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Discussion Forum : Devotional Thoughts :  Extreme Devotion

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“I purified my heart of the fear of men, and I learned to see God.”

Me Ling was young when she was arrested for her Christian activities in Communist China. During times of interrogation, the police would torture her to try to force her to betray friends in the underground church.

At first Me Ling was extremely fearful, and she could not see the purpose that God had for her in that terrible place. But then she remembered the teachings of her pastor who had said, “Real suffering lasts only a minute, and then we spend eternity with our awesome Savior.”

When asked how she was able to keep from going crazy during those terrible times, she replied, “When I closed my eyes, I could not see the angry faces of the men or the instruments of pain they were using. I kept repeating the promise of Christ to myself: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ (Matthew 5:8). I also found that when I purified my heart of the fear of men, I learned to really see God. I took courage from all the others who had gone before me and focused on him until everything else faded away. When the officials learned of my defense, they taped my eyelids open. But it was too late because my vision was secure.”

We admire people whose professions require a great deal of concentration and focus. The skilled neurosurgeon, the Olympic athlete, and the corporate visionary share a common trait: They are focused. The discipline of focus transcends intelligence, athletic agility, or charisma. Without focus, these people would be merely smart, athletic, or interesting at best. Their ability to stay focused contributes greatly to their success. Developing an earthly focus can bring earthly success, but what about matters of eternity? If you are more focused on the temporary things of this world you will miss the goal. What can you do today to ensure you are focused on Christ and on spreading his good news?

 2008/5/5 16:11


The Soviet newspaper, Molodoij Gruzii, reported the imprisonment of three Christians. Their crime was starting an organized chain letter to help people all across the Soviet Union understand the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Unable to publish Bibles or Christian books, they had begun sending out multiple copies of these letters and asking recipients to make copies and pass them on. Through this creative method of spreading the gospel, thousands of letters had reached into many areas of the Soviet Union. The children especially liked them because they were not allowed to attend church, and the letters became an integral part of their Christian teaching.

In addition, these letters helped to bolster the faith of Christians throughout the country during that time. After years of government repression and interference in their churches, they were ready to try something bold and new. They sincerely wanted everyone to know about the love of God, and despite the restrictions placed upon them, their brilliant simplicity allowed the message to spread throughout the town of Tbilisi and even into some areas of the Ukraine!

Another newspaper article stated, “The Christians have flooded our town with their writings.” It described this coordinated effort as “an offensive on the part of the believers.”
Who could predict the far-reaching effects of a mere chain letter!

After fifty years of tyranny against Christianity, Soviet officials felt threatened by a chain letter. Their cowardly response demonstrates the power contained in God’s Word. Oppression does not yield to human effort. It does not soften with feelings of sympathy. It only resists the powerful Word of God—alive and active in the lives of believers. Satan trembles at the power contained in God’s Word. Are we as aware of its power as its adversaries are? If it has been a long time since you experienced awe when reading Scripture, ask God for a second chance. Ask him to show you his power and experience the Word’s effect on your life today.

 2008/5/6 16:27


After requiring many hours of hard labor and offering a near-starvation diet, the Chinese prison guards demanded that someone volunteer to clean the bathrooms daily. None of the women prisoners spoke up.

Finally, Sister Kwang stepped forward and volunteered to do the rotten task. She saw it as the ultimate opportunity to share her faith with women in the prison whom she would otherwise never see. During her time in that prison, she led hundreds of women to Christ.

Kwang’s devotion was evident to all who knew her, but it came through much suffering. Before her imprisonment, she and her husband had volunteered to organize groups of evangelists who traveled around China forming small house churches.

When Communist officials discovered Kwang’s activities, they beat her twelve-year-old son to death. Still, she refused to deny Christ and even continued to build the house-church movement after her release.

Finally in 1974, the Communists decided to make an example of “Mother Kwang,” as her church members now knew her. She was sentenced to life in prison, put in an underground cell with a bucket for sanitary needs, and fed only dirty rice.

She was miraculously released after ten years and always looked back on her prison time as a gift—a special opportunity to share the love of Christ with people who might never have heard otherwise.

Volunteerism is almost a professional occupation for some people. They volunteer at their children’s school, help with parent/teacher nights, and help coach their children’s soccer teams. Volunteering for the not-so-popular opportunities can be more of a challenge. Often the volunteer spirit is nowhere to be found. Nursing homes, orphanages, and shelters are the last places many people want to spend their time. The smell, depressing environment, or other discomforts drive them away. But where do you suppose Jesus would spend most of his time? Nearly any volunteer position involves necessary and admirable work, but listen carefully for the opportunities less traveled and with those less fortunate. Try being the first to volunteer the next time one comes your way.

 2008/5/8 9:36


Morning Star of Chinas Revival

His Preparation. Ding Limei was born on Oct. 2, 1871 in rural Shandong. The name given him by his Christian parents meant Established Beauty. He attended high school and college at Presbyterian schools in Tengzhou (now Penglai), 160 miles from his home. He was a graduate of the first class of the North China Theological Seminary in Tengxian. The young preachers faith was soon tested. During the Boxer Uprising, he was arrested and beaten 5 times with 40 stripes during his 40 days in jail. He emerged with a determination to preach the gospel in every province in China and with a burden to reach Chinas students in order to build an authentic Chinese church. He wrote, Out of a hundred Chinese Churches we cannot count more than one or two self-supporting and governingWe are sorely grieved by this state of affairs, for as long as the Church of Christ in China is lying low, so will our compatriots continue to suffer

His Evangelistic Ministry. During his evangelistic ministry (1908-23), Pastor Ding served as Roving Secretary of the YMCAs China Student Volunteers for Evangelism. His slogan was: To preach the gospel throughout China even to the ends of the earth, within our generation. Revivals in Shandong and Beijing saw thousands saved. In one five month period in 1910, he led 87 meetings and preached over 200 messages. In early 1919, he fulfilled his vow to preach in all 18 provinces when he led one of Chinas first home missions teams to work among the Miao in Yunnan. His team of six spent 6 months there and had a time of encouraging fellowship with famed CIM missionary James O. Fraser.

His Teaching Ministry. In 1923, Pastor Dings ministry shifted from evangelism to theological education. He taught for eight years at the North China Theological Seminary, and then spent a short time pastoring a church in Manchuria. In 1932, he became a professor at the seminary newly established by the National Holiness Mission in Tianjin. During one of John Sungs revivals in Tianjin, Pastor Ding humbly became one of the first to come forward to confess sins and he took a leadership role in the follow up teams. He was ill the last two years of his life and devoted himself more intensely to prayer at this time. He kept prayer books with the names of those for whom he was praying, and at one time had 5000 names in his three prayer books. He went to be with the Lord on Sept. 22, 1936, and his body was buried in Tianjins British Cemetery. He left a wife and three children.

Ding Limeis Ten Prayer Points

1. By prayer I feel Christs presence, and the fellowship of a bosom friend.

2. By prayer I feel spiritually nourished, like flowers by sprinkling waters.

3. Righteousness, peace and joy, like three rays, surround me, whereby my heart is greatly encouraged.

4. By prayer and Bible-reading is the joy of my devotion to the Lord increased.

5. By prayer is my preaching secretly helped by the Spirit

6. By prayer is love for others increased, that there is not one under heaven who cannot be loved.

7. By prayer is hope added to faith, and that greatly multiplied.

8. Whenever I sin, hidden or seen, big or small, I am self-rebuked through prayer, and will not leave off without confession and repentance.

9. By prayer I find the way opened up before me and everything becomes smooth-sailing.

10. The gradual increase of prayer bands is not through my individual effort, but by one and all, individuals and groups.


Photo and Final Quotation from Tow, Timothy. The Asian Awakening. (Christian Life Publishers, 1988) p. 234

 2008/5/8 15:57


Location: Eritrea
Arrested: May 2004
Days Imprisoned: 1448
Print Fact Sheet

Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, a leading figure of Full Gospel Church of Eritrea, founder and senior pastor of Southwest Full Gospel Church and member of the executive committee to the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea, was arrested on May 23, 2004. He was taken from his home in Asmara Gejeret, at approximately 5:00 a.m. Dr. Gebremeskel was a mathematics lecturer, department and faculty head at the University of Asmara until 1999, when he became a full-time pastor at the Southwest Full Gospel Church. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University. His wife and four children have not been able to visit him.

Nearly 1,800 Eritrean Christians are now believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs, held in police stations, military camps and prisons in 12 known locations across Eritrea. Dr. Gebremeskel is one of the 28 clergymen being held.

Jailed Protestants are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs. Police and military authorities continue to demand the prisoners return to one of the three “official” Christian denominations recognized by the government. But even the legally recognized denominations-the nation’s historic Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches-have come under government disfavor in the past year, incurring threats and even jailing by security police officials.

 2008/5/9 15:02


“I will kiss the rope but never deny my faith!” exclaimed Tahir Iqbal. The soldiers lifted the paralytic pastor out of his wheelchair and slipped the noose around his neck. Today he walks freely in heaven with Christ.

In Pakistan, another seasoned pastor heard a gunshot right outside his house. The bullet narrowly missed him and lodged into the wall behind his chair. He thanked God for another day that he could share Christ in the Muslim-dominated nation.

Raymond Lully left a comfortable position as an Oxford professor and spent most of his life suffering for the gospel. He wrote, “Once I was fairly rich and tasted freely the pleasures of this life. But all these things I gladly resigned that I might spread the knowledge of truth. I have been in prisons; I have been scourged . . . now, though old and poor, I do not despair; I am ready, if it be God’s will, to persevere unto death.”

Believers like these have a unique understanding of the term “shield of faith.” They realized it would not necessarily prevent their suffering, but it gave them courage to face it if necessary. The shield of faith gave them the resolve to continue doing spiritual battle for the cause of Christ no matter what it cost them here on earth.

First-century battle gear included a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. With one, the soldiers could advance against their enemy. With the other, they went on the offensive. Concerning our own spiritual battle gear today, would we find a dusty “shield of faith” stored away in a corner? When we come out from under the protection God offers us through the shield of faith, we become vulnerable to our enemy’s attacks. Without faith, it is impossible to avoid fear and discouragement. We stop advancing the gospel at the first sign of opposition. What has kept you from advancing the gospel in your sphere of influence? Where do you need to brandish your shield of faith amid daunting opposition?

 2008/5/11 15:14


Pastor Wurmbrand worked his way through the others prisoners to where another pastor sat motionless on the floor. He had just been thrown into the cell. He was badly beaten. Wurmbrand did not know if he would survive the night.

With loving compassion Pastor Wurmbrand knelt down beside the beaten pastor and asked, “My brother . . . can you say the prayer, ‘Father forgive them’?”

The man winced with pain, touching his swollen, bruised face. It was difficult to speak. The words came out slowly, “I cannot.”

Just as Pastor Wurmbrand began feeling sympathy for the man, the beaten pastor began to speak again. With tears in his eyes he said, “My prayer is not ‘forgive them.’ My prayer is . . . ‘Father, forgive them and me.’ If I had been a better pastor, perhaps there would have been more converted torturers.”

This weary pastor expressed his concern for the missed opportunities to convert his enemies to Christ. Both pastors realized a young member of Romania’s Communist Youth Organization was once arrested and unmercifully beaten by a supposedly Christian police officer. This incident hardened his heart toward Christ for the rest of his life. This missed opportunity for the gospel finally became the dictator of the former Communist nation of Romania. Nicolai Ceausescu was responsible for the torture of countless Christians, including Pastor Wurmbrand and his fellow beaten pastor.

No regret is greater than that from a missed opportunity. Unfortunately, life often brings missed opportunities like the birth of a child, a Christmas morning, or even that last flight out going home. However, nothing compares to the missed opportunity to change another person’s eternal destiny. We never know how the seemingly nominal person sitting next to us on the train one day might affect the world for Christ—if only we said something. Equally true is the possibility that breaking our silence might detour a determined Christian opponent. You may count many missed opportunities for the gospel in your past. However, you can change your future by seizing the opportunities given to you each day to share your faith.

 2008/5/12 9:57


Pastor Cai Zouhua, 34 years old, was arrested on September 11, 2004 for printing Bibles and Christian books. In November 2005, Pastor Cai, his wife Xiao Yun Fei and two more relatives were sentenced to prison terms. Pastor Cai’s mother, Cai Laiyi, sitting with her son’s picture by her side says gently, “I pray for him, and for all of us. We are simple people, but we do know this: in the Bible, it says follow your leaders, but first follow your God.”

Today in many nations, Christians can write their own book, take it to a printer and give copies to their friends with no fear of any government reprisal. Many older translations of the Bible have no restrictions or copyrights and can be printed and distributed by anyone. Pastor Cai and his family were not selling these books for earthly gain, but giving them away to others for their eternal gain. Pastor Cai follows the footsteps of William Tyndale, an Englishman, who was captured in October 1536, and imprisoned by authorities of the English Church and the government. Tyndale was later executed for printing the New Testament and smuggling copies into England. It was against the law to print without government permission.

Pastor Cai and his flock courageously continue to follow Christ. Chen Rufu, a church member said, “My whole family has become believers in Christ, and we have all become one big community, loving each other. When my wife had an accident last year, no one did anything for us except our church.”

Believers can be lulled into a false security, believing once they are committed to Christ, life will be easy. After all, they are “doing God’s will,” and shouldn’t that mean hard times are behind? However, Jesus promised that we would be hated for his name’s sake. We may even suffer physical harm, imprisonment, or death because of our faith. We don’t have a choice of the trials we will encounter, but we do have the choice of how we will react and in whom we will trust and seek comfort and counsel. As spread the gospel we walk in the joy of the Lord, no one nor no thing can block us from God’s love.

 2008/5/14 9:56


Among China's millions of Christians, none has been as well known to the West as Watchman Nee. Many of his books, such as The Normal Christian Life and Sit, Walk, Stand, reached Western shores and were printed in English where they were well-received.

Communist China has been hostile to Christian believers. Efforts are made to herd all Christians into a few state-controlled churches. Watchman Nee's fearless witness angered the party, which denounced him and his church. He was accused of exercising "a dark, mysterious control" over 470 supposedly independent churches. Nee could see the writing on the wall.

Rather than bemoan the fate he saw approaching, he worked night and day to dictate to assistants all that Christ had taught him. For days on end, he went with only two hours of sleep. The words they wrote down described the glory of God, the power of Christ's resurrection, the proofs of God's existence, and Christ's righteousness for believers.

He was arrested in 1952. With fierce brainwashing and honeyed promises, the Communists tried to break his fidelity to Christ. His captors promised him that if he would lead the faithful into the Three Self Patriotic Movement (the Communist-controlled church) he would be freed. Nee refused.

For four years believers did not know where he was. Then in 1956 he was given a hearing in Shanghai and accused of numerous severe crimes. To each charge he was allowed to answer only Yes or No. He stood silent for all but two: sabotage and spying. Those he denied. The Court of Public Security recommended severity. A few days later he was publicly accused and "proofs" presented. Among the allegations was that, at a time when Mao was bringing in a bright new socialist future, Nee had demoralized people by preaching that mankind is in the last days.

At the end of the hearing, Nee was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment with reform by labor. He was placed in the First Municipal Prison, where he had to labor in a factory eight hours a day, attend re-education another eight, and was allowed to rest the final eight. Loud speakers blared continuous propaganda. The prisoners were fed so little, their ribs protruded. He was permitted to send only one heavily-censored letter a month. Later he was employed translating English articles into Chinese for the government. Released convicts reported that he refused to buckle to the Communists, but instead sang hymns in his cell. Apparently he also refused an opportunity to be ransomed to the West.

On this day, April 12, 1972 Nee completed twenty years in prison, five years more than his maximum sentence. Ten days later he wrote in a good spirit to his sister, possibly from a country prison. Within weeks he was dead.

 2008/5/14 20:28


Secret Soviet police documents show that in Butovo, a suburb of Moscow, forty-four thousand people were shot in groups of two hundred and buried secretly. One night during the slaughter, Claudia Vasilevna opened her door to a haggard woman who was supposed to be shot for her Christian faith but managed to escape. She begged Claudia to hide her.

Fearful, Claudia refused. She closed the door and left the woman outside, sealing the woman’s death sentence. For over fifty years, Claudia has struggled to forget the image of the woman.

In contrast to Claudia’s struggle, Romanian church members enjoyed peace in their hearts by helping two Germans soldiers who had escaped en route to a Soviet jail. They sought refuge in the church of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. At the end of World War II, Romania was ruled by harsh Nazi Germany. As Germany was losing the war, the Russian army entered Romania and began taking Germans as prisoners of war. Hiding or helping a German was punishable by death.

The soldiers still wore the German uniforms and were candidates for death. The church families agreed to help protect them because it was not their place to judge but to help every person in mortal danger. They also reached out to German children during this time, knowing that they were only doing what Christ would do in their place.

Christians often have to choose between trouble for their bodies and trouble for their souls. It’s the difference between earthly trouble and eternal regret. Extreme Christians live in such contrast with the rest of the world that sometimes it is hard to relate. Their circumstances are often so extreme. Even within our comparably ordinary circumstances we may face decisions that require extraordinary courage. Will we choose earthly security over eternal significance? Will we take an earthly risk that may result in a spiritual gain? When you are faced with situations that require courage beyond your means, ask God for help. He will provide the wisdom you need at the right time to make the right decision.

 2008/5/15 9:59

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