In our daily meditations through the following weeks, we will look at historic revivals, how they start and how the Holy Spirit uses humble people for His glory.
Our first is Carl Lawrence's story of how God used humble, simple-hearted Christians to build His kingdom on Hainan Island, China. I quote from his book, The Coming Influence of China. Lawrence recounts how, in the mid-1990s, two young women came to faith in Christ in another Chinese province after hearing the Gospel via shortwave radio broadcasts. The two new believers received Bibles and immediately wanted to serve God with all their hearts. A Hong Kong-based pastor met with the two and tried to teach them that they should remain where they were and minister to their neighbors. The girls protested, "No! The Bible you gave us says Jesus told us to go into all the world. We want to go." Finally, the pastor, feeling ashamed at his comparative lack of zeal, relented and told the girls there was a need for workers on Hainan Island. The duo had never heard of Hainan Island before, but they were sure God wanted them to preach the Gospel there.
Two years later, the girls returned to the Chinese mainland, where the pastor met with them. He had not heard any news since their departure. The Hong Kong pastor used the meeting to introduce the girls to several visiting Western church leaders. After introductions, the girls were asked how their work had been and whether they had started any churches. Lawrence explains: “The women put their heads down and answered, ‘Oh pastor, we have only been there two years…yea, two years. Not many. Not very many.’ Their voices were apologetic. ‘We have been there only a short time. The people were not very friendly, and sometimes they became vicious. Sometimes they told us they were going to drown us in the ocean. Several men threatened us, and because we were so young, some of the ladies did not like us and called us terrible names…so not many churches…no, not many.’” Finally, after being asked again by the frustrated pastor, the girls apologized that they had only started 30 churches since their arrival on Hainan Island!
The pastor and his Western friends were taken aback by the news. They asked how many people attended their new churches. After again going through a process of apologies and self-effacing comments, they answered, “Two hundred and twenty.” The listeners presumed the statement to mean that the girls won 220 converts in their 30 churches, but 220 was the number of members in the smallest churches! "How many people do you have in the largest of your churches," the pastor demanded to know. “Oh…not many…Less than five thousand. Only four thousand nine hundred. Yes, less than five thousand. We have just started.”
The Western visitors were so touched by the humility and zeal of the two young ladies that they began to weep. One of the visitors told the pastor to ask the two ladies how they achieved such great results. “What did we do? Why nothing. Yes, we did nothing, nothing.” The amazed onlookers protested, “You did nothing? You have thirty churches – the smallest with two hundred and twenty people, the largest with almost five thousand new Christians! And you did nothing?” The two evangelists simply said, "We just prayed, and after we prayed, the Holy Spirit would tell us exactly what to do. We would keep praying, and He would tell us what to do, and then we would do it. We would pray again, and he would tell us what to do likewise.
Note: When we first read this story of the two faithful girls, we were unsure of the story's accuracy, as it almost sounded too good to be true. We sent the account to a friend who is an expert on the church on Hainan Island. Somewhat surprisingly, our informant responded that, indeed, the story is true. These two young women had done great exploits and planted many churches in the face of considerable opposition and struggle. They primarily worked in southern Hainan Island, including several counties around Sanya City. However, our friend added that because of a lack of follow-up and discipleship, much of the fruit was lost to cults and that by 1999 perhaps "only" 5,000 of the duo's converts remained true believers.
Taken from the website of Asia Harvest: http://asiaharvest.org/testimonies/#13