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

Before we only could minister in unofficial house churches. Now often we go to officially sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic churches, and there is no restriction on what we can preach.

Many Christians in the cities are intellectuals, business people, university students, and other ‘movers and shakers’ in society. This was almost unheard of before.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong at night from Victoria Peak.
Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0.

PR: How much of a role does the supernatural play in the church in China? Is it the norm for the Chinese church to have the gifts of the Spirit operating in their meetings?

Dennis Balcombe: Yes, especially in the Spirit filled churches, which are everywhere in China. They pray for the sick and see many healed, and often in the meetings individuals give prophetic messages, prophetic prayers or sing in the Spirit. Most people pray in tongues during their meetings.

The vast majority of non-believers come to Christ after they hear about or see a miracle, usually a miracle of divine healing. But often there are miracles of nature where God intervenes in natural events due to the prayer of His people. An example might be the crops in the field of the believer are flourishing when there is famine all around. God seems to send rain only to the fields of the believers, but nothing happens to the non-believers.

Another example would be supernatural financial provision given to His people, or supernatural protection in times of great persecution. There are thousands of such testimonies.

 

PR: What might we learn from the Chinese church?

Dennis Balcombe:

  • Preach the word and only the Word. Don’t preach controversial subjects about politics, social issues, conspiracy theories, end-time events and so on. Stick to the solid teaching of the Bible.
  • Develop a strong and consistent prayer ministry in the Church. Most Chinese Christians arise early in the morning to pray together 1-2 hours every day. Also prayer with fasting is a key to revival.
  • We don’t need short, entertaining church meetings. Most meetings in China last several hours with 1-2 hours worship, 1-2 hours preaching and much prayer. People will come and not be bored because God’s presence is in every gathering.

Focus on the person of Jesus Christ, the pure Word of God, ministry to the people present, and your meeting will grow and meet the needs of the community.

  • Evangelism, church planting and missions is always the focus of every Chinese church. Without freedom of religion, mass media communication, large evangelical meetings, limited amounts of Bibles and literature, the church has grown from a little over 2 million in 1949 to 105 million in 2012.

It is due to their vision for missions and evangelism, and now the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ vision is strongly being preached throughout China.

 

PR: What do you feel are the greatest needs of the Chinese church at this time?

Dennis Balcombe: The greatest need is still for Bibles, not only for new believers in rural areas, but to reach the approximately 1.2 billion unreached Chinese including 80 million minority (non-Han race) peoples.

With that comes the need for solid Christian teaching materials such as “Shepherd’s Staff” which we have provided to hundreds of thousands of believers.

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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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