Archive

  • Lessons from the lockdown

    Mike Gore, who heads up Open Doors in Australia, reflects on the lessons he’s been learning during the lock down…

    I recently had a conversation with a friend about the global lockdown. The conversation reminded me that even though this period of isolation can feel claustrophobic and oppressive, what if this isolation is actually a hand on the back from the Lord, pushing us in to a beautiful, focused relationship with Him?

    At the height of persecution [in China] in the 50’s and the 60’s, the church was dispersed, and forced into homes – much like we’re experiencing now.

    Chinese believers reflected that “before persecution came we practised our faith and our love for God in the church – and almost nowhere else, but when persecution came it dispersed the church, and we practised faith in our homes, and because of that – everywhere else.”

    Prayers have been answered


    Image: A Chinese woman looking towards her closed church.

    Churches have gathered online as we can’t meet in person and the church is really starting to understand that it is much more than a building. Many leaders always remind us to reach out to our communities and “be a Monday Christian too!”. Because of the lockdown, overnight these prayers were answered, and churches were scattered into homes. People are responding, doing what they can to help their neighbours. The church is stepping up, all over the world.

    Less content, more connection


    Image: A Christian family gather in their home, Syria

    Over the last few weeks, I have seen people become more comfortable with our situation, and churches have decreased their focus on content as they increased their focus on connection. That is the key in what we’ve learned from the persecuted church. When the church is forced into homes, the battleground shouldn’t be around the best deliverable content – the battleground is connection.

    Stripping back all the distractions of culture, and all the things we found our identity in – whether it is church, work or socialising – we’ve realised that when all our distractions are gone – we’re still okay.

    Unity


    Image: Believers praying together for the persecuted church

    One of the risks is that we will look back on this time in history and see a decline in the number of regular church-attending Christians. A major reason will be that the pursuit of content over connection has left some believers saying, ‘I haven’t even heard from my church’.

    For others, their routine will be forever interrupted by the change in church setting and they won’t go back to the building as often. We will also see a broadening of the gospel as people become used to receiving information online – but from a variety of sources.

    But I believe we will also see a reduction of denominational lines and the patriotism surrounding denominations. I’m hoping we’ll see a far more unified Church arise from this pandemic.

    Faith in the home

    Image: Believers praying at a house church gathering, Laos.

    When faith is brought out of our church, it enters the rest of the world. That’s one the most beautiful realities of what we’re experiencing now; faith has become a part of our homes.

    This pandemic has become a super intimate, faith-growing – and hopefully faith-deepening, experience. Let us use this opportunity to grow the Church as we see God working during this pandemic!

    Grow with God during the lockdown: Isolated Church…

    To help you through this time of enforced social distancing and isolation, we’re releasing a series of new content every week. Were going to be looking at how the persecuted church can inspire us during this time of lockdown. Sign up for our weekly emails to get fresh videos, stories, reflections, prayers and actions – all of which you can do from home!

  • Ramadan challenge: The church I see

    The church I see is under attack.

    It seems as though the church is being systematically wiped out in the Middle East, the very place it started. But is the church I see, the only church?

    I met Sara* in the Middle East. She had converted from Islam to Christianity. She told me that when she was a Muslim, she would pray five times a day to a god who terrified her. But when she found Jesus, a God of grace who loves her unconditionally, she prayed 10 times a day.

    What happens when Muslims discover Jesus?

    Muslims are passionate god-seekers. So what happens when people who spend a lifetime seeking god, find Jesus–God, who reached down to us, and whose death and resurrection offers freedom? What does that church look like?

    Image: Muslim women praying in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

    Well I can tell you, and I promise you it will push your idea of Christianity to its limits. Because it looks like people who place a mat on the floor facing Jerusalem, kneel down and pray five times a day religiously. People who learn scriptures cover to cover, fast for a whole month in pursuit of Jesus, and are bold and passionate evangelists without extremism.

    There is a church I see and, in many ways, it’s a church I don’t want to see.

    Because their expression of faith is so different to my expression of faith. It’s a church whose motive, intent, theology and actions I seem to automatically question, even though they are part of the body of Christ.

    The church in the Middle East is under attack. But there is a church rising up that looks different, sounds different and sadly will be treated differently by so many of us. How does our personal experience of church affect our acceptance of how other people choose to worship Jesus? And what do we need to change in order to accept the emergence of a church that will push our idea of Christianity to its limits?

    Respond in Ramadan…

    It’s currently Ramadan, a time when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. Why not join that fast for a day? Choose one day over the next month to fast during daylight hours, and instead, spend meal times praying for your Muslim friends and neighbours.

    Pray for the emerging church in the Middle East that is full of Christians from Muslim families. Pray for the Muslim community in your area and ask God to be known to those seeking after truth. And pray for yourself. Ask God to help you be able to share about Jesus with your Muslim friends, ask for simple conversations to begin about faith and for you to have the right words to say!

  • God if you’re real…

    I remember standing outside a church in North Africa that was full of new believers who had left Islam to follow Jesus.

    Just around the corner a suicide bomber had blown himself up a week or so before. I’ll never forget seeing the sheer scale of damage one man with a bomb and some ball bearings strapped to him could achieve. Little did I know; the next few hours would change my life forever.

    At the conclusion of the two hour service, a Christian brother began to tell me his story. He used to be a wealthy Muslim businessman, until one day he prayed,

    “God if you’re real you need to come and see me.”

    That afternoon he came home from work and found a man standing in his house.

    When he asked who he was, the man said “Jesus.” They spoke for an hour.

    When his wife came home, he told her he was now a Christian. She was furious because it could cost them their home, money, family and possibly their lives.

    The man said to his wife, “Well, you ask Jesus to come and He will come.”

    The next day, the man found a letter nailed to the tree in their front yard. It was from his wife and it simply read: “Dear Jesus, my husband says you are real and you will come, so please come.”

    A couple of days later the man came home from work and found his wife sobbing on the floor. When he asked her what was wrong she said, “Jesus came and visited me, we spoke for an hour. We are now Christian.”

    The couple now lead a house church. Because of their decision to follow Jesus they have lost their status, esteem, safety and wealth.

    We hear stories of Muslims around the world discovering Jesus almost everyday. The question for us is: what happens next? How do these new believers develop the foundation in their faith to not fall away when persecution comes?

    As the church grows, so does the need for discipleship.

    Image: Muslim background believers participating in discipleship training.

    That’s where Open Doors comes in. Providing Bibles, Christian materials, leadership training and strengthening of local churches. Please keep praying, speaking out and raising money for Christians around the world the ensure these amazing courageous people will continue to boldly follow Jesus no matter what they face.

    Here’s some ways to help:

    1. Find out more and pray
    Grab our new suite of resources to help you pray for Christians from across the world that know the cost of following Jesus

    2. Fundraise
    Download our Walk, Bake, Ride Run… With Them fundraising pack and raise money, prayer and awareness doing what you love!

    Thank you for all your support!

    A version of this article first appeared on the Open Doors Australia website.

  • Powerful photos of 2017 (Part 3)

    Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia shares three of the most powerful images from 2017, and the incredible stories behind them. Here’s story three!

    3. Muslims seeking Jesus, Lebanon

    They are Muslim and they are seeking Jesus.

    On a trip to the Syrian border in Lebanon I learnt more about prayer from Muslims than you could ever imagine.

    The convicting reality that Muslims have a greater expectation that Jesus will answer their prayer than I do, is something I will never forget.

    They pray with an expectation unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

    The first church service here is full of Muslim converts.

    The second… veiled women seeking Jesus.

    The pastor begins the service by asking whose prayer from last week did Jesus answer? hands go up, testimony after testimony, the service finishes with the pastor asking the women their prayer requests for the coming week, because, not only do they have them ready to share, but they wake up with an expectation that Jesus will have heard, and answered their prayer.

    And even in those times where He may not answer them overnight they continue to pray day, after day, after day with an expectation that He will respond.

    It’s the moment I realised, I can’t remember what I prayed for yesterday, let alone last week – and more than that, what have I ever consistently prayed for with an expectation so great, it drove me to look for the answer?

    I’ve learnt that Jesus hears our prayers, but doesn’t necessarily answer them overnight. That sometimes we’re called to pray more than once for something. That to ask without expectation is an insult to God. That trust filled respect in God should drive us to look for the answer. I’ve learnt that prayer is more than asking for the things I want. It’s trusting him for the things I need. And that prayer, is indisputably an act of worship.

    It’s on the Syrian border in refugee camps that this is happening.

    These people are Syrian. They are Muslim, and they are seeking Jesus.

    Many of them have been displaced for five years and when it comes to prayer, they’re not asking for shiny new things.

    They’re asking that Jesus would make himself real to them in their moment of need. They’re asking for things like food, shelter, warmth, education and safety for their children.

    And time and time again, Jesus is answering their prayer and more often than not He does so by moving the heart of the local church. Courageously obedient and unquestionably the hands and feet of Christ to those living as refugees in their community, sharing Jesus in a way that doesn’t compromise the gospel but brings it to life and offers them salvation.

    Isn’t it funny? How something so simple can become so complex. It’s as though the moment Jesus answers our prayers, and reveals himself to Muslims all over the world, we question the process.

    We love the end stories of conversion but their journey to salvation, it makes us feel uncomfortable even awkward. I’ve learnt from people still searching for Christ, that expectation filled prayer brings the gospel to life.

    How’s your prayer life? Because mine was in desperate need of change.

  • Powerful photos of 2017 (Part 2)

    Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia shares three of the most powerful images from 2017, and the incredible stories behind them. Here’s story one!

    Joseph, Central Asia


    Note: This image is representative…

    From the moment I met Joseph one of the things that stood out to me was his warm and inviting personality. Don’t get me wrong he is a tough man and I get the impression that he’s someone you’d never want to get on the wrong side of, but he radiates Godly love.

    But this has not always been the case.

    In Christian circles we often talk about radical transformation, stories like that of the Damascus road, – and Joseph’s is exactly that.

    Joseph and his wife Sally have been married for 26 years.

    As we sat eating dinner, Sally told us that for 12 years of their marriage she lived with blue eyes because he was always drunk and beating her. According to Joseph, it was a common practice within Islamic culture.

    Sally tells us that many times they were going to divorce but didn’t want the children to grow up without a father so they stuck it out. Their love for each other is so evident and beautiful. They have a wonderful sense of humour and laugh a lot with each other.

    Joseph began drinking when he was 10, and not long after dropped out of school and joined the military.

    In 1998, Sally’s brother John was sent to jail. A Christian man by the name of Paul would visit John in prison, and also Sally and Joseph at their home.

    In those days Joseph was one of the most well-known jewellers in Central Asia. He had loads of money and would often walk home from work drunk throwing wads of money at people.

    One day Paul came and visited Joseph at work. Joseph had cigarettes and vodka on his desk. He said to Joseph, “I see that you want to quit drinking but you cannot.”

    Joseph said, “That’s true but I cannot because I’ve been drinking so many years.”

    Paul replied, “I know one person who can help you. Jesus Christ.”

    Joseph thought, “What can He do?”

    Paul told Joseph how Jesus had changed his own life and that Jesus could change Joseph ‘s life too. After that, they would meet together every week. Paul would tell Joseph about Jesus, and Joseph would try to disprove him.

    In prison, Sally’s brother became a Christian. Not long after, Joseph accepted Jesus too.

    But this is the part that undid me. In my thinking, from this moment onwards Joseph should be a changed man, a good man – but that’s not how it worked at all.

    Joseph didn’t stop drinking, he didn’t stop beating Sally. He did start evangelizing, especially when he was drunk.

    When John was released from prison, he came home and started telling everyone about Jesus, and trying to encourage Joseph to change his ways. But Joseph continued.

    One day John came to visit Joseph, they went to church together. Joseph got dressed into his nice clothes – they were also his Islamic clothes.

    Everyone was shocked when he walked into church. They thought Joseph had got the mosque confused with the church. He entered the church but didn’t take off his Islamic hat and everyone was whispering between themselves.

    John was sitting next to him and Paul went forward to preach, at the end Paul made an alter call.

    Joseph told us, “Something happened inside me and I was not able to stay. I stood up and said to John, let me go and I went directly to the pulpit and I could hear people asking what was going on. I am sure people thought I was going to beat the pastor but I fell to my knees and started to repent and pray. The Holy Spirit was doing something supernatural in my heart. Then John ran to me and gave me a hug and fell to his knees. We were all crying and praising the Lord.

    “Only later did I realise that for those 4 years John and Paul had been praying for me and that day their prayers had been answered. On that day 28 people one by one accepted Jesus. And that day I promised the Lord I would serve Him faithfully.”

    But still for years, Joseph continued to drink.

    One day, while he was lying on the couch he heard the audible voice of God.

    God said to him, “Did you love your earthly father? Why do you love your father?”

    Joseph said to God, “Because he is my father.”

    The Lord replied, “Joseph you’ve been drinking for 21 years of your life. Why during these 21 years have you never dared drink in the presence of your father?

    “You’ve been smoking for so long but why never in the presence of your father? I don’t want anything from you except for one thing that our relationship would be the same as you had with your father.”

    Joseph rolled down onto the floor and started to cry. “Lord for me, you were so far away from me, you were in the sky in the heaven but since today and this moment you are my Father.”

    He told us that since that moment his life had changed – his world has changed. God has provided miracles, restored the relationship with his wife Sally, his children and brothers.

    Joseph finished by telling us:

    “There are Christians who want their children to live without any problems, without any needs. It always surprises me. I would tell them that we need to teach our children the different things. Moses says, ‘earn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and might and we need to teach our children the same. If we would teach them today how to love God, then God promises, ‘The one who believes in Me will never be ashamed.’”

  • Powerful photos of 2017 (Part 1)

    Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia shares three of the most powerful images from 2017, and the incredible stories behind them. Here’s story one!

    1. Samson, Central Asia

    We had arrived at another registered, but very much under the radar, church in Central Asia. We met Samson, he looked like a wrestler – in his early 50’s but lean and strong. As we sat on the floor broke bread and sipped tea, Samson began to share his testimony.

    This is – without a doubt – one of the craziest stories I’ve heard from my time at Open Doors.

    One Sunday night they came at 2am to kill him.

    Eight people with machine guns and knives. They said, “Come with us.” Samson could not see their faces as they were wearing black head coverings that only left their eyes visible.

    Samson told his wife, “My friends have come and I’ll be back in the morning. When you hear my voice then open the door.”

    Samson’s wife locked the door and Samson went with them. They took him to a garbage tip.

    They said, “Today is the last day for you. Jesus is not a God he will not save you.”

    The Mujahedeen came and grabbed his hair and pulled his head back placing a knife on his throat. They asked Samson, “What do you want to say?”

    Samson replied, “Jesus loves you and I forgive you.”

    They asked him, “Do you accept Islam?”

    And he said, “No I’ve found the truth, the creator of earth, heaven and all mankind. People created religion. You [God] created holy work. Please reveal Your work to my brothers here, salvation, protection for their children, and let them know that my blood is not on their hands. Please bless their families and I forgive them. Amen.”

    The Mujahideen (Islamic extremists) screamed at him, “Are you a fool? We want to kill you. And you are blessing our families! Go home, we will come again and take you.”

    Two weeks later thirty people and two Mujahideen’s came back.

    They said, “We want to talk! We are those that wanted to kill you.”

    And Samson replied, “If you want to kill me now please give me five minutes. I have been working so much I didn’t get time to hug my children. I will not tell them you are going to kill me. I will come back.”

    They said, “We are not going to kill you.”

    The two Mujahideen standing at the front said the 30 men behind them were their army, “As the leaders we are the ones who kill our victims.”

    They proceeded to tell Samson how 24 heads of the army would retreat to the hills during the day and come down at night into the town.

    Recently 24 leaders came down from the mountains at night and walked into an ambush set up by the government.

    The two leaders at the front of the group told how they laid on the ground with bullets flying over from all four sides. They couldn’t raise their heads or they would get shot.

    One of the leaders said, “While we were lying there we saw you and you came to us and said, ‘Throw yourself into the water and you will survive,’ and the two of us jumped into the water and we survived. The 22 other leaders were killed.”

    They asked Samson, “How did you manage to come to us? And why weren’t you shot?”

    Samson replied, “I was not there but my God sent an angel who looked like me because I am his servant. He did it for you to come to me to tell you Jesus loves you, died for you and can give you salvation.”

    The man said to Samson, “I will never fight again.” They threw open their arms and said to the soldiers, “This Christian speaks truth. I will accept Jesus.”

  • A new church is rising

    In 2016 I had the privilege of visiting Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. What I found there pushed my understanding of acceptable Christianity to its limits. Because there, in the birthplace of Christianity, a new church is rising. And it’s full of new believers from a Muslim background.

    One night in Bethlehem we arranged to meet with a young couple and their newborn son. The mother, Sally, began to share her story.

    Image: Street scene and markets in Bethlehem.

    She was born into an Islamic family with four sisters and three brothers. Her father was an extremist. She remembers as a child how often he spoke about starting Jihad – waging war for Islam.

    When Sally was 14, her sister developed an eye problem and her family couldn’t afford medical treatment. A church gave them the money they needed, but they also wanted to share the gospel. They gave Sally a Bible.

    Christians from a Muslim background often take all the spiritual discipline they learnt in Islam and point it towards Jesus.

    She felt that although she did many good things, God still didn’t love her. Sally ended up deciding to become an atheist. But after three months she found it very difficult. “You can’t just stop talking to God after a lifetime of doing it.”

    She kept reading the Bible the church had given her. “I was Muslim but I now need to be Christian,” she prayed.

    That night she had a dream that her whole family were together in heaven. They were lining up to see Jesus. Sally had been searching for God all her life, and now she had finally found Him.

    After the dream, Sally decided to follow Jesus. To this day she still hasn’t told her family because of fear of persecution.

    “As a Muslim I used to pray five times a day to a god who terrified me,” she said. “Then when I met Jesus, a God of grace who reached down to us, I prayed 10 times a day.”
    There is a new church rising, and sometimes it looks a little different.

    Christians from a Muslim background often take all the spiritual discipline they learnt in Islam and point it towards Jesus. They memorise the scriptures from cover to cover and are bold and passionate evangelists.

    They might pray five times a day using a prayer mat, but instead of Mecca, they face Jerusalem (quite similar to Daniel 6:10). They often still fast for the whole month during Ramadan, but now in pursuit of Jesus.

    They are unwilling to let their Christian friends live out a half-hearted faith in Jesus. It’s all or nothing. Because for them, leaving Islam to follow Jesus can cost them everything.

    Image: Messianic Jews and Arab believers study the Bible together at the Sea of Galilee.

    For Christians, this is the time of year we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus spent the later part of His life performing miracles, fellowshipping with His disciples and committed to building His Church.

    I believe God is still building His Church today.

    So are we willing to stand with our new brothers and sisters, as part of a global body of Christ?

    Jesus is building a new church. This Christmas, I’d love if we could stand together to support Christians living out their faith in some of the hardest places on earth.

    Two ways to support persecuted Christians this Christmas…

    Send a message of hope to Abdu, a 15 year-old Christian from the Middle East who is having a tough time…

    Give a gift worth giving. Check out our Secret Santa page to give a gift of hope to persecuted children on someone’s behalf…

    This post is taken from the blog of our friends at Open Doors Australia.

  • What brings revival?

    We’re in the middle of summer season. There are Christian festivals, camps, retreats. We experience immense times of worship and God is doing amazing things in many people’s lives. When we’re at these events it can seem like we’re at the start of a big revival – that God is making himself known and many people are being drawn to him. But, more often than not, when we get home, our experiences of God’s presence don’t continue in the same way. So what is revival and how does one start.

    Mike Gore from Open Doors Australia recently wrote down some of his thoughts, and we thought they were pretty good, so have put them up here for you too. Enjoy.

    Revival. It has to be one of the most exciting words in the “Christian” vocabulary.

    A quick look at the book of Acts gives insight into a revival like the world had never seen. I often read it looking for the secret to the early church’s growth, but the book of Acts is not an exact formula for explosive church growth. However it does tell us how a group of fisherman and dropouts were part of one of the largest scale revivals ever.

    But where do these revivals start? And how can we see revival in our country?

    “And the LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
    Acts 2:47

    God. God is the one who brings revival, not us.

    Take China for example, one of my favourite stories of revival. In 1949, there were 1 million Christians in China (a total population of 541 million) and they faced severe persecution. Believers and pastors were imprisoned and Bibles were burnt in their thousands.

    By 1979 China’s population was 969 million and the number of Christians was estimated to be over 10 million. That number soon doubled to 20 million.

    How did this great revival take place under such severe persecution?

    At the time, reports from China said that there was one thing that stood out – the amount of time Chinese believers would spend in prayer. But they weren’t praying that their persecution would end. They were praying for their country. They were praying that revival would come to China.

    This is how one of the greatest revivals in the history of the world began – with prayer.

    What if we were bold enough to ask the Lord to bring revival like in China to other countries? For revival in our country?

    “We look at the the church in the West as a prophetic example of what happens when faith becomes free: the value of Jesus drops”.

    Today there is a conservative estimate of over 90 million Christians in China.

    I remember sitting with a Chinese believer and asking if I could pray for him and he said “We look at the the church in the West as a prophetic example of what happens when faith becomes free: the value of Jesus drops. I want you to pray that persecution never leaves China!” I then asked him to pray for me and he simply said, “I pray that you’d be persecuted!”

    Revival is exciting but it often comes with a cost, as a good friend once said to me “For every resurrection there must be a crucifixion.” Are you willing to pray that revival would come to the UK and beyond?

    We are incredibly thankful for all that God is doing through His church and through the ministry of Open Doors. Thank you for your faithful prayer and your sacrifice for the persecuted church.

  • Prayer and expectation

    Mike from Open Doors Australia recently spent some time in Lebanon and was challenged by the prayer lives of Muslim refugees that were seeking Jesus…

    In Syrian refugee camps, Muslims are doing something incredibly dangerous. They are going to church, and they’re seeking Jesus.

    I’ve learnt more about prayer from Muslims in the last week than you could ever imagine. The convicting reality is that these Muslims have a greater expectation that Jesus will answer their prayer than I do. It’s something I will never forget.

    These people are Syrian refugees. They are Muslim. And, they are seeking Jesus.

    I was sitting in a church in Lebanon, full of veiled Muslim women seeking Jesus. The Pastor asked whose prayer from last week was answered.

    Several hands went up. Testimony after testimony.

    The service finished with the pastor asking the women for their prayer requests for the next week. Not only do they have them ready to share, but they wake up with an expectation that Jesus will have heard and answered their prayer. And even if He doesn’t answer it overnight, they continue to pray–day after day–with an expectation that He will respond.

    In that moment I realised that I couldn’t remember what I prayed for yesterday, let alone last week. But more than that, what have I ever consistently prayed for with an expectation so great, that I was compelled to look for the answer? I’ve learnt that Jesus hears our prayers but doesn’t necessarily answer them overnight. That respect-filled trust in God should drive us to go looking for the answer.

    I’ve learnt that prayer is more than asking for the things I want. It’s trusting Him for the things I need.
    I’ve learnt that prayer is indisputably an act of worship.

    It’s on the Syrian border in refugee camps that this is happening. These people are Syrian refugees. They are Muslim. And, they are seeking Jesus.

    “If we knew the power of prayer we’d be on our knees a hundred times a day asking for things that would turn the world upside down.”
    Brother Andrew, Open Doors Founder

  • North Korea, revival? Really?

    Over the last few weeks I’ve read post after post on my newsfeed of the tension increasing between North Korea and the US, South Korea and China. It made me think particularly of the church in North Korea.

    On top of being one of the most oppressive countries in the world, North Korea is also the hardest place on the planet to be a Christian. It’s illegal to own a Bible, and Christians face severe punishment and life in a labour camp if their faith is discovered.

    I heard from a friend and colleague, Ron Boyd MacMillan, about the time he met a believer who shared about the greatest revival in the modern world. It was in a country under a harsh dictatorship, yet it was a dictator that God used to bring revival–in China.

    A Statue of Mao Zedong in the streets of China.

    A toast to Mao Zedong

    Just months after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Ron met Mr. Bao in China. Mr. Bao was a professor by day, but at night taught the Bible in underground churches. Ron was invited to meet with Mr. Bao and other Christians in Beijing. Shortly after he arrived, the Chinese Christians raised their glasses and shared a toast, to Mao Zedong–one of the worst dictators in the modern world.

    Ron was confused, he asked Mr. Bao, “Surely Mao was a monster?”

    “God has a use for monsters too!” Mr. Bao replied. “Mao said we were going to build heaven on earth. He said we would build it through truth. He said we could only do it by faith–in each other. He said we would be part of an eternal China. Then he organised us. Gave us hymns to sing. He instituted rituals of confession and repentance, called ‘struggle meetings’. He even forced us all to get together into small groups and expound a ‘sacred’ text together.

    “At the height of it all he would gather us together at Tiananmen Square. Millions would crowd in, especially the youth. Mao would walk out onto the balcony and spread his arms sideways, palms raised almost in the crucifixion position–the crowd would thunder back their adulation, slapping their little red books to their breast. He wouldn’t need to say a thing.”

    Ron asked what was he doing, playing god?

    “Exactly!” was Mr. Bao’s response. “He taught the Chinese people how to worship.”

    Meo Zedong became a ‘god’, a jealous god. No other gods were allowed. He closed the churches, jailed pastors, burned Bibles–he tried to wipe out the church, and many Christians died.

    Chinese Christians worship in a house church in the 1980s

    So how does that bring us to the world’s greatest revival?

    After Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, freedom increased, people were able to travel around the country. So Christians went from village to village with the gospel. Mr Bao was one of them.

    He said, “We would start telling them about Jesus Christ and the people would shout, ‘Stop–we want to believe!’ I would tell them wait a minute. You haven’t heard the whole story yet, and they would say, “No, this is the God who Mao taught us to look for. We thought it was Mao who would save us, but it cannot be because he died. We see now that it must be Jesus.”

    By the mid 1980’s, it’s estimated 50 million people had come to faith in Jesus.

    “That’s why we say Mao brought us this huge revival,” said Mr Bao, “He created a society full of worshippers and when their object died, they became a society of seekers intent on finding another god.”

    “Mao thought he was the largest annihilator of the church; in fact he was doing the pre-evangelism on a scale unique in human history. Mao meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Mao was used to prepare this country for the greatest outpouring of the Spirit ever seen in his church. He’s God’s fool! He planted in the people’s hearts the desire for true religion then failed them so spectacularly that they kept seeking until they found the one true God.”

    People pose for a photo infront of the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

    What does this mean for North Korea?

    For decades, the people of North Korea have been ruled by the Kim dynasty.

    People are forced to worship their ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-un, who promotes himself as an all-powerful god. They must attend weekly meetings and memorise communist ideology. They even have a kind of religion written by Kim Il Sung known as ‘Juche’.

    They have limited TV channels and websites, and an underground market to purchase goods from abroad. Some North Koreans even think he can read their minds.

    Sound familiar?

    What would happen in North Korea if the current leadership dissolved? North Koreans have been taught to worship the Kim’s as gods–as their saviour.

    What will happen when they are free to hear about the One True Saviour, Jesus?

    This article originally appeared on the Open Doors Australia blog…

  • We support people who are beaten, tortured,
    imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.