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A Tale of Two Journeys
In Defense of the Faith
Friday, October 23, 2015
Alf Cengia

My wife and I went to a different church last Sunday. The reason we did so was because it was hosting the Back to Jerusalem team and a talk by Brother Yun, also known as The Heavenly Man.

Contrary to some misconceptions, Back to Jerusalem is not a movement of the Chinese church specifically designed to evangelize Jerusalem. In their own words:

"...the goal of the Chinese church to evangelize the unreached peoples from eastern provinces of China, westwards towards Jerusalem. The vision was birthed among the Chinese in the 1920s, and since that time, the churches of China have strove and even suffered persecution to fulfill what they believe is their integral role in fulfilling the Great Commission. Our organization partners with the church of China to not only evangelize the religiously oppressed areas of Asia, but to also train and send Chinese missionaries into the unreached regions of the globe, including Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu nations."

My wife and I had already read Brother Yun's book, so the talk was a partial refresher. His infectious passion for Christ was apparent as was his equally passionate translator, "Flying Finn" Brother Ren.

Some of the incidents Brother Yun experienced echo stories taken from the book of Acts - from his conversion, his running from the Chinese authorities, to his imprisonment and escape. Miracles occurred during these stages. Stories like his are invariably met with skepticism, and Brother Yun has had his detractors. After all, "miracles don't occur today." Paul Hattaway has responded to some of these in an Open Letter.

But the work of the Back to Jerusalem team and the existence of the Chinese Underground Church are harder to dismiss than naturalistic agnosticism of miraculous experiences. What BTJ is doing is gloriously real and continues despite significant persecution under the Chinese Regime.

Note that the Chinese Government's only sanctioned (registered) church is the Three Self Patriot Church (TSPC). All others (House Churches) are not allowed to congregate in official worship buildings. They are forced to meet secretly in private homes and business. Space restricts going into further detail but according to Eugene Bach and Brother Zhu:

"The TSPM was created not only as a control mechanism to register, monitor, and redirect the teachings of the Christian church, but it was also meant to wean the church off the Truth - Jesus Christ... " (The Underground Church p 52)

The TSPM isn't Christ-Centric - its main focus is to support the Chinese Socialist System (The Underground Church pp 52-52).

According to BTJ, the Chinese Government is implementing elaborate social control tactics by using a point scoring credit system which will inevitably increase the levels of persecution for Christians proclaiming the gospel. You can find out more about the program's goals HERE.

Read between the lines of this excerpt:

"Completely moving the construction of a social credit system forward is an effective method to strengthen social sincerity, stimulate mutual trust in society, and reducing social contradictions, and is an urgent requirement for strengthening and innovating social governance, and building a Socialist harmonious society." (Emphases mine)

Despite constant threats of imprisonment and even martyrdom, the Underground Church remains resolutely faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christianity in China is growing in leaps and bounds in response to these tribulations. BTJ is also defying Islamism and organizations such as ISIS by bringing Christ's gospel into hazardous areas.

During the Sunday talk, Brother Ren mentioned a clever innovation BTJ employs to open up the gospel to Muslims. They call it the Gospel Cloud. It's a pocket Wi-Fi unit which provides free internet browsing. But instead of connecting to the World Wide Web, it restricts the browser to surfing web pages designed to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As an example, Brother Ren talked about ambling into a Mosque somewhere in the Middle East. He noted that few Muslims were praying at the time. Many young men were sitting down playing with their cell phones. So he switched the Gospel Cloud on. BTJ claims this technology has enabled the gospel to spread rapidly "in some of the most closed and restricted areas of the world - like Iran and Saudi Arabia."

In the book ISIS: The Heart of Terror, Eugene Bach notes that ISIS members may now browse Web pages containing Christian content, download a free Bible in their language, listen to Christian music and watch movies that teach about Jesus (p 176).

He notes that in the middle of the desert there aren't too many competing Wi-Fi options. BTJ may soon have a monopoly on free connections "in the middle of nowhere." Given that the unit is battery powered it can be set up in strategic locations such as in a tree or under a fake rock, or in a building.

Bach admits to once harboring hatred at the atrocities committed by ISIS. He writes about his one-time urge to temporarily abandon evangelism and rejoin his "marine buddies to go blast some jihadists to kingdom come." How many of us can identify with him?

He then reminds us of Ephesians 6:12-13. Our struggle isn't with flesh and blood. ISIS is being controlled by the enemy. Yet Jesus died for all sinners. Bach notes that these people have been deceived, but are not beyond redemption through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be tough to behave like a Christian (Rom 12:9-21).

In his book Jesus in Iran, Bach writes that Iran isn't enemy territory - it is territory which has been occupied by the enemy (p 14). He notes that blessing one's enemy shouldn't be confused with passive ministry and that blessing and loving aren't the same as appeasement. Appeasement is about self-preservation, whereas true love is sacrificial.

Isn't it an irony that so many Muslims and Christians are escaping into Europe from out of the Middle East, while these missionary teams are heading into that region with the gospel? It is this heavenly-minded attitude which makes the Underground Church so dangerous to the Chinese Regime. These people cannot be controlled by fear of persecution or martyrdom. They love the Lord more than this present life.

But this is a tale of two journeys. One leads to Jerusalem (spiritually speaking). The other one is running towards Babylon.

I won't spend too much time on the latter. Suffice to say that recent headlines coming from professing Christian clerics highlight a stark dichotomy between worshiping Christ and bowing to something entirely different.

Stockholm's lesbian Bishop Eva Brunne proposed that a church in her diocese should pull down its crosses and install Muslim baths. She said that providing a building for Muslim prayer doesn't mean a priest isn't a defender of the faith. Brunne said that to do any less would be “stingy towards people of other faiths”. Apparently the bishop has no issue with Islam's denial of the Lord and is willing to support it.

Then there was the mixed gaggle of self-styled clerics who collectively thanked God for abortion providers. To which the executive director of an abortion clinic declared:

“At a time when abortion care providers are under attack, we are so thankful to be surrounded by the faith community as they share their powerful voices in saying no to the shame and stigma." (Italics mine)

The "shame and stigma" resulted from the exposure of the butchery occurring at the PP clinics. Would Jesus Christ really bless the killing of unwanted babies?

These two examples aren't anomalous. Many western churches are adjusting their tenets and interpretation of Scripture (when they actually refer to it) to fall in line with the gods of "your best life now", pluralism, and cultural and sexual diversity. They've forsaken Christ for social demands. In doing so they've lost sight of Eternity. Not only are they merrily trekking to Babylon, they are leading their flocks on the road to hell.

The Apostle Paul warned about wolves stealing into the church (Acts 20:29). He warned Timothy that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine and turn to fables (2 Tim 5:1-5).

Here in the west we are coming to a time when our faith may be put to the testing. Will we follow the example of the Chinese Underground Church and the BTJ team? Or will we bend the knee to worldly pressures?

Paul reminds us that we need have no fear (Romans 8:15-19). At the end of it all, this is what we should all hope to hear.

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord. Matt 25:23

Maranatha

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Israel Under Fire



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