The Tale of Two Pastors

Posted by admin in February 12th, 2021 | 11 comments 
Published in Blessings, faith, Uncategorized

In the 1930s, China experienced a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. Often referred to as Asia Harvest or the Shantung Revival, thousands of Chinese gave their hearts to Christ and thousands of Believers were endowed with Holy Ghost power. It was a remarkable time to be serving as a missionary in China! Over 10,000 missionaries joined together across the nation in a concentrated and focused prayer time asking God to bring the Chinese to Jesus. And God answered their prayers. But for some missionaries, it wasn’t exactly what they expected. Church groups were divided on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit—some Western missionary leaders did not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit—especially speaking in tongues. Yet others preached strongly not to quench the Spirit and to let God move as He wished. So, groups were split, young converts confused, and missionary leaders had to decide which camp they fell in. Some went with the Gifts of the Spirit and some did not.


In this mix, was an American eye-surgeon named Dr. R.G. Fitz. He was called by God to be a missionary to China at the age of eight. He worked his way through college and after finishing medical school, he and his wife pioneered a medical missions work in Da Ming, China.


Dr. Fitz set up an eye clinic in a little town located in a finger of Hebei Province, surrounded by Shandong. The clinic grew into Bresee Memorial Hospital. Dr. Fitz healed thousands of Chinese from blindness with a simple procedure that corrected inverted eyelashes – a common problem among the Chinese. He also pastored a church in the city and held Bible classes for Chinese new Believers. He had a committed wife and three daughters that served right alongside him and served the Lord as earnestly as he.


One of his daughters was Irma, my teammate in Changchun in the 1980s. Irma was born in Shandong. She spoke fluent Chinese and lived in China until she left for college in 1938, at 18.  Because of the Japanese occupation, the breakout of WWII, and the eventual take over by the communist in 1949, Irma was never able to go back to China until 1983, when she returned as an English teacher. I was privileged to be her teammate.


Irma’s parents barely escaped imprisonment by the Japanese. They were literally on the last boat out of Qingdao. They left the hospital they’d built, a small compound with a clinic and a school, their beautiful church building, and their home. They took only what they could carry. But most heartbreaking for them, was leaving behind the hundreds of Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ who had to remain and suffer great cruelties under the communists and Mao Ze Deng’s Red Guard. It was a brutal reign of terror. Irma’s father never recovered from the loss. Dr. Fitz’s faith was greatly shaken. He returned to the States, gathered all his children, their spouses, and moved the entire family to Alaska. He never practiced medicine again. Irma called it “self-imposed exile.” I can’t imagine what he suffered.


Providentially, because I believe God is in the details, the president of our university, Zhang Yi Xia, was from the same province as Irma. They spoke the same dialect, knew the same fables, and laughed at the same jokes. He never admitted it, but I believe President Zhang knew Irma’s father and of the hospital where Dr. Fitz literally gave sight to the blind.


One day, just a few days after Irma’s 65 birthday, Mr. Zhang came to visit Irma and offered her a gift. Would she like to return to her hometown? He and his assistant would accompany her to Da Ming. We were all very surprised, but the purpose of the trip was EVEN MORE surprising. Two pastors from Irma’s hometown were being released from prison after serving out their 20-year sentences. The town was planning a big celebration to welcome them home and Mr. Zhang “thought she might know them.”


She did.


They were her father’s best students. He called them his Chinese sons. Both were born again under his preaching. Both learned medicine from him at the hospital and both attended the Bible school he set up for new Believers. Irma’s eyes filled with tears as she explained to President Zhang, “They are my brothers. I know them very well.”


And so, the President, Irma and their entourage headed on the 600-mile journey to Da Ming from Changchun. They were gone a little over a week. I waited anxiously for Irma to get back because I wanted to hear every detail.


When they finally returned to Changchun, Irma said she needed a day or so to gather her thoughts and process what had happened. She explained that the entire trip was a flood of emotions, memories, highs and lows. I gave her some space.


When Irma was ready, she told me about the town, now a city, of Da Ming and how it had changed and grown, but it was still very underdeveloped for the 1980s.


The hospital her father had built was now the Communist Party Headquarters. The communists always take the best buildings for themselves. Her family’s home was divided into apartments and a house that had once been home to a family of five, now housed 8 families. Not that the house was that big, but because China was that short on housing. Her father had built the home with his own hands and to see it in such disrepair was hard for Irma. Her mother planted dozens of trees trying to hold down the dry red soil. Only two remained.


The church was destroyed by the Japanese. Irma explained that the first day in Da Ming was the hardest. But the government had decorated the streets and the mayor planned several festivities to welcome home the two prisoners. Irma said it was the most bizarre experience of her life—top Communist Party officials, dressed in Red Star uniforms, celebrating and welcoming home two Christian leaders who had been imprisoned for their faith. Those were strange times for sure.


Then Irma told me about being reunited with her two “Chinese brothers”, Pastor Li and Pastor Huang.


First was Pastor Li. He was just a little older than Irma. Li had experienced what is called the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” during the revival of 1930. He had a deep and unwavering faith in God. But when denominational leaders told Dr. Fitz they didn’t want any display of spiritual gifts, especially speaking in tongues, Li was conflicted. The gift of tongues doesn’t always accompany the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it does occur. And Li had received that gift.


Li didn’t know what to do. He went to Dr. Fitz and explained the situation. Li didn’t want to go, but he shared with his mentor, “I cannot deny what God has done and He will provide for me.”


Irma said Li’s departure was very hard on her Dad and that many in the church were troubled by the denomination’s strict policy. Li went on to practice medicine in outlying areas and he even started a small church in a nearby village. Dr. Fitz drove over to check on him occasionally and took medical supplies he could spare. Li married, started a family, and continued to study God’s Word by correspondence. In fact, he signed up for a Pentecostal denomination’s correspondence course and earned a degree through one of their Bible colleges. He was very proud of that accomplishment.


Li and his family survived the Japanese, but unfortunately, they suffered greatly at the hands of the communists. Chinese soldiers came to Li’s home and demanded he deny Christ and join the Red Army. Li refused. They beat him badly, in front of his wife and children. The soldiers dragged Li off to a mock trial and then to prison.


If you’ve ever wondered why I hate Marxism so much, this is why. The brutality of communism is learned in Marxist ideology. This is especially offensive when church leaders try to present Marxism in a positive light. I hate it!


Li’s wife and children knew that the soldiers would return, so they took all of Li’s prized possessions—his Bibles, Bible commentaries, letters from Dr. Fitz and his Bible college degree—and they wrapped them in oil cloth and sealed them in an old trunk. Then they buried their father’s treasures outside their home next to an ancient rock fence. Li was sentenced in 1963.


Li told Irma about his prison experience. He explained to her that God met him each and every day. He worshipped God and he prayed in the Spirit for strength and power. After the first few years, which were horrific, Li won favor with the prison guards. He also was allowed to preach and share the gospel with fellow prisoners. The prison authorities told Li that Christian prisoners were much better and easier to handle than non-Christian. So, they didn’t mind the conversions. Irma said his face glowed and he looked like a young man. While in prison, his family continued the work of God. Both his daughter and son studied diligently and were permitted to go to medical school (barefoot doctors they were called, because under Mao Ze Deng, universities were practically destroyed). But his family served God and never lost their faith. The Spirit of God had a tremendous impact on all of them. His wife died in 1980, but his children were at the celebration. Irma said they were beautiful, full of joy, and were able to return their father’s books, Bibles, and college degree. They saved them all those years believing he would need them again one day. He told Irma seeing his Bibles was, “like being reunited with old friends.” Pastor Li told Irma that if he had not been endowed with Power from on High, he couldn’t have survived the prison. But because of the Holy Spirit’s work in his life, the joy of the Lord gave him strength.


Then Irma went to see Pastor Huang. Pastor Huang was also one of her Dad’s star pupils. Huang had also been a part of the Great Outpouring of 1930. But when the denominational leaders made their decree, Huang denounced the gifts God had given him and stayed with Dr. Fitz in the mission compound. Huang practiced medicine alongside Dr. Fitz. He married, had kids, and pastored a small local church. Then the communists took over. Huang’s home was raided late one night by soldiers while everyone was sleeping. He was pulled from his bed and beaten and tortured. He did not denounce his faith and so he went to prison. He was also sentenced to 20 years. The charge for both pastors was “treasonous and traitorous acts against the State.” Under communism you have to choose. Both pastors chose Christ.


But the story goes a little differently with Pastor Huang. He suffered greatly in prison. He never spoke of his faith or told anyone that he was a Christian. His wife also died and his children were raised in a state home. By the time Pastor Huang got out of prison, both of his children were not only Communist Party Members, but Party leaders in the province. They were ashamed of their father and Irma said their reunion was difficult to watch. Huang’s daughter had a nice apartment in town (as all Party members get the best) and she put her father up in a small room there. That’s where Irma met with him. He whispered and didn’t want to talk much about his faith. He did ask about Irma’s family, but very little was said about God or Christianity. Irma said his children were hard and unfriendly. Li’s kids had embraced her and shared fond memories of Irma’s father. Li’s kids traveled into the countryside ministering to both bodies and souls. Irma described Huang’s children as classic hardened communists—greedy and suspicious.


Irma told me that the two pastors and their experiences couldn’t have been more different. They were opposite in almost every way.


I’ve processed this story many times over the years. I’m not sure that there is a right or wrong conclusion. I know that for me, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit forever changed my life. I was a drug addict. I was hateful and bitter. I stole from my employer. I was promiscuous. In fact, I broke every single one of the Ten Commandments. I was in darkness. Then one evening, in 1980, while lying on my sister’s sofa in Oklahoma City, I whispered a prayer, “Are You still there? Could You still want me?” And in an instant, God poured out His Spirit on me. He delivered me from all of my addictions. I had no idea what was happening to me and I started singing—SINGING in an unknown tongue. I didn’t even know what it was! My life went from darkness to light. The Spirit of God moved on all my family that weekend and we were all transformed. What a difference it made in our lives!


Honestly, I don’t know if the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was the one determining factor that separated the experiences of these two men. For Irma and me, we felt like it had. Irma experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the 1970s and she said it had completely altered her life as well.


When life is at its darkest, it’s so good to be able to pray in the Spirit or sing in the Spirit. So often when things are difficult, I can go back to that moment in time and remember what God did for me there on my sister’s sofa so many years ago. I know that for me the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was transformational.


Perhaps it made a difference for Pastor Li too? Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Acts 1:8. I sure needed that power to live for Him. It seems to have made a difference in Li’s life as well, or was it just personality? I don’t know. But it’s sad to me that today we can walk into churches with a Pentecostal tradition and there are no distinctives. You’d never know. Do churches even teach about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit anymore? Well, that’s for another post. In the meantime, peace.


The Fitz Family in 1938 before the girls headed for college. Her parents had a son in 1931, adding to the family. Irma is on the far left.


On The Other Hand with Jamie – A Response to Nice Is Not A Virtue

Posted by admin in February 9th, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Blessings, faith, obedience

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’ve invited Jamie McCarthy to do a counterpoint to my posts – to give readers a different perspective and to illustrate that we don’t have to think exactly alike to love one another and to enjoy each other. Today’s post you’ll see why I asked Jamie to do this. You’re going to love her post! I certainly do! Great job Jamie!
After reading your article about Gladys Aylward I think my counterpoint question boils down to one.

Should Gladys have responded differently when Ingrid Bergman was so compelled by her life story that she asked to meet her?

 I think Gladys was a very powerful instrument in the kingdom of God. Knowing what we know about her she seems like a woman who had extremely strong convictions and faith.

On some level I can understand why this type of person is compelling. There is something beautiful and challenging about someone who is so deeply convicted they let their faith dictate every decision of their life. That is beautiful. However, my experience with people who are never in doubt about what they think, feel, or believe is that they carry a great deal of that […] Continue Reading…

Nice Is Not a Virtue

Posted by admin in February 8th, 2021 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

My friend, Dr. Thane Hutcherson Ury, posted a meme recently on Facebook. The words caught me off guard, like when you know what someone is going to say and you are about to finish their sentence, and then at the very end they surprise you and suddenly you realize you had no idea where they were going.


His meme was like that for me.


He quotes Charles Spurgeon, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” BOOM! And there it is.


“There is a way that seems right…” Proverbs 14:12.


In my opinion, I think that’s what the Church is lacking today—the ability to discern good from better.


In my last post, I share Dr. Ury’s piece on Gladys Aylward. She was a close personal friend of his family. The Ury family served in Taiwan where Gladys moved after the communist took over mainland China. Many Chinese and missionaries fled to the small island to escape the violent communist regime.


From her story, we can see a strong, determined, principled woman. She was a giant of the faith, though small in stature. Dr. Ury describes her, “4’10” […] Continue Reading…

Introducing Point/Counter Point

Posted by admin in February 6th, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I’d like to introduce Jamie McCarthy. Yes. We are related. Jamie, as a wife, full-time working mother of three and a medical professional, brings a unique perspective to the world around her and the community in which she lives. Jamie is a follower of Jesus. She’s also a millennial, though no label is sufficient to describe her. I’ve invited Jamie to participate in my blogs as a kind of “counter point” perspective. She’s graciously agreed to do so – and let me give you a heads up – that might be the only thing you’ll see us agree on. (That’s tongue-in-cheek of course). Jamie and I wanted to let readers see that people in the Body of Christ, people in the same families, people coming from different backgrounds can see the world differently and that’s okay. Hopefully, prayerfully, Jamie and I will live out the idea that Christians can truly disagree agreeably.

Jamie’s first “Counter Point” perspective is on my Super Bowl post from February 3, 2021. Here’s a link:

I like the way Jamie said, “Some of your readers might have questions and are too afraid of you to ask.” Thanks Jamie, for being a voice for them.

ON THE OTHERHAND […] Continue Reading…

The Small Woman

Posted by admin in February 6th, 2021 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

She was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7” and 375 pounds of raging obedience on the inside!
by Thane Hutcherson Ury, PhD

Most missionaries must endure demanding training, be backed by a bona fide mission agency, and do rigorous fund-raising before going to the mission field. For many, this means years of preparation, and also (sadly) the winnowing by which some never make it to the field.


But Lady Aylward broke the mold. China Inland Mission rejected her. Surprising, since CIM was long-known for seeing hidden potential in candidates that other agencies missed. It’s hard to imagine someone saying to Gladys, “We don’t believe you are capable of learning Chinese. We’re so sorry.” But in typical Gladys fashion, she not only learned to speak Mandarin, but learned to read and write the difficult language as well.


The way I see it, she was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7”, 375 pounds of outrageous potential on the inside!


Another missions expert looked Gladys in the eye, and said she was unqualified and had “no specific abilities to commend her for missionary work.” But through perseverance and pursuit of an opening, Jeannie Lawson gave the small woman a chance and told Gladys, “We can use you in China…if you can […] Continue Reading…

God and the Super Bowl

Posted by admin in February 3rd, 2021 | 10 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Every year I have to face this battle. Naively, I thought this year would be different. Because of all we’ve faced in 2020, including the outcome of this year’s election, I thought the Church would be seeking God and revival more than anytime before in my life. I thought the wake up call had come and we were jolted out of our slumber. But I was wrong. The battle against churches showing the Super Bowl in the sanctuary is still raging on. Sadly, it feels like a losing one.

I read a great article recently in which a pastor explains why the Super Bowl has no place in the church on Sunday (or any day for that matter). Pastor David Richmon writes, “I see many churches trying to tap into a cultural event to draw in crowds. First of all, the crowds aren’t coming, but secondly, there’s something bigger happening here. What you reach them with is what you’ll keep them with.”

In other words, bait and switch simply doesn’t work. We’re not Amway salesmen after all! Richmon explains that this type of evangelism isn’t effective simply because it’s not based on reality. The church delivers a Sunday service that is […] Continue Reading…

Simple Obedience is Never Simple

Posted by admin in February 2nd, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Daryl and I watched “Chariots of Fire” Sunday night. It’s been 20 years since we’ve seen this Academy-Award winning film. The film poignantly tells of the life and faith of Scotsman Eric Liddell, once deemed the fastest man on earth. Liddell qualified for the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Born in China to missionary parents, he explained to his family, “God made me fast and when I run I feel His good pleasure.” All the world’s eyes were on the Olympics that summer and Liddell was a guaranteed gold medalist for every event he was entered in. He held the world record for each. The French scheduled the events and Eric’s strongest race was scheduled on a Sunday. After wrestling and agonizing over his decision, Liddell told the British Olympic committee that he could not and would not run on a Sunday. “I must keep the Sabbath Day holy. It is the Lord’s Day and I will not run.” Even the Prince of Wales called him into a private meeting and pressured young Eric to run, “For king and country.” Eric explained that God was above kings and that God’s Law was above man. He refused to run. Eric did […] Continue Reading…

I Will Sing of the Goodness of the Lord Forever

Posted by admin in January 25th, 2021 | 7 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

In 1998, I returned to China to live one semester without Daryl in order to finish my PhD research. South China was a dark place. It was nothing like the old Manchuria where I’d lived years before. China was changing rapidly and all the things I’d loved and admired about its people had been replaced with a cold consumerism and lust for money. Deng Xiao Ping had declared to his people, “To get rich is glorious.” It was tough! I was homesick every single day and the heat and humidity were like a thick, sticky blanket suffocating me. Daily I was ready to quit and run back home. I hated it. Every morning it was so hard to just get out of bed and move. Heavy oppression, fear of failure, longing for home, and self-doubt were overwhelming. One morning, early, before 5, my friend Margaret called me all the way from Missouri. The Holy Spirit woke her in the night to pray for me. She phoned to say to me, “You’ve got to praise your way out of that darkness! You’ve got to take authority over the oppression. The Lord has given you the tools to do this.” I […] Continue Reading…

Living Out Faith in the New Normal

Posted by admin in January 21st, 2021 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

SO, WHAT DOES this new normal look like? Well, it won’t look like North Korea, if you are worried about that. But it will look like every failing socialist country across Europe.


Think about Holland, for example–legalized drugs; legalized prostitution, even for 12-year-old children; legalized euthanasia for the elderly, new born, and terminally ill. Immigration for all and for all immigrants, social services. Free education for all paid for by working citizens. Income taxes will rise to around 65% of your income and every hardworking citizen will carry a credit card debt just for necessities (ask the folks in Finland about this). Prices will skyrocket–food, fuel, building materials, vehicles. Guns will be confiscated and prohibitive gun laws will be enforced. Hate speech will be strictly regulated and churches will lose their tax exempt status. There will be no homeschooling (check out the EU’s laws concerning this; the US will follow suit). The economy will plod along and we’ll help bail out nations who couldn’t make it on their own – even those nations that hate us. Our relationship with Israel will be like that of a disliked “in-law”–despised, but tolerated. The changes will come. Some will come quickly and […] Continue Reading…

Please Forgive Me, I Was Wrong

Posted by admin in January 7th, 2021 | 14 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

This morning I started my day reading Jeremiah Johnson’s apology and well-written letter. I’m not a follower of his, but I must say this was so meaningful and moved me to tears. If you can, take a minute and read how godly men take responsibility. God bless him!…

Now it’s my turn.

As a young woman, I prayed my way across the Soviet Union, not once, but twice while riding the TranSiberian Railroad. I prayed my way from East to West, and back again. I begged God to bring an end to the USSR and give the people of Russia, and other Soviet Republics, freedom to worship Him. And it happened and we saw the demise of the Soviet Union.

When I was a young woman, I prayed my way across Germany and begged God to unite the nation and to bring freedom to East Germany. And He did and the wall came down.

When I was a young woman, I prayed for my city in China, that God would move by His Spirit on my city and today it has one of the largest underground churches in the nation – and that’s big for China!

In 2009, I prayed God would allow […] Continue Reading…

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