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The hooded and armed guerillas, members of the Marxist revolutionary group known as M-19, tied up the twelve adults and five children who were present in the Wycliffe Bible Translators headquarters in Bogota, Columbia. “Where is your director? Where is Al Wheeler?” the leader shouted into the face of one of the secretaries. “We want Wheeler!”

“Don’t hurt her,” came a quick reply. “Wheeler is not here.”

Their demands arrived several days later. “If your organization does not leave Columbia by February 19, we will execute our prisoner.” The guerillas even called President Reagan and demanded that their manifesto be published in the New York Times and the Washington Post or Mr. Chet Bitterman would die.

As the date approached, prayer chains were formed. A tape was received at a local radio station confirming that Chet had been witnessing to the guerillas. His wife, Brenda, received a letter requesting a Spanish Bible.

Chet reached his goal in life—to broadcast the gospel wherever it was needed. Chet’s body was eventually left on an abandoned bus by the terrorists. Columbians, along with Christians all across America, commemorated his death by stepping forward to fill the gap left by Chet. The following year, applications to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators doubled.

Leading by example is a popular executive training principle. A company’s priorities ought to be modeled by the highest level of staff. When it comes to Christianity, leading by example is equally important. In fact, Jesus commanded it. He demonstrated how Christian leaders must model the faith for other believers to follow. He didn’t just give us his teachings—he lived them. How many of us are willing to live out a standard of radical obedience to Christ? If we are, we won’t control our own destinies. We will be an example to others as we follow the example of Christ. Who is observing your life today? What are they learning from your example about how closely you follow Christ?

 2008/4/3 10:38


Foxholes in a schoolyard—they are all too common in Southern Sudan. In the midst of a play area surrounded by children running and laughing sits a large metal cylinder with fins on its tail buried halfway in the ground. A flag sticks out from the unexploded bomb as a reminder for the children to stay away from it.

A missionary team recently delivered assistance to this elementary school in Yei County. Like most areas in Sudan, this school is barely able to function for lack of supplies and qualified teachers. This particular school is in an area regularly bombed by the Islamic government of Sudan.

These children have dug more than twenty foxholes by hand around the schoolyard. They have prepared themselves with some means of protection for when the bombers come. When they hear the engines of the bombers, they run for the holes, watching out for flying shrapnel.

Some succeed in getting to the foxholes safely, but some do not. When the missionary team asked what could be done for the children, the answer was simply, “Pray for their protection.”

The Bible teaches that many believers lived a precarious existence in order to maintain their faith in Christ. To these children, suffering or even dying for their faith is an everyday reality. To us, they are brave soldiers for Christ.

The children in Sudan are prepared to enter earthly battle. More importantly, they are prepared to one day enter heaven’s gates. They have secured protection within the earth from fly-by raids from enemy camps. Yet their faith in Christ has secured eternal protection within the arms of God. Perhaps, like the Sudanese children playing near an undiffused bomb, you have learned by now that life often takes place a step away from disaster. You may have taken steps to pad and protect your life on earth, hoping for the best amidst uncertain times. However, have you also followed their example of being prepared for life in the hereafter? Are you prepared for eternal life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

 2008/4/4 7:15


When Romanian poet Constantin Ioanid wrote the poem entitled, “God Exists,” he could not have known the significance his words would have in Romanian history.

One night in 1989, Christians were protesting in the town of Timisoara. A bishop who had become a puppet for the Communists had fired the reformed Pastor Tokes for faithfully preaching the Word of God.

On the day Pastor Tokes was to leave his home and church, the Christians surrounded his house to prevent the police from evicting him. Quickly the crowd grew, and the army was called out to stop them.

The soldiers began shooting, and many were killed or wounded. Then an amazing thing happened. The entire crowd, instead of fighting the army, knelt down and prayed. The shocked soldiers were overwhelmed and refused to shoot anymore.

Meanwhile, the whole town had gathered, and a local pastor addressed the crowd from the balcony of the Opera house. He recited Brother Ioanid’s poem, and the whole crowd began shouting, “God exists! God exists!” Leaflets with the poem’s text were passed around, and those who knew the music composed for the words began to sing. Soon thousands were singing it again and again.

The song became the beginning of the Romanian revolution that led to the fall of Communist dictator, Nicolai Ceaucescu.

A revolution is a new resurgence of belief in a very old idea—whether freedom, personal dignity or even the existence of God. These self-evident principles remain unchanged during the cycle of oppression. Though they may go “underground” for a time, their existence is unchallenged. A spiritual revolution resurrects the belief in the existence of God—although God himself was never dead. The revolution begins with God’s revelation of truth. We all need courage to resurrect our faith in the basic, powerful, and life altering proposition that God exists. We are part of a revolution when we join other Christians who begin to live like they believed it. What would spiritual revolution look like in your own life?

 2008/4/5 11:07


A martyr is, he who has become the instrument of God, who has lost his will in the will of God, not lost it but found it, for he has found freedom in submission to God. The martyr no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of martyrdom.


 2008/4/6 14:09


Early Christians were known for two things: prayer below ground and persecution above ground. The whole known world was against the Christians in the Roman Empire. Marcus Aurelius Antonius signed a decree in A.D. 162 naming, “Any who profess to be a Christian is worthy of the most painful death!” A period of almost four centuries of extreme secrecy began for the church. The church literally went underground, creating the Roman catacombs.

A vast network of rooms and corridors was constructed beneath Rome for the burial of the dead. Yet these became the covert cathedrals of the early church. Believers could find a place of unhindered and unguarded worship and prayer.

The catacombs show the dedication of early believers to find a place to worship Christ. The broken and burnt bones of their tombs show the intensity of the persecutions they suffered. Perhaps most significant are the secret notes of victory and peace inscribed on the walls. Despite the cruelty shown them above ground, below they decorated the walls with symbols of their faith and peace through the cross.

It is not unusual to see cryptic inscriptions such as the following on tombs: “Victorious in peace and Christ” or “Being called away, he went in peace” or “Here lies Maria, put to rest in a dream of peace.” The key to their triumph is no secret: perfect peace in Christ Jesus.

Praise the Lord!

 2008/4/7 8:29


“And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. . . . And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ. . . . For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Philippians 1:12, 14, 29, NLT).

If American Christians were more active in evangelism, would the United States see an increase in persecution within its borders? Metro Ministries, an evangelistic ministry that reaches out to the most difficult areas of New York City, has seen this effect in their own ministry. As their evangelism penetrates deeper into the city, they have faced more resistance. Certain staff members have been beaten, stabbed, and raped while carrying out their mission. One staff member was even killed.

Their director, Pastor Bill Wilson, has been stabbed and beaten on a number of occasions. Yet, the threat of evil has not kept him at arm’s length from the people he loves. He also contracted tuberculosis from ministering to homeless people.

Debbie, a fifteen-year-old in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, speaks for many young people who have experienced persecution within the states. She says, “It is very hard to openly be a Christian in my school. I am constantly harassed and pressured to join one of the gangs.”

 2008/4/8 9:42


Gladys Staines had every reason to be bitter and angry. No one would have blamed her for leaving India. But when fanatical Hindus in the Indian town of Manoharpur murdered her husband and two sons, Gladys and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Esther, decided to stay. She would continue her work with the lepers in the area.

Her husband, Graham, and their two young sons, Philip and Timothy, were killed while they were sleeping in their jeep outside of a church. They were there to minister to the congregation. However, before the sun came up that dreadful morning, a band of approximately one hundred Hindus poured gasoline on their vehicle and set it on fire. The Hindus, armed with bows and arrows, then surrounded the vehicle preventing their escape.

Gladys said that Graham had never set out to evangelize among the Hindus. He was simply there demonstrating the love of Christ. As a result, the Australian couple had seen many convert to Christianity and burn their idols. The dangers of their witness never deterred their dedication to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.

At the memorial service for Graham, Philip, and Timothy, Gladys and Esther sang:
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because he lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know he holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because he lives.

Extreme dedication is never daunted by danger. It isn’t weakened by worries. It isn’t even concerned about consequences. Dedication only knows one thing—the task at hand. For many people, losing their family to hostile foreigners would be a rational excuse for abandoning their mission. Not so for those driven by extreme dedication. Although they may be devastated by the trial, their determination to move forward is undeterred. God alone can give us the spiritual strength necessary to resume our mission in spite of misery. Do you find yourself trying to determine whether or not to go on in God’s work? Has something happened to take you off course? Ask God for daily dedication to stick to the task.

 2008/4/9 14:24


“I was born in a Communist home where no one could even mention the word God. My parents are atheists. My father is in the Cuban Communist Party leadership. My mother is secretary of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. You might say my home is a nest for Communism. However, my grandmother loves God and taught me about the Lord. She sowed the seeds of God’s Word into me. On several occasions I tried to go to church with her, but my parents did not allow it.

“One day, I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. My life started to change. Even the way I dressed changed. My mother did not accept it. She never beat me before, but now she often does. When my father learned that I was a Christian, he told me to choose God or him. I chose God because I have understood that he is the only one worth living for.

“Now, even though I am only fourteen, I have to study far away from my home. When I first came to this place I was the only Christian, but I have sown God’s Word and now there are four of us. We meet under a tree—hidden—to share God’s Word. We keep sowing and waiting, believing that soon we will be many.”

Rose’s childhood would have been one destined for Communist indoctrination and atheism, had it not been for her grandmother’s influence. She is an extreme teen because she followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, who took a risk to share Christ with her. Now, Rose takes the same risk with those at her boarding school, sharing and sowing the Word of God. She is working on one believer at a time to make a difference. However, Rose has discovered, like many Cuban teenagers living under Fidel Castro, faith comes with consequences. But she believes, despite the odds, that some of her seed will fall on responsive soil. In whose life will you sow seeds of God’s Word and wait for a harvest?

 2008/4/10 7:44


“My wife is sleeping in the other room because she has been ill,” Pastor Richard Wurmbrand began. “She and I are both Jewish. Her family perished in the same Nazi concentration camp where you just boasted of killing Jews with children still in their arms. Perhaps you murdered my wife’s family.”

Upon hearing this, the pastor’s guest, a soldier, became very angry and stood to leave. But Richard stopped him. “Wait. I want to propose an experiment. I want to tell my wife who you are and what you did. But my wife will not curse you or even look at you angrily. She will accept you.”

The man sat with his mouth open, but speechless.

The pastor continued, “Now if my wife, who is only human can forgive you—then how much more will Jesus love and forgive you?”

The man buried his face in his hands. “What have I done? How can I go on living with the guilt of so much blood? Jesus, please forgive me.” The soldier went on to give his life to Christ.

Then Richard went and woke his wife Sabina. “This is the murderer of your sisters, your brothers, and your parents,” he introduced the man. “But now he has repented.” She wrapped her hands around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.

“Love conquers all” is a popular saying. Christians, however, know the truth of this saying firsthand. When we are at the mercy of our anger, we are consumed with hatred. But when we have allowed God (who is love) to control our lives, we find that our natural emotions like anger submit to him. We don’t even feel like getting upset over situations that used to enrage us. Love must conquer anything within us that is contrary to the character of Christ. The end result is that we are so consumed with love that even our worst enemy benefits from our transformation. Are you experiencing victory over bitterness and vengeance? Ask the God of love to conquer your anger today.

 2008/4/11 7:58


The Khmer Rouge soldiers burst into the room, brandishing their weapons and shouting insults and threats. When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, thousands of Christians were killed. Children were even thrown before alligators so the soldiers could “save their bullets.”

None of the members of the small congregation moved. An officer walked up to the pastor, grabbed the Bible he had been reading, and threw it on the floor. “We will let you go,” he said, “but first you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot.”

Another soldier grabbed a man by the arm and forced him forward. “Father, please forgive me,” he prayed as he knelt where the Bible had fallen and spat lightly on it.

A teenage girl suddenly stood up and walked towards the Bible. Tearfully, she knelt and picked up the Bible, taking the hem of her dress and wiping it clean. “What have they done to your Word?” she said. “Please forgive them.” The soldier lowered his revolver to the back of her head and squeezed the trigger.

The Christians who were initially allowed to leave were also shot. Their actions did little to save them.

One act of tender resolve can inspire a congregation more than any number of betrayals. The teenager in this story prompts a vision of what it means to be united in Christ. Instead of rebuking her weaker brothers and sisters, she merely led by example in her tender treatment of the Bible. Imagine if everyone in that church had acted in the same like-minded manner. What a strong witness for Christ! Whenever we act together, we are stronger. Tenderness and compassion, combined with a strong example, will lead those who are weak to join together in greater commitment. If you are frustrated with others who struggle in their commitment, remember God calls you to unite with those who are weaker and help them along.

 2008/4/14 9:05

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