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The Tale of Two Pastors | terimccarthyblahblahblog

The Tale of Two Pastors

Posted by admin in February 12th, 2021
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.


11 users Responded In This Post

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February 13th, 2021 at 9:27 am

That’s a sad story.

I believe everyone is baptized with the Holy Spirit at the moment they are born again. It doesn’t mean they necessarily have a tangible experience of the Spirit, but the Spirit testifies to our spirits that we are children of God. The Spirit can give us more filling and more spiritual gifts at any time, as Luke 11:11-13 seems to reflect. If you were born again before that moment, I believe you just received more filling of the Holy Spirit and a new gift. I think calling it baptism of the Holy Spirit if a Christ follower suddenly is given the ability to speak in tongues is confusing, because it can be taken as suggesting people who don’t have that experience weren’t baptized by the Holy Spirit. And I am convinced being indwelled with the Holy Spirit at conversion is baptism of the Holy Spirit—given to all, with or without outward manifestation.

56371. Create71 said,
February 13th, 2021 at 10:01 am

What a powerful story!! Thank you so much for sharing it, and for your testimony! I was also filled the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues 1 week after I was converted. I was home alone and was in the shower, crying and thanking God for having mercy upon me and for forgiving me, (as I, too, had been very wicked!) I was full of gratitude for His love and patience and mercy! Suddenly I started speaking in another language and praising God. I currently attend a Baptist church, because this particular church actually preaches the Word of God, but I know many that are actually Spirit Filled within my church. I would prefer a church that moves in the gifts of the Spirit openly, but in my area, those are overtaken by a false gospel (think Bethel/Hillsong), and so we attend where biblical Christianity is preached. What a testimony to God’s power, is the persecuted church!! Praise God!!

56372. admin said,
February 13th, 2021 at 11:02 am

It’s a super long read for today’s social media gang. Thanks for reading it Annette. Please note in about paragraph 10 I wrote these words, “The gift of tongues doesn’t always accompany the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it does occur.” Acts 19:2, and throughout the Book of Acts, there is more than once that Believers are introduced to a second act of grace. We can call it, “Baptism of Fire,” or “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” I know with absolute certainty that no one can come to Jesus except the Spirit draws them near. The Holy Spirit must be present for a person to be Born Again. Absolutely. But what do we do with passages like Acts 9? “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” I was saved at age 5 and I really loved Jesus. I was water baptized by emersion, because that’s what my Independent Fundamental Bible Church taught. But I struggled with sin each and every day. It was a battle to walk with God. People at church teased me because I went to the altar every time we had service. Finally, at the age of 18, I spoke to God, “I love You. I believe You are real and that Your Word is true. I love Jesus, but I cannot live a Christian life.” And for the next three years I was in utter pain and suffering. Then the Lord poured out fire from heaven on me there in my sister’s living room. Fire so fierce and so frightening that I had to ask Him to stop or I’d be consumed. You call that whatever you feel comfortable with, but all I know is I got up from that sofa and was changed. I was blind and now I see. A new love for God’s Word and for people came over me. I was instantly delivered from drugs and tobacco. Instantly. A great old book on the subject was written years ago by Catherine Marshal. It’s called, “The Helper.” By the way, my Mom was filled with the Spirit at the same time and she didn’t speak in tongues. But we all saw the change in her life.

56373. admin said,
February 13th, 2021 at 11:04 am

Your story just keeps on blessing me. Love you!

56375. Carol said,
February 13th, 2021 at 2:32 pm

Teri, What a blessing your articles are to us. We also came from a very fundamental Christian church background and experiences with the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for sharing this powerful story.

February 13th, 2021 at 5:25 pm

It’s not too long for me, and a lot of my blogs are longer.

How I see Acts 19:1-7 is that the Ephesian believers didn’t hear the whole gospel yet. They only knew about John and his baptism. Sometimes the Holy Spirit entered people with the apostles laying hands on them, but Cornelius and his family and friends were filled immediately. I believe we are given the Holy Spirit immediately now, but can be filled with more of the Holy Spirit at other times. For example, Stephen (Acts 6:5) and Barnabas (Acts 11:24) were described as full of the Holy Spirit. The less we grieve Him and the more we continually cultivate our relationship with God, I think the more likely we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I’m glad you experienced more filling of the Spirit that helped free you from your bondages to sins. I was born again at 5, also, and I had quite a long time where I didn’t really depend on the Lord for help but tried to be a “good girl” with my own strength. However, I know the Spirit was with me. It got better when I started asking Him to change my heart towards His ways. Or later, actually believed 1 John 1:9 when I had a need for repentance over a sin pattern. I don’t have a gift of tongues, but I’ve had words of knowledge and prophecies (for me), and I know I have other gifts. Probably discernment, exhortation and teaching. I think God has made me a type of prophet, building up the Church towards endurance/overcoming in the Tribulation.

“Eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor 12:31, 14:1, 39) shows that we God can add spiritual gifts to us at any time, and our faith/obedience can play a role. We know every Christian doesn’t seem to have the same level of filling. Some are weighed down, others are full of joy and power. Paul commanded Timothy to stir up (some translation, “fan into flames”) the gift of God that had been given him (2 Tim 1:6). The prophecy Peter cited in Acts 2, in Joel 2:28-32, identifies not only the work of the Holy Spirit, but also says “I will pour out My Spirit”— especially in the context of the Tribulation. That will be great.

I’m reading a book you would love called “Women Who Risk” by Tom & JoAnn Doyle, about women in the Middle East who came to Christ but were formerly Muslims. It’s very dark spiritually in their countries, so the power of the Holy Spirit is especially strong to draw out a contrast. I met Tom Doyle in 2016 and his books are wonderfully written. It’s his fourth, and first time his wife is a co-author.

God bless.

56379. C.rough said,
February 14th, 2021 at 12:47 am

Oh, what an amazing story. As I read this I am in a small room in a small guest house in Ethiopia, listening to Muslim and Orthodox prayer times over the loud speakers throughout the city. I found my response to be singing in the Spirit. All 3 languages I did not understand , but my innermost being joined in singing in the Spirit and I understood. Awww…the sweet presence of God.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Teri.

56380. admin said,
February 14th, 2021 at 7:37 am

So proud of you C. We are praying for you daily as you bring the fragrance of Christ there. Love you sister!

56381. admin said,
February 14th, 2021 at 8:22 am

You are always an encouragement Carol. Grateful for you.

56382. admin said,
February 14th, 2021 at 8:26 am

I love your testimony! You are a gift A.

56393. Angela said,
February 15th, 2021 at 8:58 pm

Thank you for sharing this story. Very sad to see the difference in their outcomes.
How very touching to know that the 1st gentleman was blessed for his actions in prison and attributed that to his speaking in tongues, using the gift that the Holy Spirit gave to him. Unfortunately, the other kept quiet and suffered. Good encouragement to us to keep sharing, to not be extinguished in this current culture.

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