More Reflections On Brother Yun: Checking Out the Facts on the Personal Attacks

John ArmstrongACT 3

I am grateful for all of the comments posted regarding my recent posts about Brother Yun. I hope that these posts have encouraged you to be more like Christ, not simply to support Brother Yun. His expressed intention is not that you support him but the underground church in China and the "Back to Jerusalem" movement.

Not only have Americans attacked Brother Yun, but attacks have come from other lands and church leaders as well. A number of Korean leaders have denounced him as a heretic and a con man. And this sort of attack comes without Brother Yun having ever visited Korea. Paul Hattaway writes that this kind of response comes, as always, from people who have never met Brother Yun or spoken to him. The good news is that many other churches and leaders from various nations outside the West have also invited Brother Yun to speak. For every closed door he meets, God is opening a new one and his ministry keeps growing. To God be the glory!

One of the aspects of Brother Yun's ministry that has been noted by others, but which I saw for myself on September 20-21, is how he stays after a meeting is formally over and then speaks with people and prays for them one-by-one. When I left Northern Seminary last Saturday, about 45 minutes after we ended, Brother Yun was still talking and praying. Only a few people remained when I drove away. He clearly was going to be the "last man out." The same was true on Sunday morning, according to Pastor Tim Badal at Village Bible Church in Sugar Grove, Illinois. And on Sunday night, when we had such a huge crowd the same thing happened again. When I left, nearing midnight, Brother Yun still had about 20 people waiting to meet him and pray with him. Patiently and kindly he served and ministered. This is so unlike anything I have seen in the West. He is not in a hurry and he cares about people deeply. Yun notes that Jesus cared for each person who came to him and this is the only way he knows how to ministry in public settings.

Several years ago Brother Yun ministered in Malaysia. Rev. Wong Kim Kong, the Secretary-General of the NECF traveled around the country with Yun during that visit. People attacked the man and his work in various places. Some Malaysian pastors suffered opposition for simply hosting Brother Yun in their homes. The Secretary-General later wrote:

"Liu Zhenying–or Brother Yun as he is known worldwide–has indeed been an impactful witness for the Lord here. Yet his visit was not without controversy. Even as he was preaching, emails questioning and attacking his authenticity were circulating fast. Most of them pointed to a Website that was specifically set up to refute his testimony, alleging that he is a fraud who is out to gain wealth and status."

Knowing about these accusations I watched Brother Yun, not critically but carefully. Like Rev Wong I judged Brother Yun on the content of his character, not the accusations of his enemies. Rev. Wong wrote an interesting letter called: "Sifting the Speaker." This letter tells how he deals with controversial speakers and issues. These are the steps he follows:

1. Ask if the the rumors have any basis in facts, bearing in mind that our contemporary context allows for wide scale attacks and gossip via the Internet.

2. Character assassination can be due to many reasons, including (but not limited to) differences in personality, doctrines and ministries; ministry rivalry; envy; or just plain mischief.

3. Since Christians are as prone to carnal temptations as anyone else it's important to to consider what has actually gone on between the accusers and the accused.

4. You must seek to verify any accusations with sources that are as independent as possible.

These points are magnificent. I wrote last week about my association with the Korean ministry of UBF. This was exactly the process I followed in getting to know these brothers and sisters who are widely attacked around the world. What I found was that there were areas where UBF could improve their ministry and accountability. I also found that they had been deeply hurt by attacks. Some of these attacks may have had a measure of substance, but the overall approach against them was not rooted in godly process but in sweeping accusations that lacked integrity in the end. The personalities and ministries of some in UBF were not like what I would do. But I am not the measure of ministry for anyone else.

What I learned from getting to know and love my friends with UBF, as well as in getting to know and love Brother Yun, was the same. Carnal temptations are real in Christians and they will lead us to say and do things that harm leaders and churches. It helps to search for the facts regarding what has transpired between the accused and the accusers. More times than not I have found there is a "history" that most people never bother to understand. None of this is really surprising to me since my fiercest critics are people who have known me in the past. I have come to know that most people will not bother to ask the question: "What relationship did the accuser have with the accused in the past and what happened to that relationship?" My response, like Brother Yun's, is to not respond, and to pray for those who attack me, especially if I have previously had a relationship with them in a different context.

What you usually find in such a context is there are motives involved that no one can judge properly. I believe in my case I have truly disappointed some, let down others, and in general appeared to change for the worse over the years. I sincerely disagree with this of course, but people generally do not factor these human elements into their listening to rumors and attacks. This much I have become convinced of from personal experience, and thus I was prepared to embrace Brother Yun openly as my friend. The facts proved my trust to be warranted.