China Report 1999
by Jon Dee
Dearest beloved family in the Lord,
A Visit with the Underground Church
Now 85 Million Strong
Praise the Lord forever and ever. The underground church continues to grow and is alive and well. Noah and Caleb reported that tears flowed when the families opened the envelopes and saw your offerings. Only in heaven will we know their joy. Jesus asked, you gave and He blesses. This report is lengthy, so read it in several sittings if need be or better yet print it out and make copies for your friends.
Arriving in ChinaClinton’s bombing of the Chinese embassy made the flight a bit uncomfortable, but it was without incident. We arrived in City A, my eyes met Johnny’s smiling face and off we went. When I say we, I mean David M and myself. David is an Amish brother and came as a courier of PCC. He paid his own expenses and has the heart of a servant. All were blessed by his coming.
Church Growth & Current ConditionsWhen I first came to China in 1997 I learned that 20,000 were being saved daily. Last year many sources agreed that the number of underground Christians has reached 80 million. We have an obligation to update these figures as best we can despite the secrecy of the underground church.
An accurate census would be the only way to confirm the growth of Christianity in China. Of course, this is impossible under the present government. A conservative estimate is that daily conversions are now at 25,000 per day! Simple math tells us that 1999 will see 90 million and the year 2,000 will see 100 million Christians in the underground church.
At this time the underground church is being extremely cautious because of the arrests of many leaders last fall. By all accounts, the number of believers in prison is down but the number of leaders on the run has increased sharply to at least 270. I have tried to imagine not being able to see my two grandsons, my three beautiful daughters, and my precious wife again. I do believe, as a father, I would rather lose my arm than suffer that pain. May the Lord make these faithful servants invisible and give them His special presence to replace the sacrifice of not being with their families.
The Holy Spirit has obviously been at work causing the sentence of many Christians to be reduced. Some Christians are finding favor with jailers as they witness their faith during torture and are being released early. Others are released because too many prisoners are being won to Christ. This is not a good report for the jailers on their re-education performance record.
I agree with a brother who has recently said, "China is the final frontier of nations for Christians to direct their harvest prayers. Remember, the majority of people in the world who do not know God, are in China."
The Chinese culture is the oldest and slowest to change. They know humility and respect but have no hope. Multitudes of Chinese are receiving Jesus, from farmers to professionals and everything in between. They convert when they learn Jesus the Savior loves them. He willingly shed His blood, was crucified, rose from the dead, has given them eternal life and prepared a place for them in heaven. In China, Jesus has not been diminished by the likes of 25,000 different denominations. Conditions in China are much like they were in the Early Church times. To them Jesus is the world’s new Savior, and He is being enthusiastically proclaimed to a needy people.
Bibles for StudyWe parked two floors down in the basement of a high rise building. We went into a small concrete room to exchange our currency. I had prearranged with him the amount of money that I was bringing to exchange. In the corner stacked in boxes were some of the 500 study Bibles we ordered. These hard covered Bibles are normal size and have 2,500 pages, but most importantly, they will super advance the training of young leaders for service. My Christian agent a week earlier had already taken forty-eight Bibles to other cities. David and I were requested to carry in 70 more. Johnny contributed two large gym bags. We filled them with 35 Bibles each and it felt like they weighed at least 50 pounds, which was too heavy to check in as luggage. We had to carry these bags and walk as straight as we could so as not to look suspicious. Once on the plane, it was a chore to lift these bags up and into the overhead luggage bin of the plane. Next trip I hope to order 1,000 study Bibles.
"War Room" GatheringWe arrived in City B and David our host was there to greet us. At the same time, Joseph my agent was getting his baggage coming from City C. We arrived at the "war room" and met old friends and some new ones. To hug and greet these warriors who have paid the heavy price of persecution is a wonderful experience in itself. Two brothers traveled 72 hours on a train to attend this gathering. I will not complain about my 33 hour trip.
All of those present adopted English Bible names. Here is a run-down of the saints that gathered. There was Peter, Noah, Dr. Luke (a real doctor), David, John, Caleb, Philip, Joseph, Timothy, Jonathan, two sisters Mary and Martha and six others from the U.S. It was humbling to be among such an esteemed gathering. I am sure that some of these brave believers were living up to their namesake.
For the next two days, we were going to be together discussing many issues including short and long-range goals to support this massive harvesting of Chinese people to Jesus. Dear friends, I really mean harvest. The fields in China are white and ready to harvest.
Caleb's ArrestCaleb is the leader I have been praying for since I met him last year. I hugged him and made a great show of affection for him. Caleb is 42 years old, a handsome guy and was saved when he was 25 years old. He was born of Christian parents who were severely persecuted during the heinous Cultural Revolution. He was not qualified to join the military because as a Christian he was denied schooling. During those darkest days, he was full of joy. There were no more disappointments, only days full of hope because of his conversion to Christ.
Because of God’s mercy, it wasn’t long before Caleb was preaching the Gospel in other provinces as well as his own. God grew the minister, but before long Caleb made the police most wanted list. He has been a fugitive most of his Christian life. He has been arrested many times, beaten severely, one time for 3.5 months. He has been hung by his hands, suffered electric shock guns on his body and had hot water poured on his head.
At our "war room gathering" last year it was Caleb & Joshua who took the responsibility to distribute most of the envelopes to the needy families. Not long after, our sources told us that Caleb was among the 140 who were arrested. Actually, there were 125 arrested. As information came to us, we wondered if Caleb was able to distribute all the envelopes before he was arrested. Thank the Lord, he finished his assignment.
What happened was this. Some missionaries came from Finland, Sweden & Norway. Many leaders gathered with them and were caught by the police. They said, there was a Judas in the crowd that informed the police of the meeting. Everyone was tortured, even the foreigners. The local people were then released. This is about the time I sent an e-mail to everyone request intercessory prayer on his behalf.
Caleb was cuffed with his hands behind his back while being interrogated and then placed three feet from a wall. They leaned him forward and placed his head on the wall and he was made to stay there for 4 days and 4 nights. A huge blister formed on his head. Folks, to understand what it feels like, just take a minute and try this form of torture.
On the fourth day, they sent a woman guard to watch over him. The officer gave him some rice but he couldn’t eat it with cuffs. So she cuffed one hand to the chair and freed the other so he could eat. She went into the other room to make a phone call. Caleb started to work the cuff off his hand. Either the cuff grew larger or his hand got smaller. It was almost off when she came back so he had to put the cuff back onto his wrist. He encouraged her that she didn’t have to watch him so she went back into the other room. He made the decision to escape by slipping his hand through the cuff. He ran through 2 doors, and down six flights of stairs as fast as he could.
There was normally a guard at the front door that registers everyone in and out, but there was no guard. With his prison shirt on and his number visible, out the door he goes. That day a high police official from Beijing came to interrogate him and found that he had escaped. They went to his house to wait for him. Instead of going home first, Caleb went to a co-worker’s home to check on him. He was informed not to go home because the police were waiting for him. Folks, can you see the miracle of our prayers here? God was in charge of his escape.
Caleb is still on the run. He can not go to his hometown where he can be recognized just in case there is a Judas informant there. He is now distributing envelopes with Peter and encouraging the saints with your offerings. He is full of the joy of the Lord, but sadly he has joined the ranks of the 270 who can’t go home to their families.
Safe HousesOne of Caleb’s assignments last year was the establishment of safe houses. When a leader is arrested and the home is broken up his children would be disrupted. The concept of a safe house is a place where children can go other than the parent’s home. Elderly sisters are used to provide care for them. The local police have been selling all the belongings of H/C leaders and pocketing it as a fine. We provide funds for 43 newly established safe houses.
Safe houses are not the total answer for the children. When it is found out that their father is in prison or on the run, they are given an inferior education. Other children treat them cruelly and before long they live with a burden that children shouldn’t bear. We are now looking at safe houses as a temporary measure until mission schools are established.
These schools will put the children in a wholesome environment where they can prosper with good teaching in academics and the Bible. Older sisters will nurture these young ones. Hopefully, at least one of these mission schools will be underway by my next trip. Please, pray for this new venture. There are many details that will have to be worked out and all of it underground. The funds collected for safe houses will be transferred to these schools.
Leaders in Prison or on the RunWe were able to assist 18 families whose fathers are in prison because of their faith. The prison system there is nowhere near our system. The family has to pay for their food and care! When care is given only half of it reaches the father. Many of our brothers and sisters are brutally beaten by their cellmates because they won’t fight back. To them the prison is a mission field.
Many prisoners are converted because they are convicted by the steadfast faith of these men and women workers. Peter told us that during one of his prison stays 15 men were converted to Christ. Caleb told me that when he gave out the envelopes to these oppressed families, tears were the first response. Noah told me the same thing happened when he gave the envelopes to five families of martyred brothers.
Prison does not deter these leaders from continuing the very things that put them in prison. They know only one thing and that is to win the lost to Jesus. I felt compelled to assist them with our offerings. I could only help 45 out of the 270 because I ran out of offerings. There were many that knew I was going to China that gave nothing to the Lord’s suffering church. I believe if we all listened to the Holy Spirit this need could have been met.
Communications CenterThe communications center is not a secret building with sophisticated listening devices and dishes on the roof. It is a lap top computer with a 3-com cellular modem. An evil government will always control the truth. They don’t want the world to know how they treat their people. They control the media, censor mail, bug rooms and tap phones. They are now trying to control e-mail and Internet access. It’s only by sheer determination with someone putting themself at risk that we get information out of China.
The consensus was that a full time C/C director was needed. The house church leaders felt so strong about this that they proposed to pay one third of his salary. PCC would pay the other two thirds and another source would pay all of his travel expenses. This is the best joint venture I have ever been a part of.
Our plan is simple. All the Christian underground networks will report current and reliable information to our C/C director. He will then format it and translate it into English and post it on our website. Our goal is to have weekly updates posted so that fresh information and testimonies are continually flowing about this great move of God in China. This information will be available to the media, civil rights groups, Christian activists groups, religious persecution committees, senators and congressmen, the President, China’s Communist government and virtually anyone in the whole world that wants to log on to our web site.
Scholarship for House Church LeadersAnother need that surfaced in the "war room" was the need to equip each network with at least one English-speaking leader. In Paul’s day, he was fortunate that Timothy, Silas and others could speak Greek as that was the world’s language at that time. He could penetrate many churches without having a translator with him. There just aren’t enough translators available to meet today’s need. It is easier for a Chinese person to learn English than it is for an English speaking person to learn Chinese. The language barriers must be addressed as the Lord continues to send help from the West. Therefore, we are going to start a scholarship fund for a one year crash course in English including Bible instruction in the evenings using a Chinese and English version Bible. The total cost per student is $1,500 per year.
Communist Government Aiding China's RevivalThe way communist governments operate is to control everything by force. The Chinese communist government is somewhat progressive. It will take risks of exposure when it is in their interest. For example, their economic policy does not reflect a hard line position. Easing their economic policy to reflect more of a Western tradition has brought improved employment to many workers as well as made China an economic power in the world. They now relish the benefits of their economic position in the world.
Their policy towards the underground church however is not progressive. They are still determined to control its growth by force. What they don’t realize is, that force designed to deter the growth of Christianity works in reverse. History shows us from the time of Christ, that when the church was persecuted it prospered with new converts. Observing the faith of Christians during torture brings about the admiration of all, especially those involved in its administration. Even the household of Caesar was being converted because of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.
Someone had likened the results of persecution to two trains heading down railroad tracks that are side by side. The trains are linked together and travel as one. The persecution train is on the right and the revival train is on the left. When the persecution increases the revival increases automatically. The faster the persecution train goes the faster the revival goes. History also shows us that when there is no persecution, church growth slows. According to Dr. Dobson’s report of August 1998 many local churches are barely surviving with approximately 3,000-4,000 of them closing their doors every year in the USA. He is very alarmed by this, but that is what can happen when the church gets complacent.
The truth is these Christians are the best citizens China has. They are not criminals. They obey the laws of their country as long as they don’t conflict with their Savior Jesus as He directs His church. Their heart is full of compassion, they are kind and helpful people. Could it be that someday the Chinese Premier’s family or one of his staff would encourage him to stop the persecution of Christians and put those resources to hunt down evil people? This is my prayer, will you join me?
The Big SurpirseOn my last day in China, I saw this lady I had not seen before. I asked who she was and to my surprise she is the wife of the Heavenly Man, brother Liu. I am sure that for a first time meeting I hugged her too long. I have been praying for him and his family every since I learned of his escape as reported in my China report 1997. It is the Heavenly Man that I show at the opening of our web site hanging by his thumbs being beaten unconscious. He has been on the run and in hiding since his escape from that prison in May of 1997.
I then learned from my contact Joseph that he met with the Heavenly Man last March. Joseph said that being with him is like living in the book of Acts. For example, while eating in a restaurant, before they left, the waitress was on her knees repenting, asking Jesus to forgive her of her sins. Brother Liu fasted for 74 days while in prison, which is physically impossible. The level of anointing and the power given to him by the Lord is rare. I know that one-day I will meet him. Pray with me that soon he may be reunited with his family.
Buying Shoes for the LordThe host of our "war room" is David and his family. David has a tremendous testimony that some day I will write about. But just briefly I will tell you that he is a Tiananmen Square survivor. Students standing on the right and left of him were killed. The Lord has preserved him for such a time as this. I noticed that David wore an old pair of shoes that had been resoled and the second sole put on with nails was wearing out.
The Lord put it on my heart to buy him a pair of shoes. My last day in China was fairly free so he took me into town to do some shopping. I told him that I wanted to buy him a pair of shoes. He made all kinds of excuses including that I could do it the next time I come. Thank the Lord an English-speaking lady was with us so I asked her to take us to a shoe store. It was a huge department store. Half of the upper floor was all shoes. David asked me to pick the shoes out that I liked.
I walked up and down the aisles and noticed one pair that was especially soft and then the Lord said pick out another pair. I found an expensive pair of sandals again with a soft insole. After we chose the first pair, I asked him to try on the sandals. He was in shock. He said you are treating me like a father. His mother died when he was five and his father never showed him any love. This was a touching moment where tears were not far away.
A Typical Underground House ChurchI thought you might be interested to learn a little about the house church system in China. This one church I will share about is typical. Its membership is approaching 100,000. Its radius is 300 miles.
The leader is 30 years old and he has a wife and a young son. I have been to this church and witnessed the brilliant young people in it. When a young person receives the Lord Jesus as Savior their immediate goal is to become a co-worker to be sent out for the Lord. They are not given an office with a computer, phone and fax machine. No retirement plans offered here or head Bishop post to shoot for. Without a doubt, they all know that sooner or latter, they will be arrested, tortured and put into prison for the Lord.
So the leadership is committed to teaching and raising up these young people to become full time gifted anointed evangelists for Christ. As the revival continues to multiply in the area, this church sends out 30 full time workers into the countryside. Their meetings start at 5:00 am and often last until dark. They gather in the dark and leave in the dark singing and praising the Lord in the Spirit as they go.
DistributionIt took David and I four hours to count out the money and put it in the proper envelopes. We missed our evening meal to complete the work. I have worked at many jobs during my 60 years but all pales to this one. Counting out all the offerings and knowing the relief it will bring to the suffering believers is the best duty in the world. We sealed and labeled all the envelopes so that they would get to the correct need. Each network received only the envelopes they needed so we put rubber bands around each stack and labeled the top envelope with the proper network leader name.
The next morning, we took the envelopes to the war room. We laid them on the table and explained our packaging system to the leaders. Then we all laid hands on the envelopes and prayed over them. Their prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord were exceptional. I could sense a gathering of heavenly hosts in the room with us. They prayed that the gifts multiply as the loaves and fishes did and that the givers be exceedingly blessed. I had all the leaders sign next to the amount of envelopes they took.
I know these Chinese leaders have never seen so much money. I explained to them that all the offerings collected were here before them. Nothing had been taken out for our expenses. I then pointed out to them how the apostle Paul laid the offering at the feet of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. It was collected from the Gentile churches for the great famine that was prophesied. They being common men too never saw so much money and rose to the occasion and distributed the collection. The Bible clearly sets the example and places the responsibility of distribution to the apostles. Our Chinese brothers rose to the occasion as well to distribute the collection. After giant hugs, off they went on the final leg of the collection’s journey. It was then that I felt a release, like a ton of bricks was taken off my shoulders and I worshipped the Lord.
NeedsLet us recap the specific needs of the underground church in China:
- Families whith fathers in prison.
- Safe houses/mission schools.
- Scholarships for leaders to learn English.
- Leaders on the run.
- Communications Director.
Before you know it we will be going back in 6 months. I felt your prayers while I was there and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. The Lord’s will was accomplished. Please pray for PCC and all the projects that we have started to help them. Until next time.
Living in His design, and loving it,