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on January 24, 2004
Many Christians in America are causally aware that outside the West, Jesus' followers experince difficulty because of their faith. We observe November's Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and afterward go on with our lives. You cannot read this piercing biography of Liu Zhenying, better known as Brother Yun, and remain unchanged.
These recorded experiences show in a concrete way what it is for Chinese Christians to live hard lives of extreme danger because of their faith: police raids in the night, long imprisonment without trial, beatings (no citizen of the West is equipped to imagine what a beating is), forced abortions and sterilizations, starvation, dehydration, isolation, nakedness. But from this, God produces lives of committment to Christ, lives of joy, and and intense motivation to carry the message of the Gospel around the world, at any cost.
It was as if I was reading something from the Book of Acts. Unimagined miracles side by side with heartbreaking hardship - happening daily half a world away.
After reading this book, you'll appreciate the impact Jesus has on civilization as we know it. You'll see how dark and brutal civilization becomes without Christ. You'll understand why the freedoms and protections we take for granted are a treasure.
But you will also see how dangerous peace, safety and material prosperity can be to your spiritual health and to your committment to serving the cause of Christ.
What will it cost you to NOT read this book?
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on February 12, 2004
I wish I could give this book six or seven stars. There
are a few truly rare books out there that can genuinely
change your life for the better: this is definitely one
of those books.
You will be amazed to read the fascinating and heartrending
testimony of bro.Yun, a leader in the Chinese underground
church, and how his "faith of abandonment to GOD" leads
him into astounding testings and overcoming power to
testify of the faithfulness and supernatural power of
Christ in daily life: a life that seeks nothing but the
glory of God and the salvation of others as a true servant
in the Kingdom of Christ and His Church.
Just to read the triumphs and tragedies of chapters 11 and
12 alone is more than worth the price of this book. It's a
modern-day classic that will, perhaps, challenge your faith
and your life as no other book you may ever read.
I know now beyond any shadow of doubt that most Christians
in the Western and developed world are virtually spiritual
pygmies compared to our brethren suffering under persecution
and rising to the task of giving testimony to The Gospel with
their very lives and their all for Christ, and Christ alone.
~ This is what genuine, - from the heart CHRISTianity is
all about. The book is a rare treasure. don't miss it, OR
the Message.
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on April 11, 2003
We lightly speak of our own 'cross' or of 'persecution', but those of us in America have no idea what other believers are going through.
Brother Yun has experienced unbelievable persecution, including torture and imprisonment. He has also experienced unbelievable grace and miracles. And in a paradox that continues to confound, he describes how the true church actually flourishes amidst persecution.
Be warned -- it is hard to read. Not in the sense of literary difficulty (the language is easy), but it will cause you to search your own soul. You cannot read this without questioning your own commitment level. Yet at the same time, one is tempted to read quickly, at breakneck pace, just to follow the adventure, and see how it all turns out. It's an adventure story -- truly a 'page-turner'.
Be inspired by one who made the choice to follow Christ even if it cost everything.
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on September 30, 2005
An incredible book...Yun has a heart for God and certainly made me re-examine my own heart and relationship with Jesus. After finishing the book,I did a little searching on the web as I wondered how he and his family were getting on. It seems they are still very much dedicated to serving God and loving people. I was surprised (I guess I shouldn't be) to see that the Chinese Gov. continues to try to discredit Yun's reputation through slander and false accusations on the web. I included the letter below as a means of showing how relentless the Chinese Gov. can be. This would be a very dangerous letter for the church leaders to write and I am sure that it grieves and humbles Yun that they would put themselves in harms way to speak on his behalf.

An open letter from 8 Chinese Church Leaders

To the body of Christ within China and overseas

According to the truth of Bible and for the sake of the unity of the church, we hereby are willing to bear witness regarding brother Liu Zhenying (known in the West as Brother Yun, the author of "The Heavenly Man"), whom we have served together and known deeply over the years. He is faithful servant of God, and of humble and honest character. Brother Liu has been called by the Lord since his youth, and has been serving The Only True God and the gospel with all of his heart and abilities, and he has also given his best for the beloved believers who are suffering in mainland China. Regarding the financial offerings from the saints, he has always conducted himself above board; never has he taken any offering for personal benefit. Regarding his position in work, he does not indulge in self pride or self promotion, furthermore, he has never considered himself the only legal representative of Chinese house church, as some have claimed.

Unfortunately, there is "someone" living in Hamburg, Germany, who keeps sending out accusations through the internet, email, letters, cassette tapes and CDs to discredit brother Yun's reputation. We have checked the accusations thoroughly and found the accusations to be false, baseless and a distortion of the true facts. In addition, certain persons being quoted in the accusations also deny having discredited brother Yun in anyway. They also expressed their displeasure of being falsely used, out of context, and without their consent and by distortion of the true facts. This matter is not merely concerning the reputation of an individual, it is also concerning the witness and unity of the kingdom of Christ, therefore, we just could not simply be a bystander, we are determined to object the false accusations with this open letter and to correct the misperception caused. At the same time, we sincerely hope churches would verify the accusations thoroughly, and not fall into the trap of Satan who wants to destroy the progress of the work of gospel in Europe. Therefore, we have unanimously decided to write this open letter to the churches in China and overseas, to verify the facts, and support brother Yun's work in various locations. We want to call upon the saints from every corner of the world to heed the call to bring the gospel back to Jerusalem, while waiting upon our Lord's glorious return.

Signatories:

Chen Chong Hui

Wei Gan Gao

Lin Jian Ying

Bao De Ning

Ding Xi Quan

Huang Shu Shen

Deng Xin Zhe

Huang Ai Min

Europe Gospel Centre / Various Church Pastors & Co-workers

06-Jan-2005, at Paris France.
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on September 5, 2006
Read it in one day. I couldn't put it down. I had to stop half way through and pray about my spiritual life! I'm buying 10 copies for all the men I know who are serious about their relationship with Jesus Christ. It is like reading the book of Acts but it took place in the last quarter century. I checked to see if anyone could verify some of the incredible miracles mentioned in the book and found statements from people who are closest to Brother Yun and vouch for his integrity. The author checked with witnesses of the events to confirm their accuracy. God help us get as serious as Brother Yun about our relationship with Christ Jesus!
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on July 9, 2005
I was deeply moved by this book and encouraged by Yun's faith. I was humbled, brought to my kneels and repented.

I do not know Brother Yun except through the book, nor do I know the accusers of him. I read the accusers' articles and web site materials, and I want to share the following with the people who accuse him. We, as God's childeren, all fell short of God's glory, so you, me, and Brother Yun are not different from one another as we are as filthy as rags. If it was really the case that Brother Yun is not who he says he is, God will deal with him and it is not in our position to attack him publicly. Rather, we should pray for him, love him, and also pray that God Himself will be known and loved to the end of the earth--this is the purpose and focus of our lives, to love God and to love our brothers. Our focus should not be our personal agendas, your churches, who tells truths or lies, or whether Yun is a fake or not.

The sovereign and righteous God examines our hearts and souls. We should leave the judgement to God, and it is entirely up to Him to repay and reward. This book really is not about the accusers' churches, not about Brother Yun, and not about the Chinese government. This book is about God and about His characters and his plans, and ultimately how we respond to God's love and sacrfice for us.
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on July 25, 2012
Christian biography is one of my go-to genres for encouragement and refreshment; my delight, with the Psalmist's, lies with the Saints who are in the land (Ps 16:3). Consequently, I was excited when The Heavenly Man, the story of Brother Yun, was glowingly recommended to me. Perhaps here was another book to add to my list of greats--to place alongside Brother Andrew and Corrie Ten Boom on my shelf of Saints. However, as I worked my way through Yun's story a strange cadre of emotions followed me; this was a book that left me... uncertain. Let me see if I can explain why.

Brother Yun is a Chinese house church leader, and The Heavenly Man is his story, told with the help of Paul Hattaway. It begins in Yun's youth when he begins to earnestly pray for a bible. He prays fervently and faithfully--so fervently that his family begins to think him crazy. Then, one day, God miraculously provided a bible for Yun. He began to consume, then memorize the scriptures, and then was almost immediately called to preach. What follows (the remainder of his story) is an amazing account of miracles (among these were healings, miraculous transportation, provision, supernatural wisdom, and multiple divinely planned escapes from the authorities). In short, Yun travels, preaches, brings people to faith, spends time in prison, ministers to prisoners, is tortured, is released, is imprisoned more, is tortured more, and through it all is provided for by God on numerous occasions.

What I say next I want to say carefully: there is nothing wrong with Yun's book; but there is also something not quite right about it. The cadre of strange emotions that traipsed through his story with me nagged again and again, raising small flags here and there, that something didn't add up.

Let's begin with what was right with Yun's book. First, his life story, as one of commitment to Christ through suffering, is admirable. Yun's faithfulness is a wonderful testimony to Christ's goodness. Second, Yun is clear in that he gives glory to Christ for what has happened and not to himself. (Incidentally, Yun's nickname, "Heavenly Man" isn't about Yun's holiness, but about a time when the authorities asked him where he was from. He responded, in order to protect his village, by saying he belonged to Heaven, and the nickname stuck.) Third, and this is terribly important, whenever Yun quoted scripture--whether to teach, to explain a situation, or in defense of his actions--he quoted them accurately. There was no proof texting, but healthy interpretation of the bible. Often, I find that if a teacher is faulty, those faults show up first in the teacher's interpretation of scripture. So this factor--the accurate use of scripture--is one that gave, to my mind, the greatest credibility to Yun's story.

But alongside theses goods came, every few pages or so, the red flags which left me uncertain. And the first red flag was Yun's accounts of miracles. Now before I go on let me be clear--abundantly clear--that I believe in the power of the Spirit to do whatever He wants to do. That is, I have no problem believing in miracles--in transportation, in fasting, in healings, in knowledge, in miraculous escapes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; he is the same one who acted in the past, he is the same who acts today. So my concerns about Yun's book have precisely nothing to do with a prejudiced dismissal of the miraculous. My concerns are different, so let me try to explain them. When I read about Brother Andrew's miraculously surviving Volvo, or his miraculous encounters at hostile borders, there are no questions in my mind. When I read about Corrie Ten Boom's miraculous bottle of vitamins while in the concentration camp, I am undeterred. When I read about Jack Hayford getting words from the Lord and having visions I am unfazed. And when I read about John Wimber's miraculous accounts I am encouraged. In each case one factor is consistent: the Spirit within me ratifies His own work. And this may seem unfairly subjective, but I have experienced the Spirit, know what He is like, and recognize the scent of His actions when I encounter them. That flavor was missing from Yun's book--and that lack of confirmation troubled me deeply. Do I believe that he was miraculously transported from one location to another? I'm not sure. Do I believe that he fasted from food and water for more than 70 days? I'm not sure. Do I believe that he miraculously walked out of a maximum security prison in China? Again, I'm not sure.

Still, my uncertainty shouldn't negate a book's testimony--especially without evidence!--otherwise it would just be my word against his. But other elements combined to create a deeper suspicion. One of these other red flags was the frequent use of what I'll call "everybody" language. Yun preaches, and "everybody" repents. Yun holds a meeting and "everybody" weeps. Yun shares the gospel in prison and "everybody" is enrapt. Now, this is, most likely, a blatant exaggeration. There's always some Eutychus who nods off, even when the preaching is first-rate. And this idea of exaggeration began to lodge itself in my mind. It is easy, as a preacher, to exaggerate--to make the story bigger, the salvation more poignant, the miracle more miraculous. I began to wonder if Yun had fallen into that trap.

Reflecting on both the miracles and the `everybody' language, a new thought occurred to me: Yun's book closely resembles the book of Acts. And not just `closely resembles', but appears to be written as a copy of the book of Acts. Yun is saved, set apart for a mission like Paul, is miraculously transported like Philip, is part of healings and radical community like the early church, escapes from the authorities like Paul, escapes from prison like Peter--Yun is even met at the door by a girl who forgets to open it for him after his escape! Through this all my inner eye began to narrow more and more as I scrutinized Yun's book. Why does this book so closely parallel the story of Acts? Again, I must ask, is it possible for God to do these things? Certainly! But does this all add up?

In the end, I left Yun's book feeling like I had been fed a story I wanted to believe, as if this was just what I wanted to hear about the underground Chinese church, its size, its miracles, its freshness, its closeness to the apostolic Church of Acts. And because of all this, I'm not sure Yun's book was entirely truthful. Do I doubt that Yun has a ministry in China, possibly a highly effective one with the Spirit's power? No. But I'm not sure that this book is an accurate picture of that ministry. And for that reason I don't feel comfortable recommending it. Sadly, it won't go on my shelf of saints. Does that mean I won't be proved wrong? Far from it--nothing would please me more than to learn that I've made a misjudment about Yun and his story. But I don't think that's the case. And until that time, if you read his book, I suggest you read it with caution.
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on October 4, 2004
What a truly breathtaking story of what God will do through,with,and for a humble soul who loves Jesus wholeheartedly,and who treats His Word as more precious than gold.Here we discover what it means to have no money,and yet be immeasurably rich.

Whenever i read books,i like to make extensive notes and draw out all the insight i can.I found this book to be absolutely packed with lessons for the Christian walk.
(In chapter 25 i was especially delighted to find this man of God speaking so forcefully about the western church - he said what we need to hear.Chapter 26 on a Christian's walk of persecution was tremendous.)

Place this book on your shelf alongside Corrie ten Boom's 'The Hiding Place' - i feel they go hand in hand as two of the most beautiful,powerful and life-changing biographys available.
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on September 19, 2003
From the very first chapter, I was blown away! Next to the Bible, it has been the most convicting and moving book I've ever read. I realize more how good it is to know Jesus and how sovereign He is over the world and in our lives. The book's convicted me to desire to live a more sacrificial life for God, given me more of a heart for the nations and scripture, and renewed in me my sense of need for God's Spirit and presence. I highly recommend this book.
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on September 15, 2006
This book is amazing! I honestly can't speak highly enough about it. I heard Brother Yun preach last night, and he is completely authentic, real and in love with Jesus. Mostly what strikes me is that hearing the life story of this man makes me realize that God is all-powerful and trustworthy, and a victorious Christian life is possible!
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