"CHINA -- ONE MORE TIME!"
So, what could be more startling than an invitation to meet the honorable ambassador to the United States from the People's Republic of China? It seems the leadership of China is taking a fresh look at the tenets of the Christian faith! The reason? An upsurge of dangerous religious cults that advocate the overthrow of the government. In contrast, the Christian faith teaches its adherents to "Obey those who have the rule over you" (Romans 13:1); and to pay your taxes, too (Romans 13:6). It was my joy to present the honorable Li Zhaoxing with a Bible in which I had highlighted several important passages like: "Blessed are the peacemakers;" and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I think I may have shocked the ambassador when I said, "You know, in some ways, Jesus Christ was a communist!" I was quick to point out He was not an atheistic communist, but a theist. In fact, He was and is God. I pointed out how important it is to study what Jesus Himself SAID, rather than what some religions say He said! A few examples are: "Feed the hungry;" "Clothe the naked;" "Visit those in prison;" etc. In the early Church, they sold their possessions and laid the money at the apostles feet, and it was distributed as every one had a need. The ambassador was quite impressed with: "If you have two coats and you see a brother with no coat, give him one of yours!" Sounds pretty "communistic," doesn't it?
I was assured that China is moving now to assure all of its citizens the right to worship according to the dictates of one's own conscience! How refreshing! I assured him of the prayers of the Christians of America that this move would be successful, and soon.
The meeting, which I was told would last only 15 minutes, turned into an hour and a half, and still the dialog continued. I'm sure other appointments were cancelled as the ambassador shared many interesting facts about modern China. He reported that in 1949, when Mao Tse-tung came to power, there were about 750,000 known Christians in China, but, today, there are at least TEN MILLION and growing fast!
I reported to him that I had the joy a few years ago of preaching in the churches of Shanghai and Beijing, and had received a wonderful response. He confirmed that China now permits the printing of Bibles and Christian literature in China, and, in fact, prints more Bibles than any other country, with over 25 million printed last year!
By then it was time for me to get to the airport, but the ambassador had more questions about Jesus Christ. He wanted to know if I believed he was a real historical figure, or simply a myth. I assured him that not only the Bible, but the secular Jewish historian, Josephus, spoke of Jesus and even described His appearance. He wanted to know if we knew the actual date of His birth, and on and on!
Finally, I made our classic proposal -- "Could we have an invitation to meet with the television ministry, the equivalent to our FCC, to explore the concept of a cultural TV program exchange?" In other words, they would produce a program on "life in modern China," and we would do the same, that is, "life in America," for broadcast in both countries. We would explore the way we live, work, play and worship in each of our countries. The ambassador seemed to like the idea and assured me of his good assistance in helping to set up an invitation and meeting. As we left I got a manly hug and an invitation to dinner when I returned to Washington!
It would take a hundred more pages to tell of all the "GLORIOUS ACTS OF GOD" that are "STARTLING" many around the world. Our new DBS European satellite is sending us all into heavenly orbit! I stopped in London last December to finalize the contract. I can now report that we are on 24 hours a day and the response is far beyond our wildest dreams! A viewer in Iran wrote: "I am Moslem, but I want to know more about your faith." A viewer in Morroco e-mailed: "Please send program schedule, and tell me how to contact Christians in my country." Virtually every country in Europe, eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa have checked in -- and in large numbers! The channel we purchased was once programming CNBC from America, so it is reaching over 120 million little dishes, or homes, and is also connected to many of the hotels of the region.
We are also dropping in dishes of our own in many countries where we have TV stations, like Spain, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa, on and on. Our partners in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands are doing the same. India and the Philippines are exploding with growth! So, Partners, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! This Good News is being preached to all the world! But the other glorious news is this: The signal is now LIVE TO THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! Some programs will naturally have to be recorded to time shift the programs to different time zones. This will relieve us in America of dubbing and shipping TV tapes to all the countries.
So, shall we keep on driving ever deeper into enemy territory? I can hear your hearty, "YES!," in my spirit! Please join Jan and me with all your great Praise-A-Thon team this month of April, as we dream new dreams and see new visions, together! Your Praise-A-Thon pledges and love gifts through these past 27 years have made it possible for me to meet hundreds of world leaders and to plant over 1400 TV and radio stations around the world! Yes, "THE GLORIOUS ACTS OF GOD" are "STARTLING" multitudes in the farthest corners of the earth! Let's keep STARTLING!
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