China in 1985 was a land of shadows, blue tunics, and secret police. One fall evening we were led by Curtis Jones through the back alleys of Shanghai. Moving from shadow to shadow, avoiding even the dim street lights, we made our way across this once great city. Decades of decay made each alley an adventure. Hushed, not speaking at all, our shoulders brushing against the brick made centuries before, we came to a courtyard.
Curtis motioned for us to wait and deftly made his way to the dimly lit door. His knock was slowly answered and he motioned us to come quickly and quietly. Our group of four hustled across the yard and through the door where we were met with such warmth and joy that the damp chill of the autumn evening quickly gathered its bundle of fear, and fled.
Welcoming us to this humble flat was a couple so old that I felt a bit embarrassed to barge in on what must have been an evening of repose. He had cataracts on both eyes and from his ears hung a hearing box, that sort of amplifier used for those who were nearing complete deafness. She was as radiant a lady as I have ever seen. Youth’s beauty had fashioned the round face of a China doll. Her eyes sparkled with such joy as she invited us to come and sit with them and have tea.
Following him as he shuffled along, I was amazed that this frail old man could move at all. He landed in “His Chair,” the Bible and other reading materials at his right hand on a low end table between “his” and “her” seats. There was no way he could see the words. I wondered how many hours they spent with her reading the precious verses to him.
His hands caught my eye as he reached for his tea. Gnarled with arthritis and every finger broken in several places, they bore witness of Chairman Mao’s brutality to Christian writers and the fanatic frenzy of the four years Cultural Revolution that had swept China in the 60s. Now, 20 years later, we were having tea with the man many called the father of the House Church Movement. On that evening conservative counters estimated that the House Church (also known as the unregistered church in China) had passed 100 million current believers in the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost.
“Sir,” I asked the question that would forever change my life.
“How did you do it? How did you keep the faith alive in the face of such persecution?”
He had been in jail 22 years and ten months. He called it his honeymoon with Jesus. He had refused to sign a confession or to join with the State Church. He had refused communism and its atheistic teachings. He had stood when thousands had given in to the persecution. Regularly beaten, knees destroyed through torture, ear drums punctured with wooden splinters and beaten badly about the eyes, Wang Ming-Dao had never given in. He had remained faithful to His Lord. I wanted that.
“Oh,” He smiled my way as he answered. “We learned the power of small. This is the way to multiplication. Make a small number of disciples, we use 4, and teach each of them to disciple 4 and soon you will reach the whole world. If we have a big gathering the police with come and put us all in jail; but, 4 reaching 4 who will reach 4 and then train them to reach 4 will never draw attention and will never be stopped.”
And that was the birth of our Core 4 Dynamic, our EDGE training, our Strategic teams, and our multiplication. How has SEAPC reached so many people in so many places with a small budget and very little fanfare?