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The Shekinah Glory

Posted by admin in August 2nd, 2021
Published in Uncategorized

The small shabby and tattered room began to fill with a white cloud of smoke, almost a mist, that moved among us, in and out, weaving like a fog. My head was bowed in prayer and when I tried to lift it, I couldn’t, as if some unseen hand was pressing down on me. I reached over to grab my friend’s arm, more than a little frightened, “Irma! What is this?” I whispered. “Shh,” she said. “It’s the Shekinah glory.”

Is this what is written about in I Kings when Solomon brings the Ark into the Temple at its dedication? “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled His temple” (verses 10-11).

As soon as communist China opened to the West in the early 1980s, I went to teach. During that time, I was privileged to visit the underground Church in my city. Although China was experiencing some new freedoms, the communist government continued to crack down on what it called “spiritual pollution.” Of course, the Church was its main target. Christianity was labeled as a “pollution of the mind.” I only had the opportunity to fellowship with the underground Chinese Believers four times during my years in China. As a foreigner, my attendance put them at risk. My “foreignness” made me stick out in a crowd. As a result, this called attention to the underground Church’s activities. Not good as they were meeting in secret. But on four occasions the Church leaders were able to entice city officials to turn a blind eye to the Church’s meetings. On those occasions, I was invited to attend.

The building was made of cinder blocks. It was small, about the size of a storage unit. The building was shabby with a tiny dirt-packed courtyard. Nothing in the appearance of the building would let you know it was a church. Though the temperatures in winter averaged -10℉ to -15℉, the only source of heat in the little cement building was an oil drum set up on its end with a small square cut out of the middle. Coal was burned in the drum and an exhaust pipe, rigged through the top of the drum, was threaded through a hole in one of the concrete blocks and that served as a chimney. I think more cold air came in from the hole in the block than was actually heated by the makeshift furnace. The fumes were ghastly and very little heat came from the contraption.

The pews were worn wooden benches without backs and the floor was cracked and pitted concrete. The place was extremely cold, so no one removed their coats, hats, or gloves for the service. The building was packed, mostly with the elderly, but a few young people, a few middle-aged. They were mostly women and all of them quite poor. There were no children and the absence of kids was quite telling.

Communism had done its best to destroy Christianity in China in its 35-year-reign. These folks were evidence that it had failed. The government not only tried to destroy Christians’ good reputations, but also their right to earn a decent living. As Christians, these people were labeled imbeciles and counter-revolutionaries. As a result, their children were taken from them and raised by the communist State. Though many had university degrees, their jobs were menial and/or part of the hard labor force. These Christians had been beaten, imprisoned, humiliated, and tortured for their faith and yet, here they were, “assembling themselves together,” in spite of the risk.

These were the disenfranchised. They lived in constant oppression and were ridiculed because of their faith—all because they believed in Jesus Christ. That was their only crime.

To the natural eye, it was a motley crew. Church members were shabby. They were poor. They were weak. That is, to the natural eye.

When my teammate Irma and I entered the building, our Chinese brothers and sisters greeted us warmly and insisted we sit near the furnace. Men sat on one side of the room; women sat on the other—as was their tradition. Irma and I sat on a little wooden bench. My hair was long and I had a ponytail peeking out from under a woolen cap. As I was sitting there, I felt someone touch my hair. I felt a warm sensation flow from my head to my feet. I turned around slowly to see who was touching me and an old woman with a beautiful shiny bright face squeezed my shoulders and patted me gently. My ponytail was losing its ribbon and she simply was retying it for me. But when she touched me, there was such an anointing on her that I could physically feel it. She smiled at me and welcomed me. I started crying. Not hysterically, but tears came and I couldn’t stop them. Quite honestly, I’d never experienced anything like it in my life. I didn’t have a category for it.

The church had a rickety out-of-tune piano and most of the keys didn’t work properly. There was an old woman with gnarled fingers playing it and someone led the songs and the congregation sang. They sang loud and clear and with all their hearts. They sang with joy and feeling and without any shame. Again, I was crying. When the song service ended, we all sat down.

A man with a head like a peeled yellow onion, slick and shiny, was asked by the pastor to open the service with prayer. As the dear brother stood, I wondered at the huge chunk of his skull missing. I thought, “How in the world can this man function with that large portion of his skull gone?”

When the man began to pray, something extraordinary happened. God’s Presence filled that place. It was the most powerful thing I’d ever seen. It was overwhelming. We literally couldn’t lift our heads. I was a little scared, but it was a holy fear. That’s when I tugged on Irma’s arm. “Irma, what is this?” She answered, “Shh…it’s the Shekinah glory.”

The Shekinah glory of God filled that small broken-down building and His Presence clothed His people. His presence was their array. And it was mighty. It was frightening. It was awe-inspiring. It was beautiful and powerful. It was holy.

In the midst of terrible persecution and tribulation, at a time when God’s people had no money, no heat, worn-out clothing, and their children had been taken from them—in the midst of all that suffering—God showed up. He clothed His people with His very Presence and He filled that dirty cinder block building with His glory—His Shekinah glory! I simply don’t have the words to describe it.

That man, broken and in tattered clothes, prayed for the Church in America. He prayed for us not to be complacent and not to be overtaken with materialism. He prayed that God would protect our hearts from being lukewarm and that God would bless us. He thanked God for His goodness. He prayed as only a man who knows God can pray. There was power in his prayer.

The singing was beautiful, though the old piano was out of tune. The preaching was invigorating and very evangelistic in its content. I was raised in church, but in all my life, I’d never seen anything like this!

God was in the midst of His people and He was sufficient for them.

 

As I left the service, several people came to me and asked, “Foreign girl, do you have Jesus in your heart?” When I answered yes, they each wanted to know when and where I received Him and if I had been water baptized.

You see, at that time in China, it was illegal to ask those questions. Those people could have been arrested for asking me that. Proselytizing was illegal and in many provinces it still is today. And yet, these Christians were more concerned with my salvation than their safety.

Today, it seems the Church in America is afraid of difficulties. We’re worried about the economy, government restrictions, the virus, and our freedoms being taken. But whether we are facing insurmountable personal crises, or whether we’re facing nation-wide tribulation and persecution, the one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that God is faithful and He will never leave us or forsake us. God always provides for His people.

Whether it’s a cloud of smoke by day or a pillar of fire by night, God leads His people and takes care of them. We don’t need to fear, we only need to trust Him and praise Him. Jesus watches over His flock, “Fear not little sheep, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

GOD IS FAITHFUL. HE IS TRUSTWORTHY. DO NOT BE AFRAID.

 

Our faith, our trust, and our hope are based in Christ Jesus and the Word of God. God is our Source! God is our Provider. And He never fails!

I believe, because of what I saw in China, that in the heat of persecution and tribulation, God clothes His people with Himself and allows His Presence to strengthen them and meet every need in their lives. I have never feared persecution since that time of fellowship in China when God’s Shekinah glory filled that building. In fact, I envied those Believers’ relationship with Jesus.

And the man with the onion slick head? He sustained those injuries when the communist soldiers came to his village. They had him kneel and they struck his head with the butt of a rifle again and again commanding him to deny Christ, but he didn’t. He never denied Christ. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in us, neither will we. Peace.

1 user Responded In This Post

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58818. Cheryl said,
August 3rd, 2021 at 9:41 am

Oh, Teri! I wept as I read this. I am SO grateful you shared this experience with us. Dear Lord, have mercy – as I read what that dear, Godly preacher prayed concerning the church in America, I realized that we have become the very things he prayed we wouldn’t. SO much complacency and the world has absolutely come into the church, instead of the opposite. When they do come to church, they find more of the same that they find on the outside of the church. We are in one mess, but your precious post gives me hope. You are such a blessing to me! I apologize profusely that I have gotten so far behind in reading your posts, but God knew I surely needed to take the time to read this one today.

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