In his 23 years of ministering in China, Brother Yun was arrested and sent to prison three different times.
He spent a total of seven years in prison for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On the occasion of his first arrest, Brother Yun was ministering at a meeting away from home. He was caught by the Security Police and thrown into a freezing cold prison cell with 4 of his co-workers.
There was no heat in the cell, and outside, the temperature was below freezing.
They had thrown Brother Yun’s coat in the snow. He began to beat on an old drum with his handcuffs and sing in a loud voice Psalm 150.
He says, “The more I sang the more I was filled with joy. I stood up and praised the Lord. Gradually my frozen hands and feet regained feeling and I wasn’t cold anymore.”
This was only the beginning of his prison saga.
During the times when Brother Yun was in the hands of the government officials, he was repeatedly beaten and tortured with electric batons. He was kicked and trampled upon. He was tortured with needles being jabbed underneath his fingernails. He was mocked by the other prisoners. He was hung by his handcuffs and transported so roughly that the cold cuffs sliced through his wrists until they were all bloodied and the wrist bones exposed.
Through all of these horrendously painful experiences, the Word of the Lord kept coming to Brother Yun, encouraging him, and strengthening him in his faith, until he could face pretty much anything without fear.
During his first imprisonment in Nanyang, Brother Yun felt instructed by the Lord to fast without food and water until he could see his family.
This fast lasted miraculously for 74 days.
Although he had no Bible, he meditated on the Scriptures he had memorized. During this time, he was interrogated and beaten regularly. Though his body weakened, Jesus ministered to his spirit through the Scriptures.
From Nanyang, Brother Yun was sent to the Xinyang Prison Labour Camp. While in this camp, Yun’s wife Deling found creative ways to get the Word of God to him.
One time, she smuggled in parts of the Bible in a loaf of bread!
These Scriptures were precious to Yun and to the new Christians that were constantly being birthed as a result of Brother Yun’s witness.
After his second time in prison, Brother Yun felt the necessity of training the believers that were being added to the church by the 1000’s.
So he and his co-workers established “oil stations”, where students could be trained in the Scriptures.
The first oil station was held in a cave for two months. Within 2 months, the 30 students selected were required to read through the whole Bible, and memorize the book of Matthew.
By the end of the first month, most of the students had Matthew memorized!
Brother Yun’s third imprisonment was a very dark time for him. The guards were determined that he would not escape from them, as he had many times before. So they took him into a room and beat his legs until they turned completely black below the knee.
They wanted to cripple him permanently so that he would not be able to escape again.
In prison, other Christian brothers had to carry Brother Yun around because he could not walk. The only way he could sleep was if he propped his legs up on the wall until he had no feeling in them. They beat him every day, even in his crippled state.
Of this time, Brother Yun says, “I had no Bible with me so I meditated on God’s Word from memory and prayed in tears for the churches. I shouted out Bible verses at the top of my voice, clinging to God’s promises such as Psalm 27:1-3. I sang loudly day and night.”
Through the Word of the Lord with confirmation from another brother, God instructed Brother Yun to escape from the maximum security prison. And so, on the morning of May 5, 1997, Yun miraculously walked out of the prison, past dozens of security guards.
He didn’t realize until later that his legs had been healed.
Brother Yun eventually escaped China, but he wasn’t through with prison life—yet. Several years after he escaped, he was in the country of Myanmar to escort his family to Germany.
He got caught at the border with an illegal identification card and thrown into prison.
He received a 7 year sentence, but the German Embassy was able to get him out after 7 months. During this time, Brother Yun busily engaged himself in winning the prisoners to Jesus, and training them.
He says, “Through song I taught many Bible passages to my new brothers in Christ.”
None of the Chinese pastors that Brother Yun worked with went to seminary. There are no seminaries to be had in China. Brother Yun’s assessment of the Western church is that we are overloaded with preachers and tapes of Bible teaching, but we have little of the sharp truth of the Word of God.
He says, “If you truly want to see God move, the two main things you must do is learn the Word of God and have obedience to do what God tells you to do.”
Reflecting on his years in prison, he says,
“In this prison seminary we have learned many valuable lessons about the Lord that we could never have learned from a book.”
Jesus put a freedom in Brother Yun’s heart that could not be taken away with beatings and bars.
“I feel so sorry that many Christians live in bondage even though Jesus has signed their release form with his own blood. When you’ve been set free, you should act like it.”
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