Tuesday, June 28, 2016

“The badge of courage does not require that we walk through something dangerous. It simply requires that we continue to share God's love whenever and wherever we are.” — Tom White

A true story from Viet Nam about how God can turn tragedy into triumph and of a brave little girl named Linh Dao who had the courage many lack.  In Vietnam, the Communist leaders do not allow Christians to share their faith with others nor to read the Bible together.  It was there that a little girl of ten already knew that following Jesus could be dangerous.   Her name was Linh Dao.  Linh's family had a lot of Bibles hidden in their home as her father was the pastor of an "underground church" that had to meet in secret. He knew that they might all be caught and killed whenever they met together. But that didn't stop these brave Christians, for they loved God even more than their own lives. So they continued to read their Bibles and worship God together with Linh Dao worshiping and reading with them.  Someone told the police about the Bibles. One scary day, four officers burst into Linh's home. They forced her father to sit and watch while they searched everywhere for Bibles.  Linh loved reading and hearing about Jesus. She just couldn't let the officers take all the Bibles away. So, while the police searched her home and questioned her parents, the brave girl hid as many Bibles as she could in her school backpack.  One of the officers noticed the little girl. "What's in there," he asked, looking at her backpack.  She hesitated for a moment. She didn't want to lie, but if she told him about the Bibles, he would take them all. What should she do? God gave her an answer. "It is books for children," she said.  The policeman turned away. But the four officers had found the rest of the Bibles, and they arrested her father. He was sentenced to hard labor and "re-education." The Communists didn't want him to think like a Christian.  They would try all kinds of cruel tricks to force him to turn from God and trust the government instead.  When Linh's neighbors heard about her father's arrest, they believed he was a criminal. But Linh was proud of her dad. "He is a Christian," she told everyone. She explained that as a follower of Jesus, he had to keep telling others about God's love ­ even when it meant persecution.  Each day, Linh prayed for her father as they continued to read and share the stories of Jesus from the Bibles she had hidden and to continue taking them to the underground church.  Finally, she and her mother and sister were allowed to visit her father in the prison. But they could only see him through a chain-link fence. Linh looked for a way to get closer to her dad, and found a spot where she could squeeze her little body through a chained gate. Once inside the prison yard, she ran up to her father and hugged him, slipping a pen into his hand. The guards watched, but they didn't stop or hurt her.   Afterwards, Linh kept praying that God would use her father to show His love in the prison. He answered her prayer in wonderful ways. With the pen she smuggled to her father, he could write Bible verses on cigarette paper. Soon, the prisoners were passing his "cigarette sermons" from cell to cell.  Many of the lonely men, who had been beaten and tortured, learned to know God and His wonderful love in the midst of their suffering. Instead of "re-education" to be obedient Communists, they learned to love Jesus as their Shepherd and Friend because of one man’s faith and a little girl's courage.
     I saw similar faith from a man riding a bus with me on our way from Greece to Istanbul.  When we stopped at customs, he pressed a wad of papers into the treads of one of the tires on the bus.  When we came back from the government office, he retrieved the wad of papers.  I sat next to him on the bus as we continued into Turkey and asked him about what I had seen him do.  He took the papers out and began folding them flat once more and showed me.  They were pages from a New Testament that contained the Sermon on the Mount.  “These are for my wife and family,” he told me.  “This is the only way I can get the Bible into Istanbul.”  I was awed and humbled by his faith and courage.  We take so much for granted, eh?

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