Some of our experiences this past month
I would like to recount one extra story to you and then the remainder of this report can be about our unprecedented meetings in Hong Kong. Marti and I were at a youth prayer event in East Sussex for a day and met a man I had heard of but never met. Dennis was mentored by my dear friend, Guenther Krallmann, who lived with us at Highfield Oval for many years. Dennis’s story of recent events was amongst the most encouraging we have heard.
He was on a trip abroad with a group when he began to feel very unwell and steadily weaker. He went to a doctor and after tests was told he had a ruptured appendix and would not be able to fly home the next day as scheduled. Though that was the diagnosis, he felt strongly that he should fly home anyway.
Three days later he was back in London and feeling weaker, so was taken to A and E. He is the pastor of a praying church of about a thousand people in North London and the congregation were in prayer for his healing, but he declined and died. He was certified dead, but the praying church cried out to God that they would not accept his death—that he MUST live! As they redoubled their prayer, his body roused, he took a deep breath and shouted,
“I will not die, I will live!”
The shocked hospital staff opened his abdomen, cleaned up the infection as best they could and put him in an induced coma for five days. When he regained consciousness, he was surprised and a little embarrassed to hear himself preaching. As the hours passed, he discovered that he had preached a lot during the five days and that hospital staff and patients had been deeply impacted.
He went on to tell me how so many of the people in his part of London were aware of his illness and now know the whole story. But, he explained, “The thing I like the most is talking to the poor and marginalized on the streets where I am not known. That is where God is moving the most!” I am looking forward to more fellowship with Dennis.
Our week in Hong Kong started in the same vein. We met a humble evangelist (I’ll call him Ahmed) working in some of the most closed countries in the Middle East. He trained as a priest, but it was just a job to him until he met Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit and power. He had to flee his country on the sub-continent because powerful people were seeking to kill him. Life was very difficult for an exile in M.E. countries where the Christian faith cannot be freely proclaimed.
At 2 a.m. one morning his phone rang and a man on the other end demanded, “Who are you!” Ahmed, confused, asked the same question of his caller. Eventually, the man explained that he was in a state of desperation and had suddenly seen a telephone number written in lights on the ceiling above his bed, so he called the number. The caller demanded that Ahmed should come to him immediately, but Ahmed had no car and no way of getting there, so the man sent his driver the next morning. That was the first of many miracles that opened a door to the most influential families in the region and many members of those families have become followers of Jesus. They have even given him a large piece of property so he can train more people to be like him.
Ahmed pastors a church of several hundred now. One night he received a phone call from a desperate member of his church who was in a morgue. A friend of his was very ill, had died and was taken to the morgue, but this man had a deep faith that, even though a death certificate had been issued and he was holding a copy of it, his friend was not meant to die. Ahmed was still waking up and didn’t know what to do, but heard himself saying, “Lay your phone on your friend!” He began to pray and rebuke the spirit of death. After a short time, the friend who had died began to shrug her shoulders. She went on to regain full health and is alive today. That was one of three people recently resurrected. (This report would be a lot longer if I told the details of those stories.)
There is no doubt that “the harvest is ripe” in some parts of the world that we used to think were the hardest to reach. The work of the Holy Spirit, often in signs and wonders cuts right through all the usual arguments and objections to the Good News.
Mainly about the Chinese
After a couple of days of preliminary meetings, we moved to the Asia World-Expo centre near the HK airport and were joined by nearly 10,000 Chinese. The great majority were from the mainland, but others were from Chinese majority and Chinese minority nations around East Asia. The cultures, political views and values vary a lot between these nations and the tensions between Hong Kong and China was particularly acute. (We were near or passing through demonstrations at both locations but never felt at risk.)
The theme was around the prayer of Jesus in John 17, that we may be one as He and the Father are one. I was so deeply impressed that the political differences could be openly discussed but without any heart division. The mainland Chinese could explain that political dissent and demonstrations would never enter their minds. Their approach to the Kingdom of God does not include political action. After very honest discussions, they simply committed themselves to stand together, though that might mean arrest or even death. It’s one thing to be prepared to suffer for our own convictions, but something much deeper to be prepared to suffer for convictions we do not share. They have a deep understanding of the importance of oneness. Those of us from Western nations were deeply challenged, as we so often are by the Chinese.
I was WRONG
That brings me to my confession. In 2012, an American with the reputation of a prophet conducted a prophetic act at the same Expo centre. He gave Chinese leaders a very large decorative key and proclaimed that the anointing for leadership was passing from American hands to Chinese hands. When I watched a recording of that, I was unhappy. There were a several reasons for my reaction, but my main thought was about nationalism.
Christian leadership has often been skewed by nationalism. In fact, we were at the Expo again in 2013 to offer our apology and express remorse for British nationalism which led to the opium wars of the 19th century. The loyalty of some missionaries to the British Empire damaged the purity of the gospel for two centuries. I have seen damage done all over the world when British, or Dutch, or French or American nationalism and superiority were packaged with the Good News.
To view that ceremony of apology and the emotional responses of Chinese people (video bellow)
There is no doubt that Chinese nationalism is generally on the rise. It is very common to hear Chinese people say that they used to be ashamed of being Chinese, but now they are proud of their growing power and achievements. But for the past six years we have been in close fellowship with many senior leaders of Chinese church networks—some of which number in the millions. We love and admire and joyfully submit to their extraordinary love, gentleness and power in the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I believe an anointing for global leadership in the Body of Christ is on the Chinese. But it is not the kind of leadership that some Western nations have exercised. These are humble servant leaders who are easy to underestimate. They often don’t lead from the front, they lead in prayer and spiritual authority. They do not push themselves forward, but they eagerly serve when needed.
Oneness Equals Authority
There were no guest speakers to draw the crowds to this event and there were few plans for the sessions. We met for three and four-hour sessions to worship and see what God would do. We expected that He would bring about deeper unity in the global Chinese family and that’s exactly what happened. It occurred through brokenness, worship, celebration, weeping, joy and bold proclamations.
From the Scriptures, especially John 17 and Ephesians 1-3, we know that we are meant to have great authority on the earth, but we also know there are conditions. The foremost condition, and the hardest one, is that we might be one. Anyone who has lived the Christian life for very long knows that the oneness of John 17 is impossible in human terms. Now we have witnessed that the Holy Spirit can impart that oneness, doing what is not possible for human beings.
From the beginning of the events in Hong Kong, some of us Brits and other Europeans felt that we wanted to ask the Chinese to come and help us. By the end of the event, we were desperate for their help. When I expressed that need to one of the senior leaders whom I know best, she beamed her welcoming smile back to me and said;
“We have wanted to do that for a long time!”
Where to from here?
There were about 20 Brits in the Hong Kong meetings and we are not the kind of leaders who can announce a meeting and get everyone to come. How do we proceed? We are asking God to show us. What we do know is that God is not finished with Britain, the rest of Europe or other Western nations. He wants to do a redemptive work in our nations too. Join us in prayer that we will move in unison with the will and purposes of God!