One threat they face is being forcibly conscripted into the army by the junta. One pastor in a remote village told Open Doors’ partner Lwin*: “Last week, the village chief was asked to recruit 30 men for the military. Now the Christians, including the pastor, are hiding in the forest.”
One of the most loved Brother Andrew stories recounts a risky incident from early in his ministry. On this occasion, Brother Andrew approached the Romanian border in his car—which was packed with illegal Bibles.
He could only hope the border guards were moving swiftly and not paying much attention, which might allow him to pass through undetected.
But just as he was hoping this, Brother Andrew saw the guards stop the car at the front of the line. He watched, in anticipation, as the vehicle’s owners were forced to take out all of the car’s contents and spread them on the ground for inspection.
Each car that followed received the same treatment, with the fourth car’s inspection lasting the longest. The guard took a full hour to sift through it, including removing hubcaps, taking the engine apart, and even removing the seats.
“Dear Lord,” Brother Andrew remembers praying, “What am I going to do?”
As he prayed, a bold idea came to Brother Andrew. “I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search. Dare I ask for a miracle? Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen.”
Putting the Bibles out in the open would truly be depending on God, rather than his own intelligence, he thought. So when the guards ushered Andrew forward, he did just this. “I handed him my papers and started to get out. But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.”
And then, the almost unbelievable happened.
The guard looked at Brother Andrew’s passport and abruptly waved him on. “Surely thirty seconds had not passed,” he remembers.
Brother Andrew started the engine and began pulling away, all the while wondering if he was supposed to pull over so the car could be taken apart and examined. “I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake. Nothing happened. I looked out the rear mirror. The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out.”
God had cleared the way for Brother Andrew to smuggle the Bible to Christians who had no access to God’s Word.
Revelation 3:14-22 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
What a strong rebuke from the Lord to the Laodicean Church.
Doing a study of Laodicea we find much deeper meaning of what this letter truly meant and also how it applies to us today.
- No supply of water directly from city, they piped it in from a spring miles away. By the time it got to town it was full of minerals, sulfur, and as the Lord put it lukewarm. It was disgusting.
- Known for selling a black wool which prospered the city. There was no physical lack.
- Known for healing. There were many physicians known for their healing remedies here, especially the eye and ear salve.
The Lord rebukes everything the Laodiceans held dear to their hearts. Everything they identified with and took pride in was like dung in the sight of Christ. “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” How this applies to 7th and final Laodicean church age we now live in. The church has more money than it ever has. The church has more natural resources than ever to preach the gospel. The church seems to be very large and prosperous on the outside. So many with large congregations and hundreds of people attending, yet with an attitude we have need of nothing. Unfortunately we are so miserable and completely broke spiritually. Wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
The Spirit of God has completely left the majority of congregations due to the lukewarm condition and we carry on as if we have no need of repentance/change. Will we hear the Lord’s loving voice and correction? If we do there’s a wonderful promise for us at the end of the letter, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
“Tell him, Timothy, please!” Maura pleaded with her husband. “Tell the governor where the scriptures are hidden and be free! I cannot bear to watch any more of this.” Timothy and Maura, residents of the Roman providence of Mauritania, had been married only a few short weeks before their arrest.
Timothy had refused the governor’s demand, and Maura had watched in horror as Roman soldiers burned out his eyes with hot irons. Now Timothy was hanging upside down, with a weight hanging around his neck. As Timothy waited for his gag to be removed, the fear that he had felt at his arrest was replaced with divine calm.
But then, instead of renouncing his faith and disclosing the location of his church’s copies of the scriptures as the soldiers expected, Timothy scolded his young wife. “Do not let your love for me come before your love for Christ,” he urged her. Seeing her husband’s courage, Maura’s own resolve was strengthened. Enraged by Timothy’s refusal and Maura’s newfound courage, Governor Arrianus sentenced them to the harshest tortures of the Roman world. Yet, they refused to break and deny Christ. Eventually, they were crucified, side by side.
Romans 8:17 “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
After requiring many hours of hard labor and offering a near starvation diet, the Chinese prison guards demanded someone volunteer to clean the bathrooms daily. None of the women prisoners spoke up. Finally. Sister Kwang stepped forward and volunteered to do the rotten task. She saw it as the ultimate opportunity to share her faith with women in the prison whom she would otherwise never see. During her time in that prison, she led hundreds of women to Christ.
Kwang’s devotion was evident to all who knew her, but it came through much suffering. Before her imprisonment, she and her husband had volunteered to organize groups of evangelists who traveled around China forming small house churches. When Communist officials discovered Kwang’s activities, they beat her twelve-year-old son to death. Still, she refused to deny Christ and even continued to build the house-church movement after her release.
Finally in 1974, the Communists decided to make an example of “mother Kwang,” as her church members now knew her. She was sentenced to life in prison, put in an underground cell with a bucket for sanitary needs, and fed only dirty rice. She was miraculously released after ten years and always looked back on her prison time as a gift – a special opportunity to share the love of Christ with people who might never have heard otherwise.