- God and scientists - 20th and 21st centuries
- Eyewitnesses: What is Heaven like? Who will be there? Do animals go to Heaven? Answers by Colton Burpo & Akiane
- Overview of the Seven Jewish Feasts
- God and scientists: Darwin, Einstein and Sagan
- Encouragement for battle-weary intercessors
- Colton and Akiane's Jesus
- God and scientists before the 20th century
- TWO PROPHETIC DREAMS: 1. Tumultuous times ahead (by David Kubal)
- My favorite martyr
- Cana: Whose wedding was it?
- 229,860 hits
Primary blog of Jessica Reynolds Shaver Renshaw
Sir Isaac Newton. The name is on every shortlist of “the greatest scientific minds in history.” By the age of 25, Newton had laid the foundations for his monumental discoveries of the laws of motion, principles of optics and light, and the invention of calculus. More than three centuries later his discoveries still influence our daily lives in countless ways. But Newton’s significance extends beyond the physical realm, for he viewed his work as an extension of his deep, abiding faith in the Creator of the universe. Celebrate this extraordinary life and the bond between science and faith in this memorable short video.
I am offering a free copy of my pro-life book, COMPELLING INTERESTS: A NOVEL ABOUT ABORTION FROM THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES to anyone who wants one.
Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and give me your name and shipping address. I will order a copy sent to you from Amazon and it will take a couple of weeks.
You can read more about the book on this blog (type “Compelling Interests” into the Search box to your right) or look it up on Amazon.
Yours for Life,
I wrote a poem about anger. A friend in the Los Angeles Police Department. read it and told me “What I need is joy. Write me a poem about JOY!” So here is:
JOY IS A SHARED THING
For Lt. Barb
Joy is a shared thing—
anticipation on both sides
merged in the “at last!”
Joy is the first glimpse of the returning prodigal;
Joy is finally finding our way home.
Joy is in the arms of the Shepherd
and in the heart of the grateful lamb.
Joy is the stayed hand
and our substitute in the thicket
Joy is body language:
a puppy leaping
at the invitation: ”Walk?”
It’s electromagnetic connection:
a baby wriggling all over
at his mother’s smile,
the sparkle transmitted from her eyes
reciprocated in his.
Joy is endorphins dancing.
Joy is letting go of the trapeze
of our own understanding
and grasping the bar of His “I’ve got you!”
Joy is expecting punishment
and getting pardon,
opening a dreaded door
and finding a friend.
Joy is eyes meeting,
Joy is taking up where we left off,
the endless wait ended.
Joy is a gift from an undisclosed admirer
Joy is being the undisclosed admirer.
and being understood.
and being forgiven.
Joy is seeing the Face of the One
in whose image we are made.
Joy is His painting a sunset just for us
and our receiving it with, “I love You, too!”
Joy is the heart responding
to the sound of its Savior’s voice;
being alerted by one’s name
to the command, “Come forth!”
and to affirmation: “Well done!”
Joy then is what gets us through now,
the comfort to come that makes all this bearable.
–Jessica Renshaw c) 2022
(Courtesy of Ana Teijelo Deiros)
Magical Moment Shows Twin Girl Born Inside Amniotic Sac in 1-in-80,000 Rare Case
Warning: This article includes graphic images that some readers may find disturbing
In a rare 1-in-80,000 event, a twin baby girl was born inside an intact amniotic sac in Spain. The doctor who oversaw the delivery has shared photos and videos of the special moment, and they’re breathtaking.
Dr. Ana Teijelo, a gynecologist and obstetrician at GVA Salut Vinaròs hospital in Spain’s eastern province of Castellón, Valencia, delivered twin baby girls on March 23 by cesarean section.
Teijelo took to Twitter after the second baby emerged still in her sac, a type of birth known as a “mermaid,” “veiled,” or “en caul” birth.
“Beautiful photos, don’t you think?” Teijelo posted. “The first veiled Caesarean section I’ve seen, and I loved it … it happens about once every 80,000 deliveries; today our students have had a brilliant day.”
The twins were born healthy and well, she added in a separate post. Staff, including midwives, gynecologists, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, nurses, students, and “of course, the mother,” enjoyed the unforgettable delivery.
To all future doctors, Teijelo advised: “Remember: in all hospitals you can learn a lot, the most important thing is to never lose enthusiasm. A day like today compensates for many others, I never tire of looking at the photos.”
She also clarifies that the pictures and footage were shared on social media after obtaining permission from the twins’ mother.
Normally, the fluid-filled amniotic sac will burst—hence “water breaking”—when an expectant mother goes into labor. If the water doesn’t break, the baby is born en caul, seemingly “gift-wrapped” inside the inner layer of membrane. Historically, en caul births were associated with fame, fortune, and spiritual abilities in European folklore.
A wriggling newborn may rupture its own sac, making it easy to remove, according to Beach Cities Midwifery. If not, it can be carefully removed by a midwife or doctor.
As a keepsake for the mother of the Valencian twins, Teijelo and hospital staffers made a painting by printing the babies’ placentas in blue and purple. Teijelo shared the painting on Twitter.
“It has been beautiful, really,” wrote the doctor. “Being good professionals is not at odds with being empathetic,” she reflected, adding, “don’t be scared when you hear the word placenta, really!”
From my journal, Monday, April 18, 2011:
It was Palm Sunday. Our pastor was preaching about the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. As usual I was doing (at least) two things with his words. I was standing them up against the plumbline of Scripture. And I was trying to translate them into pictures so I could see what he was talking about.
He was using the account from “Dr. Luke.” I was surprised that our pastor believes just as my non-Christian brother does that Jesus arranged the details of the Entry–and by extension His death and resurrection. In fact he used my brother’s word “staged” at least three times. (Well, in one case he said, “The donkey and the parade appear to be staged.”)
He said, “He’s critiquing the Roman imperial power with a pre-arranged parade mocking that power. He presents himself as Messiah not on a warhorse but…
View original post 1,017 more words
“I hope nobody calls me a hero, because I know the facts about the bitterness that blazed in my heart that year. I knew, for example, that I was supposed to forgive my captors but the truth is that I often hated them not only for snatching me away from my family and the simple comforts of a life I loved, but also for forcing me to see a side of myself I didn’t like. There was a Gracia I barely knew existed: fearful Gracia, selfish Gracia, bitter Gracia, angry-at-God Gracia. Every once in a while, Martin and I talked about the fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5 and how much we wanted to see love, joy and peace in our lives. ‘All I see is sadness and grief and sorrow,’ I’d say. ‘How can we produce the opposite?’ We couldn’t force joyfulness or loving action or a peaceful mind. The Holy Spirit had to grow these things within us. I begged the Lord at times, ‘Please just give me some peace. I can’t find it in my own heart. I can’t find long-suffering. I feel anything gentle right now. Please work some gentleness into my life. Give me some joy in the middle of this horrible situation.’ And he did.” Gracia Burnham, In the Presence of My Enemies.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The key to joy in suffering is to embrace the suffering as God’s will for you. Yiu Zhenling, known as Brother Yun, committed his life to Jesus Christ at 16 and began to memorize the Bible, one chapter per day. In his first year as a Christian he led 2,000 people to Christ. He began the underground church in Communist China and became the country’s most-wanted man. Imprisoned three times, he was interrogated, threatened, kicked, brutally beaten and tortured with electric batons almost daily. But, like the apostle Paul, Yun’s attitude was, “I am not your prisoner. I am a prisoner of the Lord!” He saw everything that happened to him as a privilege, not just allowed but caused by a loving Father who used these things to draw him into the sufferings of Christ, with the promise of the glory of Christ to follow.
From Yun’s first day in Nanyang Prison, God led him to “fast and pray for the advance of the gospel, that thousands of souls would experience salvation, and that the house churches throughout China would be victorious.” Yun did not touch food or water for 74 days. “In those days,” he told his biographer, “I was just like a baby sleeping in the arms of his mother, peacefully suckling at his mother’s bosom. My spirit was full of joy and thanksgiving as I magnified the Lord. Yun’s toughest time was on the 38th day when the devil hissed in his ear, “Yun, Jesus fasted 40 days. How can you as a servant do more than the Master? Will you try to outdo your master?” Yun was in such intense spiritual battle he considered suicide. But the Lord spoke Revelation 3:8 to him, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no man can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” When he heard these words, Yun said his heart was filled with joy. “I felt like a little boy whose father has taken a stand for him against bullies.” At that moment he had a powerful vision of a series of iron gates opening, one after another.
At the end of his fast, Yun weighed 66 pounds. His mother and wife could not recognize him. “During the long fast, my days were full of struggle, miracles, dreams, visions, and revelation from the Lord. I experienced his strength every day. My body was getting smaller and smaller, but my spirit was enlarged and strong.” After all this time he was finally brought to trial. “I was bound and taken to the court in a motor-tricycle, with armed guards on either side of me. My cell mates were praying earnestly for me. I felt great joy in my heart. The (court) said I would receive either life imprisonment or the death sentence. I was amazed when the judge announced, “Yun, we sentence you to four years’ imprisonment with hard labor!” Only four years! I couldn’t believe it! I was full of joy because God had given me hope for future ministry throughout China. The Lord had more work for me to do! As I was driven back to the prison I had a feeling of overwhelming joy and thankfulness for the Lord’s mercy.”
Yun said those four years went fast and once free he worked tirelessly to evangelize, disciple and train others to win souls. As a result of his refusal to curtail his activities, he was arrested many times and imprisoned twice more. The second time, God commanded him to repent. He was battered, bruised, broken, in a prison cell with murderers and rapists who hated and abused him and God was telling him to repent? Why didn’t he just give Yun comfort and reassurance of his love? But Yun realized he harbored contempt for the men in his cell and he repented. Repentance released in him a whole new level of closeness with the Lord and realization of what God was doing in his life. As a result of his obedience, he started seeing the men in a new way, with God’s eyes. He started praying for them and sharing his meager food with them. The Lord used him to heal some of them and eventually they all came to faith in Jesus Christ. Their cell became heaven on earth. “One day I was sharing the gospel with a group of prisoners. The joy of the Lord was in my heart. Several guards commented, ‘Look, this criminal is even happier that we are, and we are free!” As a result, some of them also believed. After his release from prison Yun would say he missed the time with those men so much he longed to return and visit them. “My first four years had been like Joseph when he was thrown into prison, slandered, and persecuted. But my second term was like Joseph when God exalted him and placed him in a position of influence and authority.”
Outside the prison, Yun’s steadfast example and his refusal to betray or implicate others gave Christians courage and fanned the flames of revival. His prayers while fasting were being answered exponentially. With no promise of financial support, new Christian workers went everywhere openly risking persecution by preaching the gospel. “We are not afraid of going hungry or of being beaten,” they said. “We are willing to die for the gospel! We are only afraid of going without God’s presence. Please pray he will be with us every day.” By January 2000 the house churches estimated their members numbered 58 million!
Meanwhile, imprisoned a third time, Yun hit bottom spiritually and emotionally. He had escaped once and refused to promise not to try again so guards mercilessly beat his lower legs with batons, breaking and crushing the bones. “I lay on the ground screaming like a wounded animal. Excruciating pain surged through my body and mind. All I could do was try to focus my thoughts on the Lord Jesus and his suffering on the cross. I thought I was going to die but the Lord sustained me.” He was so crippled his legs were “black and unusable. I couldn’t even stand up, let alone walk.” He had to be carried to the toilet–and to the room where he was tortured every day. Crushed in spirit as well as in body, he cried out to God, “I can’t take it any more!” And the Lord answered, “Do not throw away your confidence. It will be richly rewarded” and “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose.”
Then, on the morning of May 5, 1997, the Lord told Yun, “This is the hour of your salvation. Go now! The God of Peter is your God!” The vision God had given Yun of iron gates opening, one after another, became a reality. The man who could not walk, could hardly crawl, stood up and walked, as if in a dream, out of the Zhengzhou Number One Maximum Security Prison, climbed into a taxi and asked to be driven to the home of Christian friends. Just like Peter, he stood at the door while a young girl, seeing who was there, left him standing while she ran inside to tell others that their brother was free! One eye-witness wrote, “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Yun walking out! There were probably thirty prison guards in the yard at the time, but no one noticed Yun escape! He even walked right past several of them,” and another wrote, “The prison authorities had mocked the Lord and Yun when they smashed his legs. They said, ‘We’d like to see you escape now!’ The Lord is always up to a challenge!”
Yun did not realize until afterward that the Lord must have healed his legs in his cell. “I marveled at God’s goodness and faithfulness to me,” he writes. “To this day I consider my escape from prison the most amazing experience of my life. That night I slept like a content newborn baby in the arms of my Lord.”
When I think of the promise of Jesus Christ that we will do even greater things than he did on earth, I think of Brothr Yun. His autobiography, The Heavenly Man, written with Paul Hattaway and published by Monarch Books, reads like “Second Acts.”
In Scripture, if we embrace it as Jesus did, suffering and joy are bonded together: “Jesus. . . for the JOY set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Read these verses together. They are written to you and me: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you'” (I Peter 4:12) “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. (I Peter 2:21).
For those of us who follow Jesus in suffering, the joy to which we can look forward, the anticipation of which motivates us to endure, has several component parts:
–It produces Christ-like character: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
–It exhibits God’s glory and presence: “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (I Peter 4:13-14).
–It promises us the kingdom and its rewards. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) and “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Luke 6:22-23)
So, as Much-Afraid did in Hannah Hurnard’s classic, Hind’s Feet on High Places, let your response to suffering be not only acceptance but Acceptance-with-Joy. Embrace it! For “the JOY of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)
One of the desires of Jesus’ heart, as he told the Father just before his crucifixion, is that his joy be made full in us (John 17:13)
Let it in: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: “Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“If our Heavenly Father does not permit it, who can do anything to you?” Brother Yunaa
Dear brothers and sisters,
In persecution, we have the opportunity to depend on God alone and in response, He provides for us. God provides His presence and leading. He promises to go through persecution with us and give us peace. He promises to fill our mouths with His words when we are put on trial: “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit,” Mark 13:11.
This provision may not look like what we expect. For Vek Huong and Samoeun Taing, abandoned by the Khmer Rouge in the jungles of Cambodia, the answer to their prayer for a “special meal” on their anniversary appalls us. But after two months of starvation, with nothing to eat but bark and grass, they thanked God for the “feast” He provided: the heads and skins of four dead rats. Part of God’s gracious provision was certainly the ability to see His love in a dead rat. Part of this provision was certainly the perspective which produced gratitude.
God provides protection. On April 17, 1975, the entire population of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was forced out of the city by the Khmer Rouge (Communists), including doctors, nurses, hospital patients. Women died giving birth by the side of the road. Everyone was evacuated except those who were shot. Altogether, two million “enemies of the state” were murdered at the command of Pol Pot, up to one-third of the population of Cambodia. This included not only those who had worked in the previous government but the rich, the religious and those considered well-educated– teachers and college students, anyone who spoke a foreign language, even people who wore glasses. Vek Huong and Samoeun Taing were well-educated, Christian, spoke English and were on staff with a foreign Christian organization, Campus Crusade for Christ. Yet God protected their lives.
God provides direction. God directed the Taings (with their infant son) to go to Battambang, a city on the border of Thailand. At the train station in Pursat, solders were rounding people up and putting them on a train for Battambang. Vek Huong wrote afterward, “A Khmer Rouge soldier said to me quietly, ‘For some reason, I feel concerned about you and want to warn you not to take the train to Battambang. You are being lied to. They’ll drop you off in the jungle, and you’ll die of starvation. Why don’t you stay with me?’ I knew I had to follow what I believed to be God’s will. I thanked the soldier profusely for his kindness, but said that I felt we must go on. As Samoeun and I stepped aboard the train, the soldier shook his head, and as his eyes followed me, they were filled with sadness, communicating fear of what might lie ahead for us. Eighteen miles before Battambang the Khmer Rouge ordered everyone off the train–and told us we were to be left there, just as my soldier friend had predicted. The area was thick jungle. . .”
God provides food: In the jungle, Vek Huong and Samoeun “became concerned over the lack of nutrition (6-month old) Wiphousana was receiving, since our small daily portions of rice could be supplemented only by boiled leaves and grass. So we prayed. One day I thought, ‘Why not try fishing for Wiphousana in the paddies?’ It was really a laughable idea, because the largest fish ever seen in the shallow waters was two to three inches long at the most. But the first day I tried it, I caught a fish that was 8-10 inches in length. And every day for the next two months, God provided a fish about that size–just one fish–every day.'”
God provides allies: (After two months of near starvation, the Taings escaped to the train station to try to press on to Battambang.) “A guard at the station reminded us that those traveling without a Khmer Rouge permission slip were often killed on sight. I replied to the guard that we didn’t have permission but if we stayed in the jungle we would die anyway. A train pulled into the station but it was filled entirely with Khmer Rouge soldiers! Suddenly a soldier jumped off one of the cars and ran over to us. It was the soldier who in Pursat had warned us about taking the train to Battambang! As he ran toward us, he called out to Samoeun, ‘Sister, sister! Where have you been?’ He told the guard we were his relatives. He gave us his ID and a permission slip, and we climbed on the train with him. We rode to Battambang in safety–and wonder.”
Four years after the fall of Phnom Penh, the Taings made it across the border from Battambang to a refugee camp in Thailand from which they could let CCC know they were alive. Subsequently Vek Huong Taing became Founder and National Director of Cambodia Campus Crusade for Christ for twenty years. (Excerpts from Taing, Ordeal in Cambodia.) Since this book was written, Taing and his wife have directed New Life Missions, conducting major evangelistic meetings, leadership conferences, symposiums, and seminars across the provinces and boundaries of Cambodia. They have trained national pastors, staffs, evangelists, teachers, church workers, and dynamic leaders that now share their faith across Cambodia.
God provides healing: Dorothy Sun of China wrote, “I loved singing. My mother was a Western-style opera singer so I dreamed I would be a soprano soloist. During my imprisonment in the early 60s the police compelled us to praise the Communists and Mao Ze Dong with songs. I disliked those songs and disagreed that Mao is the savior. I have my savior Jesus. Instead of singing I was just shouting. The guard forced me to drink half a cup of pure vinegar with a mixture of grayish and red pepper powder. I vomited it out but two inmates pushed me down and opened my mouth with their hands, forcing me to swallow. They did this every night. After one month my voice became very hoarse. I almost totally lost my ability to speak, let alone being able to sing. At nights I said to my Lord, ‘The only thing I had was my voice, which I dedicated to You since I was little but now that has also been taken away by Satan.’ My voice was hoarse for over twenty years. In October, 1984 [after her release], the rehearsals of the ‘Messiah’ began (at church). . . my favorite opera. . . Whenever the choir had rehearsals I went there to listen. During the final rehearsals when the congregation joined with the choir, I could not control myself. I began to sing with them. It seemed that angels and a heavenly army also joined in singing with us. My tears tumbled down. I didn’t care about my hoarse voice. But, suddenly I felt something eased and opened my throat so that I could sing notes higher and higher without difficulty. I could even hear my own voice and it wasn’t hoarse anymore! Ever since then I have been singing hymns with my revived voice in my ministry to serve, praise and glorify the Lord!” Excerpted from Sun, Clay in the Potter’s Hands.
Persecution is sometimes every bit as hard on the families of those sentenced to prison or slave labor camps for their faith. When Brother Yun was imprisoned for four years his wife and mother were rejected by their neighbors. But God fed them. With Yun’s son, born three months after Yun’s sentencing, the two women were left to run a farm by themselves. Deling, Yun’s wife, writes, “Things were desperate! We had no clue what we were doing. We decided to plant sweet potatoes, but didn’t know how to do it. I found out later that we should have planted the roots about two feet apart. I had planted them just a few inches apart! All summer long our neighbors mocked us and made fun of us! I was the butt of many jokes. Then in autumn, they started cursing because their sweet potatoes were only the size of tennis balls. Ours were almost the size of basketballs! It was a great miracle and everyone knew God had taken care of us. Our neighbors respected us more and didn’t view my husband as a cursed criminal any more. They saw ‘the distinction between the righteous and the wicked.’ Malachi 3:18.
She continues, “Just a week before wheat harvest, a severe hailstorm struck. Ice the size of tennis balls fell from the sky. I rushed outside when the hail started and some of our neighbors’ wheat fields had been completely flattened. Yun’s mother and I fell to our knees and cried out, ‘God, have mercy on us!’ A great miracle happened. Our field was the only one protected by the Lord. All our wheat was standing upright, untouched by the hail. Everyone else’s fields had been obliterated. People came out of their homes after the storm subsided and saw how the Lord Jesus Christ had protected us. It was another powerful testimony to them.” Yun, The Heavenly Man.
God takes care of His people who have been widowed or orphaned for their faith. In 2001, Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries to the Philippines with New Tribes Mission, were kidnapped at gunpoint by the Abu Sayyhaf, a terrorist group with ties to Osama ben Laden. They spent a year on the run with the terrorists in the jungle, facing near-starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles and cold-hearted murder. Gracia was freed a year later and returned to “normal” life back in Kansas with their three children–and a gaping hole where her husband had been. He had been shot in the attempt to free them both. But God provided through individuals, church groups and merchants who built and furnished a home for them, bought them a van and “the Lord continues to meet our needs.” Burnham, In the Presence of My Enemies, 2004.
We do not need to fear what we or our loved ones may experience. Casper ten Boom and his middle-aged daughters Corrie and Betsie helped Jews escape the Holocaust in Holland during World War 2. For this, the sisters would be sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. Betsie would be taken Home from there in September, 1944. Corrie would be released three months later, on Christmas Day, and would survive until her 91st birthday, ministering around the world. In The Hiding Place (later made into a movie), Corrie records her memory of an event when she was six which gives us a perspective on our loving heavenly Father’s promised provision:
“At last we heard Father’s footsteps winding up the stairs. It was the best moment in every day, when he came up to tuck us in. We never fell asleep until he had arranged the blankets in his special way and laid his hand for a moment on each head. Then we tried not to move even a toe.
“But that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears. ‘I need you!’ I sobbed. ‘You can’t die! You can’t!’
“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam–when do I give you your ticket?’
“I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“‘Why, just before we get on the train.’
“‘Exactly. And our wise Father knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.'”
Nearly fifty years later, her father was imprisoned and God took him Home ten days later. Corrie and her sister Betsie were in the same prison he was (although they hadn’t known it) when they got the news. I’m sure her father’s words came back to Corrie at that time, to comfort her in her loss.
God will provide everything we need–when we need it.
And God provides JOY in Persecution! (See next letter, 5th of 5)
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility, and the hope of our eternal country,” C.S. Lewis to his good friend Don Giovanni Calabria, 10 August 1948.
Next: Joy and Persecution
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In considering the suggestions which follow, ask God what HE wants you to do.
How can we prepare for persecution practically? We wrote about starting with a First Aid kit, a cell phone and charger, a radio with plenty of batteries, money, an escape plan. There are good ready-made emergency kits which include meals, cooking pans, canned heart, waterproof matches, water in plastic bags, can opener, Polarshield emergency blanket, flashlights, etc. Keep anything perishable in the First Air kit up-to-date. Include prescriptions, an out-of-state contact, a change of clothes including shoes and warm jacket. And a Bible. If you have to clear out fast, have the kit handy so you can grab it and go. Keep one in your car and one in the house. When the Khmer Rouge took over the capital of Cambodia on April 17, 1975, the entire population of the city had only 24 hours to evacuate. Vek Huong Taing, his wife and 2-month old son had to leave their home forever with only the belongings they could fit in their car.
Assess your valuables–jewelery, art, information about accounts, savings, etc. When the communists invaded European countries during World War 2, people’s homes were seized and burned and they were left with nothing. Dorothy Sun’s family in China had government agents break into and ransack their home again and again, until they had nothing left of value. What would you want to keep with you? What would you want to hide or to entrust to someone whose home may be safer than yours? (A sympathetic non-believer might be safer than another Christian.) What would you want to give away? What do you want to sell so you can use the money in some redemptive way?
Family keepsakes, pictures. Of course soldiers and rioting mobs don’t care about personal possessions they can’t sell but they may confiscate or destroy them anyway. Even a hole in the ground might be safer than keeping them in the house.
How about Bibles? If it becomes illegal to possess one, where will you hide yours? Is there some place you could store lots of them? How about a box of bilingual Bibles if you live near the Mexican border, so they could be given out to people in need if others are confiscated?
Journals and personal letters. A warning to those who keep journals (I am one of them!) as well as those who write personal letters or keep those written by others. If you want to take risks yourself, that’s one thing. But be careful of putting fellow believers in jeopardy. Incendiary comments about the government, for instance, can be used against you later. Brother Yun referred to China once in his diary once as the “harlot” of the book of Revelation. He served considerable prison time for that indiscretion.
But journals and letters can also be a primary source of information about clandestine meetings, other Christians, etc. Yun vowed he would never be a Judas and he never was–but his journals implicated others and were used to send some of them to prison. Be careful to avoid specifics, like names and addresses. If the church really ends up going underground (and at least one network of workers is already being developed in case this happens) your journal could betray friends. Remember the Word War 2 motto, “Loose lips sink ships” and edit yourself accordingly. It is good to know as little as possible about names and addresses of people who come to underground meetings, so you cannot give them away, even under pressure. Use nicknames. Be careful what you keep, including emails like these. Eliminate identifying information. That includes mailing lists. If you have a mailing list of Christian friends, keep it on a floppy you can grab and take with you or destroy if necessary.
The news we Americans get from just about any secular source–TV, newspapers, public schools–is biased and bound to become more so. Avoid it. Personally, I recommend you throw your TV out the window and get your news selectively from the internet or from the radio. Saves time, saves exposure to the world system God tells us not to love. That way YOU get to choose the news you want to know about rather than having people with other agendas choose what to offer you. You don’t have to tolerate insipid talk shows waiting for a crumb of substance or wave through commercials and previews which inflame lust for things you don’t need, people you can’t have and values God condemns.
Jerry and I almost never watch anything live.. If we watch any show (currently, just one per week) we record it first so we can fast-forward through commercials. We don’t have cable, by choice. You may strongly disagree with me but it’s the lobster-in-the-pot thing again. It’s “riding the culture to the bottom.” I watched a half-hour sitcom the other day with a friend who was in the hospital and I was disgusted at how far down TV has gone in the four years we’ve been having a life instead of watching other people’s fake lives. This change probably isn’t as obvious to those of you who watch more frequently.
We have also canceled our newspaper. It is so biased the “news” articles read like opinion pieces. Also, reading it is time-consuming. We don’t need to know every negative thing happening in the world. I don’t think it’s good for us. In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I John 3:4 speaks of purifying ourselves as He is pure. I believe we are better off spending our time reading Christian websites–or the Bible–for the news!
In fact, since my “paradigm shift” of November 4th, I am involving myself less and less withying to change legislation or write letters of protest to editors. You may be called to do that, but I no longer feel called to improve this world–or at least not by appealing to anyone less than the Almighty for change! I feel called to pray for and help prepare His people for what’s coming.
Spiritual and practical: Do you tithe your income? Try tithing your time. Give God 10% of your money and 10% (2.4 hours) of your day! You’ll be blessed!
Think through possible scenarios, the “what-ifs,” and make practical decisions.
If persecution comes, will you stay or run? It’s okay to run away (Matthew 10:23a). Paul was lowered through a window in the city wall in a large basket to avoid those who were plotting to kill him (Acts 9:25 and 2 Cor. 11:33). The two spies sent to scout out Jericho had made a similar escape hundreds of years before. Jesus himself slipped through the fingers of his enemies more than once. If persecution builds gradually, at what point will you stand–or leave? When the unvaxxed will be fired? When you hear there will be a crackdown on “intolerance” and those churches, Christian daycare centers and private businesses which refuse to hire, say, homosexuals, will be fined or their leaders jailed? Or not until Gestapo-types are breaking down doors in your neighborhood at the dead of night and hauling off your Christian or Jewish neighbors in trucks?
Where would you go? Who would take you in? You may want a place that’s off the beaten track, with someone who is under the radar. Do you know of one?
Who could you trust? Maybe the person you trust to provide shelter for you would not be the same one you could trust to keep a secret about house churches or the location of other hiding places.
Who would make a good out-of-state contact?
If your church agrees to be registered by the government, will you stay and be registered–with facial recognition cameras used at church services? Or look to fellowship underground? Brother Yun wrote, “The government (in communist China) . . .allowed ‘open, legal’ churches in a bid to control Christians and to promote their own political agenda inside the churches. Wesee the (registered church) believers as caged birds. Yes, they are able to sing to the Lord, but their environment is controlled and their wings are clipped. They are free to sing only within the restrictions imposed on them. In the house churches we enjoy the freedom to fly around wherever God leads us and to sing from the depths of our hearts. We have been released from the cage and we never intend to return!”
If you stay, will you help hide others? If you don’t, will anyone? In The Heavenly Man, Brother Yun became the most wanted man in China because he had helped form the underground church movement and knew everyone in it. Despite imprisonment, torture, isolation, threats against his family, the government couldn’t break him. They didn’t want to kill him because he had so much information about so many others. One day, though running for his life, he was able to sneak back home to check on his elderly parents, who were long-time, well-respected community leaders. They had just been kicked out of their house and were sitting on the curb with what was left of their worldly goods. Everyone knew and respected them, had been helped by them. But not one neighbor had the courage to risk his own safety by taking in Yun’s parents, even for a night!
If so, how? Where will you hide them? Diet Eman helped hide hundreds of people in Holland during World War 2. (Remember The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place?) Her book Things We Couldn’t Say, is full of wisdom she gained by experience from hiding people. Some apartments had walls so thin it wasn’t safe for refugees to talk out loud. Some good-hearted people insisted on taking in so many refugees that they were all endangered just by the amount of mail being delivered to that address or by the number of times passersby heard the toilet being flushed.
What if you need to communicate “danger” or “safety” to those in your house without others understanding? Choose select code phrases or gestures to communicate certain situations to friends. Dorothy Sun’s family stood a broom on the balcony whenever soldiers were in their house, to mean “Danger!” and warn other family members not to come home yet. Prisoners communicate with each other somehow. Do you know Morse code?
If you are interrogated, will you lie? Corrie and Bettie ten Boom said no. When officers came into their kitchen demanding, “Where are the Jews you are hiding?” one of them said, trembling, “Under the table.” The officers were furious. They could see the table and no one was under it! They thought the women were mocking them. They left in disgust. But the truth was, under the table was a hole covered by a rug, leading into a cellar where Jews were curled up, frozen with fear. God protected them, even though the owners of the house told the truth.
On the other hand, Brother Yun said yes. He used a friend’s passport to escape into Thailand. They changed the information inside but they could not change the photo. At the airport, God told Yun not to say a word until He told him to–and God never told him to. So Yun kept silent, just showing the passport to one security guard after another. Each one looked at the picture in the passport, then looked at him and protested, “This isn’t you!” Yet each time, they let him through–until he was on the plane and out of the country! God protected him even though he used forged papers. Years later, a friend who had worked at that airport told Yun, “When you went through the airport, we had just installed a voice recognition device. If you had said a word, because your voice was known and police all over the country had records of it, you would have been arrested.” God protected him even though he deceived the guards.
Diet Eman survived by deception, too. She spent years in a prison camp for helping Dutch Jews escape Holland. As a matter of fact, the ten Boom sisters were in the same camp for awhile and Diet saw them sharing their Bible with inmates and telling them about Jesus. From the beginning Diet determined she would just try to survive (not minister), that she would pretend she was dull-witted and that she would never let the German guards know she understood their language. She knew so much about underground churches, pastors and attendees that she would have been a mine of information for the Germans and could have inadvertently betrayed many. So she made up for herself a name, a family, and a “back story,” involving a birthplace and home on a remote island so her “facts” could not be checked out. She reviewed her lies daily to anticipate any questions prison guards might have, so she would not contradict herself or blurt out the truth under interrogation. She succeeded in convincing them of her story and they dismissed her as feeble-minded. She spent her years in prison scrubbing floors and toilets and was eventually released without having betrayed anyone.
Revoke any ungodly vows you have made because of fear. (God will bring these to your mind if you ask Him to.) I could never___________. I could bear anything but ____________. if I were ever tortured, I’d (tell them everything they’d want to know.)
Make godly vows aloud before God and the enemy that, by God’s grace, you will not love your life until death (i.e., even when faced with death, Rev. 12:11).
What if you are tortured or threatened with torture unless you betray others? Determine now to be faithful to Christ and his body. Vow not to be a Judas, not to betray Christ or each other. Brother Yun vowed he would never betray a brother or sister and he never did. Of course we can’t know what might happen, what the process to force betrayal might entail or how well we might handle it. But if we start now with a determination, like Brother Yun’s, “never to be a Judas,” I believe it will make loyalty more likely. When pressure comes is no time to struggle with or work through that decision.
The hardest theoretical question for me is, What if my loved ones’ lives were at stake, especially those dependent on me or too young to understand and make their own stand for Christ? What if the choice were between them or Jesus? One woman, in her children’s presence, was told they would be tortured if she didn’t renounce Christ. She cried out, “No children would replace Christ!” The guard immediately turned to the children and said, “See, your mother has abandoned you! Your mother doesn’t love you!” She made the right choice but her children never forgave her. No torture they could have experiences would have been as painful to them as the way she expressed God’s priority over them. Mother and children survived and years later, she was able to track down her son. He wanted nothing to do with her. She had broken his heart; now he broke hers. When I told Jerry this, he suggested when confronted with this choice, the mother could have cried out something like, “Jesus, protect my children!” and thus express her allegiance to the Lord without their feeling rejected. That was comforting to me.
Settle these things now.
The Bible talks about stripping down to essentials, like a soldier does. Be ready to move out. Hold everything you own in an open hand, not a clenched fist. In order to stay focused and fit, what do you need to strip away? Gluttony? Gossip? Grudges? Laziness? If you’re tied down to possessions, cut the fat. Get rid of anything weighing you down or holding you back. Keep your eyes on him and let what doesn’t matter fall away.
1. Some whom you trust will let you down. Just as lately I was grieved to hear about Franky Schaeffer’s repudiation of his faith, you may someday grieve because believers you trusted and looked up to will sell out as persecution comes. Someone will lie to save his or her own skin, someone will abandon the faith, someone may betray you. We have to keep our eyes on the Lord and remind ourselves that for a Christian, everything works together for good. Brother Yun saw every beating he was given as coming from the hand of a loving Father to draw him closer and teach him something precious. We NEVER have to be prisoners of any human agency or government. If we are taken prisoner we can choose to consider ourselves, like Paul, prisoners of the Lord. Not one thing can be done to us that he does not allow for our good and his own righteous, loving and glorious purposes. To suffer for him is a privilege. We can serve him in prison as well as at home, maybe better. Like Diet Eman and Dorothy Sun, we can launder our family’s clothes or launder uniforms for prison guards, scrub toilets for Jesus in our home or in a labor camp. It makes no difference, as long as we do it for him. Our bodies may be incarcerated but our spirits can still be free.
One thing I learned from these books is that the body doesn’t matter. It is expendable. But the soul is not. The body is going to decay anyway. You’ll get a new one. The soul which never dies is more important than our mortal lives. It is one of Jesus’ many paradoxes that in order to live, we have to die to self; in order to produce fruit, we have to first be planted. We’re going to die anyway, unless the Lord comes–why not have our death count for him?
Brother Yun was beaten unconscious many times and committed his spirit to God at least three times, thinking he was dying. But the spark of life within him was stronger than his body and they could not put it out. He survived 74 days, by his own choice, without food or water. You and I know–and he knew–that no one can survive that long without water, but he did! His weight dwindled to 66 pounds. He had to be carried by another prisoner to the room where he was given a daily beating. He didn’t care what they did to his body as long as he did not give in to them.
2. God will not let you down. He will not abandon you. Yet do not be surprised if at some point, it feels like he has. Expect darkness. He will still be there but expect times when it doesn’t feel like it. Yun went through a couple of really low periods, despite his amazing faith and resilience. At some point he (and each of the others I read about) cried out to God, “Why are you doing this? Have you forgotten me? Do you care?”
Who is sufficient for these things? But our sufficiency is of Christ. Millions of Christians throughout history have been faithful to Christ until the end of their lives despite all kinds of suffering. Read Acts 11. We can do it too. We can do this! Pray for each other. Pray for yourself. We have a host of witnesses to the faithfulness of Christ cheering us on.
Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
Your reward in heaven will be great.
“Our screen saver is filled with a series of photos that (my husband) and our son took as they hiked the Grand Canyon, about two years ago. I sit and watch it as the photos scroll by, relishing in the Majesty of our great God. And then my spirit cries for all that is about to be lost. And then I can hear Him say, ‘But I will make all things news again.’ And I know that what He will do on the earth will be better than the former.” CF, wife, mother, grandmother, Southern California.
Next time: Provision in Persecution
Soak. Get into God’s word as you would into a Jacuzzi after a hard day. Memorize it for a day when Bibles may be forbidden or confiscated and memory may be all you have. If you have trouble memorizing, just read over and over, feed on, passages about the attributes of God, his power, his love and mercy, his sufficiency. His commands. His promises. Read psalms offering strength and hope. Read and sing spiritually nourishing hymns. You will be stocking your mind with food the Holy Spirit can draw forth when you are spiritually hungry.
(Note: A reader recommended a site–click on word highlighted in blue–in response to our recommendation to “soak” in the Word.)
Yoke. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me. . . for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Of all the “horses in the stable,” we have been chosen to be yoked up with the only one who can really do this job! We’re just petted children’s ponies or old, tired-out nags. Why would HE want to be yoked up with US? What do we have to offer? But that’s his invitation. “Get into harness with me. We’ll do this together. I’ll be right alongside you. I’ll do all the work, hold you up and keep you going. And we get to spend time together! I’ll make you lie down in green pastures. I’ll lead you beside quiet waters. I’ll restore your soul . . .I’ll feed you in the presence of your enemies!” All this, while we are being fired at!
Rick Joyner, in The Final Quest, has a wonderful picture of how we can simultaneously be under active attack by the enemy and walking quietly in the garden with Jesus. Brother Yun, in The Heavenly Man, who was systematically starved, beaten and tortured with electric cattle prods over a period of years, had such precious times in the Lord’s presence and with other believers while in prison that when he was released, he said he wished he were back there because he missed them.
Thank. Thank him for all that you have and thank him that if you lose it all, you will still have him.
Listen. “The Bible says, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” But it also says it is a “still, small voice.” So we have to be still to hear it and we have to practice listening for it. Sin can block his voice–pride, conceit, arrogance. Fear (part of me fears the very thought of pain. So did C.S. Lewis.). Anger. Self-condemnation. Deal with those, then try again. Learn to ask one question at a time and listen until you sense an answer. (As I was developing this skill, I sometimes asked a lot of questions at once and there would be silence. I realized God was waiting for me to back up and pick one.) Eventually we will be able to recognize God’s voice from the enemy’s.
For instance, the enemy condemns. God’s Spirit convicts. Condemnation is a sickening cloud of self-blame, shame and depression, pressing down, hard to shake off. The condemnation of the enemy can come into our minds in the first, second or third person: “I’m bad, it’s my fault, I deserve to be punished,” “You’re bad–” or “She’s bad–.” He reminds us of labels and lies we believe which he stirs up and pokes us with. Condemnation is never from God. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The Spirit’s conviction is clean and sharp as the thrust of a sword. It’s the “wound of a brother.” Conviction is specific and calls for specific repentance. We agree we have sinned and “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 dayThen it’s gone.
A great deal of the psychological torment of persecution is accusation and condemnation. We need to learn to keep our shield up and let these things shoot on past us, not take them in. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He is out to kill, steal and destroy. And he doesn’t play fair; he kicks us when we’re down. So we need to learn not to take his accusations seriously, not to debate him or defend ourselves and not to beat ourselves up for him, using his weapons. We can be condemned by the enemy and still be undergirded with the peace of a clear conscience.
God often speaks to his people in persecution. He can be very specific. He told Joseph, “Get up! Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” When a judge sentenced Freddie Sun to 15 years in prison, the Lord told him he’d be out in five days (and he was). The Lord warned Brother Yun, China’s most wanted man at the time, as he was trying to escape the country, “When you enter the customs hall at the airport, say only what I instruct you to say.” Yun got out of China safely–with an obviously forged passport. (Customs officers pointed out indignantly that the photo in the passport was of some other man who looked nothing like Yun! He just kept silent and the officers waved him through!)
Talk. Talk to God. (Prepare by pre-prayer!) Develop the habit of spending time with him, a relationship in which you can be honest with him even when you’re angry or in despair. If you ever end up in prison or a slave labor camp for your faith, you’ll find it helps (I’m told.). Find a psalm that expresses what you’re feeling and pray it back to him. Pray for those who are already being persecuted around the world and for us, when it becomes our turn. Here are suggested ways to pray:
Pray God will raise up more leaders within the persecuted church and supply courage, strength and boldness for all the believers.
Pray the Gospel will continue to bear fruit in the nations officially closed to Christianity.
Pray for imprisoned Christians to sense the presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit, to count it an honor to follow in the Savior’s steps, to be able to count their suffering all joy and see it as light affliction in comparison to the weight of glory to follow.
Pray for Christians who are beaten and tortured, that the physical violence and psychological torture will stop “not a minute sooner or later than God wants it to,”* and their bodies, minds, spirits and memories will be healed. Pray these brothers and sisters, like Jesus and Stephen, will forgive their tormenters.
Pray God will provide for families of those taken away and alleviate their worry for each other. Pray they too will forgive. Keep families and friends from betraying each other. Give Christians discernment to know whom to trust. Pray God will provide for all who have lost homes, farms, food, sources of water, income in ways that show them His fingerprints and remove fear from all who are threatened with loss or pain.
In Safely Home, a novel by Randy Alcorn, two former college roommates meet again after twenty years. Li Quan has returned to China where he is undergoing severe persecution. His American friend Ben Fielding visits him in prison and asks, “When I go home, Quan, what do you want me to tell people?”
Quan replies, “Tell them if they wish to help, send us Bibles. And pray for us. Pray that those witnessing our suffering will see that Zhu Yesu (Jesus Christ) must be real in order to sustain us. Pray that the rotten prison food will actually taste good to us. He has performed this miracle for me many times. Pray that the rags we prisoners wear in winter will keep us warm. Pray that the beatings and torture will not weaken us, but strengthen us in our faith. And that the enemy will not overcome us and our families with despair and discouragement. Pray that the prisons all across China will become centers of revival, and that Christians in registered churches will be bold, and that house churches will be invisible to the police but visible to everyone else. Pray that our sons and daughters will not be ashamed of their fathers and mothers in prison.”
*Brother Yun, whose story is told in The Heavenly Man, writes, “I knew I’d be released from prison as soon as my ministry in that place was completed, not a minute sooner and not a minute later. . . The first time I went to prison I struggled, wondering why God had allowed it. Slowly I began to understand he had a deeper purpose for me than just working for him. He wanted to know me, and I to know him, deeply and intimately. He knew the best way to get my attention for a while was to give me rest behind bars.
“Whenever I hear a house church Christian has been imprisoned for Christ in China I don’t advise people to pray for his or her release unless the Lord clearly reveals we should pray this way.
“Before a chicken is hatched it is vital it is kept in the warm protection of the shell for 21 days. If you take the chick out of that environment one day too early, it will die. Similarly, ducks need to remain confined in their shell for 28 days before they are hatched. If you take a duck out on the 27th day, it will die.
“There is always a purpose behind why God allows his children to go to prison. Perhaps it’s so they can witness to the other prisoners, or perhaps God wants to develop more character in their lives. But if we use our own efforts to get them out of prison earlier than God intended, we can thwart his plans, and the believers may come out not as fully formed as God wanted them to be. . .
“Christians in China appreciate whenever believers around the world try to help them during times of imprisonment or persecution, but all efforts to help need to be bathed in prayer and rooted in God’s will, otherwise it only seems to make things worse.
“The world can do nothing to a Christian who has no fear of man.”
Yes, the thought of persecution is scary. It involves the unknown. It means having control taken out of our hands. Like the apostle Peter in his old age, it may involve “being taken where we don’t want to go.” It means injustice. It means being misunderstood. It may involve being falsely accused, with no way to clear our record. It may mean loneliness. It may involve pain.
But it also means we will be “following in His steps.” It means knowing him on a deeper level through participating in his suffering. It means appreciating more what he did for us. It means being drawn into mystical union with the saints listed in Hebrews 11, some of whom were miraculously delivered, others who were only delivered through death. It means having that fellowship of faithful ones, from those murdered in the Colosseum of Rome to those who were martyred in Indonesia yesterday, those witnesses to Jesus as our examples of faith–who are also probably watching and cheering us on from the heavenlies, eager to welcome us home when we’ve run our course.
Persecution may not kill us. All those I have been reading about–Diet Eman, Freddie Sun, Dorothy Sun, Brother Yun, Vek Huong Taing, Gracia Burnham–survived brutal persecution decades ago and are alive, thriving and active in ministry today.
Again, “The world can do nothing to a Christian who has no fear of man!”
“All we can do is pray like never before now. To be honest I believe very shortly the church in America will be thriving. From history we see the true church really shine when they are persecuted. Once this persecution starts in earnest everyone’s prayer life will improve. God bless you richly.” HB, husband, father and concert pianist, Illinois
“There is an intimacy with God we can anticipate and look forward to in suffering that those without God can never know. In all honesty, despite the grief I have for the worldly civilization we have lost, I am excited to know that God is going to draw His people out of their spoiled, selfish and childish ways into intimate fellowship with Him. I am strangely anxious with anticipation for the great works He will do in my heart and the hearts of my family through the path He will lead us. It is almost like Christmas. I know there are blessings in what is to come and I can’t wait to open them!! No matter what happens I know that my God is good, He draws me ever nearer to Himself and His hand of protection is invincible.” KT, wife, mother of three, Oregon
I see I’ll have to save practical preparation for next time.