“…they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword…” – Job 1:15.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Job lived in a very great country. In his country, people were free to do the most amazing things.
We read in chapter one of his book, verse 15, about some people — the Sabeans. The Sabeans fell upon the asses and oxen of Job, and took them away.They slew the servants with the edge of the sword. One alone escaped.
We read in verse 17, the Chaldeans formed three bands and fell upon the cattle and carried them away.Yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword.
People were free, even as they are free in America or Australia, to commit crimes: robberies, murder, assault and rape. That is what was considered freedom in the time of Job.
Not everybody was a bandit or a robber at that time. There were very honest people like the friends of Job. But these friends of Job came only after all the catastrophes had happened to Job.
They did not do anything to prevent such terrible crimes from happening.They were not with him while he suffered. They were unconcerned. They came after Job had lost everything, and instead of words of comfort, they upbraided him.
The loneliness in suffering
In suffering, men usually have no friends. I know that not only in communist countries people are suffering, they are suffering here in America, too.
When the heart is most burdened, usually you are alone. Rarely you will find somebody to understand you, to be ready to listen to you. We Americans cannot listen to somebody’s suffering because the problem on the color television is much too interesting. We see there people weeping, being shot, being wounded. There are many weeping next door to us. We have no time for them because we watch the picture.
In all our dramas, we are alone, we have no earthly friend.This problem can be solved only one way. You become a friend. Don’t ask others to be your friends.
All men are one and we are meant to cooperate as kidneys, lungs, liver, legs and brain. As organs cooperate for the health of the body, so we all should feel that we are one and we should care for one another.
The great commandment which our Lord has given to us is found in John 13:34.”A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have given My life for you… that ye also love one another.”
The radiant flower of love
Because it so happens that I passed 14 years in communist prisons and also some time in Nazi prisons, everybody expects from me to speak out against communism.I prefer rather to speak out for Christ.Instead of speaking about the ugly things of the devil, I prefer to speak about the beautiful commandment of love which Christ gave us and about His beautiful example.
It is said about the Emperor of Japan that he heard about one of his nobility who had a splendid garden with orchids.No one else had such beautiful flowers. He said to this nobleman, “I will come on such and such a day. I wish to see the garden.”
On that day, the man waited outside his palace. The emperor’s carriage arrived and he said to the ruler, “Your highness, let us go first to the garden.” They entered the garden. It was ploughed. Not a single flower could be seen in the garden. The emperor wondered, but did not say a word. Then the nobleman said to the emperor, “Let us have tea.” They entered into the tea room.
There in a jar was just one flower, but a flower of radiant beauty, overwhelming beauty. The nobleman told the emperor, “I have kept the most beautiful flower for the best of emperors. The other flowers were not worthy to live.”
I believe that for our emperor, Jesus Christ, we have to keep in our hears just one flower — the flower of love. All the other flowers are not worthy to live.
Jesus Christ is embodied love. He gave his life for us. Every one of us should offer Him our self sacrificing, our burning love.
I am happy to tell you about the Christians behind the Iron Curtain that in spite of unspeakable persecution, have kept this love. The communists could kill bodies of Christians. They could maim them. They could torture them. They could slay Christians. But they cannot slay the love of Christians, neither their faith.
How the church in China grew
I imagine that many of you must have heard the name of Watchman Nee, the renowned Chinese evangelical writer. He passed away some 20 years ago after having spent 26 years in communist prisons. We have been told about what happened to him in prison.
They arrested him, Wang Min-Dao, and so many other Christian leaders. Samuel Lamb and Allen Yuan, with whom we continue to work today, were arrested at the same time and each suffered more than 20 years in prison.
The communists had closed all the churches. Red China is a country with 1.2 billion inhabitants. Every fifth man in the world is Chinese. God loves the Chinese very much. Proof is He has made so many of them: 1.2 billion. For such a population not one single church was left open. Everything had been destroyed.
The underground church, however, was blooming:hundreds came to Christ and were baptized although the church was underground. The communists were very alarmed about this and asked themselves how this was possible. Then they found out.
Watchman Nee himself had smuggled letters to the Christians outside the prison and his letters were of such beauty and such Christian depth that the Christians outside were strengthened in their faith. They became full of zeal and they won new souls for Christ.
So the communists said, “We can outsmart Watchman Nee. Henceforth, the guard in front of his cell will be changed every 6 hours and never will the same guard be twice on duty because he converts the guards, and persuades them to smuggle out the letters. If we change the guards every 6 hours, he will have no time to convert them and no letters will be smuggled out any more.”
They multiplied the guards. More guards were converted and more letters were smuggled out. The church in China grew even faster.
We smuggle into China and other countries Bibles and other Christian books.We broadcast the Gospel in a number of languages, and we help the families of Christians who are in prisons. Thousands are in prison. Our couriers go and bring the news of what is happening where Christians are persecuted.
There are underground churches all over Red China. Also in Vietnam, Laos, and other communist and Muslim countries.
Overcoming hatred with double doses of love
When you meet hatred, don’t reproach the perpetrators with “Why do you hate?” He hates because I don’t love enough. If I would double the doses of love, it might overcome his hatred.
Once there was a a great fire in a town and a man came with a cup of water, and threw it onto the fire. The fire continued to blaze. He came back and said, “What stupidity. People believe that water quenches fire. You have seen, I threw water onto the fire and it was not quenched.”
He did not know the truth — a cup of water does not quench fire but many hoses with water quench fire. Christian love, as much as we have it today, does not quench the fire of anti God hatred. So we have to increase our love.
Christ has given us an example of love. He forsook heaven for us, was born in a stable, led a whole life of sorrows, allowed himself to be flogged, spat upon and crucified because He loved. He has given us the freedom, not the freedom to commit wicked things, but the freedom to spend our lives in love.
A torturer repents
I don’t have much time to tell you all the beauties of the underground church. I should perhaps tell you just one episode which I have lived. We were in a prison cell; some 30 or 40 prisoners. The door was unlocked and the guards and pushed in a new prisoner. He was dirty like we were. We had not washed ourselves in 3 years. So he was dirty, and we were dirty. He was shorn and had the striped uniform of a prisoner. In the half darkness of the cell we did not recognize him, but at a certain moment, one of us exclaimed, “This is Captain Popescu, I recognize him!”
Captain Popescu had been one of the worst torturers of Christians. He had beaten and tortured even some of us who were now in the same cell with him. We wondered how he had become a prisoner of the communists and how he had been put in a prison cell reserved for Christians. So we surrounded him and asked him his story.
With tears in his eyes, he told us that a few months ago he sat in his office. The soldier on duty knocked at the door and said, “Outside is a boy of 12 or 13 who has a flower for your wife.”The captain scratched his head. He did not remember that it was his wife’s birthday, but in any case, he allowed the boy to enter.
The boy entered with the flower in his hand, very shy, but very decided, and said, “Comrade Captain, you are the one who has put my father and mother in prison. Today is my mother’s birthday. I have the habit every year on thisday, out of my little pocket money, to buy a flower for her. Because of you, I have no mother to gladden today. But my mother is a Christian and she taught me since I was a little child to love my enemies and to reward evil with good. Because of you, I have no mother to gladden today, I thought to give joy to the mother of your children. Please take this flower to your wife and tell her about my love and about the love of Christ.”
It was too much even for a communist torturer. He was also a creature of God. He also has been enlightened with the light which enlightens every man who comes into this world. He embraced this child. He could not beat any more. He could not torture anymore. He was no longer useful as an officer of the communist secret police. He came to suffer together with the children of God and was happy for this new state.
Believe in love
We have all experienced the love of Christ towards us. Now this Christ, who died and resurrected for us, lives in our hearts and imparts in us this love. The enemies of God can kill us. They cannot kill love. If you tramp on a flower with your boots, the flower rewards you with its perfume.
Let us have before our eyes the love of Christ who saved us. Let us have before our eyes also the love of our brethren who have heavy burdens, thousands of times heavier than our burdens. Continue to simply believe in love.
Let us follow their heroic example. Let a new Christian life start with every one of us. You must not be shallow Christians. You must not be lukewarm Christians. Our love towards Christ can be a full, overflowing one. Amen.
Warmly yours in Christ Jesus,