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An Unlikely Historian of Revival: Interview with Eugene Bach

Eugene Bach with Pastor Zhang Rongliang

I do not wish for persecution for any believer. I am currently praying that God protect my dear friends in the underground church of China. I pray for the sake of their families. I pray for the sake of their children. I pray for their safety because I believe that my Lord loves them much more than I ever will and wants to keep them safe.

If I pray for God’s will instead of my own, could it be possible that His will would be hard for me to understand? Could it be that revival in China has not happened in spite of persecution, but because of it?

I am extremely reluctant to credit persecution as one of the primary factors of Chinese revival and radical church growth, but here I stand, having no other answer. I am painfully aware that this does not necessarily match up with much of the prosperity, ego-centric teaching that is prominent in many circles in the west, but the pure naked truth is this: Persecution has been the constant, inseparable companion of church growth in China.

Pastor Zhang Rongliang is the most well-known underground house church pastor in China. His church is estimated by most experts to be at least 10 million believers. I spent two years with him helping to tell his story in the book, I Stand with Christ.

While in prison, during his most intense suffering and hoping for death, he wrote the following poem:

Suffering challenges so many people in the world.

Without suffering, how is it possible to taste the depths of the goodness of the Lord? After tasting, how can one be obsessed with worldly desires?

O Suffering, I used to flee from you. But today the Lord has commanded me to endure all that you have for me.

O Suffering, did the apostles not welcome you? Suffering invites the seekers to go along with him. He calls out to me and says, “Come and shake my hand.”

O Suffering, let me embrace you. It tastes good that I was with you in the Lord.

O Suffering, how many disciples have you fed? Without you, life has lost its struggle. I ask you to visit me. Let me taste only a bit of the sweetness that you give.

O Suffering, you make the moments with my Lord so much better. You are the oxygen of the saints. Without you, they would have stopped breathing. You are so close to me.

O Suffering, let us walk arm in arm together.

Xihua Prison, March 1978

 

PneumaReview.com: Most Christians in the West probably think that there is not much happening with Christianity in North Korea because of the government there. Is this an accurate picture of the situation?

Eugene Bach: North Korea is one of the hardest places that we are working today, but our time there is not without small victories. I would personally not use the word revival when referring to the church in North Korea, but we are seeing several signs that indicate that the church is far from dead.

Kim Jong Il tried to kill Christianity. He is dead, but Christ is alive in North Korea. The relentless attempts of the Communist government to destroy the church have failed spectacularly.

I have been working in North Korea for about 15 years and can say with absolute certainty that the relentless attempts of the Communist government to destroy the church have failed spectacularly.

Kim Jong Il tried to kill Christianity. He is dead, but Christ is alive in North Korea.

Kim Jong Un is the latest in a long list of enemies against the church, but he, like his father and his grandfather, has failed to kill the church.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2018

About the Author: Eugene Bach is a pseudonym for a member of the Chinese underground church who does not wish to be identified. He was trained in U.S. military special operations and served two tours in the Persian Gulf and Asia–Pacific region, serving primarily as a member of a rapid response team focusing on targeted threat elimination, counterterrorism, and security. He has been working with the underground church in China for more than seventeen years, helping them to establish forward mission bases in closed countries around the world, including Iraq and Syria. Eugene leads the Chinese mission movement called Back to Jerusalem, which provides essential support for Chinese missionaries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and he has written books about the underground church in China, North Korea, and Iran.

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