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Rest in God instead of Resting in Ministry
All the passages below are taken from Paul Hattaway’s book “The Heavenly Man,” published in 2002.
The morning after my prison escape I asked my friends to contact a house church leader in Zhengzhou, to let him know I had escaped, and to tell him I would visit his home that evening after dark.
The same morning at about 11 a.m., my wife received a vision from the Lord. Deling had been released from prison about two weeks before my escape and was hiding in a believer's home.
In her vision she saw I had been released. I was sitting in front of her and my face looked joyful and content. I asked my wife to assemble all the church elders and co-workers so we could have a meeting. She pointed her finger at me and said, "Don't you dare! Don't you have any fear? Are you not afraid to die?" I smiled at her and said nothing.
In response to her vision, Deling caught a bus to Zhengzhou. The first place she stopped was the home of the leader I was planning to visit that evening!
When my wife entered the old couple's house they asked her, "Are you aware that God's servant Brother Yun has escaped from prison?"
Deling stuttered, "Can you repeat what you said? Is it true? Has he really escaped?"
My wife slumped down in a chair and shared the vision she had received from the Lord earlier that morning. The brother laughed and exclaimed, "Ha! This proves that communication from the Lord is much faster than any telephone or computer!"
That evening when I arrived at the house I was amazed to see the face of my dear wife, and a number of co-workers who had assembled to see me.
The morning before God took me out of the prison he had shown me in a vision that my wife was free. She had then received a vision that I was free, and now, by the mighty hand of God, we were together! We hugged and sang together from Psalm 126:1-3,
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Even though I was free, I longed to return to the prison to visit my co-workers and share with them what God had done. It's hard to explain how close the bonds are between Christian brothers in prison. I missed them and was concerned for their welfare.
* * *
DELING: About two weeks after my release from prison I was secretly staying in the home of two sisters. One day they went out and the Lord gave me a clear vision. I saw Yun was free and was preparing to go somewhere for a meeting! I asked him, "How did you escape? Why are you so busy?" He replied, "The Lord helped me come out. Now I must go and preach the gospel:"
When the two sisters returned home I told them the Lord had shown me Yun was no longer in prison. At this time all the Christians were sure Yun would either be executed or imprisoned for life, so the two sisters didn't believe me. They said, "Oh, you must miss him very much!" and "We're sorry that you've suffered so much because of your husband's imprisonment."
They thought I was crazy! One was laughing at me and the other was concerned. She stared into my eyes to see if I'd lost my mind. I ignored them and caught a bus to Zhengzhou.
A few hours later I was told that Yun was free!
The whole incident of my husband's prison escape, and the way God told me about it in my vision, completely enlarged my understanding of God's greatness. For the first time I really knew that absolutely nothing is impossible for him!
* * *
Yun: The church leaders in Zhengzhou wanted us to leave the area and move as far away as we could, for they believed it was too dangerous for us to stay in the city.
The police were still searching everywhere for me. My escape was a major embarrassment for the government and especially for the prison authorities.
I was told later that the Public Security Bureau even sent undercover female officers to house church meetings in the city, pretending to be Christians. They said, "We are friends of Brother Yun and we heard how the Lord helped him escape. Do you know how he's doing?" They were hoping to elicit some information on my whereabouts.
Because both Deling and I had been arrested, our children had to be sent to another province to be cared for by a Christian couple. Arrangements were made for us to be reunited with our dear children.
One swelteringly hot summer's day, my family and I met with some house church leaders. My little daughter Yilin rushed into the room shouting and crying, "Mother, the police are coming! Father must escape right away!"
We ran onto the roof of the house and were preparing to jump when we were told the police officers had gone in a different direction and weren't looking for us. We were relieved, yet this incident reminded us of the pressure we were under.
At this time Deling started to share with me that she was praying God would open a door so we could have a more settled family life. She was deeply concerned at the impact such a stressful lifestyle was having on our children.
I wasn't in good health at this time. I felt great pain in my chest and couldn't breathe properly, so I went to a clinic and got an X-ray. The doctor grimly told me, "You have either tuberculosis or a tumour." He wanted to admit me to the hospital immediately. My wife also advised me, "It's God's will for you to rest."
At first I stubbornly refused to be admitted. I wanted to keep on meeting with Christians, but the house church leaders from my home town visited and told me, "You must stop working and spend some time waiting upon the Lord. The authorities are searching for you everywhere. Under no circumstance should you return home, both for your own sake and for the sake of the other believers."
For the first time since I preached the gospel as a 16-yearold boy in Henan, all the doors firmly closed to me. My escape from prison had become well known and the authorities were doing everything possible to hunt me down. Church leaders knew that if they invited me to speak and the PSB raided the meeting, they would all face severe penalties. It was just too great a risk for them to take, so they advised me to lie low and keep out of public ministry.
During my period of illness I really struggled. I didn't really want to rest in God alone. Instead, I wanted to rest in the work of God. I realized again that I was a labourer who worked without real peace from the Lord. I loved doing things for the Lord so much that it had become my security and my source of joy. God wanted to remove this idol from my life.
My illness also allowed me to spend more time with my wife and children. We prayed together and waited upon the Lord to tell us what steps to take.
One morning during prayer I was overcome by the Lord's presence. He spoke to me like a friend, "I will send you to a new place. You won't understand a single word of their language. There will be many strange faces before you, but you must obey my command: 'Go and awaken those people!"'
I shared these words with my wife and children. They didn't know what to say. I hid the promise inside my heart.
On another occasion I was meditating upon the Apostle Paul's life and ministry. The Lord spoke to me, "Quick! Leave ... immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me" Acts 22:18. He continued, "Yun, you must hurry up. Leave China. Do not delay! Your witness for me in China is complete. The people will not accept your ministry among them any more for they are too frightened."
The next day I received a telephone call from a dear friend. His words---spoken without any knowledge of what the Lord had told me--- confirmed God's leading. He said, "Brother Yun, the Lord has shown me he is preparing a new ministry for you. It's the fulfilment of what he called you to do as a child: 'Go west and south and preach the gospel.'"
After that call I fully realized the Lord was leading my life in a drastically new direction.
I shared everything with my wife. Deling agreed from the bottom of her heart that the Lord wanted me to leave China and go to the west and south.
I had one major problem. I had no passport and had never travelled outside China in all my life. I couldn't apply for a passport because I had a criminal record. If I applied I would be immediately arrested.
We prayed and committed this need to the Lord.
A short time later I met with some Christian brothers. When I shared what the Lord was calling me to do, a businessman with a passport felt the Lord prompt him to give his passport to me. He said, "Brother Yun, here is my passport. Use it as the Lord leads you. Don't worry about me. If trouble comes to me later because of this, I will accept it."
When we looked at the passport we noticed another problem. The picture of this brother looked absolutely nothing like me! He was balding and wore glasses. I had shaggy hair and completely different features. This brother was also much older than me!
Believing the Lord had told me to preach his gospel among the nations of the world, a time was set for me to leave China and a ticket was purchased from Beijing to Frankfurt with Air China on 28 September 1997.
The day before my departure I taught all day at a house church Bible school that I had helped establish in the Beijing area. When I shared that God had commanded me to take his gospel to the nations of the world the students were deeply touched, and prayed fervently for me with many tears. I asked them to pray for me continuously from that evening until noon the next day, by which time my flight would have departed. These young men and women stayed up all night calling on the Lord in prayer, asking him to protect me and grant success. On many occasions since that day I've remembered the deep love those beautiful students had for the Lord and for me. Today they are serving God all across China in remote areas like Tibet and Inner Mongolia.
The night before the flight I was very nervous. I'd never been on a large aircraft before. I knew that if caught, I would be detained on the most serious charges and would surely---unless the Lord intervened---face the death penalty once the authorities realized I'd escaped from prison. I wanted to make sure I was acting according to God's will, and that we had his seal of approval. If anyone had expressed a reservation to me that evening I would probably have cancelled my plans. But not one of my co-workers or the students gave me anything except words of encouragement and confirmation.
Three co-workers and I also stayed up all night seeking the Lord's protection. By morning I felt exhausted from struggling all night, like Jacob when he wrestled with God. I kept thinking about what might happen to me, and what I would say if the airport officials questioned me. I was also concerned because it was just a few days before National Day on 1 October, so security in Beijing was tighter than usual.
During intense prayer at dawn, one of my co-workers said, "Servant of God, don't panic. I've received a word from the Lord for you." The message was from Genesis 27:20, "Isaac asked his son, 'How did you find it so quickly, my son?" The Lord your God gave me success,' he replied."
This verse greatly encouraged me and summarized what had happened to me. In response to the prayers of many, the Lord had put the whole thing together quickly. One day I was in prison with broken legs and no hope or future. Now, just a few months later, I was preparing to leave China for the first time in my life, even though I was a wanted "criminal" with no passport or identity card.
I replied by quoting the Apostle Paul, "So keep up your courage .., for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me" Acts 27:25.
Before dawn the Lord gave me a strong word of warning, "When you enter the customs hall at the airport, say only what I instruct you to say" and with it came a Scripture, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" Proverbs 10:19.
Outside Beijing Airport I called Deling and the children and asked them to pray for me. Deling sounded very calm, because she had perfect peace that God was leading me to leave China.
Because I'd never been through airport procedures before, one brother showed me how to fill out the forms, where to check in, and where to pay my departure tax. I then walked into the customs area, remembering what the Lord had told me, "When you enter the customs hall at the airport, say only what I instruct you to say."
I waited in line for my documents to be checked. Finally I reached the front of the line. I handed over the passport and boarding pass. The officer looked at the picture and then at me, and started to laugh, "Ha! This photo isn't you! It looks nothing like you at all!" He then held the passport up for the officers in the other booths to see. They too laughed contemptuously.
This may sound difficult to believe, but I felt completely calm inside. I'd been nervous the previous night, but the Lord had made it clear that I was to leave China and now I was one hundred per cent confident I was in his will. A supernatural peace flooded my heart.
The officer then went into a side office, came back and again said, "It's not you!" He was determined to find out who I was. I stared with a look of intense fire directly into his eyes.
Several minutes passed and the line of passengers behind me began to grow impatient and chastised the officer for taking so long. Sensing their growing anger, he told me to stand to the side while he processed the other passengers.
When he had finished he told me, "It's obvious this passport doesn't belong to you. But even if I let you go, there's no way you will get permission to enter Germany. They'll place you on the next flight back!"
Incredibly, he stamped my passport and said, "Go!"
There was no human reason for the officer to do this. All I can say is that the Lord was in control of the situation, influencing the officer to do his will.
Next I progressed to the X-ray machine for the customs check. As I placed my carry-on bag on the scanner I noticed an officer speaking into his walkie-talkie while staring straight at me. I walked forward and collected my bag, and the officer didn't say a word. Again, by the hand of God, I was allowed to pass!
In the waiting area I called a brother on a public telephone to let him know I'd made it through. Within a few minutes I boarded the aircraft, the door was locked, and the Air China jet pulled away from the gate. Soon I was airborne! A torrent of joy and thanksgiving welled up inside me. As soon as the wheels lifted off the tarmac I couldn't help singing out loud,
Lord, you have chosen me from among the people
You have spread your wings of love over me
Your grace has saved so many lost souls
And taught us how to live in your light
Therefore I will praise you forever!
All the passengers in front of me turned around and stared at me, wondering who this madman was who'd been let onto the plane!
I left China for the first time in my life, that I might bring glory to the King of Kings before many peoples and nations.
During the long flight I thought back over my life and thanked God for his boundless grace. I know that I am the least part of the body of Christ in China. I am nothing. It's certainly not because of any special skills or abilities that God chose me to be his ambassador to the nations. It was only by his mysterious, undeserved grace.
About ten hours later my plane touched down in Frankfurt, Germany, and I proceeded to the immigration desk.
When I got to the front of the line the German officer looked at my passport. Immediately he raised his eyebrows and a stern look came across his face. He spoke to me but I couldn't understand, so I just stood there and smiled. He motioned for me to stand to the side.
Three other officers came to inspect my passport. They knew it wasn't mine. They shook their heads, and said in threatening voices, "No! No!"
At that moment a Scripture came into my mind, "The righteous are as bold as a lion" Proverbs 28:1. With the fire of God in my heart I stared at the main officer with a look of judgment in my eyes. The officer looked at me, stamped my passport, handed it back, and motioned for me to go!
It was only by the grace of God.
I was in Germany! As I sat in a vehicle taking me to a pastor's house, the Holy Spirit powerfully spoke these words to my heart, "In the same way that I brought you out of prison, and out of China, I will bring one hundred thousand of my children out of China to be my witnesses throughout Asia."
Two days later I phoned Deling and my children in China, and told them the Lord had safely delivered me to Germany. Deling's first question was, "When will you be back?" I told her I felt like Jesus when Joseph and Mary took him to Egypt as a baby. Only the Lord knew when I would be back. Deling and I made a solemn covenant before the Lord that if it looked as if I wouldn't be returning to China within two years then we would ask the Lord to miraculously bring my family out of China to be with me.
Two weeks after my arrival a Christian friend took me to a refugee detention centre in the city of Hamburg. The officers there were very surprised to hear my story and transferred me to another refugee centre in eastern Germany.
Because I didn't have any identification at all I couldn't prove who I was. Government officials came with a Chinese translator and asked me many questions about my past, my arrests, and how I had escaped from prison. I answered their questions absolutely truthfully, but they didn't believe me and their manner was very rude. The translator even told me to stop telling such fantastic lies, as it was harming my application! He said no Chinese person had been granted refugee status by the German government for more than two years.
By this time news had reached some German Christians that I had left China and was in their country. Some of these dear brothers had ministered with us in China before. They came to the refugee centre with copies of newspaper articles with my name on them, published after my arrest in March. The German brothers also showed photos of themselves with me in China, to prove they'd known me before I came to Germany. They signed statements and backed me up as much as they could. It seems the German Embassy in Beijing was also asked to investigate my claims. They soon discovered who I was.
At the detention centre I was given a full physical checkup. They saw my body still bore the scars from my tortures in China. I was told I either had tuberculosis or lung cancer, and that I would have to go to hospital to recover. I had lived with lung problems for more than ten years, ever since the guards had stamped on my chest in prison.
The detention centre was a very basic facility, but it was far better than prison in China! We were allowed to travel outside during the daytime, although we weren't allowed to travel a distance of more than fifty kilometres from the centre.
I spent 69 days in the hospital, and a further three months in the detention centre while my application for refugee status was being considered.
DELING: After Yun's miraculous prison escape, the whole country seemed to be searching for him. It was very tense. The church leaders told him he couldn't train workers or lead meetings because the risk was just too great for the believers. The PSB were close on his trail and everyone he had contact with was put in great danger.
For a month after Yun's escape we hid in Wuhan City in Hubei Province, but the people who were hiding us were so fearful they couldn't sleep at night.
We relocated to Shandong Province, but after staying there for a little while we discovered the host family also could not sleep. They were too worried about their safety and the consequences if Yun was caught in their home. We cried out to God, "Lord, how can we serve you? Everywhere we go people are on edge and are unable to sleep:"
God seemed to be saying that Yun might possibly leave China and go to the West. We prayed about it for more than a month to find out if it was God's will. Finally the Lord confirmed to us that this was indeed his plan. We laid a fleece before the Lord, "Father, if it is your will for Yun to leave China, we pray you will help him leave without any problems whatsoever."
In Beijing, Yun miraculously boarded an aircraft and left China. We all knew this had been completely in God's will.
* * *
YUN: More than two years later, at a meeting in Finland, I shared the testimony of my prison escape and how the Lord enabled me to leave China.
Afterwards a Christian businessman came up and told my translator and me something remarkable, which made me realize how merciful God had been on the day I left Beijing.
The Finnish brother said, "I work for a certain telecommunications security company. Several years ago we won the contract to install state-of-the-art voice recognition software at various border points around China, including at Beijing Airport.
"Using hidden microphones, these programmes allow officials to quickly match the voice of suspicious passengers against a computerized database containing the voice patterns of wanted criminals. You can be certain your voice was in their database, because so many recordings have been made of you preaching.
"If you had opened your mouth that day in Beijing Airport and said anything, you would surely have been arrested on the spot."
I thanked the Lord for his wisdom and mercy, when he told me, "When you enter the customs hall at the airport, say only what I instruct you to say." He hadn't prompted me to say anything to the officials, so I didn't say a word.
It always pays to obey the Lord!
* * *
My dear Brother Xu had told me to escape while we were in prison in 1997, and now he remained behind bars while I was in the West.
God worked a great miracle for Brother Xu. Many people believed he would receive the death sentence, and in fact a few months after our arrest it was erroneously reported in newspapers around the world that he had been executed.
At the trial Brother Xu refused to defend himself or answer any charges, claiming that the "trial" was little more than an artificial act to legitimize a pre-arranged verdict. He was given a ten-year sentence. For an unknown reason it was later reduced to three years, and he was released in May 2000. We know this was nothing short of a great miracle and blessing from the Lord.
During his three years in prison, Brother Xu experienced much torture and affliction. The prison officials even handcuffed his wrists to each side of an iron gate in such a way that when the gate was pulled open he was stretched up off the ground in a crucifix position, causing his internal organs to be agonizingly stretched.
His torturers would then relax the gate, giving Xu a moment's relief, before again pulling the gate open. They repeated this process again and again, causing my dear brother to say later, "I came to know how Jesus must have felt on the cross."
In May 2000 I was in the United States on a speaking trip. I knew the day Brother Xu was to be released and wanted to surprise him. Security around Brother Xu in prison had been so tight that he had no idea what had happened to me after I escaped in 1997. For three years he didn't know if I had been killed, captured, or remained free.
Just minutes after he walked free I called Brother Xu on his co-worker's mobile phone. Xu's deep, rich voice answered. "Dear Brother Xu," I excitedly exclaimed, "This is your old cell mate Brother Yun! I'm calling you from America! God has taken me out of China by his mighty hand!"
Brother Xu, with overwhelming joy in his voice, shouted, "Hallelujah! God has sent you out of China so the Chinese and Western churches can co-operate for the gospel. You will be a witness of the Lord's mighty work in China!"
We shouted and talked excitedly, trying to catch up in a few minutes with the three missing years since we last saw each other's face.
In the early years I viewed Brother Xu as my father in the faith. I looked up to him as a great leader of China's church. I still look up to him of course, but in recent years I've come to view Brother Xu as my dear brother in the faith. Outside my own family, Brother Xu is my dearest friend and coworker in the work of the gospel. [263-277]
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