When Chris tians in free countries win a soul for Christ, the new believer may become a member of a quietly living church. But when those in captive nations win someone, we know that he may have to go to prison and that his children may become or phans. The joy of having brought someone to Christ is always mixed with this feeling that there is a price that must be paid.
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It must be understood that there are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in Russia or China. The price Christians pay is far too great. The next point to remember is that persecution has always produced a better Christian - a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.
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The Bible is a wonderful book. It is the truth about the Truth. It is not the Truth. A sermon taken from the Bible can be a wonderful thing to hear. It is the truth about the truth about the truth. But it is not the truth. There have been many books written about the things contained in the Bible. I have written some myself. They can be quite wonderful to read. They are the truth about the truth about truth about the Truth. But they are NOT the Truth. Only Jesus Christ is the Truth. Sometimes the Truth can be drowned in a multitude of words.
I tremble because of the sufferings of those persecuted in different lands. I tremble thinking about the eternal destiny of their torturers. I tremble for Western Christians who don't help their persecuted brethren. In the depth of my heart, I would like to keep the beauty of my own vineyard and not be involved in such a huge fight. I would like so much to be somewhere in quietness and rest. But it is not possible... The quietness and rest for which I long would be an escape from reality and dangerous for my soul... The West sleeps and must be awakened to see the plight of the captive nations.
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It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists' ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.
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I said to myself if Christianity is dead, I will sit at its tomb and will weep until it arises again, just as Mary Magdalene sat at the tomb of Jesus and wept until Jesus showed Himself. Then when I came out of prison I saw Christianity is not dead. The number of practicing Christians in Rumania according to the figures given by the Communists themselves in 20 years of Communist dictatorship has grown 300 percent.
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Christians are meant to have the same vocation as their King, that of cross-bearers. It is this conscience of a high calling and of partnership with Jesus which brings gladness in tribulations, which makes Christians enter prisons for their faith with the joy of a bridegroom entering the bridal room.
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I have seen Christians in Communist prisons with fifty pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold--and praying with fervor for the Communists. This is humanly inexplicable! It is the love of Christ, which was poured out in our hearts.
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I had prepared myself for prison and torture as a soldier in peacetime prepares for the hardships of war. I had studied the lives of Christians who had faced similar pains and temptations to surrender and thought how I might adapt their experiences. Many who had not so prepared themselves were crushed by suffering, or deluded into saying what they should not.
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But every point of view is a point of blindness: it incapacitates us for every other point of view. From a certain point of view, the room in which I write has no door. I turn around. Now I see the door, but the room has no window. I look up. From this point of view, the room has no floor. I look down; it has no ceiling. By avoiding particular points of view we are able to have an intuition of the whole. The ideal for a Christian is to become holy, a word which derives from "whole.
In prayer, something like an echo takes place. When you strike a note on the piano, corresponding strings in all the other pianos in the room start to vibrate. It is just the same when we express a pure wish in our ardent prayers: all around us we mobilize angels who are inspired by the same wish.
The Communist torturers often said, 'There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.' I have heard one torturer even say, 'I thank God, in whom I don't believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.' He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflected on prisoners.
I defy my honored opponents to give me the name of a single man imprisoned in the United States, Great Britain, or West Germany for being an atheist. But in former communist countries, millions of our Christian brothers and sisters in faith have passed through jails or been killed. Who has fought for freedom and obtained it - atheists or Christians?
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In the homes of many Western Christians, hours are sometimes spent listening to worldly music. In our homes loud music can also be heard, but it is only to cover the talk about the gospel and the underground work so that neighbors may not overhear it and inform the secret police. How underground Christians rejoice on those rare occasions when they meet a serious Christian from the West!
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If the heart is cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ, and if the heart loves Him, one can resist all tortures. What would a loving bride not do for a loving bridegroom? ...God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love. The Christians who suffered for their faith in prisons could love. I am a witness that they could love God and men.
Some tell me Preach the pure gospel! This reminds me that the Communist secret police also told me to preach Christ, but not to mention communism. Is it really so, that those who are for what is called a pure gospel are inspired by the same spirit as those of the Communist secret police?