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Mary was only seventeen when Muslim fanatics raided her village in Lebanon. Mary and her parents were confronted with a grueling choice: “Become a Muslim, or you will be shot.”

Mary boldly told the man, “I choose God. Go ahead and shoot.” Mary and her family were shot and left for dead. Two days later, the Red Cross arrived in the village and found a miracle. Mary was alive—paralyzed by the bullet wound.

Devastated and grieving, Mary clung to her faith and prayed. Finally a strange peace came over her. She made this commitment to God: “Everyone has a job to do. I can never marry or do any physical work. So I will offer my life for the Muslims, like the ones who killed my father and mother and tried to kill me. My life will be a prayer for them."

Her prayers and her undeniable witness of Christ brought many Muslims to faith in the Son of God. In Lebanon, 1990 was the fiercest year of the fifteen-year civil war. Thousands were killed or wounded, and hundreds of thousands fled. However, Mary’s offering of her wounded life encouraged many Christians to stay and take a stand for Christ.


The greatest gift to God’s service will not fit in an offering plate. When we view our entire lives as offerings to God, our resources to benefit his kingdom are unlimited. Many of those who have been persecuted like Mary share a similar story. They continue to offer their lives to serve those who oppress them as an act of worship. Therese of Lisieux once noted, “Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.” The majority of Christians will find it easy to make the usual excuses for offering their lives: “too busy” and “too much going on.” However, God can reveal unique ways that we can be witnesses for Him.


 2008/4/25 9:18









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Quote:

Psalm18 wrote:

[b] Devastated and grieving, Mary clung to her faith and prayed. Finally a strange peace came over her. She made this commitment to God: “Everyone has a job to do. I can never marry or do any physical work. So I will offer my life for the Muslims, like the ones who killed my father and mother and tried to kill me. My life will be a prayer for them."[/b]

Her prayers and her undeniable witness of Christ brought many Muslims to faith in the Son of God. In Lebanon, 1990 was the fiercest year of the fifteen-year civil war. Thousands were killed or wounded, and hundreds of thousands fled. However, Mary’s offering of her wounded life encouraged many Christians to stay and take a stand for Christ.


The greatest gift to God’s service will not fit in an offering plate. [b]When we view our entire lives as offerings to God, our resources to benefit his kingdom are unlimited.[/b] Many of those who have been persecuted like Mary share a similar story. They continue to offer their lives to serve those who oppress them as an act of worship. Therese of Lisieux once noted, “Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.” The majority of Christians will find it easy to make the usual excuses for offering their lives: “too busy” and “too much going on.” [b]However, God can reveal unique ways that we can be witnesses for Him.[/b]





I was really blessed by Mary's example of doing what she could. If a young woman who has gone through such devastating persecution that leaves her paralyzed could still find a way to serve her Master, surely we who have so much can do the same in yielding our lives to God as available instruments for His service.

 2008/4/25 9:24









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Quote:

Roniya wrote:

I was really blessed by Mary's example of doing what she could. If a young woman who has gone through such devastating persecution that leaves her paralyzed could still find a way to serve her Master, surely we who have so much can do the same in yielding our lives to God as available instruments for His service.



Amen Joy, it's amazing to see how God uses our suffering to bring others to Christ. In every one of these testimonies I could see how one could stop and question why or give up and say "God's not in it, he wouldn't allow such a thing to happen!" but than we see how Jesus and those who went before us have suffered and we can know that it's from the master's hand. It's like David Wilkerson, once said "It's my fathers cup shall I not drink it? Drink it up my friend!"

[u][b]“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”[/b][/u]

 2008/4/25 15:01









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The Communist prison of Jilava was especially harsh. The broken windows let in the bitter winter cold. Some of the prisoners had even frozen to death. There was no sympathy for Christians at Jilava. In fact, they often endured “special” beatings from the cruel guards.

One of the new prisoners, Archmandrite Ghiush, was a pastor in the city of Liberty, Romania. As Archmandrite anxiously looked around his new “home,” he noticed a familiar face—a man who had served with him in Liberty. It was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. “How could he still be alive?” Archmandrite wondered. “No one has heard from him in nearly eight years.” The two faithful pastors embraced. Archmandrite smiled, grateful for an old friend to help him through the horrific sufferings he was about to endure.

But Pastor Wurmbrand did not smile. He felt saddened to see such a fine pastor in prison. He began to worry about him. Would he survive the cold and the cruel treatment? Would he go mad, as others had done? After eight years in prison, Wurmbrand knew what was to come.

The two friends sat silently for a while. Finally Richard broke the tension and softly asked, “Are you sad?” To his amazement Archmandrite simply replied, “Brother, I know only one sadness: That is not being fully given to Jesus.”


It is difficult to read the true stories of Christian martyrs without feeling emotionally drained. The natural reaction is one of sadness and a sense of pity for the innocent who died such horrific deaths. However, the heroes and heroines of the stories would wish for an altogether different response. They hoped their sacrifices would inspire others toward like-hearted commitment, not pity. Certainly, their deaths touch our hearts. But the realization of our own paltry faith ought to break our hearts in two. That is truly sad. Are you challenged beyond earthly sympathy towards repentance for your own complacency? Do you have a divine sense of determination as a result of your reading? Ask God to stir your resolve to live for him today.

 2008/4/26 21:48









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Demeter suffered for many years in Communist prisons. He had remained strong in spirit during his confinement, but his body was beginning to wear down. There was a certain prison warden who amused himself by beating on Demeter’s spine with a hammer, which permanently paralyzed him. But Demeter’s Christlike attitude never wavered, and he was eventually released from prison.

Twenty years later, he heard a knock at the front door of his home. He was shocked to see the same prison warden who had so cruelly beat on his spine and paralyzed him years before standing before him. Still, Demeter did not waver in his expression of faith.

Even before Demeter could offer a greeting, the former warden said, “I realize I can never be forgiven for what I have done to you. It was too heinous. But please just listen to my words of apology and then I will leave.”

Demeter paused only for a moment as he gazed with compassion and wonder at the man. He replied softly, “For twenty years I have prayed for you daily. I have waited for you. Twenty years ago, I forgave you already.” If we are willing to show love and forgiveness to everyone—even those who have hurt us—then the love of Christ can conquer all.


Most people will never suffer deliberate physical torment. However, the wounds that others inflict upon us emotionally can be just as devastating. Memories of unkind words, a betrayal by a friend, a bitter divorce, can stay with us for a lifetime. We are tempted to hold a grudge, or even perhaps to exact revenge against the offender. Forgiveness does not come naturally to us, but it is inseparable from God’s nature. If we have tasted God’s grace, then we can allow others to share in God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness does not depend on the offender’s asking for it first. It is an act of obedience, as well as an act of faith. Ask God to open your heart to the miracle of true forgiveness.



 2008/4/28 13:24









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A young Christian man in Eastern Europe, Jon Lugajanu, returned to the prison after his court hearing. His cell mates anxiously asked him, “What happened?”

He answered, “It was just like the day the angel visited Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here she was, a godly young woman sitting alone in meditation, when a radiant angel of God told her the incredible news. She would carry the Son of God in her womb.”

Curious about how this story tied in to Jon’s courtroom experience, the other prisoners listened closely.

Jon went on to share the gospel of peace through the story of Mary. “For all the joy Jesus brought her, Mary would have to one day stand at the foot of a cross and watch him suffer and die for the sins of the world. God resurrected Jesus, where he now reigns in heaven. Mary knew once she was in heaven, she would be with Jesus again and experience eternal joy.”

The other prisoners were puzzled at this. “But we asked you what happened in court?” they reminded Jon.

Jon looked at them, his face shining with peace, and said, “I was given the death penalty. Isn’t that beautiful news?” Jon realized the news the angel delivered to Mary was just as bittersweet—after Jesus had suffered there would be rejoicing in heaven. He anxiously anticipated his eternal joy in Jesus’ presence.


In many cultures, death is a taboo subject. People often go to great lengths to insulate themselves from the inevitability of their own death. They like to use phrases like “passed away” instead of “died.” We resist making a will or buying life insurance, thinking, “It will never happen to me.” Corporations make huge profits selling us products that promise eternal youth. God does not give us the option of ignoring death, but he gives us the key to facing it. Mary’s angelic visitor did not shirk from telling her she would suffer great grief at the cross. However, she was also given the hope of resurrection to make her grief bearable. As Christians, God’s promise of eternal life helps us accept our own death both realistically and courageously.



 2008/4/29 9:50









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George Jeltonoshko knew his government did not want people propagating the gospel of Christ, but he had a stronger conviction to obey the commandments of Christ—even if it conflicted with the laws of his country.

It was not a huge surprise to him when the police came to his door. He figured it was inevitable that they would find out about his ministry activities because of the literature he had been spreading. When his trial date came, he was given a state-appointed Communist attorney. George boldly told the judge, “I don’t want a lawyer. I feel I am right, and righteousness needs no defense.”

The judge asked him, “Do you plead guilty?”
He replied, “No. To spread the good news of God’s love is the duty of all Christians.”

The judge then asked him to join the ranks of the “official churches,” which were nothing more than state-run puppet churches. But George refused. The state church followed the commandments of the state, not the commands of God.

The judge was getting frustrated. “Where do you meet for worship?” he demanded.

George answered, “True believers worship everywhere.”

He was sentenced to three years in prison where George Jeltonoshko continued to carry out his work and worship. He was right. Righteousness needed no defense.


Doing the “right thing” may be a popular motto. That’s easier said than done, however, because what is right in God’s eyes often conflicts with popular opinion. The dispute between right and wrong often becomes apparent in a classroom, a workroom, and even a courtroom or church. We can’t rely on our environment to tell us what is right. People can persuade us to confuse compromise with righteousness. God’s Word is the only defense for determining what is right in every situation. Others may not understand or agree with the choices we make. However, God promises to honor our commitment to doing what is right. Those who observe us will see the light and feel the warmth of our righteous actions.

 2008/4/30 19:16









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“With the flames of love’s fire that Jesus kindled in my heart, I caused the ice of Siberia to melt. Hallelujah!”

Bishop Victor Belikh’s face lit up as he spoke these words. He had learned the powerful secret of letting God take over one’s heart even in the worst of circumstances. For twenty years he had suffered in the lonely prison cell in Communist Russia without a visit or news from his family or friends.

Every evening, a simple straw mattress was placed in his small cell. He was allowed to sleep for seven hours before the mat was removed. He spent the remaining seventeen hours of each day walking circles in his pathetic little space, and if he stopped or broke down, guards would beat him or throw water on him until he continued. After twenty years of such incredible hardship, he was sent to a forced-labor camp for another four years in Northern Siberia, where the ice never melts. He survived only because he allowed the fire of God to melt away all bitterness and anger.

Belikh’s situation is rare, but his resolve through Jesus Christ is available to everyone who suffers. Jesus stoked the fire of love in Belikh’s heart—a godly furnace that was able to keep him warm for twenty years.


Fire. The mere word ignites powerful images. It implies danger when shouted in a crowded building. It embodies comfort when camping on a frosty night. It is connected with strong emotions during the “heat” of the moment or a “fiery” temper. Fire is also used to refine and to harden metals through the smelting process. Fire illuminates and consumes darkness. In all these images, one thing remains constant. Fire is associated with change. Like an encounter with fire, an encounter with God is life changing. Has the fiery love of Christ ignited, sustained, refined, comforted, and ultimately liberated you as it did Belikh? Human cruelty can never extinguish the flame of God’s love. Is the flame of God’s love alive in you?



 2008/5/1 19:15









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All the prisoners were upset to see the little girl in prison with her mother. Even the prison director said, “Why don’t you take pity on your daughter? If you will give up being a Christian, you both can go home.”

The woman was understandably torn inside. She had been imprisoned with her child after protesting the arrest of her pastor, but she agreed to deny her faith to keep her daughter from suffering. Two weeks later, the Communists forced her to shout from a stage in front of ten thousand people: “I am no longer a Christian.”

On their return home, the little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, today Jesus is not satisfied with you.” The mother tried to explain that she did this out of love. The little girl looked at her mother with conviction beyond her years and said, “I promise if we go to prison again for Jesus, I will not cry.”

Her mother wept, overcome with pride and love for her daughter and conviction for her own weakness. As she cried out to God for strength in a difficult decision, she went back to the prison director and said, “You convinced me to deny my faith for my daughter’s sake, but she has more courage than me.” They both returned to prison, and the little girl kept her promise.


Joshua of the Israelites faced a difficult challenge—picking up where Moses left off and leading God’s chosen people onward. Was it dangerous? Undoubtedly. Was Joshua apprehensive? Probably. Joshua received God’s promise to be with him, giving Joshua the same confidence as the child in the story. Both Joshua and the child realized early in life that they would need God’s presence to succeed. God commands us to fortify ourselves with courage and the knowledge that he will never forsake us. In the face of trials, courage often flees. In times of trouble, choose to trust God’s promise that he will be with you. Be obedient and courageous today.



 2008/5/2 20:47









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Che Jinguang: First Protestant Martyr (c. 1800-1861)

His Life. Che Jinguang (Golden Light Vehicle) was a most unlikely candidate to be Chinas first Protestant martyr. Until he was in his 50s, he worked as a keeper of the Confucian Temple in Boluo, about 40 miles east of Guangzhou. Then, in early 1856, he was visited by two Chinese Christians from Hong Kong. They shared the Gospel and left him a Bible, and when they returned in May, he asked to be baptized. He offered as evidence of the sincerity of his new faith the tablet used to worship his ancestors spirits, which he had defaced with a chisel. In Hong Kong, Che met Pastor He Jinshan and Scottish missionary James Legge. They were reluctant to baptize him due to the concern that he might be looking for work. Che persisted, and one night he waited outside for Legge after a prayer meeting. It was raining, and as Che let the rainwater fall on his head, he told Legge that God would baptize him even if Legge would not. Legge then baptized Che, and Che returned to Boluo and began a self-supported ministry as an itinerant evangelist. The Manchu Qing Empire was then at war with Great Britain and France, so these were tense times to be associated with the foreign religion. Che was arrested a few months after his return, but the authorities released him after seizing his books. Despite much anti-foreign sentiment, Legge decided to purchase property for the London Missionary Society in Boluo. In October 1861, he turned the keys to the property over to Che. A few days after Legges departure from Boluo, Che was seized, tortured for several days, and finally beheaded on October 16 when he refused to renounce his faith.

His Legacy. Che returned to Hong Kong each year to give a report on his work, and in May 1861, Legge and several others journeyed to Boluo and baptized 101 people who had responded to the Gospel. Many testified that they were attracted not simply by Ches preaching but even more by his lifestyle of love and holiness. Legge traveled with Che for several weeks and saw first-hand much of the hostility Che encountered. In response to one beating, Che declined to press charges and said, I only pray our Heavenly Father to have pity on them. After Ches martyrdom, Legge pursued the case vigorously with the British and Manchu governments, but to no avail. Now that the British government was assisting its former adversary, the Manchu government, in defeating the Taiping Rebellion, neither was interested in taking up a new religious controversy. Nonetheless, the blood of Chinas first martyr has since yielded a harvest of millions.

His Last Words. How can I deny Him who died for me?

http://www.prayforchina.com/pro_che_jinguang_e.htm

 2008/5/4 9:34





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