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Dennis Balcombe: China’s Opening Door

Dennis Balcombe, China’s Opening Door: Incredible Stories of the Holy Spirit at Work in One of the Greatest Revivals in Christianity (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014), 256 pages, ISBN 9781621365723.

Dennis Balcombe is an American missionary who has spent the last four and a half decades ministering in Hong Kong and mainland China. He is thus eminently qualified to write this present volume. In this his second book, he writes about the phenomenal growth of the church in China. Current estimates are that the number of Christians in China is between 70 and 105 million.

As Balcombe chronicles the tremendous growth of the Chinese church he refers to significant events and people in China’s history. These events and people have each in their own way contributed to bringing the church to the place that it is today. He mentions things like the Cultural Revolution and China’s Open-Door Policy. He also mentions well-known Christian workers who have labored in China, people like Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth and Gladys Alward as well as lesser-known people like Marie Monsen and Serene Løland. This brief list, not to mention the contributions of many others mentioned in the book, indicate that the ministries of women have been welcomed in China and have been highly effective there. In addition Balcombe shares information regarding things that he has personal knowledge of which includes the work that his own ministry has done. As one who is “on the ground” Balcombe provides the reader with an insider’s view of what has been going on with the church in China in recent decades. The book is very detailed, it supplies names, dates, and places; it also contains a number of pages of pictures.

One of the well-known facts about the church in China is that it has suffered persecution. Balcombe acknowledges that this is true and says that persecution is one of the factors that has contributed to the tremendous growth of the church. In reading this book you will find that Chinese believers think differently about persecution than we in the West do. They expect it; almost welcome it, whereas in the West we seek to avoid it at all costs. The believers in China are great examples of persistence in the face of challenges and persecution.

Another factor that has contributed to the phenomenal growth of the church in China is the presence of the supernatural. The work of the Holy Spirit is set forth as one of the key factors in the growth of the church in China. The Holy Spirit is very evident there; His presence can be seen in the healings, miracles, deliverances, and gifts of the Holy Spirit that are in operation in China. Balcombe says, many people in China have come to faith in Jesus because they have witnessed or experienced either a healing or miracle. Much of the church in China is what we would call Pentecostal or Charismatic. The author cites cases in which churches that have embraced cessationist teaching, the belief that certain gifts of the Spirit such as healing and miracles are no longer in operation, have closed.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2015

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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