Revival in China
Revival in China: Rev. Dennis Balcombe
Interview Transcription (with minor edits for readability)
Opening Intro: Rev. Dennis Balcombe is the founder of Revival Chinese Ministries International. And he has been ministering in China for over 50 years now. God has used him tremendously in establishing the underground churches in China. And recently he's been ministering in the official Chinese churches also. I have been very inspired by his ministry.
Question 1: So since you have been ministering in China, what are some of the growth and changes that you've seen in the Chinese church over the years.
Balcombe: Well we've seen the church change because the political situation has changed. It used to be completely underground restricted and persecuted. But in the 1980s there were new policies in the opening of China. So a lot of the churches have come from being underground churches and they've even built big buildings. And but the main thing is that we've seen a tremendous increase in believers all throughout China. You know we're not sure how many. Because it's impossible to take a census of believers in China but we estimate between 70 to 100 million people in China are now following Jesus Christ.
Question 2: What are some of the arrows that have fanned the flames of revival in China?
Balcombe: Well persecution which is very intense from the communist era in 1949, especially the cultural revolution, resulted in Christians meeting together in small groups in their home and they were just praying. The pastors were imprisoned. The church buildings were closed down, and so they didn't have a preacher but they would pray and as they prayed they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now they would copy the Bible by hand and memorize scripture. You know the word of God is very powerful. But all of these factors prayer and unity under persecution and memorizing the Word of God resulted in a great revival through the work of the Holy Spirit because you see when people are filled with Holy Spirit or we talk about speaking in tongues or prophesying and healing the sick. But the real evidence is boldness to preach the gospel of Jesus as you will receive power to be my witness. And that's the reason we saw the church grow. We don't have big evangelical crusades; we can't advertise on television or radio but it grows because individual Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit and they boldly preach the gospel to other people.
Interviewer Comments: So what I'm hearing you saying is persecution played a role. And people seeking for the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes definitely speaking in tongues prophesying but a major part of it is boldness to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Balcombe: And as personal evangelism. There is hardly any famous evangelist in China. Every Christian himself is a preacher and evangelist.
Question 3: That's awesome. Praise God. So that leads me right into this question: What can the church in the West learn from the example of Christians in China?
Balcombe: Well we need to learn a very important thing. We need to go out into the streets and the byways and preach the gospel to the people. We need to spend more time with people you know not just in meetings we'll have to go to meetings and conferences and have choirs and singing but we should really be more out in the world. And Jesus did that you know we should be with the sinners the Communists, Buddhists. Or, you know, prostitutes or even wealthy people. We need to be with the people. This is what the church in China has done and it has infiltrated every part of the society and it's just one by one. But of course, they need to be Spirit-filled and know the Word of God. But I think we can learn from that because we have professional evangelists and they all have a crusade and then we bring people to crusade you know and maybe so many people believe in the Lord but usually a year from that time very few are coming to church because there is no personal relationship see disciples make disciples. Okay. An evangelist can preach the gospel but he can not make disciples of those people but when anyone even brings a friend to the church meeting right or share with them in the hospital and in the prison he believes in Jesus then he's a disciple but you need to train him to be a disciple and then he will eventually make disciples. So I think this is the pattern of the New Testament and the Book of Acts certainly. And it what's happened in communist nations like China. And so we need to get this whole religious thing of church buildings and big conferences and that you know and get out and really make disciples.
Interviewer Comments: Yeah that's awesome. I think sometimes we forget especially the church in the West. We receive the baptism Holy Spirit and then we spend our time speaking in speaking in tongues, jumping and shouting in the church. Yes. And if we don't go out. Yes. To those that are lost to release the power that God has put inside of us and what you're saying is that really is the heart of it. That's really what we need to be doing. Definitely.
Question 4: So here is an interesting question for you. What are some of the threats to revival that you see as you go around the world and preach the gospel? What are some of the things that the enemy is trying to use, cause revival is definitely happening around the world? You know the devil will try his best to hinder that. What are some things you see happening?
Balcombe: Well on the surface it would be of course opposition from governments or other religions. We call it persecution but really very seldom does persecution eliminate the church. It usually helps the church. The real threat are two things is heresies, false teachings, false doctrines, cults that come in because they actually aim for the Christians, not the non-Christians and then you lose many of your disciples. And you lose Many of the believers to cults. And the second thing is materialism. Too much prosperity you know the wrong focus. So we need to be blessed we are blessed and then we can bless other people but when the focus becomes material blessing you lose sight of the Kingdom of God and being a disciple and taking up your cross. So sometimes you know this prosperity gospel whereever it goes it really ends up in making very weak Christians and they're not evangelizing. You know they just come to church so they can receive some material blessing. And this has become a real threat in this part of the 21st century.
Interviewer Comments: Yeah so two things you mentioned materialism and heresies. That's right. One of the things that I’ve heard you talk about which is a concern I have had is the hyper-grace doctrine that's not only here in America but it seems to be all over the world and it's spreading. I see that also as a threat and major threat to the Revival that’s taking place.
Question 5: Well you spoke of I heard you talk about continuing revival to the second generation and even a third generation if possible. What can we do as leaders or even as parents to bring and continue on the revival to the next generation?
Balcombe: Well the revival must begin in the family. I've been preaching about recently about revival in the family. So very simply do you have a family altar? Do you spend time with your children? Another thing. Do you explain to your children why we believe this or why we do that? You know let them ask questions, let them challenge you they're going to have a time of rebellion. And so let them challenge you and then you take them to the Word of God and more important of course is your very life. You're an example. You know some people act one way at church but they don't act that same way at home. Yes and then another thing is to pass on the leadership the baton to the next generation. You know we have a lot of great men of God great pastors. They build up huge congregations but they did hold on too long you know. So usually I think in our case when we reach 60 years old. I mean that's about the longest you want to keep on pastoring. So give it to your Timothy. That's very important. So you always need to be training someone that's going to take over and that person will take over. Now if you do that if you have family altars and you know the young people that children really get into God and baptized in the Holy Spirit like my children when there were six years old were already speaking in tongues, you know, be filled with the Holy Spirit and have a love for God. Then that revival will go on. But you know many places in Europe and even now places in America, church buildings that are half empty because they can't continue the revival.
Interviewer Comments: I know that you, your children, are in the ministry. Yes. And even the church where you founded. Yes. I believe your daughter.
Balcombe: Yes my daughter, son in law, who's a Chinese. Since I raise my children like Chinese. They are now the pastors here and they are going to probably give the church to maybe our grandchildren or someone else.
Question 6: I have an interesting question for you. When children start to become adults 18 19 20 and it's a very peculiar time when they start to make decisions. As a parent, how did you guide them during that time?
Balcombe: Yes well you cannot, of course, dictate to them or not say you must be a preacher you must be a doctor or whatever but we need to, first of all, be a good example to them and spend a lot of time with them talk with them you know to answer their questions. But like in my case I took my daughter on mission trips you know. I took her to China and even now I am taking my granddaughter and go to India and places like that and so they could see what I'm doing and they can get a passion for the lost you see and this is very important. So missions is not just you know going to Africa or something like that it is actually relating to other people other cultures and other groups even New York you have virtually every nation in the world in every language in the world. So you know do something with these other groups of people maybe relief or helping orphans or whatever but let your children be involved in actually what you are doing and also give them authority and let them read the Psalms or bring a sermon or something like that. Because you see when people have authority to do something you know they begin to seek the Lord. Read the Bible you know that's what we want to do instead for them to come and listen to me preach you know when they have authority to do something a really mature them in the Lord.
Interviewer Comments: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Question 7: In terms of the move of God what do you see for the future of the Chinese church specifically and in the body of Christ worldwide?
Balcombe: Well for the last few years under the new leadership of Xi Jinping we've been going through a really difficult time of persecution it's not just in China in the last couple of years. India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China many nations we've seen a renewed persecution of course. This is foretold in the Bible you know in the last days these things are coming and but in a way it will result in a lot of people getting saved because it will separate the true from the false. And that's very important. So you have a real pure church as the Bible says without spot or wrinkle or any blemish true saints that really love God. And the thing is when people are persecuted they're not going to deny Jesus if they're true Christians they will stand up for their faith. They will get out on the street. They will even go to prison. And that testimony itself will result in many people knowing who Jesus is. See Jesus says the grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die before it can produce much. So I'm actually quite optimistic and you know these types of persecution or whatever their waves and they come and they go you know and we're praying of course and we can pray for the leadership of our nations. But at the present time, it is quite difficult. But I think I think, I even believe China might become a Christian nation because the church has grown like from seven hundred thousand people in 1949 to almost 100 million now you know. So that's amazing. So give 20 30 40 50 years. You know you may have 30 percent Christian and when a nation actually statistically reaches 30 percent it's considered a Christian nation because you know Christians are generally better educated they're prosperous and things like that and they actually influence the whole nation.
Question 8: So in your sermons, you often talk about when you evangelize to perform miracles yes on the power of God. How can the believer begin walking in that to allow God to use them to perform miracles, healing, and so on? When they're ministering to unbelievers.
Balcombe: First you realize Peter said when he was at the house of Cornelius, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. He didn't do these miracles because he's the son of God but because he was anointed. The reason we have the anointing is to do these miracles you know Isaiah 61 verse 1 the Spirit of the Lord is upon me. And so we need to realize that we have the Holy Spirit and then we have gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know a lot of Pentecostals just talk about speaking in tongues which is wonderful but that's just the beginning it's the entrance you know. And so there are nine gifts listed in First Corinthians chapter 12. You know a word of wisdom or knowledge a gift of healing and sort so forth. So through the gifts of the Holy Spirit God will give you a word. Like maybe that person has a family situation or a sickness OK. Now when God reveals something to you about that person he knows well it builds faith. Oh God really knows me and then through that faith the person can be healed. You see now when people are healed or when they see other people healed that's when the Gospel can really be preached. So I always tell people the gospel is not just proclamation is also demonstration.
Interviewer Comments: So we have to walk in the anointing and believe that God is going to use us in the different gifts of the Holy Spirit not just focused on speaking in tongues only.
Question 9: Well yesterday when you were coming up you mentioned having 20 to 30 years of ministry. So my question to you is what do you see the Lord using you to do over the next years in your life?
Balcombe: Yes well I spent a lot of time in church planting planted a few churches and you know pastoring and evangelism and I've had a lot of experience and I'm very well known because you know I've probably been the most well-known missionary in China in the last few decades but that is actually open many doors for me to travel to other nations are not only preaching the gospel but to share what I know and teach in Bible school. So I really want to take what I've received in my life and I receive that from other people and a lot I've received from China and then impart that on other people's lives.
And so that's what I've been there for the last few years has just been teaching Bible schools are like having a conference like your special conference here you know and just imparting to people what I believe the Lord has put on my heart. So once again you know as Paul says. You're supposed to train people that can train other people you know as disciples make disciples. So that's what I really look for. I'm not looking for you know a speaker and a huge meeting of thousands of people yes. OK. I want to really be able to impart in people what I have you know because I receive from other people and the worst thing is you receive things that you don't give it out. So that's what I really want to do with the rest of my life.
Interviewer Closing Comments: And hearing you minister and talking about China and how God has used you on it. It really impacted me because it's been in the West sometimes you forget some core things or you or you don't experience a lot. I hear you talk about persecution in China and how you answer God's call and he gave you that reason to go to China. And all the things that the Lord did him opening up doors and going through that persecution and seeing the Lord use it to bring miracles and revival. It's really inspiring and it tells me and I believe a lot who are hearing especially this side of the world the importance of just giving your all to the Lord and just obeying him and allowing him to use you.
I believe when we do that just as what happened in China and I know it's not just China God has used you but when we answer God's call in that way God will really use us. Yes sir. Thank you. Thank you. Pastor Dennis thank you for your ministry.
Balcombe: really been honored to be able to share this with you this you.
Interviewer: Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing with us.