Rev Allen Yuan, known as the founder of house churches in China, has passed away at the age of 92 years old on August 16 in Beijing. Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) and Open Doors, international agencies working for persecuted Christians, give tribute to the great contribution of the evangelist's life to the development of Christianity in China.
Open Doors USA described Rev Allen Yuan as "a towering figure in China's house-church movement" in its press release dated August 19. Rev Allan Yuan is one of the partners of Open Doors' evangelistic ministry in China. The organization began providing Bibles to Yuan in 1986.
Johnny Li, minister-at-large for Open Doors International, shared his experience of meeting Rev Yuan in China in July 2004, "He said, 'Next Sunday we are going to have baptisms. I don't know how many people will come or whether the PSB [Public Security Bureau] will stop us, but we will do it!'"
The following Sunday, 453 people received water baptism, Li continued.
Rev Yuan served a total of 21 years and eight months imprisonment for his Christian faith, Open Doors recalled. His imprisonment included 14 years in the northeastern region where temperatures regularly went far below freezing. Initially he and other prisoners were forced to sleep outside in the cold. He also endured six months of solitary confinement in a cell so small that it temporarily crippled him.
"His physical body was weak, but his spirit was as strong as a giant," commented Li. "Yuan paid a high price simply for refusing to compromise his faith in Jesus."
Open Doors also reported that Rev Yuan's wife was calm and joyful that her long-persecuted husband was at last with the Lord.
"Our family was well prepared for his death," she said. Rev Yuan is survived by six children. His second son, Yuan Fu Sing, continues to lead his church.
Merv Knight, Executive Director of VOM in Australia, told of his experience of sitting some years ago with Rev Yuan and his wife in their cramped room in Beijing.
Above their bed, he said, was the Bible verse that they relied on, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life."
VOM gives tribute to Rev Yuan as he was one of the 11 preachers who refused to join the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) after the Communist rule of Mao Tse-Tung began in 1949. Amongst others the 11 preachers included Wang Ming Dao, Watchman Nee and Rev Yuan, who all became the impetus of the China's house-church movement.
TSPM "continues today as a government instrument that seeks to control religious life and inhibit evangelism in China," VOM commented.
According to VOM, "Until his death on Aug.16, through all kinds of difficulties and threats created by government officials and the police, Allen Yuan kept his favorite Bible verse before him and he remained faithful unto death. This is the passing of one of the great saints of God. We do not mourn his death but celebrate his passing from life to life . . . to life abundant and to receive his crown of life."
"Allen Yuan asked us to pray," VOM wrote. VOM recalled the prayers of Rev Yuan, "Pray first for the lost millions of China, Secondly pray for the newcomers and new believers, Third, please pray for the leaders of our country."
"We celebrate the life and work of Brother Allen Yuan. We pray for his widow and children who remain and we rejoice that he has passed from life to life abundant," VOM concluded.