was invited to SPEAK at this conference. The meeting hall was jammed, every square foot. The doors were closed because of the cold, and there was a strong acid body odor. I sat on the platform ready to preach and for the FIRST TIME had an interpreter. But something was not quite right. The oriental singing was low and the people’s faces were solemn. Their eyes were penetrating my very being and I felt uneasy. At last, I was introduced and stood behind the pulpit. It is not easy to write what happened next. I have told this incident only a few times, and as I sit here in my study in Charlotte and think back forty-three years, I tremble. I remember as I stood there before that congregation, I WAS STRUCK DUMB! Before this, I was eager to get going, but I could not speak. Not a sound came from my lips. I began to tremble and suddenly an awful feeling of sinfulness came over me. I wanted to weep. Still “dumb”, I left the platform and waded through the people to escape. A rickety stairway led to an upper room.
Once inside, I prostrated myself on the floor and wondered what God had let me live. When I was converted, I had no terrible crimes to repent of but I confessed my sins and ask for forgiveness. Perhaps my greatest sin might have been self-righteousness. At that time I felt the guilt of sin BUT THIS WAS DIFFERENT. Lying there on my face, I felt as though I was bearing the sins of the world and that they were too heavy for me. I saw the awfulness of sin that had nailed my Christ to the cross…SINS THAT THE WHOLE WORLD AND I WERE GUILTY OF. I saw Calvary and the price HE paid. I have no idea how long I agonized in prayer, it could have been several hours, for it was an all-day meeting that was being held. Then gently, a hand was laid on my head and a soothing voice of a Chinese pastor, speaking fluent English, said to me, “Now the people are ready to hear you”.
He led me downstairs to the pulpit. The people’s faces were beautiful, smiling and nodding approval. Then, very low and slow, the words came as I described the crucifixion. How Christ died FOR MY SIN. At the close, I asked if anyone wanted to be cleansed NOW? A distinguished looking well-dressed Chinese man stood to his feet. He staggered forward, looking like he too would like to escape. All the time in the room, there was an eerie low murmur of prayer. I stood, powerfully overwhelmed, as I prayed for the man. Suddenly his tongue was loosed. I did not know what he was saying, but they told me he was praying in Chinese and pleading for forgiveness of his sin. He had a radiant conversion.
I was with these people approximately ten days. Every contact was one of deep fellowship. This is my own personal experience with this amazing movement of which so little is known.
About then years ago, when I was in Hong Kong, I searched for information about these “Jesus Family” people. From those in Red China that I could contact, the word was, like the FIRST Disciples of Christ, they all died a martyr’s death.