INTERNATIONAL SITUATION REPORTS
GOOD NEWS - God is Still at Work (Humility)
from Ron Pearce
In my last installment of Good News, I mentioned five components that comprise an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as reported by our partners in the world’s spiritual hotspots. In particular, I focused on contentment—in all of life’s circumstances. Today's topic is humility that is accompanied by brokenness. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we read of great outpourings of the Holy Spirit that occurred when people were broken in spirit—meaning overwhelmed by sorrow for their sin—and humbled themselves before God with repentant hearts. Here are a few examples:
- Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 (NASB)
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place."
Notice that I underlined "humble." The first requirement God put forth for an outpouring of His presence was humility—or heartfelt brokenness—followed closely by prayer, seeking His face, and turning from disobedience.
- Jonah warns the people of Nineveh to humble themselves and repent so God would forgive their sins and protect their city from destruction Jonah 3:4-6 (NASB)
Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.
- John the Baptist publicly declares his unworthiness to untie Jesus' sandals, and calls His people to repentance Luke 3:8 (NASB)
Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
While maintaining personal humility, John came against pride and entitlement when he corrected those who bragged that they had Abraham as their father and therefore believed they should receive preferential treatment concerning God's standards. A parallel in today's world would be "Christians" who believe that merely saying a sinner's prayer followed by sporadic church attendance compensates for a proud, callous heart.
Like the scriptural examples I have just shared, God is revealing to millions of people around the world their spiritual poverty, breaking through their stubborn pride, and enabling them to see their position before an Almighty and Holy God. Buddhist monks, Muslim sheikhs, Hindu priests, Jewish Rabbis, devout communists and atheists, and ordinary, CONFUSED folks (who by far make up the largest number) are rejecting human wisdom and seeking God in desperation. They are sensing that the only true priority in life is to accept Jesus into their lives. Current world events no longer distract them from wholeheartedly confessing with their mouths, as Isaiah did,
"Woe is me, for I am ruined! ...For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Isaiah 6:5 (NASB)
In the world’s spiritual hotspots, the people of God—true believers—are the prime catalyst in this great tidal wave of evangelistic growth as they humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways.
Consequently, nations, tribes, heads of government, spiritual and religious leaders are bowing before a merciful God and humbly repenting for their actions and attitudes. They are not demanding their rights, and they are not defending or minimizing their own sin or that of their family and countrymen. They know that religious affiliations or political beliefs will not save them, but rather Jesus, the promised Messiah and our Saviour. They are opening the Bible and, in wide-eyed amazement, realizing that they had missed seeing the Truth about Jesus in the Book they scoffed at. Now, they are boldly confessing these words: "We were wrong."
Now that is humility and brokenness!
In China today, untold thousands are turning to Christ and undergoing a powerful conversion experience. The work of the Holy Spirit is penetrating so deep and so quickly that when they talk with relatives and friends immediately after being born again, their new nature and humble spirit are shockingly evident to all. People comment repeatedly, “Why are you so different now? Why are you not afraid or worried about your future?” In complete humility they answer, "Jesus is now my Master, and He is rebuilding my life." They are not ashamed to confess allegiance to Christ, or that He now comes first in their lives. This quick growth spurt of sanctification is due to a new, born-again heart based in humility!
James 4:10 says to "humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." But how exactly do we accomplish this act of humbling ourselves? I asked this same question many years ago to one of the most humble individuals I have ever met. He was a leader and pioneer in the Chinese house church movement, spending some 22 years in prison for his faith. He told me this: "I discovered over the years that humility could not be acquired by human effort, but only by a deep work of the Spirit. When I set as the goal of my life to intensely study the Word of God and listen for the voice of the Spirit speaking to me, God began to show me in a spiritual mirror what I looked like. I didn't like what I saw! But as the years went by, the Spirit and the Word molded me as I repented and sought after Jesus. My years in prison were a time for God to break me, and then rebuild me."
If you were to ask me what the primary ingredient is in the massive turning to God we are witnessing worldwide, I would say without hesitation: brokenness, humility, contrition, repentance and tears of relief upon discovering the Truth before entering eternity. All of this needs to occur at every level of our society, from the top strata of government, through pastoral and family leadership, and to each individual—all of whom God sees as equal in value. Absolutely no one is above or immune to the pandemic of pride that has swept the world. There is only one cure for this virus. It cannot be found in human effort, political allegiances or religious traditions, but only in the words of Jesus:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NASB)
The Latest News Updates
- Orders to factories throughout the country are greatly reduced. Unemployment is high, and job sharing is resulting in limited incomes. The government is providing extremely little—if any—assistance. A disproportionately high number of Christians have lost their jobs. Families are primarily staying in cities hoping to find employment, and many are moving in together, sharing apartments. Farmers who moved to the city to survive cannot return to their villages because the government is not allowing any form of free enterprise for farmers; they are now forced to sell all produce and livestock to government agencies for extremely low prices. Therefore, farmers are struggling to make viable incomes under these conditions.
- The Church continues to experience unparalleled growth in small group gatherings. Believers are meeting secretly in clusters of 15 to 20 people, despite the threat of penalty by police for gathering. House churches are again learning how to effectively evade police detection. They place guards around the neighborhood and stay alert for a police presence. When the police raid, the forewarned Christians scatter like mice. To make their gatherings undetectable, believers hide their cell phones in microwave ovens. Money is scarce, and offerings to support pastors are limited.
- 80% of all church activity takes place on social media, and that percentage is growing. Thousands of online prayer meetings take place 24/7 year-round. Prayer networks are so large and intricately designed that when a prayer request is circulated, within 20 minutes approximately 500,000 people will be praying. Church leadership has told me that the present outpouring of the Holy Spirit in China is being driven by young pastors (25 to 40 years old) and effectual, fervent prayer. New believers are increasingly becoming the driving force in evangelistic efforts. Young pastors are maturing quickly both in life and in their faith—they are teaching that prayer is the pipeline to God and His supply.
- Before the pandemic, acquiring money was the centre of life for most Chinese people. Now, due to unemployment and a significant decline in their financial resources, individuals are thinking more about the meaning of life. Unbelievers display anxiety, uncertainty about their future, anger, and depression. Communists and Buddhists alike are asking the same question: "Is there a personal God in this world who cares about me?" With no biblical knowledge, they are spiritually empty. But now, as they have much more time to speak with believers, they are becoming convinced that their emptiness can only be filled by knowing Jesus.
- COVID-19 has been spreading throughout the population consistently. With virtually no testing possible, the numbers are unreliable. Especially in the cities, hungry crowds gather in the streets lining up for food and infecting each other unknowingly.
- The combined effects of the embargo and pandemic are devastating the country. Cuba has just come through an extreme drought which destroyed 70% of the grain crop. Food is scarce, and fuel for cooking and transportation is almost non-existent. At the moment, the reserves of the Cuban government are practically depleted. More than 90% of the stores have closed and the ones that remain open have only a few groceries or other staple items. Cubans receive monthly government rations that last one week. For most people, meat is just a memory. Many are scavenging in the forests for plants to eat. Yucca plants and watery soup have become the far too common staple for scores of people. The situation is dire.
- Spiritually, the population is hungry for God. Believers, and now an increasing number of unbelievers, line up early to attend church gatherings, either in homes or church buildings. Cubans are coming to the realization that God is their only hope. People are turning to Christ as Saviour, especially in the eastern half of the Island. Pastors have told Empower that prayer and witnessing to the lost are spearheading the churches’ outreaches.
- A national church leader just wrote to me saying that the surge in interest in the Gospel is pointing to "an even greater revival" when Cuba passes through this time of testing.
- An example of the tremendous turning to God in Cuba was evident even before the pandemic hit. There are 2,502 chaplains in the national chaplaincy movement, which Empower supports. In January and February alone, through the efforts and dedication of these chaplains, 615 prisoners put their faith in Jesus, and 412 of their relatives did the same. In these same two months, these men and women ministered to 4,735 inmates in 166 prisons scattered throughout Cuba. Since March, chaplains have not been allowed to enter the prisons. However, the more mature believers who are inmates have stepped up as pastors/chaplains in their place, with continued great success. And hundreds more prisoners have accepted Christ. A few years ago, Bibles were not allowed in Cuban prisons. Today, Empower has been able to secure hundreds of Bibles to be placed in prisons, with inmates and guards readily reading and studying them. As well, in this period, chaplains made 2,812 hospital visits with 3,243 professions of faith being made by those they connected with.
Note: Empower is providing assistance for the purchase of food and medicine, as well as supplying Bibles, support for evangelistic outreach, and the necessities of life for church planting families. If you feel God is leading you to help Empower in this endeavour, please donate online and specify your gift for Cuba. (https://empowerministries.ca/donate-project/Cuba)
- The pandemic is spreading like wildfire in India. Numbers of those infected are unreliable due to the social conditions, very limited testing, and extensive regions of extreme poverty where poor health is the norm. The shutdown of the country and economy has been devastating to a vast number of the population. Hundreds of millions eke out a meagre living, based on what they earn on any given day either through manual labour or sales at small shops. If these families don't work, they don't eat… And the pandemic shutdown has continued for over two months. Hundreds of thousands have died, either in their homes or on the roads while attempting to walk hundreds of kilometers to their homes. Due to severe hunger, which is nearing starvation in some areas, theft is widespread, with accompanying violence. In the next few months, the situation is expected to become much worse.
- Spiritually speaking, this is a period of unprecedented growth in the Body of Christ. Years ago, the immense church planting ministry Empower partners with began to train and raise up elders in every village and town where a church had been planted. These pastors and elders are now the backbone of outreach and evangelism under the COVID-19 restrictions, when travel between villages is heavily restricted. They are visiting with families, home to home, hut to hut, conducting home church meetings, praying for the sick, answering questions about the Gospel, and leading individuals and families to Christ. At this time, exact numbers of those being saved under the lockdown is not clear, but leadership is confident that millions are becoming followers of Christ. This is primarily due to the example set by pastors, elders, and believers. In reference to Christians, one Hindu leader put it succinctly like this: "The difference in you people (believers) during this lockdown is that your elders and pastors are not scared of anything. They are visiting all people; going to families’ homes; praying for their welfare; sharing what food they have. No one else is doing this. Hindu priests and Muslim holy men are hiding in their homes and huts. They are afraid! Christians are not. They are different." The reputation and testimonies of the Christians are speaking loudly to unbelievers now and will continue in the days and months to come.
- Hindu religious leaders and government leaders who were opposing the Church and the Gospel are now watching Christians in action, sharing use of buildings, providing food for the hungry, etc. They are now thanking Christian leaders. They are admitting that they were wrong, telling their leadership, "See—this is what a Christian does. This is the love of Christians. We misjudged them."
- When asked if the pandemic is turning out to be useful in helping to grow the Kingdom, one key church leader said, "We are grabbing hold of this COVID-19 opportunity with both hands, and we are not letting go. Definitely the Church is going to grow."
Our next installment of Good News from Around the World will come to you in approximately 10 days. In that issue, I’ll explain how compassion is a key element in revival. Until then, be safe and encouraged in Christ.
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