Up The Yangtze River
Greetings in Jesus' Name!
When I was in China this last time I decided to climb aboard a
Chinese ship heading up the Yangtze River. I wanted to see The Three Gorges and the huge dam that is under construction. The Chinese call this river Chang Jiang. Literally it means "long river". Chang Jiang is the third longest river in the world. The Nile in Africa (4,180 miles), and the Amazon in South America (3,912 miles) are the two longer rivers.
The Yangtze river runs from its source on the roof of the world in Tibet to the East China Sea at Shanghai, some 3,600 miles. My trip was only about 2,500 - 3,000 miles in length, but I experienced enough of the Yangtze river to be satisfied by the time we reached Chongqing. An added bonus was to see the largest hydroelectric dam in the world under construction. The Three Gorges Dam is almost one mile long and 575 feet high. When it is completed the reservoir will be about 350 miles long--about the size of Lake Superior. In the spring of 2003 the waters of the Yangtze will begin to back up behind the enormous dam and about 1,100 of the cities and towns I saw will be submerged.
So this was a last-chance opportunity to see some of China's oldest homes and buildings, lived in for centuries. Some of the homes had already been completely dismantled by the owners. The Chinese government ordered every home owner along the Yangtze River to totally destroy every building that the rising waters will submerge. This will allow the large ships to navigate on the river after the dam is completed and the 350-400 mile long reservoir is filled. I saw city after city totally devasted. It looked very much as though each city had been bombed. Some of the home owners were still in the process of destroying their homes.
Because our ship stopped in 31 cities along the way I was able to go ashore in some ports to witness this very sad process first-hand. Those of you who have traveled to Third World countries know how some images are "burned" into your memory. I will never forget seeing a man who had personally torn the roof off of his home and knocked the walls down. Now he was attempting to break up the foundation with a sledge hammer. The temperature was between 100 and 110 degrees, and the sun was blazing down upon him. I watched in amazement and sadness as he hit a huge piece of concrete over and over, but it would not break into pieces, no matter how many times he assailed it. His family looked on sadly nearby with expressions of total hopelessness.
The Chinese government promised to move every home owner and pay him for his property. But one man I spoke with said that all he got was $3.00. By the time the "relocation money" filters down through the corruption of the officials, little of it is left over to give to the people who are actually being forced to move. Some of these families have lived in the same house and location for centuries. One cannot imagine how they must feel to be uprooted so callously and told that they have to leave the area where their ancestors have resided for such a long time. Many of the people (between 3 million and 30 million -- no one really knows the number) will be forced to move to large city complexes such as Chongqing, which is now the world's most populous city. Approximately 350 million people live in the Yangtze River Basin, which is 70 more million people than live in the United States.
Along the way I took 250 digital pictures of people, nature, The Three Gorges, and what will soon be the world's largest hydroelectric dam. I was also able to pass out gospel tracts to people in remote places who might otherwise never have received a scrap of gospel literature.
Many scientists believe that this dam will create one of the worst ecological disasters in the history of the human race. One hundred fifty five billion cubic feet of waste water, which currently reaches the sea, will concentrate behind the dam. Mixed in with the waste water will be arsenic, mercury, lead, and cyanide. The Three Gorges dam will flood 137 major cities, 1300 factories, 1,100 villages ("villages" in China typically have a population near the one million mark), 4,000 hospitals, 40,000 gravesites, and at least 178 rubbish dumps containing 2.8 million tons 0f garbage, and 123 sources of radio-active debris, and cesspits filled with 30 years of waste. The upside of the dam is that it will be capable of producing electricity on a scale unprecedented in China, and possibly improve the life-style and economic condition for millions of Chinese people.
For the past 36 years I have traveled extensively in Third-World countries doing mission work. So I feel that I have seen a lot of suffering and heartache. But nothing prepared me for what I saw as our ship cruised up the Long River, passing more than 1,000 cities and villages. I'm sure that it will take months, if not years, for the shock to wear off. Even now, a month after the Yangtze River journey, I find myself weeping for these Chinese people.
Let me attempt to describe to you what it was like being the only English speaking person on a Chinese ship for seven days and seven nights: First of all, I thought the entire trip was going to last for five days. After I was aboard I learned that the journey would take seven days. The whole week of travel only cost $125.00 (compared to the five-star tourist ship which costs $125.00 per day). But I soon discovered why the cost was so low. The first night a huge rat jumped on me in the black of the night. I cannot begin to tell you how scared I was. After that I slept with the ceiling light on every night. Even then I could see the beady eyes of the rats under a low shelf in my cramped quarters. Every once in a while, one of them would dart out into my room and grab a piece of cracker crumb and scurry back under the shelf. Somehow I slept deeply each night.
One of the men I had given a tract to turned out to be a plain-clothes policeman. He showed up at my room the following day in uniform, and I thought he was going to reprimand me for passing out gospel tracts on the ship. Instead he informed me that he thought I was a "good man", so he was going to help me. He had learned that there were robbers on the ship who were planning to kill me, rob me, and throw my body into the river. But he indicated that he would be watching out for my safety. I don't know if finding out about the robbers made me feel better or worse. I was glad to know that God had touched the policeman's heart to give me extra protection.
Then there was the matter of food: I had assumed from my years in the merchant marines that the ship food would be excellent. Was I ever in for a surprise. Even most of the Chinese who were aboard were not eating it. I tried a couple bowls of rice, but I was only able to take a few bites from each one when I found dirt and other things that made me lose my appetite. By God's grace I had brought along some crackers from the U.S., and someone had given me a package of cookies. I lived on that and water for the whole seven days, except when we docked at two ports where I could buy some boiled eggs and chicken.
The temperature in the Yangtze River basin soared to 110 degrees some days. Fortunately, there was a small ship store where I was able to purchase "bottled water". One never knew if the water had been dipped from the river or whether it was actually pure. But either way, God was merciful to me and I stayed healthy the entire time. One day, however, when I went to the little store there was no drinking water available. This scared me a little because with those high temperatures a person needs a lot of liquids.
During those seven days I had a lot of time to think, pray and read my Bible, because I could not carry on a conversation with anyone. A young boy of about 10 years of age boarded the ship with his parents, and he could speak a few words of English. When he got off the boat a little 8 year old girl came aboard with her grandparents. She also spoke a little English. This enabled me to make my wishes known and to learn a little bit about where we were and the names of some of the cities. So this is the way the Lord took care of me during this trip up the river.
In retrospect, I don't think that I would ever do this to myself again; but since I survived the whole thing I look back upon it as one of the greatest experiences of my life. I don't know if I will ever travel up the Amazon river or the Nile river, but it is quite satisfying to have gone up the third longest river in the world all the way from Shanghai to Chongqing. I hope some lives were blessed or changed in the process. I know that I offered many, many heart-felt prayers as I passed the hundreds of Chinese cities and villages. I interceded for fishermen, farmers, sailors, merchants, and dock workers all along the way. I especially prayed to God for the unfortunate wretches who destroyed their homes and had to move far away before the waters of the Yangtze river rose 600 feet and covered everything. I am very thankful that I was able to see the places that will never be seen again after the Three Gorges Dam is completed and the reservoir is filled.
I found a Chinese hotel in Chongqing for $36.00 a night. No. It did not compare to some of the fine hotels in Beijing, Shanghai, and the U.S. But after seven days on the ship it was paradise to me. And I thanked God from the bottom of my heart.
Our next trip to China is coming up fast: September 27-October 7. Pray with us that all the Bibles will get in safely and be used mightily by the Lord. We will also be passing out thousands of tracts from World Missionary Press -- How To Know God. This powerful booklet gives a very clear explanation of how to know Jesus and grow in the Christian life.
I hope that this latest update of our missionary work is of interest to you. You are always welcome to copy any of our letters to pass out to your friends or church. May the Lord richly bless you for sharing so generously with Full Life Crusade. Thank you so much for entrusting us with this gift.
In His Service,
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;”
2 Corinthians 10:4
Greetings in Jesus' Name!
It seems like such a short time ago that there was so much ado about Y2K. Now it is a year later already, and like so many things of this fleeting life the whole idea of a major crisis has seemingly floated into the mist of the past.
A New Year is upon us! The Christmas rush is over until another year. How blessed I was when a United Methodist church asked me to come in and teach the real Christmas story – the one that has nothing to do with shopping malls, frantic shopping, and jammed parking lots. I took my time and taught from the book of Ruth, Isaiah, Micah, Matthew, and Luke. I love the Christmas story so much. As a believer, I am sure that you do, too. Many of the folks were so pleased to hear Truth that they had never been taught before.
We are entering the 36th year of our ministry with Full Life Crusade in the year 2001. Wow! What a journey it has been. There have been great trials and there have been fantastic miracles with the presence of God. There have been many times of sitting still with the Bible open on my lap, and there have been great adventures as the Holy Spirit has taken me all over the world: 53 trips to China; 36 trips to the Philippine Islands; 40 trips to Haiti; and many other missionary journeys to 45 nations of the world.
We count it a great privilege to preach the gospel. It is not a burden to us. It is a joy to us. Yes. Our bodies get tired at times, but our spirits are always waiting for the next adventure, whether it is in Nepal, India, Russia, Israel, Central America, or China. Jesus is on the move all over the world, and there are millions of people who hungrily await a missionary to come with the Good News of God becoming man, dying on the cross, raising from the dead, and soon to return. “Tell me the old, old story”, one songwriter penned. We can tell it because it never grows old. It is always fresh and alive.
The longer I am in gospel work the more I am aware that the real work must be done in the spirit realm before we see anything accomplished that is eternal. That is why I have used the verse above as our theme verse for this first month of 2001. We are in a war, but we do not use conventional weapons. Our weapons are not carnal. But that does not mean that they are useless or have less power than a machine gun. The weapons that God has given His people are very powerful—if we use them.
Prayer, fasting, Bible study, and standing on God's Word above everything else are just a few of the weapons He has given us. When something won't budge and we know that it needs to be moved, then we employ the “bigger guns” to get the job done. And He always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus. We never lose. We literally cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. We have a readiness to revenge all disobedience. We do not look on the outward appearance but we peer into the supernatural world by the gifts He has given us. We discern and then act. And God always works with us.
These are exciting days. They are challenging days. In America there seems to be a spirit or principality that would hold people in bondage. It refuses to let go. This spirit puts good people to sleep. It causes individuals to spend time soaking up our culture to excess. And then the excuse is given that there is no time to study the Bible and pray any more. What a lie. Do not buy into this deception this year. Come alive in Christ. Get down on your knees and pray. Experience some fasting. Go into the war mode. Be aggressive. Take the Kingdom. Don't back down. Loved ones need to be saved, but first we Christians need to get serious—deadly serious.
I am so challenged each time I take a missionary trip. I meet with believers who are dead serious about taking on the spiritual powers and driving them out. They settle for nothing less. They insist that God's Kingdom come. They insist that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And the results are amazing—the dead raised, demons cast out, the sick healed, and countless thousands coming to Christ.
It is still true that approximately 25,000 people are coming to know Jesus each day in China. How can this be happening when in America churches are continuing to permanently close their doors in every major city across the land? The answer is simple—we are allowing it to happen. We have not taken a stand.
I think of Pastor Allen Yuan and Samuel Lamb as living examples of leaders who have refused to back down. Sixty Red Guards came to Samuel's house late one night and marched him down to Public Security Headquarters. There he stood all night with the cold wind blowing down his back from an open window. They cajoled him. Mocked him. Threatened him with more years of imprisonment (both of these friends of mine have spent more than 20 years in prison). Took everything from his home and threw it away—yes, all the Bibles, all the teaching tapes, all the money.
Before they sent him home they promised him another term in prison. “Stop having gospel meetings in your home or we will put you in jail until you die!”
He quietly responded, “I am ready for the third time.”
Today both men (and thousands of others like them) have several hundred seekers coming to their homes to hear the gospel preached. They refuse to back down to the threats of men with weapons and to men who know how to torture the human body.
So why should we back down here in America? We still have the freedom to hold services in our homes, in our churches, even on street corners. Let's use this freedom to proclaim the message of Christ. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God unto salvation. Let us determine in our hearts that this year we will move forward. That nothing will stop us. We will use the weapons that He has freely given to us. They are no good to us if we do not use them. Let us pick them up and put them to use and watch God's power move before us.
I know a small church that was told to close their doors on Sunday evening because there was no interest any more in having Sunday evening services. About 12 members of that congregation said they would not cancel the Sunday evening service—no matter what! The preacher quit coming, but they are still there every Sunday night singing, praising, praying, fellowshipping, and studying God's Word.
And if they won't let you do it in the church building, then do it in your home. Gather a few believers together. Sing. Pray. Preach. Study. Fellowship. For Jesus said, “If just two or three of you get together in my Name I will be there.” You don't have to be a “professional” in order to lead a meeting. God will help you. He will guide you. And as you pray He will supply the power!
This year let's believe that God's power will flow through us. Let's take a stand for what is right—and never back down. Let's use the spiritual weapons that He has entrusted to us and attack Satan's strongholds in our communities. We will see a difference. We will make a difference. And when the end finally comes He will say to us: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
My prayer for you this year is that you will live and walk in victory. Thank you so much for your continued financial help to Full Life Crusade. May He richly bless you for helping us to spread the gospel.
In His Service,
“Going into all the world, aiding indigenous churches in reaching their lands with the gospel of Jesus Christ”
Haiti Trip News
Haiti is changing. Some things are worse. Some things are the same. Many things are better. My last visit left me with one word . . . hope.
No, things in Haiti aren't perfect. Elections have been postponed, again. Crime has risen drastically – especially murder. HIV is ever a threat. When we arrived, rain hadn't fallen for nearly three months. In spite of the ever-present problems, Haiti again proved to be a land rich in wonders and powerful moves of the Spirit of God.
FLC took eight people from New York, Indiana, and Michigan to the poorest country in the western hemisphere to witness the poverty, the needs, the culture, the people, and above all, the faith of believers who see more hardship in a week than most of us endure in a lifetime. Allow me to illustrate:
Lucienne Ambroise's is a tiny lady with a soft voice and cheerful smile. Her husband abandoned her leaving her to feed and raise five children alone. The oldest is 11 and the youngest only 3.
She lives in a humble, two-room home with no doors and a tiny covered porch. She sleeps in the dining/kitchen/storage/bedroom (the other room is where the five children sleep). The home has no electricity or running water. Yet in spite of these hardships, she shines with the love of Jesus and takes careful notice of each and everything God does for her.
When her youngest son was only six months old, he became deathly ill. One night at about midnight, he died. The family tried to console her and confirmed that the baby was dead. She began to pray Hanna's prayer and cried out to the Lord. “If You will give me back my son,” she prayed, “I will dedicate his life to You.” For two hours she labored in prayer over the tiny, limp body. At 2 AM her prayers were answered. The little boy coughed and came to life! She changed his name to “Laza” which, as you might have guessed, means “Lazarus.” He is now very happy and healthy.
Sound incredible? Impossible? Maybe here, but not in Haiti
Mdme. Ambroise's troubles were not over, however. This time it was she who was ill.
On Sunday, our team walked the short distance to her house. We found her lying on her bed, emaciated, and able to speak only in a faint voice. She told me she hadn't been eating, because there wasn't enough food for herself and the children, so she had been feeding the five little ones. I have no idea how long she had gone without food. She wouldn't say.
I explained to the team her situation. Everyone was moved with compassion. We then gathered around her, anointed her head with oil and prayed for her healing. Afterward, we sat down and took up a collection for her to start a “ti commerce” (little business). As I handed her the money, and explained its purpose, she mustered all her strength and lifted her hands to the heavens and praised Jesus! As I looked around at the team members, I found few dry eyes.
Three days later, we returned to find her dressed, on her feet and getting better. God had healed her and given her hope.
All of our wealth, our technology, our convenient lifestyles – all the “stuff” is not what sustains us. God is the only real need we have. He sustains us. In Haiti, it's easier to see that, but here in our country, we often have too many distractions. Herein lies one of the main reasons we take North Americans to countries like Haiti . . . to help us realize and understand our deepest and truest need. When we see God's power, mercy and grace first-hand like we saw in Mdme. Ambroise, the message is clear.
Our team was wonderful. Every; person was eager to participate in even the smallest detail. No one complained about food, heat, conditions, lack of water, etc. Every person gave their all in every situation, and many people were blessed by their efforts.
We spent a lot of time visiting people in their homes, attending services (all in Creole), praying for people, and fellowshipping with Haitians. We also went into the local hospital, laid hands on every patient and prayed for them. Not one person refused prayer when I asked them if we could pray for them! I know that simple gesture gave each one hope; their countenances were changed after we had finished praying. Also, for the “blancs” to come in off the street to pray for them is rare. This alone was a testimony.
I met with the committee that was formed to govern the affairs of the church which FLC has been affiliated with for over 30 years. This committee consists of five elected members and the head pastor.
In the past, meetings between myself and the committee focussed on needs and wants the church expected me to fill with funds from the US. This time, however, they proudly reported the most successful convention (March 11-13) in many years. Many young people came to the Lord, and were baptized. Hundreds of mountain people who came were fed, decorations were bought, sleeping mats were rented from a local mission, and local musicians were hired - all with the tithe and in-house funds! They were so excited and proud.
Since the death of Madame George Clerie, we have tried to wean the church from total US dependence in different ways. This meeting revealed the first fruits of that effort. God was moving without the “blancs” and they were elated. So was I. Of course we still help them financially, but they are helping themselves and relying more on God.
The needs aren't gone. We left over $2000 US there in the form of gifts and small business loans. We were able to pay four month's salaries for 25 pastors, and loan a pastor enough to fix a small rental house which will house four families.
I am once again grateful to a wonderful team for their flexibility, interest, acceptance, and love for the people and nation I hold so dear.
Many people ask us what our specific financial and other needs are. Here are some areas where we would appreciate your prayers and consideration.
Sister Church Program
We have eight churches we help support in Haiti- one main church with seven remote, satellite churches in the mountains. We are looking for seven churches to “adopt” a mountain church (they vary in size from 30-100 people). Each church building doubles as a school for the children of the members.
The purpose is to encourage and offer hope to these precious people through small business loans and occasional financial gifts. We will also take a group from your church to visit them!
Please pray about your church becoming a “sister church” to one of these remote outstations churches in Haiti.
Motorcycles for Pastor
Pastor Joseph Jean is the head pastor of the eight churches. He travels to the remote churches to visit, preach, and perform administrative tasks. The closest church is three hours on foot. The farthest is 9 hours on foot. He often has to leave at 3:00 am to reach the church at a reasonable time, have a meeting, and return home before midnight. We would like to purchase a good motorcycle in Haiti (to avoid tariffs, etc.) for Pastor Joseph. We need about $2500 to do this.
Angelo St. Fleur
I'll let Angelo tell you in his own words.
“My name is AngeloSt. Fleur, and I was born in Haiti January 26, 1974. In 1986, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior as my Catholic mother diligently prepared for my first communion. I resolved to never worship idols, for they have eyes and legs, but cannot see or walk.
Because of my new faith in Jesus, and not in the Catholic Church, my mother beat me twice a day for two months straight. A kindly woman took me into her home and cared for me as her own son.
I became involved in her church and learned music and became the head master of the choir in the church.
I find the Word of God fascination! The Bible is daily bread for my soul. I believe the Lord has gifted me to preach His Word, and not only in my native language. I speak four languages fluently and am working on a fifth.
My main goal in life is to preach the gospel that many others may be saved! Secondly, I would like to come to the US to study agriculture, that I may return and use my new-found skills to earn money for my personal expenses and help others who have nothing.”
We are trying to raise $10,000 to bring him to the states for one year of school. From there, he can apply for aid at the school of his choice should he decide to obtain a degree here in the US.
Small Business Loans
FLC has begin providing micro loans of $100 - $300 US to poor people who could not other wise obtain enough money to start a small business to provide for their families.
These “loans” are interest-free and the accounts are handled by the committee of the churches. FLC is not a bank, nor do we intend to become one. The purpose of loaning, rather than just giving is two-fold:
Firstly, the committee decides on the terms for repayment, and the repaid funds will then be used to start another small business. Hence the cycle of aid continues rather than dead-ending with one person.
Secondly, the self-respect that is built by repaying a debt is extremely important in Haitian culture.
You, too, can help someone to start a small business by sending an amount you feel led to contribute. We will find someone who can start a business with your gift.
Don't forget our upcoming trips to China! Each fall and spring we lead teams to the People's Republic of China. China is a life-changer, too, and you won't want to miss out on the opportunity to take much needed “bread” to a spiritually starving nation.
To all those who support us we say thank you. We could not do this work were it not for your diligence and generosity.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers!
God bless you!
We always appreciate feedback about our newsletters and about our website. Tell us how we can improve and communicate better what God has called us to do.
" . . . he took
the kingdom when he was about 62 years old!" (Daniel 5:31)