During the years when I spoke in hundreds of meetings around the world, I found it increasingly difficult to effectively communicate testimonies from the church in Asia to believers in “free” countries. Often when I spoke in meetings, people looked at me as if I had just dropped in from another planet.
I became aware that the spiritual dynamics of the persecuted church in Asia were completely different from those in western Christianity. The differences were so stark that I sometimes felt I was interacting with two different faiths. Even the most basic understanding of God’s character appeared to be fundamentally different.
For example, on one occasion in China I shared a powerful testimony from the Mru tribe of Myanmar. The Mru number about 25,000 people, most of whom are Buddhist. The gospel had recently experienced a breakthrough among them, and several Mru villages had turned to Jesus Christ. The Buddhist monks were furious when they heard about it, so they hired two gangs of thugs and sent them to the Christian villages to beat the believers, rape the women, and burn down their houses.
Armed with chains and machetes, the first group of thugs made their way on foot to the Christian area. Before reaching their intended destination, however, a freak electrical storm descended on them as they traversed a mountain pass. All of the men were killed by lightning. The lightning also struck the 400-year-old Buddhist temple in the Mru township, burning it the ground.
The second mob of would-be persecutors traveled to the Christian villages aboard a large raft. As they made their way down the river, a thick fog suddenly enveloped them, making it impossible to see where they were going. A barge sliced through the fog, struck the raft, and hurled the thugs into the rapids, where they all drowned.
When news of these events reached the Mru communities, the fear of God fell on them. Realizing that the Living God had displayed his awesome wrath, hundreds of people turned to Christ and repented of their sins.
When I shared this testimony with the Christians in China, they literally jumped up and down with joy and shouted “Hallelujah!” at the top of their voices. They rejoiced in the judgments of God, as the Bible says, “Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, Lord” (Psalms 97:8).
Just a few weeks later I found myself standing in front of a congregation in Texas. As I shared the same testimony from Myanmar, I looked out at a sea of grim faces staring back at me. There was no rejoicing in that meeting and not a single “Hallelujah” was uttered.
After the service, an elderly lady came forward to confront me on behalf of the other church members. She strongly rebuked me with the words, “Our God is not like that brother. Our God is a loving God!” I noticed many people behind her nodding their heads in agreement
Like that congregation in Texas, many believers imagine God to be a cuddly, teddy bear-like figure whose main purpose is to encourage and bless them. They think God is so gentle and loving that he would never harm a fly, and Christians who dared to mention his wrath or coming judgments are often pushed into a corner and considered a threat to the peace of the church.
With such a skewed, chummy attitude toward God, it is no wonder that many Christians no longer fear Him. They love to hear about how John reclined at the dinner table by leaning against his best friend Jesus, but few remember that the two men met again many years later. This time the resurrected Lord was dressed in the robes of a Roman judge. John, who was absolutely terrified, wrote, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” Revelation 1:17.
Source: Paul Hattaway, An Asian Harvest (Monarch Books, 2017), p.262-264 (Excellent book which I recommend and can be ordered at Asia Harvest.)