COMMITTED. We were talking about the importance of memorizing Scripture so we would have the promises and truths of God hidden in our hearts if Bibles became illegal here in America as they have been in many countries around the world. One of my girls mentioned this true story, sharing that the woman knew she was about to be imprisoned for being a Christian, so she memorized 100 chapters of the Bible to prepare for her time in prison. That brief synopsis was enough to convince me that I had to know her story. I purchased the book some time ago, opened the cover yesterday, and finished reading the entire book this afternoon.
It is amazing how many Christians have suffered for Christ in ways we have never even considered. A choice few became famous for their suffering, traveling the world to share their stories, and writing books to preserve the detailed truths of what they endured. But for every famous figure tortured for Christ, there are thousands of others who are not remembered by men. Yet their names are recorded in the scrolls of heaven. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Revelation 6:9-11
We must remember them. The named and the unknown. For they stood firm in the day of testing and persecution, refusing to bow to idols, refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and boldly preaching the Gospel to every person set before them - without shame and without fear. Tortured or martyred, they willingly suffered and died for the sake of Christ. And thousands were brought to saving faith because of the unwavering faith of the martyred saints. Tortured - yet singing. Beaten - yet giving their daily food ration to another. Persecuted - yet smiling and praising God for His goodness and deliverance.
We cannot forget these men and women.
Because one day - it might be us.
I want to share some quotes from this book, for they inspire and encourage me to increase my faith because like Ahn Ei Sook, I know that on my own I am not strong enough to stand. Without Christ, I will fall. Without Christ, my flesh will win. Without Christ - I am nothing.
"I would not bow before the idol, even if He did not save me from the hands of the enemy. I was saved by Jesus. I could bow only before God, the Father of my Savior.
Of all the people at the shrine, I was the only one who remained erect, looking straight at the sky."
"I was only an ordinary woman. No kingdom was awaiting my rule. Still, I knew that my Lord had ordered me to fight. I had no choice except to bear testimony of my Savior until I should die."
(Before entering prison, when she was still in hiding.) "During those days and weeks I sang and prayed and memorized more than one hundred chapters of the Bible as well as many hymns.
I felt faint to think of what would happen to me. 'How long will I be able to endure?' I kept asking myself.
I read the Bible earnestly and had a new concern to memorize important chapters against the day when I would be in prison without my Bible."
(The underground church.) "We took great care to go to the house every Friday night ... We met quietly, sang hymns in low voices, read the Bible, gave testimonies, and prayed. Our prayers were long and serious.
We were filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more an honor to die for the Lord. We constantly lived in fear of the police, but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one.
I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God's presence and trust His promises."
(A godly, older man encouraging her.) "When the world is at peace, not very many people diligently seek God. Only at times such as these of persecution and disorder by the hands of satan do believers awaken in faith.
What would happen if God kept silent at such a time as this when satan is working so powerfully to kill men spiritually? It is at such a time as this that God works even more zealously to protect His believers. It is at such a time when God never rests."
(When taken to prison and speaking with her mother before entering.) "Now I'm going to enter the advanced course in the college of faith ... Christ Himself is the Principal, so I am sure He will teach me about true faith. Isn't that wonderful?"
"You must follow Him completely," she said, "if you are to learn from Him. You must lose your life so that Jesus may live within you. That will mean death to yourself every day, every hour, and every minute."
"Having been overwhelmed by God's infinite love and glowing with love for Jesus, I looked forward to being persecuted and tortured for His sake as a trial of my faith.
I had read the Bible several times and stored God's Word, will, and promises within my heart. I was prepared. I thought I would probably be able to give a good answer in this test. This was truly the trial I had been waiting for."
(Regarding prison and wicked jailers.) "I decided these experienced might be God's will. Hunger, trials, and unbearable tribulation provided good opportunities to experience the Lord's promises."
(When all persecuted Christians were released from prison at the end of WWII.) "When we were all together just inside the gate, the jailer in charge shouted for attention. 'Ladies and gentlemen! These are the ones who for six long years refused to worship the enemy's gods. They fought against severe torture, hunger, and cold, and have won out without bowing their heads to the idol worship of the enemy. Today they are the champions of the faith!'
Suddenly the throng of people outside the gate shouted as one. 'Praise the name of Jesus!'
A hymn was sung:
All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all."
Thank You, Father, for the work You have done and are doing in the lives of Your saints. Some died for Your name, some have endured indescribable suffering, and some have only felt the sting of persecution. Thank You for giving them the strength to stand firm on the day of testing, letting others see that the "joy of the Lord is our strength" so others marveled that they could sing and pray and smile in the face of death. Death has no power over the believer since Your Son conquered death when He surrendered His life on the cross of Calvary. Praise You, Lord, for this truth! PRAISE YOU! And we thank You, Lord, that every saint who suffered for Your name, and for the sake of the Gospel, is now enjoying peace and joy in Your presence - forevermore.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3,4