At our recent Israel Chinese Destiny Conference (co-sponsored by
Maoz and Revive Israel), we had the honor of meeting Zhang Fuheng, one of
the five "fathers" of the underground church in China. Here are some
excerpts of his sharing:
Part One - Testimony
In 1979 I became quite ill and could not move except for my mouth. I daily
cursed my own birthday and considered suicide.
There were very few Christians in China at this time. One Christian man who
lived in a village at some distance, had his twin daughters taken away from
him and sold into servitude. When he came searching for his daughters (but
did not find them), he heard about my illness and came to share the "good
news" about salvation with me. At that time I received new hope in my
I began to pray to be healed. I prayed day and night for a week. Nothing
seemed to happen. One morning I woke and saw the blanket was on the floor
and realized I must have moved. I sat up, got out of bed and went
downstairs. Everyone was shocked. Everyone in the house received the Lord.
The next week we opened the house to tell people about what happened. Two
hundred people showed up including Christians from the surrounding
villages. Of that group, sixty people from our village received the Lord,
and a house church was started overnight in our home.
We had no Bibles at all. Someone from another village lent me his "Bible"
for one month. It was only part of the New Testament. Before I returned
it, I copied the Scriptures that had been given to me, by hand.
(Just recently, 40 years later, the two daughters of the man who first
shared the gospel with me were located, and their family reunited.)
Part Two - House Churches
In 1949 Mao had ordered all foreign missionaries and businessmen to leave
the country. Local Christian leaders were jailed. 1949 to 1979 was a dark
period with much suffering. People wept and prayed. In 1979 the new
Chairman Deng Xiaoping started the "Open Door Policy" allowing some foreign
business to return.
At that time there were two types of churches: those registered with the
government (the "three self" churches), and those unregistered, mostly in
the villages. We in the villages could not relate to the registered
churches. Their structure seemed foreign and Western to us, and unbiblical.
We did not know what to do; so we just started reading the book of Acts.
There we found all the answers. We felt the new house church movement was
restoring the original apostolic tradition.
(In recent years there has been much reconciliation between the registered
and unregistered churches.)
We believed in Acts 1:8 to receive power and be witnesses from Jerusalem to
the ends of the earth. We had spiritual fire, healings and deliverance from
demons. I traveled to many villages, sharing my testimony. Within 7 years,
I started 200 churches with some 30,000 members.
In 1983 came a new wave of intense persecution. I could not live in my home
village for 5 years and was only occasionally able to sneak in at night to
visit. The elder Chinese believers were scattered and persecuted.
Suffering became so much a part of their lives, that some of the younger
Christians who had not yet gone to jail began to pray, "God, why have I
not gone to jail? Have I sinned? Is there something wrong?"
Christian leaders in the villages were beaten, shot or hanged; many were
jailed repeatedly; women were stripped. My wife used to say of me, "My
husband has the spiritual gift of being jailed." Most of the pastors had
no Bible or theological training.
As the gospel spread in the wake of the persecution surrounding the death
of Stephen the first martyr (Acts 8:1), so did it with us. In 1979 there
were 700 thousand Christians in China. Now our house church movement has
grown to 70 million believers! That's 100 fold growth.
Part Three - Back to Jerusalem
The Chinese church is the largest in the world; the Israeli Messianic
remnant is the smallest. Yet we see you as our "elder brother". The
original apostles were the root which budded forth all the branches. We
have come back to you. We are not "without hope" because we are one in the
family of Jesus.
Why did the Jews suffer so much in history? You are a miracle. The
restoration of Israel is an act of God; and so is the restoration of the
Messianic remnant. Many Chinese tourists come to Israel and when they
see what has happened, they become believers in Jesus.
There was an early revival in China in the 1920's. Those early
Christians had a vision to bring the gospel "back" from the ends of the
earth (China) to Israel. They dedicated themselves to this "back to
Jerusalem" movement. They felt they had received eternal life from the
Jews and wanted to return to them the same grace.
So a large group of them started out on foot to walk toward Jerusalem, but
the western border of China was already closed after the Communist
revolution of 1917. Since they could not leave, they set up a community in
Xin Jiang Province near the border.
These young Christians prayed for decades with this vision. They grew
older. When our pastors received the same vision, we traveled out to see
them. Many had died. We told the elders who met us, "Take heart. We will
go to Arabia and to Jerusalem." They wept and hugged us saying, "Now,
Lord, Your servants may depart."
The Chinese Church loves Jesus, loves Israel and loves the Arabs. Today
we are here, hugging you. Just as the Sun rises in the East and moves west
toward Israel, so will this revival return to Jerusalem.