Unity Comes to China's House Churches
May 03, 2007
On March 20, 2007 I wrote a web log quoting from Megashift, by James Rutz, in regard to the unification of China's house church movement. It was from the perspective of Wang Xin Ca, one of the house church leaders. Wang is mentioned in The Heavenly Man as well, written from Brother Yun's perspective.
"At the start of 1994 God showed me that the different house church networks must be unified before he would truly pour out his power on China." (The Heavenly Man, p. 232)
He continues, telling how in the early days suffering and persecution had broken down any denominational walls in the Church in China. But then in 1988 and on, when Bibles began to arrive from the West, many packages also included other books.
"These booklets told us we must worship in a certain way, or that we must speak in tongues to be a true believer, or that only if we were baptized in Jesus' name (instead of the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) could we be saved. Other teachings focused on extreme faith, still others argued for or against the role of women in the church.
"We read all these booklets and soon we were confused! The churches started to split into groups that believed one thing against groups that believed another. Instead of only speaking for Jesus, we also started speaking against other believers who didn't conform to our views." (The Heavenly Man, p. 233)
"In their zeal to help, our foreign brothers were actually causing the house churches to split and be weakened. . . . The leaders could no longer walk together in unity before the Lord. We felt that to do so would be to compromise our new beliefs!" (p. 234)
The first breakthrough came in 1994 when Brother Xu and his group were the first to join the new unity movement. Brother Yun considered Brother Xu to be his pastor and closest friend and co-worker. Thus, Brother Yun was represented by Brother Xu in this unity movement. Even so, Brother Xu wrote,
"Bother Yun is a servant of God and is one of the five elders of the Sinim Fellowship of the house churches of China. . . In 1996 the Lord used him to start the Sinim Fellowship of the house churches of China." (The Heavenly Man quotation of Brother Xu, p. 309)
They soon arranged to meet with Brother Zhang, but Xu received a word that he was to wash the feet of Brother Zhang at the meeting. When he obeyed this word, unity was achieved:
"Zhang was praying with his eyes closed when Xu knelt down in front of him and started gently to take his shoes and socks off. Zhang opened his eyes and was amazed. He couldn't believe the great Xu Yongze, leader of the largest house church movement in China, would ever kneel down and wash his feet! Zhang cried out and wrapped his arms around Brother Xu in a warm embrace." (p. 237)
These two house church movements unified in what they called the "Sinim Fellowship." Sinim is considered to be China in Isaiah's prophecy of 49:12,
"Behold, these shall come from afar; and lo, these will come from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim."
This is also why in modern politics, relations between China and America are called "Sino-American relations."
"In October 1996, five men were elected to be the first elders of the Sinim Fellowshp. They were Brother Xu Yongze, who was voted the Chairman, Zhang Rongliang, Wang Xincai, Shen Yiping and myself. Each man represented a different church network." (p. 239)
I personally find this fact interesting, in that this Sinim Fellowship was established shortly after our Jubilee declaration on Sept. 23, 1996. (I explained this in Secrets of Time.) It seems to me that this unity movement has formed the basis of something much greater that will yet manifest in the years to come.
"The unity movement continues to this day, although in 2002 the leaders decided to drop the title 'Sinim' and just meet as brothers in Christ without an official name. Several more house church networks have joined. At a special meeting in January 2000, the leaders for the first time estimated the number of believers in their networks. The combined total was 58 million." (p. 240)
This total has at least doubled within a few years and now stands at well over 100 million.
There are many today who are afraid of China and who view them with alarm. Many have tried to identify China with Gog and Magog, now that the Soviet Union has collapsed. I think Christians are often too zealous in searching for God's enemies. While it is true that China's government is one entity, and the house church movement is quite another, it seems to me that China is moving toward becoming a Christian Nation, while America is moving in the opposite direction.
In the long term, I think America is more of a "problem" than is China. I believe that God removed His hand of protection from America on Sept. 11, 2001, and that this condition will continue until the Church repents in America. No, it's not the non-believers that have to repent in order to turn around this situation. 2 Chron. 7:14 makes it clear that "IF MY PEOPLE" repent, then God will heal our land. When the American Church repent of their lawlessness, then God will again bless and protect America. As Brother Yun wrote on page 295,
"Before I travelled to the West, I had absolutely no idea that so many churches were spiritually asleep. . . In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord."
Meanwhile, in China the Church has been refined and purified in the fires of persecution. They are not perfect, of course, as they themselves would attest, but nonetheless, they are not nearly as decadent and obsessed with materialism and the pursuit of prosperity as is the American Church. It seems to me that, at least in part, China's current prosperity is due to God's blessing upon that nation for the sake of its Christians who pray for their nation daily.
The Sinim Fellowship in China has what they call the "Back to Jerusalem" project. The Gospel began in Jerusalem and went West until it reached China. Now the Sinim Fellowship feels called to bring the Gospel to the Muslim countries between China and Jerusalem to complete the spread of the Gospel around the world.
The training of missionaries is not exactly a Bible College curriculum. They teach three things: (1) How to suffer and die for the Lord; (2) How to witness for the Lord; (3) How to escape for the Lord. The first 39 Chinese missionaries left China in March 2000. Thirty-six of them were arrested. A year later, there were over 400 Chinese missionaries in more than ten countries.
I believe that God is working with them to complete this mission. And this is part of the blessing that God is currently pouring out upon China.
Dr. Stephen Jones