Book 14: The Heavenly Man


I’m very excited to share with you my 14th book in the #EmptyShelf challenge. This is one of those books that, at several points, I had to stop reading for a bit because what I had just read was so amazing.

Title: The Heavenly Man
Author: Brother Yun, with Paul Hattaway
Publisher: Monarch Books (2002)

What the book is about

As the subtitle says, this is “the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun.” It is an autobiography that also includes reports of various events from the perspective of other people. Brother Yun begins his story by providing a brief history of modern China in the 20th century, and then his call to ministry as a teenager in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. This is followed by detailed accounts of decades of his underground ministry and leadership in the vast Chinese house church movement, along with intense persecution and torture at the hands of Chinese officials because of his ministry. It closes with relatively recent events in the early 2000s, although I won’t spoil the story and tell you what Brother Yun is doing today.

The real focus of this book, though, is God’s faithfulness to those who put complete trust in Him and how He uses all people, those who call him Lord as well as those who do not, to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the lost.

This book is a non-stop action adventure describing the activities of Brother Yun and others, and how they were able to build a house church network of millions of believers despite intense persecution, and even martyrdom for some. When you read this book, you will be stunned by what Brother Yun experienced, how he nearly always trusted God (and when he didn’t what the consequences were), and how God shows His sovereignty over men and their ideas.

Why I read this book

This is a book that was recommended to me by a man whom I greatly respect, so that alone was a good enough reason. However, among the scores of books in my office that are yet to be read, I chose this one because lately I have felt God drawing my heart to explore more about how He works through people in unconventional and unpredictable ways. I have been drawn to realize more that He is calling me to trust in Him and no one, and nothing, else.

Favorite idea

I’ve already shared some of my favorite ideas from this book: that God is sovereign and that when I place my trust in Him and humble myself, He does great things for the Kingdom through me. For Brother Yun, this nearly cost him his life on several occasions. What was instructive from Yun’s example, though, is that in all circumstances, he gave glory to God.

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he recounts some of the many things he suffered for the cause of Christ. He points out, though, that these are not reasons to boast. Rather, his boast is in his own weakness and that God chose to use Paul in his weakness to do great things for the name of Christ. The same can be said of Brother Yun.

Do I recommend this book?

Yes, I do. It is a page-turner. For several days I carried it wherever I went and read its short chapters whenever I had a chance. However, I recommend the book not because it is an amazing and exciting story. Instead, I recommend the book because it changed my understanding of how God works through people, even today.

(Click here to learn more about the #EmptyShelf Challenge.)

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at] with your questions.

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