Signs, Wonders, and a Sleepy Church: book review of The Heavenly Man

When’s the last time you witnessed something truly remarkable? Certainly nature is remarkable. Miraculous even. But real-life, jaw-dropping, remarkable stories don’t come along every day, which is precisely why I couldn’t put this book down.

The Heavenly Man rocked my world. In his book, Liu Zhenying (aka Brother Yun) shares his story of enduring unthinkable pain and suffering including prison, torture, manhunts and separation from his family as a result of government crackdowns on Chinese Christian house churches.

Brother Yun’s devotion to lay down his life—quite literally—for Jesus Christ is beyond inspiring. I was instantly won over by His love for Jesus, hunger to know and memorize the Bible (the entire New Testament), and courage to share the gospel despite horrific persecution. And the miracles were astonishing, the same type of miracles we read about in Acts. The very miracles that have caused some to question if this story could all be true.

Many American and European pastors have asked Yun why we don’t see many signs and wonders in the West. I found great wisdom and biblical truth in his admonition:

“The greatest miracles we see are not the healings or other things, but lives transformed by the Gospel. We’re not called to follow signs and wonders, instead the signs and wonders follow us when the gospel is preached. We don’t keep our eyes on the signs and wonders; we keep our eyes on Jesus.”

We worship a miracle-working God. As pebble throwers who seek to reach out to the lost, broken, and hurting, we are on the front lines, co-laboring with the Miracle Worker himself. Brother Yun is in the trenches, laying down his life for the Great commission.

When you step out, literally into enemy territory, you will face persecution, and you will be desperate for the presence, protection, and miraculous power of God, the very same God “who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

This book contains miraculous accounts including [spoiler alert]:

  • Yun cries out to God for a Bible, has a vision of two men delivering a Bible who later appear suddenly in the middle of the night risking persecution to hand him, you guessed it, a Bible
  • Yun survives in prison for 74 days without food or water—yes, 74 days
  • Yun’s severely damaged legs are healed while God opens maximum security prison gates, through which Yun walks past armed guards and out of gates into broad daylight

One reviewer calls this book “an absolute must for the sleeping churches of the West.” Agreed. Are you up for a soul awakening? If you don’t want to read about the remarkable and prefer not to examine your own spiritual complacency, don’t open this book. But if you’re up for a wild-but-true story and a loving rebuke, then please do!

The Heavenly Man also schooled me on some things:

  1. How to pray for the persecuted church:

“Don’t pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power. This is true freedom!”

  1. To be careful of how our churches seek to grow and bring revival:

brother-yun-preaching“When I’m in the West, I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state of the art sounds systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. [Those] will never bring the revival you seek.” He goes on to say what is needed: a return to the Word of the Lord and obedience to that Word. “When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy his presence and blessings too long, and build an altar to your experiences.”

  1. The greatest way to experience God’s presence and His blessings:

“It’s only when we step out in obedience and share the Gospel with people that we come to know God’s blessing in every area of our lives.” Philemon 1:6

“Every House church pastor in China is ready to lay down his life for the gospel. When we live this way, we’ll see God do great things by his grace.”

  1. What it truly looks like to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

Have you recently read a book that challenged you, inspired you, or made you examine your heart for Jesus? Please share in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Signs, Wonders, and a Sleepy Church: book review of The Heavenly Man

  1. Thank you Maresa for your excellent review. I read this book years ago and loved it. God does amazing work through a life that is yielded to Him! Ephesians 3:20-21

  2. Maresa
    Thank you for sharing this book review. We in the West take so much for granted. Your review made me wonder…How often am I desperate for God’s presence, protection and power like those who are literally willing to sacrifice their own lives in coming together to worship Jesus?
    I am placing on my books to read list!

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