“A turning point in the history of Christianity in Vietnam”
The first time in 40 years the blind saw, the deaf heard, & the lame walked
This trip was our shortest mission trip ever, yet arguably the most significant in terms of its impact upon the proclamation of the gospel in this major country.
The Suffering Underground Church
Our Campaign was hosted by the Chairman of the (National) Evangelical Fellowship, the only interdenominational organization for evangelicals we know of in this communist country and comprising 23 denominations including most of the underground churches (“house churches”). He is also the Senior Pastor of an underground church here with 14,000 members. In this country the evangelical churches are overwhelmingly unregistered, by the will of the government, and therefore go underground and illegal. There is significant government persecution against the underground Church here, especially in certain outlying areas. In one province, it is reported that out of about 200 underground churches, only two are still meeting. Pastors have been arrested and imprisoned. This is a suffering Church.
House Church (Underground) Meeting
Despite years of interrogations, arrests, and imprisonment, the servants of the Lord in the underground Church persevere in preaching the gospel and discipling the believers in house meetings. Over the years in some places, police interrogators and the pastors they interrogate have become acquaintances and even formed relationships beneficial to the Church. As a result, in this particular city the authorities have been known to look the other way when the pastors held mass meetings. But when they invited a foreigner to preach the gospel at a large meeting—which was perhaps a more serious violation of law—this was too much for the police. It would be the first time since this country fell to communism decades ago that a foreigner would preach in a mass meeting. Just before the Crusade meeting, there would be Basic Training for the pastors. Here they would learn how to minister healing to the infirm publicly to confirm the gospel of Christ to a watching world.
The Basic Training for Pastors
For the first two of days of our meetings, 250 pastors and leaders from nearly 30 mostly illegal denominations—including Baptist, Campus Crusade for Christ, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Pentecostal, and various local denominations—came together for the Elijah Challenge Basic Training. We have held the Basic Training in many nations of the world, but never have we seen such a response. Because of the move of the Holy Spirit in the persecuted underground churches, miraculous healings have taken place. But lacking systematic Scripture-based teaching on this type of ministry, the pastors saw these things only sporadically.
When in the Basic Training it was laid out for them line-by-line and precept-by-precept from well over 200 references from Scripture, they were overjoyed. Eagerly they applied the teaching about healing to one another in the training sessions. Miraculous healings took place. One pastor came to the Encounter, his body weak because of a heart problem that had also resulted in severe loss of his hearing. After two other pastors ministered to him, he testified with great excitement before the delighted group that his heart pain was gone, his body felt well, and his hearing was restored! Like the disciples in the gospels, the pastors at the Healing Encounter had been taught to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1, 2)
Pastor: “My heart pain is gone, my body feels good, and my hearing is restored!”
The Historic Crusade
On the third day there was a large Evangelistic Crusade where non-believers were invited to come to hear the gospel and receive healing prayer. This was the very first mass meeting since the fall of this country to communism decades ago in which a foreigner was invited to speak. It turned out to be even more historic than that. Never before in the history of this country under communism had such a meeting been known to take place…
My wife and I were taken to a hall completely crammed with thousands of people who had been waiting an hour before the start of the meeting. There was no place to sit down even for us. People with various debilitating infirmities had been physically carried to the meeting; the area to the side of the speaker’s platform was filled with people in wheelchairs. One pastor said that never before had so many gathered for a gospel meeting in this country during communist rule. Never before here had so many infirm people come to be healed by Jesus Christ. There was an air of expectancy.
Jesus heals the sick en masse through local pastor
The praise and worship, led by the local pastors, was vibrant and powerful. One of the pastors who had attended our Healing Encounter training was so stirred that he read to the crowd the New Testament account of blind Bartimaeus who had been healed because of his faith. He then told the sick in the crowd to cry out to the Lord by faith as he prayed over them. The Lord Jesus began to minister by the Holy Spirit as never before in the history of this country before the communist takeover. Miraculous healings broke out “spontaneously” in the crowd. Cripples, paralytics, and stroke victims began to walk; some had not gotten up or walked in years. Many people were healed directly by the Lord without anyone laying hands on them or praying over them. A 40-year-old man deaf and dumb since birth could hear and speak, an emaciated woman with terminal cancer (below) who had been carried to the meeting by eight people walked up to the platform with arms raised to Heaven to testify that she was healed. Another woman withbreast cancer came up and tesified it had disappeared. The crowd roared with delight and gave praise to God. After several such testimonies, I was handed the microphone so I could preach. But time and time again, before I could begin speaking, commotion broke out in the crowd as another and another and still another person was healed and came up to testify. I could only stand there in awe at what I was witnessing. I couldn’t help laughing and thinking to myself that the Lord wasn’t about to allow me to speak. Even my host asked me if I actually had anything to say after all the miracles the Lord did…certainly it would be anti-climactic!
Woman emaciated by cancer (insert) was carried to the meeting by eight friends.
She climbs up to platform by herself and testifies she has been healed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was reported in May 2009 that she is fine and continues to be in good health.
The Message of the Gospel
But I was reminded that the purpose of all the miracles was to bring precious souls to faith in Jesus Christ. I took the microphone and told them that the overriding purpose of the great miracles at which they had marveled was to provide the visible proof that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The miraculous healings were the evidence that He had authority to forgive their sins and to save them from punishment in the next life, which many Asians dread. When I gave the invitation for non-believers to accept Christ, it appeared that about one-fifth of the crowd stood up. (Quite a few of those who had come to the meeting were already believers.) I led them in a sinners’ prayer, and the angels in heaven rejoiced!
Souls stand up to accept Christ as Lord and Savior
Then we ministered to those in the crowd who had not yet been healed. They laid hands on themselves and on one another and repeated after me as I prayed over them in the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s power to heal appeared to be even greater than before. Elderly paralytics and bedridden people got up to walk normally, demonstrated their complete healing by squatting down and bending over. One 18-year-old woman had been blind in one eye since birth. The Lord opened the eye and she was able to see clearly with the eye. A government official who came to the meeting in a wheelchair got up out of the wheelchair and walked. In the days and weeks to follow, people healed in the meeting would testify in their own churches how the Lord had healed them of all manner of diseases. It was later reported that demon-possessed people were set free, and people suffering from depression were healed, no longer needing to take their medication. We will never know the full extent of all the miracles the Lord accomplished that evening. Not since several decades ago when some very well-known American evangelists visited this country prior to its fall to communism had anything approaching this event occurred.
“For years, I was paralyzed and bedridden; now I can get up and walk!”
Police officers sent to monitor the “illegal” meeting listen to amazing testimonies of miraculous healings
As the healed were giving their testimonies before the enraptured crowd, we were told that the meeting had drawn the attention of three different police departments. Local, city, and district police had descended upon the meeting. In particular, they wanted me. But they dared not disrupt the meeting, something they often do to illegal gatherings. Perhaps the miracles, which they had never seen before, mesmerized them and made them hesitate. We were led off the speaker’s platform by the pastors and made our way through the crowd to back of the hall. There, surrounded by a group of brothers, I knelt down on the floor and stripped off the tie and distinctive blue dress shirt I was wearing, exchanging it for a nondescript white shirt worn by one of the brothers. Someone handed me a baseball cap and pair of glasses to alter my appearance. We melted into the crowd and took the stairs down several floors to ground level. Outside the hall on the street, I hopped onto the back of a motorcycle. To avoid being followed by the police, the driver sped through the severely congested streets of the city, running red lights, zigzagging dangerously through slower traffic, making sudden U-turns. Occasionally he would glance backwards to make sure we were not being pursued. Finally, after passing what felt to me like 99% of the vehicles on the streets of the big city, we arrived safely at our small hotel. It was easily the most exciting ride of my life—though not fun—as I relived the anxious feelings I experienced nearly three years ago in Pakistan when I was spirited out of a Crusade meeting after being threatened by a mob of angry Musl__ms. My wife arrived shortly afterwards on a separate motorcycle.
“The most exciting ride of my life”
After we left, the pastors continued the service for about another hour with the police videotaping the meeting. The miracles of healing continued as the pastors laid hands on the infirm and the police watched.
Later that evening in our hotel, we received word from our host, the leader of the underground churches. He had just been interviewed by the police, but had refused to divulge my identity. Since I had broken the law by engaging in illegal evangelism, the police could fine me up to $1,000, put me on the blacklist to keep me from returning to this country for future “illegal” activities, and then expel me from the country. He advised us to leave on the next available flight before they discovered our identity and location. We would have to cancel our remaining six days of meetings with other groups. But no matter…by God’s grace we had completed what I believe the Lord had sent us to do. Praise God for His wonderful grace!
The next morning, the police rounded up some people who had attended the meeting to question them. Who was that man who had preached the gospel illegally? And who was that woman who accompanied him? But the man’s name had not been announced or appeared on any flyers or literature. No one could tell the police who he was. In these endtimes the Lord is raising up a great army of faceless, nameless warriors who will do exploits for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the days following the meeting, the police continued their search for “the man who did all the miracles.” We hope that they will find Him, and receive all that He came to give.
We were told that the pastors have decided to continue holding such mass meetings once a month or every two months—even in the face of possible government persecution. They and we believe that on this trip the impartation of power and authority has been accomplished. The great miracles the Lord did during the meeting with us present we are confident He will do through the local pastors. This will result in great advance for the gospel of Jesus Christ here. We believe this is in part the Lord’s reward to this Church for patiently enduring much suffering over the years at the hands of the communist regime. This is the ultimate purpose of The Elijah Challenge—raising up an army of Elijah-like witnesses for preaching the gospel. “My God is the true God, and I will demonstrate it to you in power.”
Word about this meeting spread to other parts of Vietnam, as well as to other countries where there are large Vietnamese communities. After hearing about these meetings, “Don N.,” the US-based head of Far East for Jesus which supports workers in this country, remarked: “Last night I talk to a brother, and he was surprised that something like your crusade happened [there]. …Your crusade is a turning point in the history of Christianity [there]…” The Holy Spirit has encouraged and strengthened His Vietnamese Church!
July 2006: Ripples from the Crusade reach Europe
Heard while ministering in Langenhagen, Germany in July 2006
“Over lunch before a sister sat down with us and shared about the impact of the July 2003 Crusade in Saigon. We had not know the extent of it. The Vietnamese believers here in Germany were exuberant when they received the VCD of the Crusade and witnessed the great thing the Lord had done in their home country. It was a turning point of the gospel in Vietnam. They made copies of the VCD and boldly distributed them to Buddhists and idol-worshipers (“My God is definitely bigger than your god.”) Some decided to follow Jesus after viewing it, as did a woman living in Warsaw, Poland who came to attend our meetings here.
Sometime in 2003 this sister received a copy of a videotape from the historic July 2003 Crusade in Saigon. She saw the miracles that took place and heard me preach the gospel. After viewing the videotape, she decided to follow Jesus Christ. When recently she heard that we were teaching in Germany, she came! Praise the Lord for His wonderful grace.
Meanwhile, things were happening at home as a result of the Crusade in Vietnam. Following that meeting there was a momentary surge in persecution; the authorities were upset at what had happened on their home turf under their very noses. A foreigner had come and preached at a big illegal underground meeting, and all kinds of unauthorized miraculous things were reported. But eventually when the believers in Hanoi—the very Communist north and the seat of power in Vietnam—heard of what the believers had done in Saigon way down south, they were emboldened to do the same thing themselves in defiance of the government authorities. Brazenly they held an open-air meeting in a park. The authorities were very displeased, but the believers would not be denied. Eventually the government capitulated and granted them the freedom to hold such meetings. There may be a saying that goes, “as Hanoi goes, so goes the rest of Vietnam.” Now that it’s legal in Hanoi, it’s also legal down south as well in Saigon. Apparently the believers in Saigon are now enjoying a measure of freedom to gather and worship they had not known before. And it all started in July 2003 with that Crusade in Saigon! We are so thankful that we were a part of that historic event. It had more impact than perhaps we will ever know this side of eternity.”