China and Back to Jerusalem vision
An interview with Peter Xu and Brother Yun
God has been doing remarkable things in China over the last 20 years. Below is a transcript of an interview with Peter Xu and Brother Yun, sometimes called the 'Heavenly Man', who have both suffered for the cause of the gospel in China.
Q: Brother Yun, can you tell us what brings you to London?
BY: The reason why God has taken us out of China and sent us to the Western world is to share to the Western Christians about the great miracles God has been doing with his church in China over recent years. Beyond my own personal testimony we also want to share about the Back to Jerusalem vision - that this vision is not only given to [the] church in China but the global body of Jesus Christ. It belongs to everybody.
Q: Brother Yun, can you explain why you are called the 'Heavenly Man'?
BY: For more than 30 years now, our co-workers and partners, including Peter Xu, have been planning and strategising how we can bring together workers from all different families and how we can train them to be better equipped for the ministry. [One time] we were conducting a discipleship seminar and something started to happen. An older man stood up and said that within three days this place will be surrounded and some of you will be arrested and thrown into prison and some of you will die for the gospel in prison. All the people one after the other raised up their hands and they said, 'Lord let that be me. I want to go to prison for you. I'm ready to die for the gospel for China'.
I was the main teacher of that seminar so I was standing in front as this happened and I said to the Lord, 'I have given my life to serve you not only to speak to others but I am also willing to die for you.' I was teaching the students a song about getting ready to die for Jesus when this whole thing happened - 'Lord I have made all the preparations and I am ready to die for you'. The police rushed and surrounded as many as they could. Outside there was ice on the ground and it was a very chilly winter day but despite that they ripped off all our clothes and started to kick with electric batons and we were all forced on the ground. They said, 'Who are you?', 'Where do you live', 'What are you doing here?' and started to question me, and a voice came from my inside and became my words. I said: 'I am the Heavenly Man'. And when I said these words there was a tremendous power and I became so bold as I proclaimed 'my name is Heavenly Man'. 'Where do you live?', 'I live in the village of the gospel'.
After I was thrown in prison there were some old believing women who heard that I had been captured and thrown into prison and [the authorities] were torturing me, so they started to send packages. They didn't know what my real name was so when they heard about the name Heavenly Man they sent packages. On every package there was the name, 'This is to the hands of Heavenly Man', and from that point on I have been called the Heavenly Man.
Q: Peter Xu, can you tell us about Brother Yun's amazing escape from prison?
PX: As we were in prison we were just frequently praying to the Lord and one morning in early May 1997 I was walking back and forth in my solitary cell and praying. And the Lord said to me very clearly that he was going to take Brother Yun out of prison that day and I have to tell him that. This message was very very real. I said to the Lord: 'Lord this is a top security prison - there are iron doors and gates. You don't just walk out of places like this.'
I was continuing praying, back and forth, and finally I was moving towards the door and my hand took hold of the handle of the door and I just pushed down on the handle inside my cell and as I did this I was able to open the door from inside. I was so frightened that it opened that I closed it back again! And then I continued to pray again and I was starting to think - maybe this is a miracle, and went back to the door and again the second time I was able to open it.
I went to the toilet there on that floor but I didn't have any call of nature that morning, I just wanted to see if there were any wardens around the corner. I saw there was nobody left or right so I went to Brother Yun's cell which was closer to the toilet and I opened his door from outside. I saw him standing leaning towards the wall of the cell and fixed my eyes upon him and I said that 'the Lord wants to allow you to leave the prison today'. After I said it I just closed his door and I rushed back to my own cell and I continued to pray back and forth in my own cell.
About two minutes passed by and I was getting very worried in my spirit because I was worried whether he had listened and obeyed what the Lord sent me to tell him to do. I was getting worried that he [had] lost the window of opportunity to escape, so again I was able to open my door for a third time that morning and I went out to the corridor and went around the toilet to look if there was anybody around. After that I saw nobody then I went back to walk towards his cell door and I discovered it was already open. I pushed it fully open and there was nobody inside his cell anymore and my heart started to jump like a rabbit, so I closed his door as I rushed back to my own cell and closed that door. I dived under my mattress and I start to pray. I was saying: 'Lord, you have (to) protect my brother. You have to be with him'. Then something happened. I heard somebody rushing to my cell door and open the door and look inside. After he saw nobody in my cell except myself, he went and opened all 20 other doors to other cells. I didn't come out from under the mattress so I didn't see this, but I knew this is the warden, the policeman, and that he had already discovered that Brother Yun's cell is empty, so he was looking for him. He could not find him on the next floor of the prison either and that was the moment he recognised that this crippled man had escaped and he had to report this to his superior.
We were so precious to the authorities that the prison director was living in an apartment in the middle of our floor, very close to my cell. I heard the warden go and knock on the door of the director and the director had woken up - it was 8 o'clock in the morning. I was listening very carefully and I heard others asking what the warden said. He said: 'The crippled man has escaped!' And the only reaction I had in my spirit - this is a miracle! How in the world can a crippled man run? The director was numb, he didn't say a word.
I knew that they were going to release a central alarm and start to look for Brother Yun. I continued in my prayer in my cell from the sincerity of my heart. I was crying to the Lord and at that moment heaven was opened and heavy rain hit the city. I was really comforted by the Lord because the rain washed away all the marks and signs. They could not use the dogs or anything, they had to look for boots and raincoats in order to be able to go anywhere and one word from the Lord came to me: 'I will make clouds and rain for your shelter' and my heart was comforted. I remained another three years there; it was only after three years when I came out from the prison I learnt how God had taken him [Brother Yun] out.
Q: Brother Yun, do you have a message to the British church?
BY: For me personally this vision that the gospel is still on the way and is supposed to be brought all the way back to Jerusalem. This is today the most important thing in my life and this will be the message for my future. I believe that this vision of bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations between China and Jerusalem is not only for the church in the East or just the church in the West. I believe that this is a vision of God's kingdom - it's a kingdom vision.
(The Chinese believe the gospel travelled west from Jerusalem, into Europe, down to Africa, across to the Americas and finally reached the western coast of China. They believe it is their responsibility to take the gospel baton and continue to run with it, all throughout China and then on beyond China into the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist nations, all the way back to its source in Jerusalem.)
We have this prayer in our heart that the church in England will turn back to that first love toward Jesus and I believe that God is going to change the church in England so that in the future this nation is going to be a greater blessing in sending out more people than they have ever done in their history to fulfil the Great Commission.
I believe that the majority of people who are living in England today already know the name of Jesus and what it means, but at the same time there are many nations - Hindu/Islamic nations - where people do not know who Jesus is or that what they have heard is wrong. Jesus's vision and burden for the lost was greater than his concern about welfare of the church.
We want to bring back the truth to the church in England [and to do] that we have to change our thinking.
This interview with Peter Xu and Brother Yun took place at Global Connections' China Forum on May 4 and was spoken through a translator.