By Michael Ashcraft —
When C.R.* started his church in Central China, he walked the streets to get to know the city and gain exposure to the people.
As an American missionary in a country clamping down on Christianity, it would be no easy task.
C.R. noticed the languishing Buddhist population proselytizes the younger generation, who wants nothing to do with the big-belly statue. They force laminated cards into their hands and implore them to put on the red bracelet. These are the outward signs of conversion to Buddhism, C.R. says.
The old Buddhists become aggressive and belligerent.
“The people will literally corner young people and shove the card into their hands, pockets, bags and then walk away,” C.R. says. “The people believe that once they have received a card, they have become Buddhist.”
One day, he happened upon an elderly woman who had cornered a young victim and was screaming at her to receive the card.
“I don’t want it! I don’t want!” she pleaded.
Descending stairs, C.R. came up behind the elderly Buddhist.
“Her back was to me, but when she turned to face me, she locked eyes with me and dropped all her cards at the young woman’s feet and ran away,” C.R. remembers.
It was an epiphany for C.R. Flashing through his brain was the verse: Greater is He who is in me than he who is the world.
C.R. started a Bible study. It’s hard to get Bibles because the Central Government banned last year all versions except their officially approved version. But they sneak unadulterated Bibles in, and his congregants grew curious about what they were reading.
Eventually, they asked C.R. about the miracles.
“In the Bible, there are many miracles,” a sister asked. “Why don’t we see miracles any more?”
C.R. knew she had sustained a shoulder injury years earlier.
“Do you want to see a miracle?” he put God on the spot.
She and everyone in the room said they did.
“Do you believe God can heal you,” he directed his question to her. She responded in the affirmative.
“Are you willing to forgive anyone who has hurt or offended you?” he continued.
Again, she said, “Yes.”
C.R. decided to NOT lay hands on her so people wouldn’t confuse the source of the power.
“I led her in a prayer of forgiveness and then had her say, ‘The blood of Jesus sets me free,’” he remembers.
“Lift your arm,” he told her next.
When she did, wonderment overcame her. She began to laugh and cry simultaneously as she experienced for the first time in years freedom from pain.
“Many years ago I hurt my back and I have suffered many things going to doctors but no once can fix my back,” another brother said through a translator.
C.R. showed the congregation the passage about the woman with the issue of blood who spent all her life’s savings on doctors without finding a cure. When she simply touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment in the crowd, her hemorrhage stopped, the scripture says.
“God is going to heal you tonight,” C.R. declared with faith.
C.R. asked him to sit in a chair, squarely against the back, and to extend his legs. One was notably longer than the other.
With church members filming on their phones, C.R. prayed and the leg “grew out.”
C.R. asked the man to do something that would provoke the old pain.
The man stood up, bent over, and then straightened up with a look of astonishment on his face.
“Thanks, God!” he began to yell. They were the only words he knew in English. “Thanks, God! Thanks, God!”
And the church grows.
“God is moving powerfully under the shadow of oppression,” C.R. says. “In the history of the world, the Church has always thrived under pressure and persecution.”
Michael Ashcraft’s passion is Christian journalism. To help support his ministry, he sells Cuisine Natural bamboo steamers on Amazon.