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ROMANIA: Extreme Betrayal

ROMANIA: Extreme Betrayal

In Communist Romania, churches were closed and pastors arrested as part of a seven-year drive to “eliminate the nations of all superstition.”

So when Brother Vasile and his wife began holding more church meetings in their little home, they knew it would not escape the attention of the government forever. Every evening Vasile prayed, “God, if you know of some prisoner who needs my help, send me back to jail.” His wife  shuddered while she mumbled a reluctant “amen.”

Then they learned that one of the church members’ homes had been raided and copies of Vasile’s sermons had been confiscated. They also learned that the assistant pastor, their friend and coworker, became an informant and had denounced Vasile.

It was 1:00 A.M. when the police raided the little apartment and placed Vasile under arrest. As they handcuffed him, Vasile said, “I won’t leave here peacefully unless you allow me a few minutes to embrace my wife.” The police reluctantly agreed. They would have their way soon enough.

The couple held each other, prayed, and sang with such emotion that even the captain was moved. Finally they escorted him out to a police van with Vasile’s wife tearfully running after them. Vasile turned and called out his last words before disappearing for many years, “Give all my love to our son and the pastor who denounced me.”

Extreme betrayal requires extreme forgiveness. If our enemies come against us with such ferocity, should we not be just as generous with our act of forgiveness? When our enemy stoops low enough to denounce us, ought we not reach higher to find the willingness to forgive them? Jesus taught us that forgiving evil is for our own good. Deep betrayal can cause us to close our hearts to our own experience of forgiveness. If you find yourself being stingy in the forgiveness department, you will experience a meager sense of release from your own sins. Being betrayed is bad enough. Becoming bitter is a defeat you cannot afford. To whom do you need to offer extravagant forgiveness today?

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

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ROMANIA: Extreme Young Missionaries

ROMANIA: Extreme Young Missionaries

Though the Soviet invaders were terrorizing their country, the Romanian children walked steadily towards the Russian soldiers with warm, confident smiles on their faces.

The soldiers greeted them kindly, patting them on the head. Each soldier was thinking of his own children, whom they had been forced to leave behind in Russia.

“Have some candy,” said one of the officers, holding out a handful of chocolate to the youngsters, who eagerly grabbed the hard-to-find treats. “Thank you, sir,” the boys said. “We have gifts for you as well.” They dug into their pockets, pulling out gospel tracts and New Testaments in Russian. “What is this?” the soldiers asked. “It is a book of Good News,” the boys said through mouths full of chocolate. The soldiers thumbed through the tracts.

One officer recognized the booklets as being religious and knew the dangers. He looked down at the children with deep concern in his eyes. If adults had handed out the material, he would have to arrest them. But what harm could these children do? he thought.

What the officer didn’t know was that these children had passed out hundreds of tracts and New Testaments, helping many in the Russian army find God. These children were enlisted into another “army” with an eternal “battle.” Where adults could not safely minister, children walked through a wide-open door with the Gospel.

The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is the difference between “can’t” and “can.” Certainly, believers in both religiously restricted nations and countries with religious freedom encounter closed doors. In some countries, possessing a Bible means a jail sentence. In America, the “separation of church and state” is often taken to extremes. Sometimes our focus on what we are not supposed to do as Christians makes us miss God’s opportunities. We see the closed doors more readily than we see the open ones. For example, while missionaries cannot enter restricted nations as such, “professional” workers are recruited! We can also support national Christian workers who live there. The door is open. Walk through it.

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