Resurrection: Hoax or History?
The Reactions of Jesus Followers
Christians Throughout the Centuries
c. Christians Throughout the
Christians have been persecuted
throughout the centuries. Stephen, the first Christian to be martyred said the
following just before being stoned:
Acts 7:59-60 “While they were stoning
him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees
and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this,
he fell asleep.”
He was at peace and was not afraid to
The Christians at Rome during the first
century suffered a cruel fate as well. They were thrown to be fed to the lions
in the Coliseum. The Romans were surprised that instead of pleading for their
life they were praising God while being devoured by wild animals.
Every attempt to extinguish Christianity
was met by an increase of its membership. In China for example, in 1948 there
were only about four million Christians. Authorities stormed houses and
searched for Bibles to be burned. They would eradicate Christianity. God was
not welcome in their midst. Now-a-days the Christian church has increased by
more than 25 000 percent!
The Bible says: James 1:2 “Consider it
pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” This is
what the persecuted Christians were and are experiencing: pure joy.
This is confirmed again and again all
over God’s Word: Heb 10:32-34 “Remember those earlier days after you had
received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of
suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at
other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You
sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation
of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting
Why would people all over the world
throughout centuries be willing to die martyrdom? Very simple, they all did
experience Jesus in their life and would not let go of the love of God
bestowed on them! Rom 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Here are a few testimonies of people who
suffered martyrdom in the 20th century. There are many more. Some
of them can be read at
http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/persecution.htm. Many other books bearing
the testimony of these great men and women are available in bookstores. Notice
how real Jesus is to them.
Mehdi Diba, Iran
was born in 1934 in Iran into an extremely wealthy Muslim family. He came to
Christ as a teenager and went to seminary and became an Assemblies of God
minister. In 1979 he was put in jail for 68 days because of his faith. In 1984
he was arrested again and for the next nine years he was regularly tortured. On
December 21, 1993 an Islamic court in the city of Sari condemned him to die.
During the trial, Dibaj said the following in his defense: "Life for me is an
opportunity to serve Him, and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ.
Therefore I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honor of His Holy
Name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus my Lord and enter His
kingdom sooner, the place where the elect of God enter everlasting life, but the
wicked to eternal damnation." World opinion pressured Iran to release Rev.
Dibaj in January 1994. For the next five months he encouraged other believers
in Iran. Then in June 1994, he was mysteriously abducted and suffered
Mission experts estimate that 1 out of
200 Christians throughout the world are martyred for their faith. Today in
prayer, thank Christ that the small price for living a godly life is
persecution. Pray for those Christians whose lives are threatened because of
their faith in Christ.
"What a privilege to live for our Lord
and to die for Him as well." - Mehdi Dibaj
By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2003,
Devotional E-Mail DEVOTIONS IN 2 TIMOTHY
Zahid Pakistan ' circa 1986
catch the infidels, beat them! Allah will be pleased," Zahid encouraged them.
The crowd of young men, the youth group of his mosque, waved their sticks and
iron bars and cheered in agreement. Zahid's arrogance and hatred swelled: He
felt he was doing well as a young Muslim priest. His parents would be proud: He
had rallied a rather large group for this outing and they were nearly ready to
go. Within minutes they would be combing the streets of their village for
Christians to ambush.
Zahid had a proud heritage in Pakistan.
His father and older brother were Muslim priests: As expected, Zahid had
followed in their footsteps: Shortly after he was assigned to his first mosque,
his hatred for Christians began to show itself as he rallied his followers
To Zahid, as to many Muslims, Christians
are heretics and should be punished. His government is becoming more
influenced by Sharia law in some provinces. Sharia law calls for the death of
anyone found guilty of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed or the Koran. To
these Muslims, rejecting Mohammed's teachings by becoming a Christian is the
highest form of blasphemy.
When their fervor peaked, Zahid led his
group into the streets. It was not long before they found a group of young
Christians to attack. As the mob descended. upon them, the young boys ran, one
of them dropping his Bible. One of Zahid's group stopped, picked up the Bible,
and opened it to rip out its pages. Zahid had always told his followers to burn
all the Bibles they collected, but this time Zahid felt strangely compelled to
keep it and study it in order to expose its errors to the people of his mosque.
He quickly snatched the book from the man, encouraged him to chase the fleeing
Christians, and tucked the Bible into his shirt for later.
Zahid reported in his own words what
became of keeping that Bible:
"I was reading the Bible, looking for
contradictions I could use against the Christian faith. All of a sudden, a
great light appeared in my room and I heard a voice call my name. The light was
so bright, it lit the entire room.
"Then the voice asked, `Zahid, why do
you persecute Me?'
"I was scared. I didn't know what to
do. I thought I was dreaming. I asked, `Who are you?'
"I heard, `I am the way, the truth, and
"For the next three nights the light and
the voice returned. Finally, on the fourth night, I knelt down and I accepted
Jesus as my Savior."
Zahid's hatred was suddenly gone. All
he wanted to do was share Jesus with everyone he knew. He went to his family
members and those in the mosque and told them what had happened to him over the
last four nights, but they didn't believe him. His family and friends turned
against him. They called the authorities to have him arrested so he would leave
them alone about this Jesus. According to Islamic teaching, Zahid was now
considered an apostate, a traitor to Islam, a man who had turned from his faith
and accepted stupid lies. Thus, he was a criminal.
Zahid was locked up in prison for two
years. The guards repeatedly beat and tortured him. One time, they pulled out
his fingernails in an attempt to break his faith. Another time, they tied him
to the ceiling fan by his hair and left him to hang there.
"Although I suffered greatly at the
hands of my Muslim captors, I held no bitterness towards them. I knew that just
a few years before, I had been one of them. I too had hated Christians.
"During my trial, I was found guilty of
blasphemy. According to the Sharia law, I was to be executed by hanging. They
tried to force me to recant my faith in Jesus. They assured me that if I
cooperated there would be no more beatings, no more humiliation. I could go
"But I could not deny Jesus. Mohammed
had never visited me; Jesus had. I knew He was the truth. I just prayed for
the guards, hoping that they would also come to know Jesus."
On the day Zahid was to be hanged, he
was unafraid of death as they came to take him from his cell. Even as they took
him to his execution and placed the noose around his neck, Zahid preached about
Jesus to his guards and executioners. He wanted his last breaths on earth to be
used in telling his countrymen that Jesus was "the way, the truth, and the
life." Zahid stood ready to face his Savior.
Suddenly, loud voices were heard in the
outer room. Guards hurried in to tell Zahid's executioners that the court had
unexpectedly issued an order to release Zahid, stating that there was not enough
evidence to execute him. To this day, no one knows why Zahid was suddenly
allowed to go free.
Zahid later changed his name to Lazarus,
feeling that he too had been raised from death. He traveled in the villages
around his home testifying of his narrow escape from death. Many of the
Christians did not trust him at first. But soon they saw his sincerity and
received him into their family. They now assist him as he travels from village
to village preaching Jesus as "the way, the truth, and the life."
"I live in a land ruled by the false
teaching of Islam. My people are blinded, and I was chosen by God to be His
voice. I count all that I have suffered nothing compared to the endless joy of
knowing Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life." Zahid
DC Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs.
Jesus Freaks. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Albury Publishing, 1999, p. 52-55.
Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, Iran
early 1990's, Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr was an Armenian pastor in Tehran,
Iran. He was an evangelical who openly shared his faith and spoke out for
religious freedom. He did not believe in succumbing to government pressure and
chose instead to "tell the world" about the plight of Iranian Christians.
He said: "If we go to jail or die for
our faith, we want the whole Christian world to know what is happening to their
brothers and sisters."
In December 1993, Bishop Haik was the
chairman of Iran's Protestant Council and he courageously sent out an open
letter to Western media publicizing fellow pastor Mehdi Dibaj's imprisonment.
Then on January 19, 1994, Bishop Haik disappeared from the streets of Tehran.
The authorities reported his death to his family on January 30. But his and
other Iranian Christian martyrs deaths have not been in vain. Michael G.
Maudlin, author of "Have You Seen Jesus Lately?", reports that: "In 1977 there
were only 2,700 evangelicals in Iran out of a population of 45 million. Of
these only 300 were former Muslims. Today, there are close to 55 thousand
believers, of whom 27 thousand are from Muslim backgrounds."
By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2003,
Devotional E-Mail DEVOTIONS IN 1 CORINTHIANS
How a Communist Girl Found Christ, U.S.S.R.
are three letters from Maria, a Christian girl who led Varia, a member of the
Communist Youth Organization, to Christ.
I continue to live here. I am very beloved. I am beloved also
by a member of the cell of the Komsomol [the Communist Youth Organization]. She
told me, "I cannot understand what a being you are. Here many insult and hurt
you and yet you love all.
I answered that God has taught us to
love all, not only friends, but also enemies. Before, this girl did much harm to
me, but I prayed for her with special concern. When she asked me if I can love
her, too, I embraced her and we both began to weep. Now, we pray together.
Please, pray for her. Her name is Varia.
When you listen to those who loudly deny
God, it seems that they really mean it. But life shows that many of them,
although they curse God with their lips, in their hearts have a great longing.
And you hear the groaning of the heart ...They seek something and wish to cover
their inner emptiness with their godlessness.
Your sister in Christ, Maria
In my former letter I wrote you about
the atheist girl, Varia. Now I hurry to tell you, my beloved ones, about our
great joy: Varia has received Christ as her personal Savior, witnessing openly
to everyone about this.
When she believed in Christ and knew the
gladness of salvation, she, at the same time, felt very unhappy. She was
unhappy, because before she had propagated that there is no God. Now she has
decided to atone for her guilt.
We went together to the assembly of the
godless. Although I warned her to be reserved, it was useless. Varia went and I
went with her to see what would happen. After
the common singing of the Communist hymn (singing in which Varia did not
participate), she came forward before the whole assembly. Courageously and with
much feeling, she witnessed to those gathered about Christ as her Savior and
asked her former comrades for forgiveness that she had had her spiritual eyes
closed until then and had not seen that she herself was going to perdition and
leading others toward it. She implored all to give up the way of sin and to come
silent and no one interrupted her. When she finished speaking, she sang with her
splendid voice the whole Christian hymn: "I am not ashamed to proclaim the
Christ who died to defend His commandments and the power of His cross."
afterwards... afterwards they took away our Varia. Today it is the ninth of May.
We know nothing about her. But God is powerful to save her. Pray!
the second of August, I had a talk in prison with our beloved Varia. My heart
bleeds when I think about her. In fact she is still a child. She is only
nineteen years of age. As a believer in the Lord, she is also a spiritual babe.
But she loves the Lord with all her heart and went at once on the difficult way.
The poor girl is so hungry. When we knew that she was in prison, we began to
send her parcels. But she received only little of what was sent to her.
When I saw
her yesterday, she was thin, pale, beaten. Only the eyes shone with the peace of
God and with an unearthly j joy.
dear ones, those who have not experienced the wonderful peace of Christ cannot
understand it... But how happy are those who have this peace... For us who are
in Christ no sufferings and frustrations should stop us ...
through the iron bars: "Varia, don't you regret what you did?" "No," she
answered. "And if they would free me, I would go again and would tell them about
the great love of Christ. Don't think that I suffer. I am very glad that the
Lord loves me so much and gives me the joy to endure for His name.
I beg that
you pray for her. She will probably be sent to Siberia. They have taken away her
clothes and all of her things. She has remained without anything, except what is
on her. She has no relatives and we must collect for the most necessary things.
I have put apart the last sum which you sent me. If Varia is deported, I will
hand it to her. I believe that God will strengthen her and will give her power
to endure in the future, too. May God keep her!
at last I am able to write you. We arrived well at [location omitted]. Our camp
is ten miles from town. I cannot describe our life. You know it. I wish to write
only a little about me. I thank God that He gives me health and that I can work
physically. Sister X and I were put to work in a workshop where we work at
machines. The work is difficult and Sister X's health is bad. I must work for
both her and me. I finish my work first and then I help my sister. We work
twelve to thirteen hours a day. Our food is just as yours, very scarce. But it
is not about this that I wished to write to you.
praises and thanks God that, through you, He showed me the way to salvation.
Now, being on this way, my life has a purpose and I know where to go and for
whom I suffer. I feel the desire to tell and to
witness to everybody about the great joy of salvation that I have in my heart.
Who can separate us from the love of God in Christ? Nobody and nothing. Neither
prison nor suffering. The sufferings that God sends us only strengthen us more
and more in the faith in Him. My heart is so full that the grace of God
overflows. At work, they curse and punish me, giving me extra work because I
cannot be silent. I must tell everyone what the Lord has done for me. He has
made me a new being, a new creation, of me who was on the way of perdition. Can
I be silent after this? No, never! As long as my lips can speak, I will witness
to every one about His great love.
On the way to the camp, we met with many
brethren and sisters in Christ. How amazing it is that you feel through the
Spirit that they are children of God when you first see the brethren and the
sisters. It is useless to speak. From the first look you feel and know who they
While we were on the way to the camp, at
one railway station, a woman came, gave us food and said only two words: "God
The first evening when we arrived here
(it was late), we were taken to underground barracks. We greeted those present
with the words, "Peace with you." To our great joy, from all corners we heard
the answer, "We receive you with peace." And from the first evening we felt that
we are in a family.
Yes, it was really so. Here there are
many who believe in Christ as their personal Savior. More than half of the
prisoners are believers. We have among us great singers and good preachers of
the gospel. In the evening, when we all gather after heavy work, how wonderful
it is to pass at least some time together in prayer at the feet of our Savior.
With Christ there is freedom everywhere. I learned here many beautiful hymns and
every day God gives me more and more of His Word. At the age of nineteen, I
celebrated the birthday of Christ for the first time. Never will I forget this
We had to
work the whole day long. But some of our brethren were able to go to the river
nearby. There they broke the ice and prepared the place where, during the
night-according to the Word of God-seven brethren and I were baptized. Oh, how
happy I am and how I would like that you, Maria, should be with me, too, that I
may atone at least a little bit, through my love toward you for the wrong I
committed in times past against you. But God puts every one of us in His place
and we must stand firm where God has put us.
greetings to the whole family of God's children. God will richly bless your
common work, as He blessed me, too. Read Hebrews 12:1-3.
brethren greet you and are glad that your faith in God is so powerful and that
you praise Him in your sufferings unceasingly. If you write to others, tell them
at last I have found the opportunity to write you a few lines. I can tell you,
my dear one, that, by the grace of God, Sister X and I are healthy and feel
well. We are now in [location omitted].
I thank you
for your motherly care for me. We received all you have prepared for us. I thank
you for the most valuable thing, the Bible. Thanks to all. When you write to
them, send my greetings and thanks for what they have done for me.
Lord revealed to me the deep mystery of His holy love, I consider myself to be
the happiest in the world. The persecutions that I have to endure I consider as
a special grace.
I am glad
that the Lord gave me from the first days of my faith the great happiness to
suffer for Him. Pray for me that I may remain faithful to the Lord to the end.
Lord keep you all and strengthen you for the holy battle!
and I kiss you all. When we are sent to [location omitted] perhaps we will have
the opportunity to write to you again. Don't worry about us. We are glad and
joyful, because our reward in heaven is great (Matthew 5:11,12).
This is the
last letter from Varia-the young Communist girl who found Christ, witnessed
about Him, and was sentenced to slave labor. She was never heard from again, but
her beautiful lave and witness for Christ shows the spiritual beauty of the
suffering, faithful Underground Church.
Wurmbrand, Richard. Tortures for
Christ. Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Book Company, 1967, 1998, p.
e. John and Betty Stam, China
John and Betty Stam were graduates of Moody Bible Institute. They sailed for
China as missionaries during a difficult time for missionaries. (They were
actually married in China, Betty preceding John to the mission field by one
year.) They knew the risks involved. The China Inland Mission was specifically
recruiting laborers to work in dangerous Communist infested areas. But both of
them had been inspired by a poem written after Southern Presbyterian missionary
Jack Vinson was martyred in 1931. Vinson had showed no fear of death to his
Chinese captors, telling them, "Kill me, if you wish. I will go straight to
God." The calmness he showed inspired his colleague E. H. Hamilton to write this
Afraid? Of What?
To feel the spirit's glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to
Afraid? Of What?
Afraid to see the Saviour's face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid? Of What?
flash, a crash, a pierced heart;
Darkness, light, O Heaven's art!
wound of His a counterpart! Afraid-of that?
Afraid? Of What?
To do by death what life could not
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
With courage and faith, John had
challenged the graduating class at Moody in 1932:
"Shall we beat a retreat, and turn back
from our high calling in Christ Jesus; or dare we advance at God's command in
face of the impossible? Let us remind ourselves that the Great Commission was
never qualified by clauses calling for advance only if funds were plentiful and
no hardship or self-denial involved. On the contrary, we are told to expect
tribulation and even persecution, but with it victory in Christ."1
The day of reckoning came for John and
Betty Stain. (One recent book, obviously based on John Stain's words to his
class at Moody, calls it, "Victory Day for the Stains." What a concept!) They
were captured by Communists (their little baby,
Priscilla, was miraculously spared), then
painfully bound, stripped down to their underwear, and kept under guard for the
night. The next morning, they were paraded down the street while being mocked
and ridiculed, after which they were beheaded-baptizing with blood a stony plot,
till souls have blossomed from that spot. They were not afraid of that!
As word got out about their martyrdom, the
impact was dramatic, both in terms of new missionary volunteers, new student
prayer meetings, and large monetary donations to the work in China. A missionary
with the China Inland Mission wrote to Betty's parents: "A life which had the
longest span of years might not have been able to accomplish one-hundredth of
the work for Christ which they have done in a day." That is the power of
martyrdom! Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to
the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces
many seeds" (John 12:24). One short act of obedience to death gave many others
Excerpt taken from Michael L. Brown's book, entitled Revolution in the
Church, published by Baker Books and available through ICN Ministries (www.icnministries.org),
1 With permission from James C. and Marti Hefley. By Their Blood:
Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Book House, 1996, p. 57-58.
Tortured into Chris, China
last October I was visiting the house church of my friend. I guess you could say
I was looking for God. My girlfriend had run off with a richer man, and my heart
was full of schemes of revenge, some of which were quite violent.
But at my
workplace I was befriended by a man who invited me to a religious meeting.
meeting there were about fifty people present. A real mixture. Some looked quite
wealthy and well dressed. I could not help noticing there were many attractive
young women there also. They were singing and clapping without fear. And then a
man who must have been about forty began to speak from the Bible. I remember him
talking about prayer and the words "ask, seek, knock."
police burst in.
seven officers, and they went to the man who was speaking.
"This is an
illegal meeting," they declared. "You are all under arrest."
had a swagger about them. Clearly they thought they had complete control over
these people's lives. My luck was really out. They picked five of us (including
me), plus the pastor, and hauled us down to the station.
tried to intervene on my behalf, saying, "He is not one of us." But they paid no
attention. As we were swaying against each other in the van, he leaned over and
said, "If you get into real trouble. call on Jesus and He will help."
station we were all placed in separate rooms. "I'm not a Christian;" I said to
the two interrogators. They just kept smoking and replied, "Okay, have it your
way, but you are a criminal. Besides, we will know soon enough if you really are
a Christian or not."
them, "How do you mean'?" He said simply, "When we beat Christians up, they
don't curse like the others." Then his face changed, and he barked orders at me.
"Stand up, feet together, arms straight out by your sides. Put your knees
together and half crouch." I saw what they were up to. They were putting me in
the crucifix position. After five minutes, I was shaking with the effort of
holding my arms at right angles to my torso, and my thighs were giving way, too,
in the crouch position.
One of the
interrogators began burning his cigarette into the palms of my hands. I was so
shocked I screamed and collapsed on the floor. At once they both pounced on me,
kicking me with their shoes. I could hear the crunch of ribs breaking.
thing was, at that moment, I prayed, "Jesus, if you are God, get me through
this." Immediately it was as if my body was a sluice for cool water. And with
the coolness came a rush of compassion for my interrogators. To be honest, I
said to myself, "What a stupid thing to feel for these horrid men who are
beating me." I knew this was the force of Jesus within me, but it did not make
was not over. They strung me up by the thumbs, and that was awful because both
of them dislocated.
morning they let me go with a warning. "Don't you dare go to a Christian meeting
again." But I said to them, "Before I go, I want to thank you."
echoed, mystified, "Thank us?" I said, "Thank you for making me a Christian.
Your cruelty forced me to call on Jesus, and to my surprise, He came into me and
gave me compassion. I see you not as powerful men, but as sad sadists fighting a
losing battle for your self-respect."
stunned. Again, so was I. Who was this speaking through me? It was as if a new
spirit of boldness as well as love was flowing through me.
Now I am
free. I only want to do one thing-tell others about Christ. I intend to get some
Bible training, and then I will depart for another province to spread the Word.
All China must hear of Jesus. If I live to be eighty, then I have fifty-five
years left to spread His Gospel. That's not too long to reach the whole country.
I expect I
will be tortured again. But since I was tortured into Christ, I can, with His
help, endure being tortured for Christ!
Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road,
Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 73,7
g. Why Should I be Afraid of the
A brother who had been terribly tortured by the Communist police shared the
same prison cell with me and told the following incident:
I once saw an impressive scene in a circus. A sharpshooter set out to
demonstrate his skill. In the arena was his wife, with a burning candle on her
head. From a distance he shot the candle so that it fell, leaving his wife
Later I asked her, "Were you afraid?" She replied, "Why should I be? He aimed at
the candle, not at me."
I thought about this when I was under torture. Why should I be afraid of the
torturers? They don't beat me. They beat my body. My "me," my real being, is
Christ. I was seated with Him in the heavenly places. This-my real person-could
not be touched by them. I have lived through the years of enforced exile with
the image of such heroes of faith in my heart. Now, on my return to my homeland,
I again found this same spirit among the Christians I met.
Wurmbrand, Richard. From Suffering to Triumph! Grand Rapids: Kregel
Publications, 1993, p. 5. Used By Permission The Voice of the Martyrs
All of these testimonies from persecuted
Christians have one thing in common: Jesus was and is real to them! He can be
real to you as well!
To me Jesus is real, so real that I
don’t know how I could live a life without Him. He lives in me as promised in
Gal 2:20 “Christ lives in me.” He guides me, talks to me and I always feel His
presence, even though I may be all alone in a room.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to be
very religious and I adhered strictly to all the laws imposed by the church I
was attending. When asked if I was saved, I wouldn’t know how to respond. I
was trying to earn my salvation by my own works, thinking I knew all about
Jesus, when I didn’t know Him at all, personally.
However, all of my efforts seemed so
futile, for I was entangled in an addiction that had haunted me since I was
twelve years old. I tried to free myself from it and even prayed about it, but
all of my efforts were to no avail. If one month went by without me slipping
into this sinful habit, I thought I was victorious. However, to my dismay it
always came back to me with a vengeance, and I was in a deeper despair than ever
before. Pornography was a vice that seemed impossible to shake off!
I tended to be selfish, and I always had
to have my own way. I didn’t like being with others, however, I went to church
weekly. Television played a big part in my life and I often spend hours watching
worthless shows. Listening to music and playing computer games took a toll on
me as well. It seemed I had no time for anything except pleasing the cravings
of my flesh. Is it any wonder that my wife seemed to be distancing herself more
and more from me? I was a lonely, unhappy man! Was there anyway out of
One day, I was in such despair, that I
cried out: “Lord, lead me to your truth. I am so confused!”
A few weeks later, I received an
invitation by e-mail from a friend to attend a Messianic synagogue. He didn’t
know what I was going through, but nevertheless, he felt compelled to invite me
to his church. It sounded interesting, and as they were only a 2-hour car drive
away from where I lived, why not try it?
The day I was supposed to go there, my
mother-in-law fell and was rushed to the hospital. I was unable to go. I
should have known that the enemy was trying to discourage me from having a
unique experience with God. However, this did not stop me from making plans to
attend at the next possible moment, and the following month, we headed to that
place of worship. As we entered the synagogue, both my wife and I felt an
overwhelming presence: God's presence through His Holy Spirit was in that
place! I had never felt His presence before. During the service, the Rabbi’s
wife prophesied that there was someone in the congregation who was facing an
open door, the door of the Messiah Yeshua (the Hebrew word for Jesus). She was
encouraging that person to not hesitate any longer, but to go through that
door. Little did she know that she was prophesying to me!
I thought I knew Jesus, I thought I knew
my Bible, but that day I tumbled down from my ivory tower and accepted Jesus
into my life. That day, He became real to me, and my whole life changed. He
gave me total victory over the addiction of pornography I had struggled with for
30 years. I was finally completely free! And this freedom came without any of
my own efforts! Jesus made me free!
After my first encounter with the Holy
Spirit, I also found I could open my Bible and actually understand it—I mean,
really understand it, like I never had before! The difference was simple:
God's Spirit was dwelling in me. Jesus was so right when he said: John 16:13 3
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”
My outward attitude changed as well. I
started to like being with people and to help them out. Television was not that
attractive to me any longer. Secular music was replaced with Christian music,
where I could sing along my love to the One who made a difference in my life.
Computer games disappeared all together out off my life. My distant wife was
changed as well and we are now closer to each other than when we were first
married. Jesus had become real to her as well, and we discovered that a
marriage based on Jesus is the most solid union anyone can have.
Jesus had become so real to me that my
priorities have changed because of that. Pleasing myself is not attractive any
longer. In fact, it is boring to pursue worthless pursuits. Others have become
more important to me, especially sharing with them the love that Jesus Christ
has for me and for them.
All my life I went to church without
knowing my Saviour. All of my life I tried to earn heaven, but I never
succeeded. Jesus made the difference in my life! Eph 1:11 “It's in Christ that
we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (from THE MESSAGE.)
And He is willing to make a difference
in your life, too! Jesus is real and He wants to be your friend too! Are you
struggling with some kind of addiction? You can be set free! Not by your own
efforts, but by the power of God that Jesus made available to you. Nothing is
too hard for Him. What seems impossible to you is possible with God. I am a
witness of this and can guarantee it is true! His assurance is factual: John
8:36-37 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Do you want to be set free?
What evidence was most compelling to the apostle John that Jesus had been risen
from the dead?
Why were the apostles willing to die for proclaiming the gospel message?
Why were Christians from around the world and throughout centuries willing to
die for believing in Jesus?
What will you do now about Jesus Christ?