Dear Brothers and Sisters, Greetings in the name of our soon-coming Lord. I am glad to share with you my life history, a testimony of how God saved and used me. I was born in June 1914 as a Cantonese in South China. I came to Beijing with my parents at the age of 14. My father sent me to the YMCA school here in Beijing as he wanted me to receive an English education.
While in secondary school, at the age of 17, I had three unsolvable problems in my heart. The first was the meaninglessness of life, causing untold sorrow in my heart. Without reason, I held a pessimistic view of life. I had parents who loved me dearly as their only child. I also had a great school. My second problem was in seeing innocent young people being corrupted as they left school and entered society. I wanted to find the way of overcoming temptation and sin, the way to a holy and righteous life. My third problem was the question of not knowing what would happen at the end of my life, though I was very young then. I knew materialism could not answer these questions, and started to look at religions for a solution.
The Chinese have two main religions: Buddhism and Confucianism. I could not believe in Buddhism as it is a negative religion that only talks about the future and offers no answers for the present. It did not answer the questions I was making. Confucianism, on the other hand, only talks about the present with no answers for the future. So, I rejected both. When I was at the YMCA, they did no preach Christ but modernism. I didn't want to study English, nor did I want to believe Christianity which is a western religion (foreign to the Chinese culture). I had sorrow in my heart as I could not accept the existence of God. My philosophy at the time was "seeing is believing". I could not believe in God as I couldn't see Him or touch Him; However there were two Christian teachers who prayed for me. I would not have been saved without their Prayers. If there are people you want to see saved, pray, pray, pray, and God will hear you and save them.
I will never forget December 29, 1932. (I was 18 years old) At about 9:30 pm, that night, I was alone in my room finishing my homework I cannot describe to you exactly how or why. But God revealed Himself into my heart at that moment and gave me the faith to believe in Him. There I turned off the Kerosene lights as it was before the days of electricity. I knelt on the ground with my hands holding onto my chair. There I confessed my sins and accepted Jesus as my personal saviour. When I turned the light back on, the universe had changed for me. I was very, very happy! The next day I told all my friends about my born-again experience. I was very zealous after my conversion, and wanted to attend every meeting at church. In church, we had pastors from Shandong Province, who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their preaching of the Holy Spirit was regarded as heresy by many other churches at the time, Principal Tsui of the YMCA night school, however, invited these pastors to preach in his horne. Twice I went there to hear them, but did not receive anything. There was much confusion there, with people laughing, crying and speaking in tongues.
The third time I arrived late and they were already praying, so I knelt down to join them. Mr. Tsui came up to me, laid his hands on me and prayed for me. I didn't know what he prayed about, but I began to weep. I was never used to crying, but I cried much that night. Riding the bicycle on my way home. I couldn't help laughing heartily and loudly. By then I had been Christian for about a year and did not know [what] how one would call such an experience My heart was changed and I have been a different person since then. I received the Holy Spirit that night.
By the age of 20, still in high school, I had a burden to preach Christ. I did not want to continue my study and told my parents that I wanted to go to Bible school. This demand from their only child really disappointed my parents. I began to receive some persecution from my family. But his calling was urgent: Save my lost sheep!
I started attending a Bible school called the Oriental missionary Society(OMS) in Beijing. There was a rule in the school that students must be at least 22 years old. As I was only 20 years old at the time, I could not officially attend as a student. But I went there to listen unofficially.
The teachers were foreigners Who taught through interpreters. This is why I am familiar with biblical and theological terms in English.
After four years of training, I had no leading from God to join any mission or organization. I believe that a servant of the Lord should be supported and led by the Holy Spirit Since that time, I have been living by faith all my life. Psalm 23 says that the Lord is our shepherd and He is faithful to supply all our needs.
In 1940, John Patte, a missionary (of the Church of the Nazarene) came to China from the USA. He asked me to go to the south of the Hebei Province, to work with him there in the countryside. The Japanese were occupying China at that time, and we had meetings in tents. We held meetings for 3 or 4 days in each village and saw many people saved.
A year later (i.e. 1941 ), the United States joined the war against the Japanese. All the Americans in China had to be detained in concentration camps. So Patte along with the others, had to go. I continued working in that area until 1945 when the Japanese surrendered. After the Japanese, the Communists surrounded the area. It was not good for me to remain. Moreover, I also received a letter stating that my mother was ill. As her only child, I decided to return to Beijing to be with my mother. Six of us returned from the countryside, including my wife, our three children, and a friend.
Back in Beijing, we had no money, not even what was needed for my mother to see a doctor. But there was a Pentecostal church near our home, where I could always go and pray. I asked God to work a miracle to break my mother's prejudice against a foreign religion. In her sick bed one night, my mother had a vision. She saw a man wearing a white gown. The man gave her a yellow powder to eat A few hours later, my grandmother brought her some medicine; but my mother replied that she didn't need the medicine. She had been instantly healed. Shortly after, my mother was baptized in a Pentecostal church, and my grandmother also believed. Act 16:31 says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." I believed the promise and waited 13 years to see my whole house saved. If you have family members who are not saved, Pray for them and God will save them.
After the Japanese surrender, the communists destroyed all the railways around big cities and we had to stay. In 1946, Pastor Solvoll (Norwegian Pentecostal) helped us to begin work in Beijing. We rented a place and started a church without church members. Like the Salvation Army, we had meetings on the street. Three times a week, we beat the drum to start our meetings. Many came and gave out tracts and books. We had an immersion baptism in the summer and witnessed 20 to 50 people baptized each year.
In 1949, China's liberation occurred. After that we could no longer have street meetings or preach on the radio. The new government ruled that the Bible could only be preached inside church buildings. All missionaries and organizations withdrew, and many church properties were left empty. By 1950, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement was started. It was headed by the government's Religious Affairs Bureau which controls all religious activities. The idea was that all organizations, religious or secular had to be led by the Communist Party. Christ is the head of the church, and the church as a virgin cannot be aligned with [the] world. We therefore declined to comply.
Mr Wu Yao Zong, a graduate of the New York Union Theological Seminary was the chief secretary of the YMCA at the time. He called himself a Christian, but his loyalty was with the Communist Party. People at the YMCA were modernists and not evangelists. Mr. Wu and a few others came to Beijing and had a long talk with Premier Zhou En Lai. The meeting lasted 3 days during which they discussed the direction of the Chinese church. They decided to cut off all connections with American "imperialism" They also decided that the Chinese church should be Self-supporting, Self-governing and Self-propagating (the Three-Self). Then Mr. Wu returned to Shanghai and made declarations to establish the movement which was spread allover China. This as a patriotic movement supported by the government.
In 1950, Beijing had more than 60 churches of different denominations. All churches used to receiving foreign aid joined the movement. In Beijing there were 11 preachers who refused to join the movement, including Watchman Nee, Liu Wu Ming and myself. The eleven of us met together and decided that there were three reasons for not joining the movement. First we were independent and did not receive any overseas support. We ourselves paid our rent and expenses. Second, we must not [be] yoke[d] [together] with unbelievers (2 Corinth 6: 14). Third, we believed that politics and religion should be separated. Under the movement, the church became an instrument of the government, led by the party and the Religious Affairs Bureau.
As a consequence of our refusal, the 11 of us were all imprisoned ! One after another, starting from 1955. Liu Wu Ming and I were both given life sentences. I was arrested in 1958, at the age of 44, leaving behind my wife, 6 young children and my mother. During the 22 years of my imprisonment, my wife suffered untold hardship in bringing up the children. I was sent to a prison in Heilongjiang Province (near the Russian border) to labor in the rice fields. As we were very far away from home, Liu Wu Ming and I thought we would die as martyrs there. During the Cultural Revolution, I did not receive any letters from my family for ten years. It was extremely cold there in the labor camp, with hard work and a poor supply of food. But, praise the Lord that I never once got sick in my 22 years there. Though I was thin, I came back alive whereas many died in between. For 22 years I did not have a Bible, nor did I meet any other Christians. I only met 4 Catholic priests who were in the same situation as mine. They refused to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and were also imprisoned there.
During those long years in jail, two songs continued to encourage me. One was from Psalm 27, and the other was "The Old Rugged Cross". We had to work 9 hours a day and were allowed a break in the middle. Many would go into their cells to smoke during the break. As I didn't smoke, I usually stood outside and sang those choruses over and over again. I found the Chinese version of the "Old Rugged Cross" better than the English version. In Chinese it tells us to be faithful servants and to follow the cross, which was what I wanted to do.
Year's went by and there was little hope of being released. When Deng Xiao Ping came to power after the Cultural Revolution, some policies were changed. In order to improve relationship With Taiwan, all Nationalist officials were released from prison. Imprisonment was a means to re-educate people (as to change their way of thinking), and prisoners were also used as cheap laborers for profit There were far too many people in jails and the burden on prisons was too great. It was decided then to release all those over 60 years of age who had been imprisoned for more than 20 years The reasons were that those over 60 would not be able to labor much longer, and 20 years of imprisonment was considered long enough to reform peoples' minds to become harmless to the revolution. Liu Wu Ming and I met those conditions and were released. I actually left the prison in December 1979, after 21 years and 8 months.
I was released under probation, without the rights of a citizen. Liu Wu Ming, however, was given his citizenship immediately. I was given a ten-year probation during which I stayed in Beijing as I had no freedom of travel. In those days, people came everyday asking questions. I spent much time sharing with them about Jesus, and my wife cooked all day long entertaining visitors. Shortly afterward, we started a Bible study and later a house fellowship. People came from within China and overseas. I then made a number of teaching and preaching tapes, as there were no Bibles. We gave out hundreds of tapes for people to use in their services. We also bought a video recorder some time later, which is very useful for edification and preaching, especially in the countryside. Many watch the video "the life of Jesus" and weep. We have a great need for VHS cassettes or Video discs of Bible stories and preaching in Mandarin.
My work these days is mainly with the house churches. There are two kinds of house churches, those that are registered with the Three-Self, and those that do not register. With our many limitations, the Word of God is advancing and saving many, especially in Henan, Zhejiang and Fuzhou Provinces. The Wenzhou district in Fuzhou Province alone has about 600,000. Christians They have signs and miracles Just as in the days of apostles. I am (in 2000) now an old man of 86 and my wife, who was born in 1919, is 81 years old. As we live each day, we want to work for Him until He returns. As you know, He is coming soon. If He comes today, I am fully prepared, as everybody must give an account.
Many friends come and ask what they could do to help the Chinese church. The answer is in this one word: Pray! First, please pray for the millions of Chinese that are still lost sheep Only as little as 9% of the Chinese population are Christian, and the ratio of Christians in Tibet is even smaller. Second, pray for new believers and people who are interested They need grace and growth to be built up and edified in the body of Christ, and to be able to stand firm against persecutions. We have great need for preachers and pastors in China. The government established 13 bible schools in China, but very few of the students actually have a calling to ministry. We thank God for those offering their lives to serve in the countryside, and for the radio broadcasts from outside China. Third, please pray for the leaders in the Chinese government (Proverbs 21: 1) Pray that China will be opened just as in Russia and East Europe. God will answer our prayers for
China as He will have mercy over its large population and send the world's greatest revival. .
We met Mr Yuan last Sunday. At 87, he is alive and well and acted as my interpreter! I talked about "Without holiness, it's impossible to see God" Mr "Yuan" is a personal friend of Billy Graham, and Billy preached in his little house church. Mr Yuan showed us the pictures they have of Billy and his wife.They took this lovely old couple to their hotel suite and bought them some pretty fancy meals. It's interesting that his little house church is located with in a rock throw of the biggest Buddhist white pagoda I ever saw! He is the third person I have met in China who's only crime was being an intellectual. The first two were in prison farms for 18 years, while Mr Xuan was in prison for 22 years.
Allen Yuan died August 16, 2005, and he was my FRIEND!And God's faithful hero.