Decades ago committed pioneers such as Hudson Taylor took Holy Spirit-led faith steps to live there under extreme difficulties, sacrificing much to share the gospel of Christ.
Christianity has grown strong there with hundreds of thousands of conversions. Despite communism, persecution, slayings, ungodly opposition, pogroms and forced government institutionalised churches, thousands of Christians have remained loyal to their faith, meeting in house and underground churches.
In 1978, when China opened its doors to the outside world, Dennis Balcombe took his step of inspired faith there. Fully persuaded that the Holy Spirit works incredible miracles, Pastor Balcombe refused to preach in English, studied hard and waited until he could fluently do so in Chinese. Then God used him to pioneer RCMI’s Spirit-filled teaching and worship ministry among China’s remote peasant churches. The result was renewal and revival among the house churches, thousands accepting Christ and many astounding miracles.
Totally committed to God, he insists that churches need to be Spirit-filled; that speaking in tongues is a distinct sign of a Christian being Spirit-filled, an experience that comes after one accepts Jesus. He has seen first-hand the Holy Spirit work incredible miracles as he refuses to compromise on this specific message.
Dennis Balcombe has always encouraged Christians to thirst after the Spirit and follow God with steps of boldness. Today in China many on-fire Christians arise at four in the morning to pray, worship God and seek redemption to sweep China. Tears flow freely as these Spirit-filled believers cry out to a merciful God. It’s no wonder that miracles happen and thousands are still coming to Jesus. Since the 70s Pastor Balcombe has been sending through many amazing stories of God moving in incredible ways for Christians, even those imprisoned. (Check http://rcmi.wordpress.com/)
This is a nation where countless Christians don’t have a Bible and when they can have a speaker teach from his or hers, they humbly but readily hunger for that preacher to teach for hours on end, even from 7am to 7pm for several days! On top of this, only a limited number have a comfortable meeting place with the latest techno gadgetry like we westerners are used to.
What a vast contrast to so many western Christians today! They have Bibles but how many bring them to church (where they also arrive late!), relying instead on the preacher to feed a weekly dose of spiritual medicine, often a poorly constructed 20 minute uninspiring sermon. Such complain about precious worship music, won’t stay for fellowship unless there’s coffee going, and moan about contributing finance to support the church’s ministry.
In 1945, when the communists took over, there were a reported 100,000 Christians in China (some sources state more). Today various statistics quote differing numbers in that nation. But a while back an encouraging heading from The Times boldly stated: ‘Christianity in China is booming. With 100 million believers, far more than the 74 million-member communist party, Jesus is a force to be reckoned with in the People’s Republic. We talk to the new faithful who love China – but love God more.’
The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit has been at work in China responding to faithful, praying, believing Christians. Thousands are still coming to Christ right across China, in both major cities and country areas.
Dennis Balcombe is not alone in his mission. There are others who have likewise responded to the Spirit’s call to be on-fire for Christ. They too have dared to take faith steps to join those who are the ‘goers’ of Matthew 28:19, ‘Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’
Oh, many are not in the limelight as is Dennis Balcombe, but their endeavours are noted by the heavenly scribe and their reward will be great!
Last month we said that today we need on-fire Christians in on-fire churches. Such Christians are those who will take faith steps to do whatever the Spirit challenges. Just like those first missio Dei disciples, immediately leaving the upper room and hitting the streets to evangelise, locally and abroad.
Visiting Jerusalem often includes a guide to the cenacle – supposedly the actual large upper room where the 120 disciples met, praying in expectation and the Spirit first fell. It has un-railed steps to a higher level. A few years back, one of our travel party fell from the top, crashing heavily to the hard floor with an ominous crack.
We had been talking about the Holy Spirit’s activities 2000 years ago in the upper room, that he was the same powerhouse today. Rushing to assist our fellow traveller, concerned that she had seriously hurt her head, we called on that same supernatural friend. He responded! Our friend arose unhurt. In fact, she spoke of being elated, warmly touched by an unseen hand.
We left the cenacle challenged anew to take every opportunity the Spirit would give us anywhere on earth to share Jesus.
Now you don’t have to visit Jerusalem to be powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit (Although if you do go you’ll gain unforgettable experiences). Nor do you have to go to China – although if you do from a clear call from God, you’ll be so blessed. You can find the Holy Spirit anywhere, and you can evangelise anywhere.
We should value our local church, pray and believe for it to be Holy Spirit on-fire. We should look around our western country and see countless God-given opportunities to reach people from other nations who ‘live around the corner.’
This Sunday, June 12, is Pentecost Sunday. As the anointing – the power and presence of the Holy Spirit – always makes the difference in the believer’s and a church’s life, hopefully your church has something special planned, open to the Spirit falling afresh. Empowered anew we can take our steps of faith to success for Jesus and go ‘out there’ to fulfil the great commission.