China is experiencing an “explosion of faith.” The number of Protestants in the country has rocketed from only 1 million to at least 60 million, according to Persecution.org. This is a remarkable move of the Holy Spirit, and the stories of faith emerging out of this highly censored nation are nothing short of inspirational.
To experience the Christian renewal for himself, journalist Ian Johnson actually went to live in the far Eastern nation. “I made the southwestern city of Chengdu my second home. Living there for weeks at a time, I followed the progress of Early Rain Reformed Church over the course of a year,” he writes at The Atlantic. “This unregistered church has had numerous setbacks and always seems on the verge of being closed down. But it keeps bouncing back, thanks in part to one of the most inspiring preachers I’ve met in any country.”
Johnson continues “When Wang Yi addressed his congregation, he looked like an explorer surveying new horizons. He would grasp his pulpit with both hands, leaning forward on the balls of his feet, his eyes squinting through thick glasses as if focusing on a speck in the distance. He had rosy cheeks and a winning smile, and when he spoke, it was in a strong and forceful voice, his words as clear as his arguments.”
When the pastor came to speak, Johnson described the spiritual power that filled the room. “He was contributing to a sense that it was ordinary people who possessed real power in a country where all authority seemed to belong to the state,” he writes. Then, Jonhson saw something that almost never occurs in China – a physical show of affection with a figure in authority. A congregant hugged their pastor. “And Wang Yi, blinking back his own tears, looked bewildered but then happy. This was truly his flock, and he was their pastor,” Johnson highlights.