By Mark Ellis
When one walks through the doors of this Three Self Church in southeast China, men and women are singing and worshiping God with exuberance, dancing, waving flags and even blowing the shofar.
“Dramatic changes are happening,” Pastor Duan Huilai told CBN News. “God is moving in a powerful way inside these Three-Self Churches.”
Pastor Duan and his wife have traveled throughout the region documenting the Holy Spirit’s move among Three-Self Churches, as detailed in a report by George Thomas of CBN News.
“The most amazing thing is that the Lord is raising up God-loving people in these churches — so many brothers and sisters who love God deeply and want to serve Him,” he said.
Pastor Duan has seen enormous changes in the government-controlled churches in the past 30 years.
“Every sermon that the pastor preached back then had to be vetted by the government authorities. Young people were never allowed to attend these churches so you’d only see old people, mostly women,” Duan told CBN. “Preaching about the power of the Holy Spirit was forbidden. You couldn’t talk about end times or preach repentance.”
Teaching about signs and wonders, healings, and miracles, was prohibited by the authorities.
“Nowadays people have accepted these topics,” Duan told CBN.
Pastor Sun Rengui still remembers the day 12 years ago when the Holy Spirit showed up while he was preaching.
“We were in the middle of the service; suddenly everyone at the church felt the Holy Spirit anointing fall. Some couldn’t stand straight, others fell down. Some were dizzy and nauseous. When the worship began, people started crying. After the service, some were being healed. I saw demons being chased away from people’s bodies,” Pastor Sun told CBN.
He says his Three Self Church had never seen anything like it before.
“We were seeing something unprecedented. We had no theological training in the move of the Holy Spirit. This was completely new for us,” he said.
Other churches in the area heard about the revival.
“We were one of the first churches to experience this in the area. Soon, leaders from other churches came to us and were eager to receive the Holy Spirit. Later they also started witnessing the Holy Spirit’s move as well,” Pastor Sun told CBN.
Like all revivals, there were naysayers – some within his own leadership.
“People doubted if this was real. There was even conflict among my church staff,” Sun said. “But as time passed, more people accepted the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Today, Pastor Sun sees the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s move in transformed lives. “Our cell groups are expanding, more people are attending church, and more people are going outside the church walls into society to share the Gospel.”
There are two broad categories of churches that exist in the eyes of the government: registered and unregistered. Registered congregations — or Three-Self Churches — are government-approved.
The unregistered, underground churches, have met secretly – mostly in private homes — and have endured intense persecution. They also grew exponentially in the face of this persecution.
Now the Three Self Churches are growing vigorously as well.
Dr. Zhao Xiao, one of China’s leading experts on Christianity, was once an atheist and a loyal Communist Party member, until he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior after reading the Scripture for himself.
He too testifies to the trend. “Now there’s big revivals happening in the Three-Self Churches,” he told CBN News.
“If you go to Haidian Church, you’ll find yourself in a more than 100-meter (328-foot) line trying to get inside and worship. In Shenzhen, there are usually an average of 500 people being baptized each Sunday!” he told CBN.
In the past, the Chinese government enforced a law that that prohibited young people under 18 from attending Three-Self Churches. Zhao says the law has been relaxed recently.
“There’s an increasing proportion of them in churches now — more young male believers, professionals, mainstream celebrities, especially in the big cities, that are attending the church unlike the past when it was mainly the elderly who attended.”
“The number of Christians in China is growing rapidly. It means Christ is starting to play an active role in China’s society and that’s good in many ways,” Zhao said.
For Pastor Duan and his wife, there is abundant evidence God is doing something extraordinary in China.
“I was speaking in Shandong, Henan and Zhejiang recently. Around 8,000 people joined the meeting. Last Christmas, I was speaking at a Three-Self Church in Yuhuan and I was amazed there were 12,000 people,” Duan told CBN.
For the complete story and accompanying video on CBN, go here