What Happens When A Christian Is Imprisoned?

wurmbrand, man and his workPost by Pastor Tim – Some years back North Korea separated imprisoned Christians from the rest of the concentration camp population.  Why?  Because in the midst of their own suffering, imprisoned Christians were a witness to others, and more and more prisoners came to faith in Jesus Christ!  Pastor Foley wrote about one such North Korean prison story – if you haven’t read it yet, it is worth your time.

I was reminded by this as I read Richard Wurmbrand: The Man and His Work, by Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia. He told the story of Nikolai Khamara who died because of being tortured in prison.  He had been tortured in severe and horrifying ways, which included burns, wounds, bruises and having his tongue cut out.  In the book Extreme Devotion, it is recorded that when threatened with having his tongue cut out Khamara replied,

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ.  There, I have said the highest words that can be said.  And if you wish, you can now cut out my tongue (Extreme Devotion, Day 264).

But what was most amazing to me was not the fact that Khamara suffered and died for the cause of Christ, but that he was originally arrested and imprisoned for robbery.  Khamara was not a Christian . . . he was a thief.  In his own words he said “I am a lost man.”  But while he was serving a 10 year prison sentence for his crimes, he was surrounded by Christians imprisoned for their faith.

Merv Knight recounted what happened to him while in prison.  He said,

Khamara watched the Christians and wondered what kind of beings they were.  They were men, but they would show joy despite their suffering and would sing in very dark hours.  When they had a piece of bread, they shared it with someone who had none.  Their faces would shine as they spoke to someone whom Khamara could not see. (pg. 18)

Through the witness of these Christians, and the realization that he was a lost man, Khamara gave his life to Christ in a prison cell.  Khamara’s life was forever changed because of the witness of those Christians who were imprisoned for their faith.

Whether it’s the more recent stories of North Korean Christians in concentration camps, or the documented stories of Christians imprisoned under the Soviet Union . . . one thing seems to always be the same – even in the worst places, Christians are sharing the gospel and Jesus is redeeming lives.

Not even prison camps or concentration camps can change that.

Posted in Book Reviews, North Korea, persecution, Ransoming the Captive | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Tangible Rewards Of Persecution

Logo 071414In response to my post last week on greeting reports of increased Christian persecution with leaps of joy, my esteemed friend Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia and noted historian of the Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, recounted a story for me that Rev. Wurmbrand would often share in his preaching about the tangible rewards of leaping for joy amidst persecution:

Richard explained how he preached a sermon every day in solitary confinement. He said there was nobody there to listen to him, but he knew the Angels liked a good sermon so he preached to them.

He would sing, he would preach, he would pray and meditate. Then, he said, one day he remembered what is written in the Gospels: “Rejoice and leap for joy!” So he thought to himself, that is something I have not done. So he began to leap up and down around his cell and rejoice. A guard looked through the peephole in the door, saw Richard leaping and jumping and concluded he had gone mad. The guard did not want trouble, so he came in to try to calm Richard down, and told him to be quiet and to be calm and he would bring him something. So Richard sat quietly, and a few minutes later the guard came in and gave him half a loaf of bread. Richard said that at that time their prison ration was one slice of bread a week. This was like Christmas!

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You Won’t Believe What My Bible College Professor Said – Share This On Facebook!

social-media-432498_640Post by Pastor Tim – Twenty years ago I was sitting in my Bible college dorm room with a cassette recorder, chuckling along with five of my classmates.  We were laughing because someone had recorded one of our professors and spliced his phrases together to make him sound like a heretic.

In the privacy of our room it was truly funny, but we also realized how potentially dangerous something like this could be.  After enjoying it for a few minutes, we decided that we shouldn’t do anything like this again and we destroyed the tape.

I thought it was dangerous, not because I worried what would happen to me, but I worried what would happen to my professor.  What was meant to be a joke could easily end up being construed as a heretical Bible teacher that was leading impressionable young minds at a once respectable Bible college.  Can’t you imagine the comments if something like this were to get out on social media today?

I’ve supported this Bible College for 12 years, but no longer in good conscience can I be a part of something so anti-biblical! ~ Sally G.

If this teacher is a heretic, than so is the whole student body and staff.  Guilt by association. ~ Tom S.

You know what the Bible says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.”  Enough said!  ~ David W.

And if this happened in 2015, you can be assured that the technical quality of spliced audio would be much better than when I did it in 1995.

A few weeks ago I finished reading Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande, and I was reminded of the wonderful principles that God has laid out in regards to resolving conflict.  Ken lays out four questions to ask in every conflict that are solidly grounded in Scripture.  He says,

  1. How can I focus on God in this situation? (Glorify God)
  2. How can I own my part of this conflict? (Get the log out of your eye)
  3. How can I help others own their contribution to this conflict? (Gently restore)
  4. How can I give forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution? (Go and be reconciled) (pg. 43)

While we may or may not be practicing this in our families and churches, I am troubled by our lack of this practice in the online community – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TV and radio!

Reading the comments of Christians on everything from Christian issues to secular issues often grieves my heart!  I admit that a good deal of the blame should be directed at news organizations and blog sites (even Christian ones) who print articles with spurious headlines . . . or even those who re-print articles from other sources when they haven’t confirmed the details.

Regardless of the blame that can be directed towards the news itself, the bottom-line is that you and I must take responsibility for applying Biblical rules of conflict resolution in our own online interactions.  We must refuse the desire to negatively comment without knowing the situation and without first speaking to those involved.  And we must also allow for the fact that people, preachers and organizations make mistakes . . . just like I do.

Imagine that you were one of those people who commented about my professor and Bible college without knowing the truth!

And as I wrote about last year, even when we are 100% right in our social media interactions, our comments still have a tendency to be taken the wrong way.

That’s not to say that it’s never right to comment or even to challenge someone in this venue – it certainly is!  Only that the Biblical practice of doing good to your enemies and to the household of faith must be seasoned with grace, humility, a willingness to overlook one another’s faults, forgiveness and a commitment to engage in Biblical conflict resolution . . . even in our online interactions!

 

Posted in Doing Good, Forgiving and Reconciling | Tagged , , | 4 Comments