of 8 volunteers from a Melbourne church had just arrived to spend two weeks carrying Bibles across the border.
The Chinese lady gripped his hand and her eyes filled with tears. "Tell them how thankful we are. Our churches need many Bibles and it is hard for us to get them, especially in the countryside. We are facing hardships now, but to know our overseas brothers and sisters care about us enough to bring us Bibles greatly encourages us."
The Australian man shared, "I was so moved to realize how thankful she was and how desperate the need for more Bibles really is. After meeting that lady, I feel even more determined to do all I can to help meet the need."
Since June, he has been working with Autumn Rain, a Hong Kong based ministry whose founders have been serving the Chinese church since 1989. In 2004, Autumn Rain safely delivered 70 tonnes - about 150,000 Bibles - to house church contacts throughout China.
He says, "I am having the best time in China with Jesus. I've been so blessed by His presence. I love Jesus and I love serving Him. I get to see God at work! One time, I was crossing the border in the pouring rain with two humongous suitcases. We'd had typhoon rains all week. I was soaked, tired and my feet hurt. As I walked though the Customs hall, a guard confronted me. He knew what was in my bags without even looking. It seemed like there was no way out. Then the fire of God came on me and I began to challenge him with the Gospel. As I preached, the conviction of the Holy Spirit fell on the guard. He stared at the ground, shaking his head. Then he just walked off! I walked straight out of the Customs hall and behind me came my co-worker, also towing two big suitcases. Praise God!
"Later on, my leader noticed I was limping. She examined my foot and said, 'Now we know you are a real soldier of Christ! You've actually got trench foot!' I'd been out in the rain too much that week! She prayed for my foot and right away all the pain left. The swelling went down and I could walk normally again.
"Then one of our co-workers came down with a fever and chills. We prayed for him, but the next day he was no better so we took him to hospital. They tested his blood and found that he had Malaria, which he must have contracted in India. The Health Department was concerned and required all of us to go for blood tests! During our all-night prayer, we prayed for our brother. The next day, when they took more blood tests, there was no trace of Malaria. They released him from hospital and even refunded the expensive hospital fees! Some of the hospital staff were Christians and they knew it was God's hand."
This zealous young worker explains that whatever the effort and the sacrifice may be, God takes good care of those who serve Him with all their hearts. "It's amazing - I've never prayed so much, fasted so much, slept so little, been so tired and hungry and worked so hard and still felt so happy! My heart is full of joy - it's great!"
Autumn Rain's leaders say that one of their greatest joys is seeing the impact on the volunteers when they come to serve. "It is tremendous to see the growth in their faith and their love for Jesus as they take up their cross and follow Him. Two of our youngest volunteers at the moment are a Hong Kong-Chinese sister and brother who used to be our neighbours. A few years ago, we had the joy of leading them to the Lord. Now, they are coming along to our little church and joining us as we go out on the streets of Hong Kong preaching. The older sister has a real anointing for evangelism! She said, 'At first I very embarrassed. Even at school, if I have to talk, I shy. I think God help me.'
"They've also started helping us carry Bibles across the border. On one trip, our co-worker watched with great consternation as this mere teenager was accosted by a guard. He told her to put her luggage on the X-ray scanner. To see her struggle, it was obvious her suitcase was very heavy. Worse still - the bag fell off the conveyor belt with a huge crash! It was hardly inconspicuous! Our co-worker watching all this was panicking - but where were the Guards? They'd inexplicably walked away - and only returned to their posts just as our co-worker was exiting the Customs Hall! After getting through the border safely, they stored the books at our safe-house and then went to visit their relatives who live on the Mainland. They preached the Gospel to them and led two of their cousins to the Lord! To see the growth in their lives when they experience God using them fills us with joy. The elder sister told us 'when I grow up, I want to serve the Lord like you.'"
Autumn Rain observes that God is raising up an army of millions of Gospel workers from Asian countries such as China, India and Korea, to reap a huge end-time harvest. The Chinese church has a vision to preach the Gospel in every country along the Silk Road all the way back to Jerusalem.
"He showed us a vision of the persecuted church. We saw the scars on their bodies that they have received for the sake of the Gospel, bleeding and seeping. They were dressed in rags and their feet were bare and stone-bruised. God was gathering them together like an army amassing, and their numbers were growing more and more. They began to mobilize, marching perfectly in step, growing stronger and stronger. Despite their distressing physical appearance, their faces were ablaze with joy and the glory of God. They were marching in the direction of the high mountains that are the gate-ways to the strongholds of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. As they marched, they were singing, 'By the blood, by the blood of the LAMB!'
It is one of God's awesome paradoxes. He chooses the weak to display His might. The church in China is persecuted - but purified; oppressed - but overcoming; confined - but commissioned to reach the nations. To do this, they need Bibles. Autumn Rain says that it is up to the Christians throughout the free world to show solidarity with the underground church by effectively meeting their need for Bibles. "We need to arm the underground church with their swords - the Word of God."
In these days, the Lord is awakening a deep yearning for His presence and power. There is a call to worship and to fasting - not only fasting to humble ourselves, but to share our resources justly and to not turn away from our own flesh and blood. The 70% of Christ's body throughout the world who are being persecuted are our own flesh and blood. God is calling us to link arms with them to complete the Great Commission. He is mobilizing, positioning and commissioning those willing to hear His call. There is a tremendous release of workers from all nations - not just from the west to the east but from, and to, all nations.
One of Autumn Rain's leaders explains, "Jesus' command to GO and teach all nations applies to all believers everywhere. God sends us to each other! We need the humility to both receive encouragement and exhortation from each other as well as to sacrificially share with and impart to each other. We'll see an increase of this in the coming times, and as a result the Church worldwide will be strengthened."
"We are excited to see that God is sending us workers from the Himalayas and India, as well as the Western nations, to join us in ministering to the church in China. The Lord is also sending workers from Asia and other nations to the Western countries to ignite our passion and compel us to action and sacrifice. Very soon we'll see a release of Gospel workers out of China, joining with other Asian labourers to carry the Gospel towards Jerusalem."
The Western church also has a vital role to play - to intercede for the foot-soldiers, to generously provide financial sponsorship for them, and to go and stand shoulder to shoulder physically with them. Autumn Rain exhorts us, "This is an opportunity we don't want to miss! It's worship wearing combat boots. We're compelled by whole-hearted, abandoned worship for Jesus. If we will eject ourselves from our comfort zones and consecrate ourselves to 'extreme obedience', our nations will reap spiritually according to what we have sown. What we do now will impact history - and eternity."
If you believe God is calling you to be involved in this strategic task, please contact:
Saturday, November 18, 2006 printer friendly version | 15289 reads
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