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The Holy Spirit and the Chinese Church: Interview with Dennis Balcombe

Veteran missionary, Dennis Balcombe, talks to about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in modern-day China.

Pneuma Review: Please tell our readers how you were called to China.

Dennis Balcombe

Dennis Balcombe

Dennis Balcombe: I was brought up in a traditional Methodist church that only preached the “Social Gospel.” At 16 years old, a friend invited me to a Spirit filled church (Assemblies of God) in S. California. For the first time in my life I heard people speak in tongues (some languages I recognized) and saw miracles as the sick were healed.

That night I heard God speak and call me to the ministry. I struggled for three months, and went back to the same church. Through the Word of Knowledge (“there is a young man here who three months ago was called to preach and you must come forward, repent and give your life to God”), I gave my life to the Lord, and knew I was called to preach the Gospel.

But I knew I must go overseas, for most Americans were able to hear the Gospel. I considered many nations, but there was no witness until one day reading the encyclopedia for school work I came across an article on mainland China in which there was a picture of a Chinese boy. I heard the Lord clearly say, ‘I will send you to Red China (the term we used in the 60’s) to preach the Gospel. I will open the doors to this nation for you.” From that date October 1961, I knew I was called to China.


PR: How would you characterize your ministry in China?

Dennis Balcombe: My ministry began in Hong Kong in 1969 in church planting. I am still the senior pastor of Revival Christian Church, one of the larger churches in the Hong Kong SAR [Special Administration Region] with local branches and overseas churches, including a large Chinese church in Paris, of which I am the senior pastor.

“I have been working in mainland China for 42 years now, and though hundreds of millions still have to be reached, we have seen the most phenomenal growth of the church in recorded history … This has been because those in the Body of Christ simply preach the Gospel of the kingdom, calling people to believe, repent and receive baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, and to live a life of sanctification serving God.”
— Dennis Balcombe
in a May 11, 2012 email

In 1979 we began a ministry to take Bibles to China called “Donkeys For Jesus,” which has continued to this day. Millions of Bibles have thus entered China to be distributed to tens of millions of house church leaders.

Since the early 1980’s to the present day much my China ministry has been in travel to and ministry in local churches, both house churches and official churches. While we do evangelism, the local Chinese are much more effective than we are. Thus my ministry will focus on revival subjects (baptism of the Holy Spirit, worship and praise, etc.), church planting and missions. I will often teach many hours daily for up to 5 days in a given location, and do this all over China.


PR: Have you noticed any changes in the Chinese church over the course of your time in the land?

Dennis Balcombe: Yes, there have been many changes. In the early 80’s, most churches and most of the Chinese population were in rural areas. Now they have moved to cities, leaving mostly children and older people in the rural areas. So much of our work is now in the cities.

Before they only met in homes. Now many churches meet in buildings they have built, or rent function rooms of hotels, country clubs, etc.

Before most believers were from the low educated farmer class, now many are middle school or even college graduates who understand modern technology, speak English and other foreign languages and have enough money to travel to Hong Kong and other foreign nations. Thus we often are able to train leaders in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.

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Category: Fall 2012, Pneuma Review, Spirit

About the Author: Dennis Balcombe knew he was called to be a missionary to China while he was a teenager, and was one of the first to enter the mainland when it opened to the West in the 1970s. He founded Revival Christian Church in Hong Kong in 1969 and continues to plant churches, travelling and ministering in China and internationally. He shares his story in One Journey, One Nation: Autobiography of Dennis Balcombe, Missionary to China (2011) and he is the author of China's Opening Door: Incredible Stories of the Holy Spirit at Work in One of the Greatest Revivals in Christianity (Charisma House, 2014). Revival Chinese Ministries International

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