In Tramp for the Lord Corrie Ten Boom describes the occasion when she found herself preaching in a small country in Africa which had been taken over by a government that was making determined attempts to kill all Christians. As you can imagine she could see the fear and tension written on every face as she went to preach in one church. She read to them from 1 Peter 4:12-14, urging them not to be surprised at having to pass through such a fiery ordeal, but rather to count it a privilege if such suffering were to come their way “for you can be sure that God’s spirit of glory is resting upon you.”
She reminded the congregation of how, as a little girl she had told her father that she was afraid that show would never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus. “When you take a train trip from Haarlem to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket?” her wise father asked. “Three weeks before?”
“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “And that is how God will provide for you. He knows what you are going to need and when. Today you do not need the strength to be a martyr but as soon as you have the privilege and honour of facing death for Jesus, He will supply the strength you need – just in time.”
She went on to tell the congregation of an incident that had occurred in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where the Bible was described as ‘A Book of Lies,’ and where a cruel death awaited anyone found either to possess a Bible or even just talking about the Lord Jesus. On one occasion a woman who was well known as one of the fiercest guards sneaked into one of the informal meetings Corrie arranged and listened in.
Determined to be bold for Jesus, even in the face of extreme danger, Corrie continued her message and then invited the others to sing a hymn of praise. This was a big test for the others, but they followed Corrie’s lead. As soon as they had finished the guard shouted, “Sing another!” “And another!” From that moment on her attitude changed towards them, becoming much more friendly.
Of that time Corrie related, “I have never felt such peace and joy my heart as when I was proclaiming the Bible message in the presence of my enemy. God gave me the grace and power I needed. The money for the train ticket arrived just when I needed it.”
She heard later that more than half of the people present in that African congregation met a martyr’s death. The spirit of glory and of God will have been resting on each one of them – and they will have received a martyr’s crown (1 Peter 4:14).
There are so many other lovely stories in the book but I want to just mention one more. Whole books are dedicated to the question of whether Jesus heals people today. Listen to this example. Corrie was at a missionary conference in India when a woman came up to her and asked if she believed that Jesus that still heals the sick. Corrie told how, when she had been in Indonesia, she had noticed a particularly weak lady, the wife of a dear Chinese pastor, who had suffered an extremely serious head injury. The moment Corrie laid hands on her prayed she was healed. The missionary lady was listening carefully. ‘Do you need to know a person’s type of sickness before you pray for them?” she wanted to know. “I am very ill. Will you lay hands on me and pray?”
Corrie did so and then the woman rose slowly to her feet and informed her that she had leprosy. Knowing what a serious disease that is, Corrie was filled with fear, wishing that she had been told this ahead of time, because then she would not have prayed for her.
Five years later, Corrie she was back in India when someone knocked on her hotel door. She opened it to find a beautiful woman facing her. “I’m the one you prayed for all those years ago to be healed,” she prompted. Corrie was amazed. “But you’re an entirely different person,” “The Lord has healed me completely.” She replied. “The doctor has said that I am totally free from leprosy!”
Over the years Corrie developed a perceptive awareness of when demonic spirits were involved in situations, but above all she had an unshakable confidence in the word of God.
“If you are a lover of chocolate,” she argued one day to some border guards as she made her way into East Germany, “would you prefer a list of the ingredients that make up a bar of chocolate or to eat the real thing? We are not called to try to analyse and dissect the Bible with our heads alone, for our hearts can never be nourished by it.”
Just as Corrie constantly encouraged the people to whom she ministered to use the word of God as the sword of the Lord to overcome evil in every situation they found themselves in, so may we encourage each other to use this wonderful weapon that God has placed within our hands. No wonder the enemy has always gone to such lengths to try to keep it out of peoples’ reach, by not permitting it to be translated into the local languages or to be printed in certain countries.
Jesus, may we use the Word of God as you did, to defend ourselves and each other against every form of attack, and to take ground for You. Amen!
A woman who was going as a missionary to China in the days when it was a country still more ‘closed’ to the gospel than it currently is was asked if she was not afraid. She replied “I’m afraid of one thing only – that I should become a grain of wheat not willing to die.” How much more Christ like is such an attitude than sitting around singing, “Let Thy congregation escape tribulation!”
Praise God for those who have displayed astonishing faith in Christ in the face of martrydom. Death sometimes come so fast that there is no time to reflect, as occurred so tragically in the recent massacre in Sutherland Springs in Texas. May the Lord be with each person who faces imminent death or danger.