The following is a written interview I conducted with Paul Hattaway–author of several books including one of my favorites: The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun. Paul is the founder and director of Asia Harvest and a prolific researcher and author.
This is the second portion of our four-part interview:
Brother Yun: The Heavenly Man
with Paul Hattaway
(Art) Who is “Brother Yun?”
(Paul) Brother Yun is a Chinese believer who ministered for many years among the house churches of China. As a result of his bold witness (which God used to bring many thousands of people into His kingdom), he was arrested on numerous occasions, endured lengthy imprisonments four times, and experienced much brutal torture and persecution. On one occasion he refused to give his name to the authorities, which would have caused trouble for the other Christians with him. When they demanded his name and address, he replied “I am a heavenly man and my home is in heaven!” The nickname ‘heavenly man’ was given to him by the Christians he protected, and it has stuck since.
In 1997 Brother Yun escaped from prison and left China a few months later, settling in Germany as a refugee. Since then he has traveled widely around the world, preaching and sharing his testimony. He continues to bear much fruit for God’s kingdom.
(Art) In penning his book, “The Heavenly Man,” what aspect of Yun’s life inspired you the most?
(Paul) For me, the example of love and forgiveness that Brother Yun shows towards his enemies had deeply impressed me and been a challenge to me in the struggles we have endured. It is a genuine love, and many times I have seen him with tears of compassion as he prays for those who have attacked or slandered him. He holds no grudges against anyone, and is generous and loving towards everyone he meets.
(Art) Please share with us a favorite story from Yun’s life.
(Paul) One story that comes to mind has never been published before. It took place in Germany several years ago. Each morning Brother Yun wakes up very early and worships, prays and studies God’s Word for several hours. One morning the Holy Spirit spoke to him, telling him there was a lost sheep He wanted to bring into the sheepfold. Yun woke his wife and told her the Lord had an assignment for them to do that morning. She dressed and put on her coat, as it was winter. They caught a train about 30 miles to the city of Frankfurt and made their way to the fish market, where the Lord had told Brother Yun to go and meet a Chinese woman. The Holy Spirit specifically told Brother Yun her name and job.
They waited for more than half an hour but did not see any Chinese person in the market. Brother Yun’s wife was starting to wonder if her husband had heard the Lord correctly, and the market was beginning to close down for the day. All of a sudden they saw a Chinese lady buying some fish. Brother Yun approached her and asked, “Is your name Chang Mei Ling?” She asked Brother Yun how he knew her name, but he asked another question: “Are you the manager of the Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant?”
The lady looked at him and tried to remember this man and his wife. She asked Brother Yun, “When did we meet? I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you.”
Brother Yun replied, “We have never met before, but I was praying this morning and the Spirit of Jesus Christ told me to come here and give you a message. He also told me your name and your job.”
The woman looked confused and wondered what message Jesus had for her. Yun told her, “Jesus loves you and suffered a horrible death so that you might have a relationship with the Heavenly Father.” The Holy Spirit convicted the woman of her sins. The three of them knelt down right on the wet pavement, with people walking past, and she prayed to make Jesus the Lord of her life. Brother Yun’s wife, Deling, then followed up with the lady and discipled her.
Many Christians read stories like Brother Yun but somehow feel a cultural and geographic disconnect. They think these stories of miracles and salvations can only take place in China, or Africa, but not in their communities.
Your location isn’t important; it’s about spiritual life and obedience to the Holy Spirit. This story took place in Germany, one of the more spiritually desolate nations in Europe. Of course such amazing things do not take place every day, it was a special experience, but it shows us that God is not restricted in any way.
(Art) What would you say to those who have been going out of their way to discredit the testimonies shared in “The Heavenly Man?”
(Paul) The above story gives a hint into one of the main reasons why many Christians have attacked and tried to discredit Brother Yun’s testimony. Although the kind of things he has experienced are similar to what is recorded in the Bible, they are not experienced by most Christian leaders in the Western world. Some people think that if they have never experienced such things, then nobody has!
They therefore find it easier to attack Brother Yun and call him a liar than to examine their own lives in the light of Scripture. If they did, they might come to the conclusion that the kind of experiences Brother Yun and countless other Christians in China have is quite “normal” according to the pattern of the early Church laid out in the New Testament. Perhaps we are the abnormal ones!
You asked what would I say to those who have tried to discredit Brother Yun. I would say, “Thank you for your concern. If Brother Yun has wronged you, or you believe his life or doctrine is in error, then please obey the Bible and go to him in person, point out his wrongdoing, and confront him. You will find he is very loving and will listen to every word you say and will pray with you.”
Some people, however, have no intention of confronting Brother Yun. They just love to throw darts for the sake of it, not knowing what they are talking about and not caring to find out the truth. Those people, however, are becoming fewer as times goes by, and none of the attacks and slanders Brother Yun has endured over the years have diminished his ministry at all. He continues to be used by the Lord to lead many people to salvation everywhere he goes. I know that Brother Yun forgives everyone from his heart, and instead of sitting around arguing over nonsense, he encourages them to focus on reaching the lost and becoming effective workers in the harvest field. Time is too short for us to waste our energy fighting one another when there is a dying world that is going to hell!
- As my readers already know, yesterday we talked to Paul Hattaway about the Chinese Underground Church.
- Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Preparing for Persecution.
- And on the 19th, our topic will be “Reaching the 10-40 Window.”