Some of my favorite books I've ever read are biographies of faithful Christians and/or missionaries. The list includes Through Gates of Splendor, The Hiding Place, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green and A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael. Many of these books were formative to me in my college years. I was mentored and shaped through the lives and witnesses of the people I got to know in their pages.

It had been awhile since I read a book of this kind, so when I sat down to write my list of 101 goals to complete in 1001 days, I included goal #51 - Read or re-read the biography of a faithful Christian.

While I was visiting my friend Rhonda in South Carolina in September, I found myself in need of reading material. Rhonda offered to lend me this book and since it came with high praise from her, I knew it would be good.
The book follows the life of one of China's faithful and intensely persecuted house church leaders, Brother Yun. I was touched by the fact that as a young boy he fasted and prayed for weeks asking God for a Bible. When God miraculously supplied one for him, he devoured it and memorized large chunks of it, knowing it could be taken from him at any time. If only we valued the Bible like that in the American church! As God used Brother Yun in China to spread the good news, he was frequently imprisoned and tortured. In the face of this persecution, he stayed faithful to the Lord.

Besides being impacted by Brother Yun's life, I loved hearing about how God is working powerfully in China! It's SO interesting to get a window into another place that is so different from my own. It also really convicted me of how I'm more focused on building my kingdom than God's. I long for Heaven but instead of doing what I can now to impact eternity, I try to make my little corner of the world into my idea of Heaven - which largely consists of comfort and the lack of hardship and suffering. But that's not the point of this world. We have such a short time right now on earth to make a difference. Comfort and lack of hardship and suffering can wait till Heaven. Even as I'm typing this I'm feeling SO convicted - I wish I could fully embrace and commit to my own words. Brother Yun and the Chinese house church movement have set the bar high for us believers in America. I pray we are challenged to follow in their footsteps.

Heavy stuff, I know. But that's why I love reading biographies of faithful Christians who have gone before me. I'm always left challenged. And they always serve as a tool to refocus me on what truly matters.

Yay for checking another goal off my list!
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