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Brother Yun and the Back to Jerusalem Movement

May 08, 2007

In the fall of 1995 Brother Yun was speaking at a house church gathering in central China. He had been given a burden for the Muslim countries and believed that the house church movement was called to bring the Gospel westward to the countries between China and Jerusalem to complete the gospel's circuit around the globe.

At this meeting in 1995 he sang an old song from the songbook put together by the Back to Jerusalem Movement in the 1940's. While he sang to the audience, he noticed an old man with white hair and beard weeping. When he finished the song, the old man walked to the front and asked to address the people.

"He said, 'I am Simon Zhao, a servant of the Lord. Forty-eight years ago my co-workers and I wrote the words you just sang. All my co-workers were martyred for the name of Jesus.'

"He continued, 'I am one of the leaders of the Back to Jerusalem Band. We marched across China on foot, proclaiming the gospel in every town and village we passed through.

"Finally in 1950, after many years of hardship, we reached the border town of Kashgar in Xinjiang Province. We stopped for a while and applied for visas to enter the Soviet Union. We were nervous and excited at the same time at what lay ahead!

"Before we ever had a chance to leave China, the Communist armies under Chairman Mao took control of Xinjiang. They immediately sealed the borders and implemented their strong-armed style of rule.

"All the leaders of our movement were arrested. Five of us were sentenced to forty-five years in prison with hard labour. All the other leaders died in prison long ago. I'm the only one who survived . . . . For the sake of the vision to take the gospel back to Jerusalem, I spent 31 years in prison for the Lord.'

"We were all stunned. We sat there with our mouths wide open and tears running down our cheeks, dripping onto the floor." (The Heavenly Man, p. 281, 282)

He continued, saying,

" 'Every evening for decades in the labour camp, I faced toward the west, in the direction of Jerusalem, and cried out to the Lord, "Oh God, I'll never be able to reach Jerusalem on foot. Our vision has perished. Heavenly Father, I pray you will raise up a new generation of Christians in China who are willing to lay down their lives to take the gospel all the way back to where it started in Jerusalem.' (p. 283, 284)

Brother Yun accepted the call and writes,

"That meeting was a pivotal point in my life. I felt as if God passed a flaming baton from this dear old man of God to the house churches, giving us the responsibility to complete the vision.

"The Lord had already placed the Back to Jerusalem vision in my heart, but after meeting Simon Zhao it became the primary focus of my life. I came to understand clearly that the destiny for the house churches of China is to pull down the world's last remaining spiritual giants; the house of Buddha, the house of Mohammed, and the house of Hinduism, and to proclaim the glorious gospel to all nations before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (p. 284)

"A few years ago the Sinim leaders prayed about their involvement in the Back to Jerusalem mission. We then came together and each house church network revealed the number of missionaries they were committed to train and send overseas. When we added the number of workers, it totalled 100,000. That means we intend to send 100,000 missionaries outside China in the coming years!" (p. 285)

"We have also come to understand that the past thirty years of suffering, persecution and torture for the house churches in China were all part of God's training for us. The Lord has perfected fitted us to go as missionaries to the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu worlds." (p. 286)

"The Back to Jerusalem missionary movement is not an army with guns or human weapons. It isn't a group of well-dressed, slick professionals. It's an army of broken-hearted Chinese men and women whom God has cleansed with a mighty fire, and who have already been through years of hardship and deprivation for the sake of the gospel." (p. 287)

"Since my escape from China in 1997, I've been responsible for the training and implementation of the Back to Jerusalem missionaries.

"When the first batch of thirty-nine missionaries left China in March 2000, thirty-six of them were arrested. They didn't lose their vision, however. They went back home, prayed, and found another way to get across the border.

"Little more than a year later, the number of Chinese house church missionaries outside China already exceeded four hundred, serving in more than ten countries. The floodgates are beginning to open." (p. 289)

"Many pastors in Europe and America have told me they want to see great revival. I'm frequently asked why China is experiencing revival but most places in the West are not. This is a big question to answer, but some reasons are very apparent.

"When I'm in the West, I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainly that you don't need any more church buildings. Church buildings will never bring the revival you seek. The pursuit of more possessions will never bring revival. . .

"The first thing needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord. God's Word is missing. Sure, there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God's Word. It's the truth that will set you free.

"Not only is knowledge of God's Word missing, but obedience to that Word. There's not much action taking place." (p. 296)

"If you truly want to see God move, the two main things you must do is learn the Word of God and have the obedience to do what God tells you to do." (p. 299)

"Every house church pastor in China is ready to lay down his life for the gospel. When we live this way, we'll see God do great things by his grace." (p. 300)

I want to go on record personally to say that God is indeed raising up men and women in America who are being divinely trained in the wilderness for the great work that lies ahead. These have been trained, not so much by persecution from the world, but from the organized church, which hates the American house church movement and considers it a threat to their own denominational growth.

When the Chinese government set up the Three-Self Patriotic Church in 1981, they immediately outlawed all Christianity that did not come under this government-sponsored church system. Here in America the government has not yet gone that far, but if they did so, many of the church denominations would welcome that law. But for the present, they are content to call such house groups "cults" and "wolves." It seems that in their eyes, if a group does not meet in a building with a steeple, or if it does not apply for government-approved tax-exempt status, that it is not a bona fide church.

Such people do not know the difference between the Church and an organization that the government calls a "Church." But throughout the past, the Church has been persecuted primarily for refusing to submit to organizational authority, which they equate with rebellion against God Himself.

The American Church system has much to learn from the example of China.

Meanwhile, God has been training many of us by hardships and by false accusations from our brethren in the denominational Church systems to be part of the next Great Commission that is soon coming. Opposition no longer can deter us, for we are determined to be obedient to the call of God.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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