Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sadhu Sundar Singh

Sundar Sing was an Indian Christian that everyone should know about. When he became a Christian after being raised a Hundu his desire was to to be like Christ in every way and to spread the message of the gospel.He was even grieved when the Lord did not take him when he was thirty three! AK

Singh was raised a member of the Sikh religion. Prior to his conversion, Sundar attended a primary school run by the American Presbyterian Mission where the New Testament was read daily as a "textbook." Sundar "refused to read the Bible at the daily lessons...To some extent the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false."
In the midst of such confusion and while only fourteen years old, his mother died, and Sundar underwent a crisis of faith. His mother was a loving saintly woman and they were very close. In his anger, Sundar burned a copy of one of the Gospels in public. Within three days Sundar Singh could bear his misery no longer. Late one night in December 1903, he rose from bed and prayed that God reveal himself to him if he really existed. Otherwise -- "I planned to throw myself in front of the train which passed by our house." For seven hours Sundar Singh prayed. "O God, if there is a God, reveal thyself to me tonight." The next train was due at five o'clock in the morning. The hours passed. Suddenly the room filled with a glow. A man appeared before him. Sundar Singh heard a voice say, "How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you." He saw the man's hands, pierced by nails.
Amazed that his vision had taken the unexpected form of Jesus, Sundar was convinced in his heart that Jesus was the true Savior, and that He was alive. Sundar fell on his knees before Him and experienced an astonishing peacefulness which he had never felt before. The vision disappeared, but peace and joy lingered within him.
Despite his family's pleas, bribes, and threats, Sundar wanted to be baptized in the Christian faith. After his father spoke words of official rejection over him, Sundar became an outcast from his people. He cut off the hair he had worn long like every Sikh man. Against great opposition, he was baptized on his birthday in 1905, in an English church in Simla.
Conventional Indian churches were willing to grant him a pulpit, but their rules were foreign to his spirit. Indeed, he felt that a key reason the gospel was not accepted in India was because it came in a garb foreign to Indians. He decided to become a sadhu, so that he could dedicate himself to the Lord Jesus. He was convinced that this was the best way to introduce the Gospel to his people since it was the only way which his people were accustomed to. As a sadhu, he wore a yellow robe, lived on the charity of others, abandoned all possession and maintained celibacy. In this lifestyle, he was free to devote himself to the Lord. Dressed in his thin yellow robe, Sundar Singh took to the road and began a life of spreading the simple message of love and peace and rebirth through Jesus. He carried no money or other possessions, only a New Testament.
Sundar journeyed much. He traveled all over India and Ceylon. Between 1918-1919, he visited Malaysia, Japan and China. Between 1920-1922 he went to Western Europe, Australia and Israel. He preached in many cities; Jerusalem, Lima, Berlin and Amsterdam among others. Despite his growing fame, Sundar retained a modest nature, desiring only to follow Jesus' example: to repay evil with kindness and to win over his enemies by love.
He was quite independent of outward Church authority in all his religious life, thought, and work. He dropped out of a Christian seminary that he briefly attended. Neither did he attach much importance to public worship because in his experience the heart prays better in solitude than in a congregation.
He traveled in India and Tibet, as well as the rest of the world, with the message that the modern interpretation of Jesus was sadly watered down. Sundar visited Tibet every summer and in 1929, he visited there and was never seen again.

The Fall and Rise of Wang Ming Dao - Georgina Giles

Wang Ming Dao was a real hero of the faith who spent years in prison, first under the Japanese and later under the Communist Regime.He wrote his autobiography 'A Stone made Smooth' before he was to be made even smoother by spending nearly another thirty years in prison under Mao Tse-tunge. He was also a contemporary of Watchman Nee, David Wang and John Sung. AK 

The year was 1949 and the first unified central government for forty years was in power in China. Christian believers were fearful.
At the Peking (Beijing) Christian Tabernacle, the congregation prepared itself for Communist rule. Wang Ming Dao, the pastor, continued to hold tenaciously to Scripture. The Christian, he affirmed, should obey the authorities (Romans 13:1-7). But if ordered to go against God’s inspired Word, the Bible, then it was God’s Word that must be observed.
The ‘Three Self’ Movement
Wang Ming Dao knew the greatest threat that confronted the church would come from within. A man called Wu Yaozong, a little known YMCA secretary having strong sympathies with Communism, seized his opportunity.
Over the years many had recognised a prophetic ring in Wang Ming Dao’s words. ‘From a man with a selfish heart’, he had written, ‘any terrible act can emerge. Anyone looking for selfish gain can lie, cheat, practise evil and plot for his self interest. The majority of sins in this world issue from people who are out for selfish gain’.
Wu Yaozong approached Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier. With his and Mao-Tse Tung’s full support, Wu drew up a ‘Christian Manifesto’. This called for the church to sever all ties with Western imperialism and purge itself of everything connected with it. The church must be self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. Thus was born the government-sponsored Three Self Patriotic movement (‘TSPM’), and hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout China gave it their support. Wu Yaozong rose rapidly to power.
Adverse effects
Wang Ming Dao firmly believed in the separation of church and state. He recognised that the aim of the movement was to bring the church under state control.
Besides, the Christian Tabernacle had always been independent of Western aid or connection. There was no need for Wang to join. All his deepest convictions were in conflict with the beliefs propagated by Wu Yaozong and other leaders in the TSPM. Wu wrote in an article: ‘The incarnation, the virgin birth, resurrection, Trinity, last judgement, Second Coming etc., these are irrational and mysterious beliefs which cannot be understood or explained … no matter how hard I try, I cannot accept such beliefs’. Wang Ming Dao steadfastly refused to join the TSPM. He could act in no other way.
Meanwhile the churches that had joined the movement began to feel its adverse effects. The formidable ‘accusation meetings’, already a feature of the Communist secular world were introduced into the church. Pastors who had been linked with foreign missions were isolated, and their congregations encouraged to denounce them.
Another gospel
All over China, churches were torn apart. The Peking Christian Tabernacle was like an oasis in a spiritual desert, where pure biblical gospel preaching could still be heard.
Wang Ming Dao laboured night and day, setting up his own printing press to continue publication of the Spiritual Food Quarterly. His uncompromising stand on biblical truth strengthened Christians throughout the land.
Between 1951 and 1954, he published many books proclaiming the gospel and speaking out against the modernists. Those who preach the ‘social gospel’, he pointed out, ignore the essential atoning work of Christ for the individual’s eternal salvation and the purifying effect it has in this life. They seek to transform society and establish the ‘kingdom of heaven’ in this world.
But this, taught Wang, was ‘another gospel’ (Galatians 1:9). Such people have never put their own trust in Jesus. Men and women need to know the true gospel for their eternal safety and blessing.
Alarm bells
The TSPM ground its teeth. Its leaders deeply resented the man who was ‘an iron pillar against which the whole land could not prevail’. All they could do was to mount a personal attack on Wang.
In 1954 the TSPM ordered all churches in Beijing to send delegates to an ‘accusation meeting’ against Wang Ming Dao. Leslie Lyall (OMF) writes, ‘it would be difficult to find fault with him, for he practised what he preached: upright, disciplined living’.
Throughout the meeting, Wang did not speak a word. Imprisonment or the death sentence were called for. The congregation sat silent. Many wept. No penalty could be imposed.
So Ming Dao continued to preach. The crowds were larger than ever. The evangelistic meetings in January 1955, says Leslie Lyall, ‘were probably the most fruitful he had ever conducted’.
Then students, as students will, daringly started their ‘Oppose the persecution of Wang Ming Dao’ campaign. It received wide support all over China. Alarm bells began to ring in high places. Their plan to subjugate the church to Communist control was under threat.
Accusation meetings were arranged against Wang Ming Dao across the whole of China. Nevertheless, in two weeks of meetings in the Christian Tabernacle in July 1955, attendance broke all records. Wang’s important article, We, because of Faith, had been published. With powerful logic, he dealt with the arguments of the modernists. He explained how they overturned the Bible and the Christ of the Bible. Was he being uncharitable, he asked, if he called them ‘the party of unbelievers’?
The Three-Self controlled magazine (the Tianfeng) branded Wang Ming Dao ‘a criminal of the Chinese people, a criminal in the church and a criminal in history’.
On 7 August 1955, Wang preached his last sermon in the church. For thirty years he had laboured tirelessly to show his country where her true hope lay, namely, in the atoning work of Christ and obedience to his Word. His final sermon showed that the TSPM church leaders had betrayed Christ in China.
At midnight the police arrived and Wang was thrown into prison without a conviction. He was parted from his wife and did not realise that she had been imprisoned too.
To the Communists, Wang Ming Dao’s refusal to join the TSPM was a counter-revolutionary act, the very worst of crimes. They could not, of course, understand that he was called by God to summon the church to chastity to Christ.
Wang shared a filthy cell with two other prisoners. From his daily interrogations, Wang was returned to his cell to be taunted with descriptions of torture reserved for preachers, and to be beaten and pressurised by his fellow prisoners to confess his ‘crimes’.
Freedom and rearrest
The authorities used every device to break down the resistance of this powerful opponent to their scheme. After a year of tremendous pressure, Wang was informed of a wave of arrests of Bible-believing Christians sympathetic to him. Then news came of Jing Wun’s plight. She, too, was in detention, unable to eat the coarse prison food because of her poor health. China’s ‘iron man’ began to weaken. He ‘confessed’ to crimes he had not committed, and agreed to join the TSPM and preach for them. He signed a document stating he was a counter-revolutionary, and he and Jing Wun were freed.
Then began the darkest six months in Wang Ming Dao’s life. The TSPM leaders were elated. They waited eagerly to claim the lifeless jewel that would crown their movement. But with a mind deranged with guilt and sorrow for the denial of his Lord, Wang never did join or preach for the TSPM. With the same tender love the Lord had shown to Peter, Wang was granted time to regain normality by a period of illness.
He informed the government he could not join, Jing Wun affording outstanding support to her husband. Exactly seven months after their release, Wang Ming Dao and Jing Wun were re-arrested.
Restored in spirit
By the 1960s, Mao Tse Tung’s disastrous policies, along with natural calamities, left millions starving in a terrible famine. All, except high government officers, were affected. Officials at the bottom level were blamed for Mao’s mistakes.
While some ‘counter-revolutionaries’ were released at this time, Wang Ming Dao received the sentence he most dreaded — life imprisonment. Earlier, the Beijing People’s Court had drawn up charges against him. The recorded evidence stated that Wang Ming Dao and his wife had undermined the TSPM set up by Chinese Christians, and had accused the TSPM of committing adultery with the world.
It was now that God met with Wang Ming Dao and restored him to his brightest hour. A scripture he had learned many years before was brought by the Holy Spirit to his remembrance: ‘When I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him until he pleads my cause and executes judgement for me’ (Micah 7:7).
One great prison
Through the next sixteen and a half years Ming Dao was to suffer solitary confinement, torture, and the horror of five months of daily meetings attempting to force confessions from him.
But the Lord stood by him and gave him the victory through his Word. Never again was he to fall. Though Wang Dao’s voice was silenced, his life still spoke throughout the land.
During this time all China had become one great prison from which there was no escape. The ‘little red book’ of Mao’s teachings was in everyone’s hands. As the Cultural Revolution flourished, everyone spied on his neighbour and almost every family suffered at least one death.
Preaching again
In Beijing, more than anywhere else, the youthful Red Guards were authorised to terrorise intellectuals. Had Wang Ming Dao still been there, he would have been targeted for death. The ancient city walls were demolished, as things old and beautiful were destroyed to make way for Mao’s new China. Even the TSPM ceased to function.
Gradually it became clear that Mao had failed the nation. His ‘little red book’ was laid aside. God had destroyed the wisdom of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:19). In 1976 Mao Tse Tung died, and his revolution died with him.
Prison doors opened, and seventy-nine-year-old Wang Ming Dao, now nearly blind and very deaf, was free again. In his little home in Shanghai, and always mindful of his fall, he began again to preach the Holy Scriptures which are able to make one ‘wise unto salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:15). He died in 1991, a radiant witness to his Saviour.
The healthy state of the vast house-church movement in China today, and the breathtaking increase of true Bible-believing Christians there, are not unrelated to the life and work of Wang Ming Dao. He has emerged as the greatest Chinese Christian leader of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

'In the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?'The testimony of John Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides, on being pursues by hostile natives.

John Paton was an old school missionary who suffered tremendous hardship and suffering bring the gospel to the people of the New Hebrides. His first child and wife were to die out in the mission field within two years of his arrival. The suffering as well as the fruit that was bore by this man of God can never be over estimated.  See also      AK

 'Being entirely at the mercy of such doubtful and vacillating friends, I, though perplexed, felt it best to obey. I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among these chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?' (John G. Patton: Missionary to the New Hebredies, An Autobiography Edited by His Brother [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, orig. 1889, 1891], p. 200)

John Gibson Paton (24 May 1824 - 28 January 1907), born in Scotland, was a Protestant missionary to the New Hebrides Islands of the South Pacific. He brought to the natives of the New Hebrides education and Christianity. He developed small industries for them, such as hat making. He advocated strongly against a form of slavery, which was called “Blackbirding”, that involved kidnapping the natives and forcing them to work in New Zealand and elsewhere. Though his life and work in the New Hebrides was difficult and often dangerous, Paton preached, raised a family, and worked to raise support in Scotland for missionary work. He also campaigned hard to persuade Britain to annex the New Hebrides. He was a man of robust character and personality. Paton was also an author and able to tell his story in print. He is held up as an example and an inspiration for missionary work.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

'Pray For the Success of the Gospel' from Heart Cry Missionary Society

Our guest author is the founding pastor of Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church and the director of the radio ministry, “Baptist Bible Hour.” One of the hallmarks of his ministry has been an emphasis on exegetical teaching, with a very practical and personal application. Lasserre and his wife Emily have three grown children and twenty grandchildren!
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.” (II Thessalonians 3:1)
The Apostle’s burden was that the gospel would move forward rapidly and successfully. His commitment in life was to serve God and honor his Saviour by faithfully preaching the gospel wherever and whenever he had opportunity. He suffered much and faced numerous obstacles as he went preaching Christ and Him crucified.
When we read of his sufferings, we know it was only by the grace of God that he could have survived.
“…in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (II Corinthians 11:23-27)
You would think that receiving thirty-nine stripes on five different occasions would have killed him. The straps used in those beatings had pieces of metal embedded in them. The pain had to be excruciating. The discouragement had to be significant. But Paul didn’t give up. He was willing to spend and be spent. Even when he was in prison and could not travel as he desired, he was confident that God was at work and the gospel was still being circulated.
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all others places.” (Philippians 1:12-13)
While in prison he was chained to a soldier; he no doubt presented the gospel to him. On the next shift another soldier was guarding him, and he preached to that soldier. On it went, until the gospel message was being spoken of throughout the palace. How else could the gospel have been circulated there? By providence, God arranged for the gospel to have free course even while the great evangelist was unable to stand before a crowd to preach.
Now the beloved apostle asks the Church at Thessalonica to pray for him. Here was a man with a unique experience, a special gift and a high calling; but he still felt his need of prayer. He knew something of his own weakness and of the strength of his enemies. He knew that success in his labors could only be enjoyed if God poured out his blessings on those efforts, and so he requests the payers of the humble saints of God. He had asked for their prayers in his first letter and now he repeats the request, revealing a truly humble spirit. He was well qualified as a strong leader and faithful servant, but he wanted the prayers even of those recently converted.
His desire was that the word of the Lord might spread at a rapid pace and that it would be honored. He personified the gospel as being a runner. He was familiar with the Isthmian Games and perhaps had in mind the athletes who participated in those races. As they would run at great speed, so he envisioned the gospel would be moving on, unobstructed, and that many would receive it and therefore honor it.
This burden for the success of the gospel was always on his heart. In the epistle to the church at Colossae, he wrote:
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:2-4)
If Paul was so burdened for the spread of the gospel that he devoted his whole life to it and regularly asked others to pray for the advancement of the message, should not we always be praying that doors may be opened where the gospel can be proclaimed? It is easy to become complacent. We are thankful for the truth of the gospel and for the joy it has brought to our hearts, but we often neglect our responsibility to be a witness to others and to pray for those who are laboring in the ministry.
We can become discouraged when we consider how rapidly things are changing in our country. The moral fiber, which helped to hold things together for decades, is falling apart. Christians are viewed as narrow-minded bigots. Disparaging remarks are made about the Bible and those who embrace its teachings. Many declare they want nothing to do with “organized religion,” which is another way of saying, “I am not interested in the Church or its message.”
We need to remember that the fields in which the apostles labored in the days of the early church were not where it would be expected that the gospel would have good success. They labored among Jews who resented the mention of Jesus’ name. They labored among Gentile pagans who were worshiping false gods and living in a culture known for its rampant immorality. But on the day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were converted. And in Acts 4:4, we read, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” Sometimes the gospel was presented to large numbers and sometimes just to one. Paul and Silas brought the message to the Philippian jailor. Philip brought it to the Ethiopian eunuch. The beautiful story of the Book of Acts reveals God preparing hearts to receive the gospel and sending others to proclaim it. Paul writes about what makes this work a success:
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.” (I Corinthians 1:22-24)
Here is our source of encouragement. No matter what our background may be – religious with a lot of mistaken ideas, or educated in the philosophies of men considering the truth of God to be foolishness – in whatever case, when the Spirit calls us effectually, the gospel makes sense. Paul said he recognized those to whom he preached at Thessalonica as being the elect of God because “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance…ye turned to God from idols to serving the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:59).
We can know today that when we present the gospel to someone or when it is preached to a congregation, some will reject it. But we can also be assured that some will find it to be a “savor of life unto life.” The Lord opened Lydia’s heart so that she attended unto the things spoken by Paul, and the Lord is still opening the hearts of his elect to receive the gospel and to embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That’s what it means for the Word to be glorified. When it is preached, believed, and acted upon, it is honored and glorified.
May we be diligent in praying that the Word of the Lord will have free course and might run swiftly, without interference. Let us pray that the Word will be glorified as multitudes around the world turn to Jesus Christ, recognizing Him as the only Savior of s