History of Our First 3 Years in China
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We wanted to share with you some news of our first 3 years in China! Wow! That seems like a very long time ago now. But it was this time that gave us the faith in God to believe for even more from Him in such a wonderful country.
All the news here is excerpted from parts of my new book called Shake off the Dust. God bless you!
The Need for Counsel
In this world really it’s true that if we want to be successful we need advice. We not only need advice we need the right advice from someone who has been down the road before us. They know the path, the pitfalls and the dangers. It’s we who need the help. It’s only the stupid who think they can ‘do it all by myself’ like me! Gradually through the school of hard knocks I have learned that I need a lot of help from God as well as from others.
Now as I enter my 120th year on this earth (just kidding) I feel God is beginning to give me wisdom. I am thankful. So there is plenty to be said to receive the right kind of counsel and finding the ‘right’ Consultants. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
Proverbs 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Proverbs 19:21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
Proverbs 20:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Proverbs 20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
Proverbs 24:6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
When you learn to drive a car or a plane, you need instructors. Open a business it’s the same thing. Being a missionary in a dangerous country, it’s the same thing isn’t it? Well it should be.
Sharing faith in Jesus Christ with others has always been dangerous; some countries more than others. But there is danger everywhere. I remember being chased out of a small Greek village in the Peloponnese by a local butcher wielding his meat cleaver, and I had no doubt he not only was exceedingly upset but also was absolutely going to kill me for witnessing in a predominately Greek orthodox village. Fortunately he was middle-aged and portly and I was, at that time, slim and still in the prime of life and escaped the village (never to return).
Bamboo Curtain Training Program
In 2000 we clearly knew the Lord was calling us to China. I want to emphasise that at that time, China then was still comparatively little known and understood by most of the world.
As we looked for ways to prepare for this huge change, somebody informed us of a two-month training program based in a nearby country, which trained would-be missionaries to operate inside the ‘bamboo curtain’ as it was called then.
Going to China historically has always been a spiritually and often physically costly affair for foreign Christians. Many have gone and failed and some have gone and succeeded dramatically. Many have gone and died there for their faith also. Generally though, it has mostly been the Chinese Christians themselves who have succeeded inside their own country, while foreigners have not always been able to hit the mark, with a few notable exceptions.
However the potential for success for Jesus Christ in China is like finding the Holy Grail, because it is the Holy Grail of souls. 1.4 Billion of them today and counting. Yet the price God often requires is everything. For myself when I went to China there was never a week that passed but that I wanted to leave, and that battle lasted well over 10 years! So intense were the spiritual and mind battles and various other battles primarily in the Spirit that at times it was overwhelming. Many other missionaries experienced similar feelings and trials. I think the devil has never wanted any sincere Christian in China since the beginning of time.
Anyway, back to the beginning. And the beginning for myself and about 12 other Christian adults and our families who believed they had been called by God to China was to meet up at this mountain base overlooking the South China sea in a nearby country for this two month intensive course on ‘how to live in an underground country and survive and bear fruit that remains’.
John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
The church hosting this comprised also in part of several (Western) missionaries all who had themselves been in China some years before, but having been arrested and then deported all on the exact same day!
Furthermore they all lived across the country in four different cities! The Chinese PSB police had them under surveillance for many months and then decided to arrest them all simultaneously in multiple locations in this manner. Quite shocking really. A bit like when Jesus will return it will be like a ‘thief in the night’. Nobody was prepared or ready. Because they had all communicated with each other they were all linked easily.
Luke 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Luke 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
So those hosting us were under no illusions how watchful authorities were at that time of any foreigners who didn’t appear to fit in with the normal Scientist, ‘Foreign Expert’, business person or teacher but had some other agenda, such as ‘passing on God’s Word’ to the Chinese populace. The ‘Laws of China’ forbade it, and still do, as I write.
For us attending this course, it was an enormous wealth of information and knowledge and advice, encouragement and warnings about how to share the Gospel safely and live safely once we entered the Middle Kingdom. Some of the points were centered on, emails, phone calls, security, computer security, government spies and ‘plants’ and how to recognize them, the advantages and pitfalls of Chinese culture, as well as the basics of Chinese language and advice on methods how to master it, etc.
Although I am not going to divulge all that we learned there, it is surprising how advanced these missionaries were back in 2000!
I think most Christians would benefit greatly from similar training as when we enter the End-Time more fully, many of us or our grown children or future generations (if the Lord tarry) will be in that position of facing much greater hostility in various societies.
Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Our Entry Into China
We entered China sometime in 2000 crossing over one of the land borders. After some travelling, we eventually arrived in a huge city of 12 million people. Almost immediately we felt overwhelmed! At that time in China, foreigners were still a novelty especially ‘inland’. Most people wanted to be ‘your friend’ and practice their English.
The Lord led us to a part of the city and a three-bedroom apartment which was virtually next door to the prestigious university. We stayed at this place for well over three years and loved every minute of it. The Lord gave us such wonderful landlords who were from a small town in eastern China and they received Jesus Christ in their lives and became good friends to us.
A few of our neighbors, notably a 35 year old business man ‘Jerome’ and his wife ‘Katrina’, were also very close to us. (Many of the Chinese under 40 years old have English names which they choose themselves. I have chosen to use their English names in this chapter). We visited them almost daily and ate with them often in various places in our neighborhood. It was always with such joy that we saw our friends and any Chinese accept the Word of God. Almost seven hundred of them during this three year time came to know Jesus.
At Christmas times our apartment was always filled to overflowing with students and young people and business people. It was a great joy to experience the hungry hearts of many Chinese for the Word of God and the warmth of the Holy Spirit flowing through us at that time. Truly it was harvest time!
Matthew 9:37-38 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
Through our friendship with our wealthy neighbour, Jerome--spoken of above, local people seemed to accept us, as ‘Guanxi’ (who you know/relations with) or ‘Mianzi’ (face or image) which is vital in China. Nobody bothered us as we were ‘under the protection’ of a rich man just by reason of being his friends.
We conducted hundreds of Bible studies in our apartment, but usually never more than two people visiting at the same time, who could be assumed by outsiders to be ‘having an English class’. On Sundays, about four or five people came, but arriving at slightly staggered times. When all were present we sang (quietly) read the Word of God and prayed for others and ourselves and learned to pray to Jesus and know Him better.
First Year Experiences
During the first year we went through an experience which has never been repeated in my life again that is of every Chinese person whom we shared the message of salvation with, they all accepted it. No one ever refused the Truth of the Bible, nor the offer of a Salvation prayer in that first year! We are still not sure why it was like that. Perhaps the Lord wanted to encourage us, but also we prayed diligently for each person and asked the Lord when to present that message with them. We didn’t act without God’s voice directing us as to when to share the Salvation message.
I remember one interesting event happened with Emily our very first ‘disciple’. She was a 21 year old graduate from the local University. A lovely girl and who was quite traditionally Chinese. The Lord showed us today this Sunday we should share with her how much Jesus loved her and wished to come into her life as Saviour and Lord.
She originally came to teach us Chinese in response to an advertisement we put on the University campus. She had been coming for several weeks, making the two hour trip each way in the intense heat--we are talking 38 degrees plus each way!. We were very impressed with her attitude to just about everything.
That Sunday, we duly shared who we really were and what the Bible said and meant. (Her English was very good). She responded to our invitation about prayer to Jesus willingly. She prayed and received Jesus Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She knew something had ‘happened’ and we also shared with her some chapters in the Bible for example John 3, John 10 and also we felt led to read Matthew 24 with her about the 'last days'. She went home happy and excited.
The following Tuesday, I think it was, Emily called us on the phone and was very excited and agitated. 'Turn on your TV' she kept saying. 'Look, it’s just like the Bible says -- it is the End Time!'
We hung up and turned it on. An historical world-changing event called '9/11' was happening in New York, USA. The whole world was also watching it - stunned. To Emily, it was proof of the End Time, which in some ways we could say it was. 'Greater things than these' shall happen in the future. But for our Chinese Christians it was raw proof of the Word of God!
Isaiah 30:25 And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
Many times we just met people God had ordained for us to meet. The feelings or witness in our spirit each time were remarkable. I remember leaving a skyscraper in another part of the city one evening after teaching English at a company, and I stepped up to the bus stop and there was God’s appointment for me, a young woman in the crowd of people who stared at me with such an intense look of longing and interest (no it’s not because I am super attractive, far from it).
I returned her look and the Lord gave me discernment that she was already a future disciple of Christ and I walked over to her. We talked and got on the same bus and amazingly she lived nearby our apartment with her husband. It was not until about four months later though that the Lord led us to visit them, and a further time before we shared the Gospel with them both which they readily and eagerly accepted.
This young woman, Irene, once said, ‘I have been looking at Emily (mentioned above) and her face seems to glow and shine. How can my face become like that?’
We told her Emily’s story and how much she loved the Bible and studied it with us. Irene determined there and then to visit us every morning before work for a Bible study and prayer time. She faithfully came for about one year each work morning around 6 a.m for fellowship. This meant that one of our team had to be ready for her arrival with some special class or devotions for the day also!‘ Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness’, Jesus said, ‘for they shall be filled’. Matthew 5:6.
Irene and her husband Edi then spent about two years in fellowship with us and are such wonderful souls. We truly thank God for them. Today this young woman has gone with her husband and child to a northern city and continues to love the Lord and His Word very deeply.
During our time in China we lived in several other cities, including Tianjin and another northern provincial capital which ranked at the time as the 6th most polluted city in the world. Our hearts go out to the millions of Chinese there who rarely see the sun and whose days often begin and end in a smoky orange polluted haze. Strangely enough this was the city where we won the most people to the Lord comparatively speaking to the time we spent there.
‘Time would fail me’, as the apostle Paul said, to tell of all that the Lord has done in China not only through our own weak efforts but that of thousands of others. So I am going to close at this point on our own work and ministry and share some further points about China if you will permit, and I do believe you will find the following extremely interesting. (Continued in Jerry’s book 'Shake off the Dust')
The reason so many people receive the Lord in China and other similar fields is because they are hungry for the truth.