In the Summer of 1980 China had just been opened to outsiders. The people there all still wore those grey baggy clothes……everyone the same. If one was privileged to be able to “dress up” it had to be in one of those Mao suits. There was no style, no color as respects clothing. Except for a very few cars, all local transportation was by bicycle, just hundreds of thousands of them in each city.
Just about the only Americans that the Chinese had seen were a few retired professors and doctors, no American young people. But in the late summer of 1980 a handful of us along with Campus Crusade took 350 young people into China . They caused a huge sensation. Most of them had been following up in places like the Philippines behind where the Jesus film had been shown the previous summer. They had been starting bible classes and bible study groups, discipling new converts, and even starting new churches.
We, along with some of the real “tigers” at Camus Crusade wanted to know what the Christian situation was in newly opened China . Were there still Christians? Were there any Christians in places of authority? Were Christians welcome there? Was there any persecution of Christians?
We were very surprised to find all manner of Christians is very high places. We found no persecution, anywhere. And since we came openly as Christians, we were welcomed in the most extra-ordinary manner.
You may know that one of the most important buildings in all of China , right on the west side of Tiananmen Square , is The Great Hall of The People. It is where the Communist representatives from across the county meet to “elect” their new leaders, and where their new Five Year Plans are announced in convocations. It could be described as the very inner-sanctum of the Communist Party.
Much to our amazement, because they wanted to show that Christians were welcome, our whole group, including the 350 young people were given a grand banquet right in the Great Hall of The People. Many of the top Chinese Authorities were in attendance and welcomed us in a welcoming line of introduction. The food was most grand, some of the best in Beijing . The tables were typical Chinese, big and round and with their usual large revolving centerpieces. I co-hosted a table with the official who had been over what we would call the American Desk of their State Department when Nixon and Kissinger went there to help “open-up” China to the outside world. I think we were the first Americans to receive a banquet there in The Great Hall of the People since the one for Nixon and Kissinger.
I did fairly well with the protocol with my co-host at the dinner. One of my major tests was when I was supposed to reach way up to a platter being held overhead and offer him one of those slippery sea-urchins with my chopsticks. I am sure that it was only with God’s help that I got it safely down to his plate without having it squirt out onto the table. My only snafu was when I had dropped two grains of rice onto the table next to my plate. He watched those two grains for the longest time before he finally picked them up. He went on to explain that his grandfather had trained him like others in China to never leave a grain of rice on the table. It had to do with knowing about all the starving people across China in the past who had no rice.
The Chinese loved to hear our young people sing. After the dinner for the longest time we sang all the US patriotic songs and Christian songs that we could remember, like God Bless America, Jesus Loves Me, How Great Thou Art, and even The Lord’s Prayer………right there in the very inner-sanctum of Communism. I don’t know if they knew the meaning of any of the words or if any were interpreted for them, but the Chinese officials smiled and clapped the whole time.
The Chinese official that co-hosted the table with me that I described earlier was most interested that I had spent time in Moscow in the Kremlin. I had described to him how much the Russians wanted me to tell them about our US “management system”. He later met with me outside the building beside the hedges around the building where I tried to explain how free market capitalism is our “management system”……how we really don’t have any secret plan or system. Just like in Russia , government central planning for a whole economy by the bureaucrats under Communism, nothing works. Spare parts if they exist at all seem to never get where they are needed. Later, I had some of China ’s top leaders actually read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in which he describes what he calls “the guiding had of the market” under the freedom of Capitalism. It gets spare parts where they are needed and makes everything in the economy of a nation work beautifully without any planning.
We knew how these young people are so motivated to share the Gospel with others. We did not want to cause any problems, so each one of the 350 was given only one little book of The Four Spiritual Laws to take into China. I thought that it was so neat that each was printed inside of bright red covers, just like Chairman Mao’s little red books had their red covers, and which were carried by the young people that plunged China into that awful Cultural Revolution. That was where every teacher of professor or even what would be considered an educated person was banished out into the country to work in the fields and was so severely persecuted. Hundreds of thousands died. Many books have been written about what an awful time it was.
One of the results of it was to purge the entire population from any kind of overt religion or even spiritual philosophy or political thought across China . In 1980 and later if you would have the opportunity to engage the Chinese in any kind of political discussion, the answer was always the same: “We are not sure what system we really want in the future, but we are absolutely certain that we never want anything like that Cultural Revolution again.” It is my opinion that it created such a spiritual vacuum that it made a wonderful opportunity for Christianity to fill that vacuum.
Still testing things in China , we asked for something really bold. We asked for permission from the very top authorities “to hold a prayer meeting on top of the Great Wall of China to claim China for Jesus”. Much to our surprise we were given that permission without changing any of those words in the request.
At that time there were no tourist facilities at the Great Wall. There was not even a good road there. One took a special train there. It stopped at the wall and then waited until your group was ready to return. The distance is only 50 miles, but the train traveled fairly slowly and passes parts of other walls which were built way before the present one.
On the trip there I met a most interesting young man on the train. His father was one of the top officials in Beijing . He had learned English fairly well, and was already in Graduate School . but he really wanted to go on this trip to the Wall with all those American young people. He did remark something about what he called the “interesting spirit” that these young people seemed to have. I told him that we were going to have a “special meeting” on the Wall and encouraged him to attend and observe the “meeting” and tell me later on the return trip what he thought about it. I even asked him to see if he could feel anything at that “meeting”.
We went about a half mile east along the wall and climbed up to one of its highest parts. Every so often along the Wall there is a rock tower built for the guards who were stationed there. We held our prayer meeting on the east side of one of those towers which loomed above us. Some great and powerful prayers were offered by the young Campus Crusade leaders. They prayed earnestly for the Gospel to spread across China in the future, which is now happening.
On the return trip that same young man came and sat down beside me. I decided that it was a great opportunity to share the Gospel with him. I got out my one copy of the Four Spiritual Laws that was printed in Chinese and started explaining it to him.
He got so interested that the noise where we were on the train began to bother us for what was becoming a very intense conversation. We decided to go out between the cars on the train where we could be alone. This train was so well made that the spaces between the cars were closed-in with glass so it was fairly quiet. When we got to the part where it was time for him to pray the prayer to ask God into his life, he stopped. He said that maybe he had done so many wrong things in his life that he should not pray that prayer.
It was at this critical juncture that I needed to say just the right words to him, and I am totally convinced that God put just the perfect words into my mouth. I have since shared those words with hundreds and hundreds of my prison boys, and they are very effective and achieve amazing results with God’s leading.
So, I asked him if he had ever been “camping”. Then I said: “Oh, you wouldn’t know what that means, that doesn’t translate into Chinese.” However, he quickly said: “I have a masters degree in English, certainly I know what going camping means…..you sleep out in the woods under the trees, you cook your food over a wood fire, you catch a wild pig and you roast him and eat him.”
So I said: “OK. Let us assume that you go camping for two whole weeks. You sleep out under the trees, you have a great time, you catch your wild pig and roast him and eat him. He is really good.”
And he said: “Oh, that would be fun, and I could get away from that dorm and all those guys where I live at college.”
Then I said: “But the whole second week that you are there, you really begin thinking how great a shower would feel and clean clothes. You start just dreaming about them.
“You stay the whole two weeks; you have a great time, but by now you are really dirty and you smell really bad, and it is time for you to go back. You start the long walk back to the dormitory where you live with your friends. You have had a grand time, but all the way back you are thinking and dreaming about how wonderful that shower and those clean clothes will feel.
“Finally, you arrive back, and you see that all of your friends are getting on this bus. They are all dressed-up, fancy. You ask what is happening and they tell you—–’Oh, we have been invited to a banquet in The Great Hall of the People…..It is the chance of a lifetime for us. We have been getting ready all afternoon…..getting our hair combed just right, getting our shoes shined, and our ties on straight.’
“And you say: ‘Yes, you fellows really look great.’
“And they say: ‘Haven’t you heard!’
“And you say: ‘I haven’t heard anything. I have been out in the woods for two weeks!’
“And they say: ‘You were invited to this banquet too!’
“And you say: ‘No!’
“And they reply: ‘Yes! But it starts in just 15 minutes. We are already late leaving. Look!!! The bus is leaving right now. Jump on! You must go! It is the chance of a lifetime! You don’t have time to change or have a shower or get cleaned up. Hurry, hurry, hurry!’”
“Oh! How could you go to such a beautiful banquet with all of those dressed-up people as dirty and smelly as you were. Those Communist guards would never let you through the gate.”
But the young man saw what I was trying to show him. God has prepared Heaven like a great banquet for all of us—-for all of Eternity. He wants all of us to be there. But how can we be there in such purity and splendor—-as dirty and filthy as we have become? No matter how much He might love us, it just could not happen. But that is what the Forth Law is about.
Thus, The Forth Spiritual Law:
We must each one, individually receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Then we can be in Heaven with Him, and know His love here and the wonderful plan that he has for our life here.
It is not enough to just believe in Him. The Devil believes in Him, but the Devil will not be in Heaven. Jesus called such a decision “being born again”…..having our souls washed clean. He did all the “work” for us when He died on the cross. But we have to each one individually accept it like accepting a contract.
Here is a person. The dots represent all the things in his life. The chair represents the throne in his life…..who is king, who is in charge, who is boss? This person is like most people we know…..his self is on the throne. He is in charge of his own life. I don’t know whether he is doing a good job or not. He believes there a God. He prays sometimes. He even goes to church sometimes. But as far as his life is concerned; he is in charge, and God is outside.
However, Jesus said in the back of the Bible (Revelation 3:20): “Behold, I stand at the door of every man’s heart and I knock”. He will not break the door down or force His way in, but you can open the door of your heart and invite Him in. His Spirit Power can come in and change your whole life.
That is what this second person has done. He has asked God to be on the throne of his life. And the things in his life are now getting arranged around God. His self is still there, but it is not running things, not in charge, not in control anymore. He will still sin and mess-up some times, because he is still trapped in a human body…..but he is on a new and different road now.
Which one of these two people is you, ?
Which would you like for it to be?
If you wish to be the second person, and ask God into your life, and really be born again, you can do so right now. I would want you to very be serious, and plan for a turning in your life.
OK, I will pray for a few seconds, and then I will say some words that you can repeat after me, quietly, but out loud, straight to God, if you really mean them.
“Father God, we come before you now. And as it says in your Holy Book, if we meet here in Your Name, Your Spirit Power will be right here with us, and we know that this is true, for You do not lie. Father God, this young person wishes to come now and ask you into his heart and life. He wants his sins to be forgiven. He wants a turning in his life. He wants to be washed clean. He wants to be saved into Heaven, and he needs your Spirit Power living inside him to help him. So, he is going to come now, Father God, and quietly say these words, to You:
‘Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Right now I open the door of my heart and receive You as my Savior and my Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins, and for giving me eternal life. Now Lord, just take control of the throne of my life, and make me into the kind of person that you want me to be. Amen.’”
The young man did pray those words. Chinese men seldom ever cry, but he had big tears in his eyes.
I told him that I wanted to give him a bible. I went back several cars to a group of young people. One fellow had a nice, leather bound bible. He was running short of money and was quite willing to sell it to me.
When I returned to the car where I had left the young man, he was gone.
I went forward through two or three cars and found him right in the middle of a group of Campus Crusade kids. They had been observing him and had figured out what had happened. They were already in the midst of discipling him. I gave him the bible and left.