Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Living Water by Brother Yun

This book was written by a Chinese Christian who has suffered harsh persecution for his faith. His powerful testimony was told in his biography, THE HEAVENLY MAN. In 1997, Brother Yun, whose actual name is Liu Zhenying, had left China at the insistence of his fellow believers there. He believed that he was being called by God to wake up the Church throughout the West, and challenge Christians in the West to dare to pursue wholehearted, on-fire living for Jesus. Brother Yun has seen God move in powerful ways inside China, which he reports has experienced a stunning revival, exploding in both numerical growth and in maturity of individual believers. He takes the hard-learned lessons from his life of persecution and miracles in China, and applies them to LIVING WATER. Paul Hattaway, an expert on the Chinese Church (and who has written books on the Church in China), has written the introduction to this book. This book is arranged in three parts. Part One shows the problems in the Western Church, and calls the reader to individual repentance and wholehearted turning to Jesus. Part Two shows what the living water is and how to experience its reality in one's life as one seeks to serve God wholeheartedly. Part Three provides much exhortation, motivation and challenge to live as soldiers for Christ and to maintain hearts on-fire for Him. This book ends with contact information for Asia Harvest, which Paul Hattaway, a New Zealand missionary, directs. This book ends with a short first chapter preview of Brother Yun's first book, THE HEAVENLY MAN.

I knew full well what would be in store for me as a reader of this book, as I had read the earlier book by this same author. From the start of this book, Brother Yun makes it clear that he has a relationship with Christ that is more intimate and strong than I have ever seen or experienced. He is not at all afraid of using old-fashioned, offensive but solidly Biblical words like repentance and obedience. He uses those words constantly all over this book. I have always been profoundly challenged by his writings in his first book and now in this book. I could do little more but be amazed as Brother Yun writes of the intense zeal for the cause of Christ, that all Chinese Christians show in their daily lives and their willingness to pay any price to see Christ be exalted and made known to those who have not heard. One account details where a gathering of believers were told about Chinese missionaries who needed funding. Immediately, all those present promptly emptied their pockets to give all they had to these missionaries. One person had no money but felt so moved that he got into the basket where the funds were being collected, to signal his eagerness to give his all! Brother Yun says that this is no isolated incident, that Chinese Christians are willing to go without to further the cause of Christ on earth. On the other hand, Brother Yun says that he has been in churches in the West where he saw that people looked for minimum amounts to put in the collection basket. I could fully understand his point in including this, but I wonder if some of those he had in mind may simply not like how so many local fellowships lavish funds on buildings rather than the needs of people here and abroad. I do not think it says so much about these people's lack of love for Christ, but may say far more about their displeasure at how the money would be spent--on buildings rather than missions. Though I know that Brother Yun and most Chinese Christians have suffered much persecution, I find myself feeling that persecution has actually been good for them. As Brother Yun has pointed out, before harsh persecution and Communism had hit China, Chinese Christians had been more lukewarm in faith and believers but not disciples. But persecution has purified them and simplified the larger Chinese Church. I cannot help but mentally say "Amen!" when this author observes that the traditional church structures throughout the West actually hinder, rather than help, Christians grow in faith and to live in grace and freedom. I have often felt that the way that our church structures, worship patterns and the way we have re-defined fellowship to be exchanging greetings and acting on our best behavior when we meet, stifle transformation. I feel that this word is way overused in our local fellowships, for our well-meaning Pastors and church leaderships have set things up where transformation, in the Biblical sense of the word, is hard to experience. But though Brother Yun does not, from what I remember, mention transformation, clearly he and his fellow Chinese believers know all about it by experience. Though we ought to thank God for our religious freedoms, it seems that we actually pay a hidden price for enjoying them in missing out on the freedom and grace in serving God without the constraints of institutionalized Christianity, that we in the West know. You need to read Brother Yun's books to get the idea.

I recommend this book for every Pastor and all others in church leadership, in every Christian congregation here in the West, especially in the United States. I warn you, though, that if you do not believe in signs and wonders, that you may be offended at this book and even be angry. Brother Yun is clear in that he sees signs and wonders as being simply a normal part of the obedient, faith-filled Christian life. You may be tempted to dismiss him as a false teacher, but you should check all he says with Scripture, just like anyone else. Brother Yun testifies to what he has seen and heard in his country; I am not aware that he has any affiliation with any Western Christian movement, much less the signs and wonders movement, or the Charismatic movement. I recommend this book for every single Christian. It will serve as a rude awakening to many believers. That is better to happen now that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when it will be too late to get it right in your walk with God. If you cannot find LIVING WATER at your library, you should be able to find Brother Yun's earlier book. Please try and read this book.

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