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BOOK REVIEW
The Heavenly Man
The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
by Brother Yun, with Paul Hattaway
This is the kind of book that hits the top of Christian bookseller lists. For a ride of thrills and spills, close death encounters, torture, escapes from impossible situations, supernatural experiences, and dreams and visions, this book has it all. It has the plot of a modern day Acts wrapped up in a John Grisham-like suspense narrative.

Now from that introduction, you may have thought you heard a tone of derision, as if the review to follow would simply rot away into a book-bashing. On the contrary! It is this book�s best suitable defence. For if all you are after is a reading experience on which to get your kicks (which is valid), then I say rather pick up the latest Grisham, and burn off the excitement you desire within its covers. Because if you don�t, then the spiritual fuel that you may have otherwise have been filled with from reading this account of phenomenal Holy Spirit experiences, will evaporate in fumes as the excitement energy burns off its lust in the reading process.

Now you may think yourself more mature, and rather than going off seeking holy roller excitement, you have set aside some time to read The Heavenly Man so that you might be �inspired�. But that too would prove ephemeral. After all, the recounting of another man�s experiences can hold only so much inspiring value before the mirage has gone. This is because the experiences are mediated. They�re not real. And having read the book in this spirit, it will all fade back into desert and you might suddenly be tempted out of disappointment to write Brother Yun off as a manipulator of the medium.

But that would be vastly unfair. For here is a Chinese man wanting to recount to the West the remarkable work of the Holy Spirit in his life during the Eighties at the birth of the House Church movement in China. And by that fact he is, we could say, forced into making use of the holy-roller suspense driven narrative, because that is what we in a miracle-hungry West give him for his story disposal.

It is your duty as the reader to cut through all this to a much deeper level, and there listen to a witness of the power and nature of the Holy Spirit, and what He can do in a life sold on Christ. For this I believe is Brother Yun�s true reason for telling his story. And don�t get distracted (though let yourself be awed) by the various manifestations of the Spirit � the enabling of Yun to survive a 70-day fast, the opening of prison doors, the blinding of prison guards, the granting of dreams and visions � for as the Spirit chooses to manifest Himself in a life, so He does.

Indeed, it is not so much his own story that Brother Yun wishes to relate, as much as the life of the Holy Spirit when given free reign in the life of a believer. For The Heavenly Man relates how much suffering the Spirit in man is ready to go to for the souls of men, how many times and forms of imprisonment, how many beatings, and how much torture. But also, how willing the Spirit is to come close to us and comfort us, to talk to us, to guide us, to give us clear vision of the paths ahead. Of how much strength the Spirit has, of how unaffected He is by physical laws of being, of how fearless He is, of the inexhaustible depths of praise and glory He has for God, of how wise He is and how conscious of God�s timing in all events.

If you read this book at this level, then I believe the result will be conviction. A conviction to want to let the Spirit do what ever He wants to do with you life. That life may be a relatively peaceful suburban existence in middle town America, serving the brethren and people around you with a love and kindness that defies the banality of suburbia. Or indeed it may lead to a roller coaster life of close shaves with death and torturous persecution, so that Light may shine in the world�s darkest places. But God has His purposes for you. The real power behind The Heavenly Man is the Holy Spirit, and it seems as if He is seeking to convict us to say, �Okay God, here I am, send me, use me in your way.

Editor's Note: A special thanks to Christina in England for sending the book with such love and kind consideration. Your friendship and concern for the persecuted Church is an inspiration to us all. - PKS.

-Richard Wasserfall (24-Sep-2004)