Persecution and Christianity

Persecution and Christianity

Persecution and Christianity

The world is deathly ill.
It is dying. The Great Physician has
already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great
work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living
water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It
is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives
from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence
here, things will change. My sister, Betsy, and I were in the
Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the
crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France,
Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two
hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two
representatives of Heaven in that room.

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom

We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that
place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things
changed. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation;
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We too, are to
be overcomers - bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled
with darkness and hate. Sometimes I get frightened as I read the
Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation
and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell
you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the
last pages. I can now shout "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" for I have
found where it is written that Jesus said, "He that overcometh
shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be
My son." This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the
world will survive - but that we shall be overcomers in the midst
of a dying world.

Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would
heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. "Yes, the Lord will heal
me," Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I
could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete
floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that
day. It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a
purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy’s death, today I
am travelling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation,
that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are
the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the
latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is
already going on across the world. I have been in countries where
the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China,
the Christians were told, "Don’t worry, before the
tribulation comes you will be translated - raptured." Then came a
terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to
death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have
failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution
rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people
how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the
tribulation comes - to stand and not faint."

I feel I have a Divine mandate to go and tell the people of
this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus
Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than
sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already
entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We
are next. Since I have already gone through prison for
Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every
time I read a good Bible text I think, "Hey, I can use that in
the time of tribulation." Then I write it down and learn it by
heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty
percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other
up by saying, "Nothing could be any worse than today." But we
would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible
verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.
"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for
the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part
evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified." (I Peter
3:14) I found myself saying, "Hallelujah! Because I am suffering,
Jesus is glorified!"

In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape
tribulation", but in China and Africa the tribulation has already
arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand
Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never
get into the newspapers because they cause bad political
relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about
that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to
eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ
are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue
right on as though we are all going to escape the
tribulation.

The crematorium ovens at Ravensbruck

The crematorium ovens
at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new
government had come into power. The first night I was there some
of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to
register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same
night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened
with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the
Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.
The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people
came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the
service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, "Will
this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be
the next one?"

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the
screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the
bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.
"When I was a little girl," I said, "I went to my father and
said, ‘Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong
enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.’" "Tell me," said
Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give
you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy,
you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the
train." "That is right," my father said, "And so it is with
God’s strength."

MINI-BIOGRAPHY.

In 1942 Corrie’s family had become very active in the
Dutch underground, hiding refugees. Corrie Ten Boom was arrested
in 1944 and sent to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration
camp in Germany where Corrie’s sister Betsie died. Released
in error, she returned to the Netherlands but returned to Germany
in 1946, beginning many years of itinerant preaching in over
sixty countries, a time during which she wrote many books.

Corrie told the story of her family and their work during
World War II in The Hiding Place (1971), which was made into a
film of the same name by World Wide Pictures in 1975. She died on
April 15, 1983, her ninety-first birthday. A museum in Haarlem,
the city she lived in, is dedicated to her and her family.

"Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to
be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need at that
time." My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a
spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began
singing, "In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that
beautiful shore." Later that week, half the congregation of that
church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed
also. But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord
used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their
leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and
discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world,
but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give
a crown of life. How can we get ready for the persecution? First
we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of
our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we
not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the
principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus
Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History,
but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and
sitting at the right hand of God. We must be filled with the Holy
Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is
absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have
stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they
not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal
Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able
to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other
and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the
tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should
be the dominant force of every Christian’s life. Many are
fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I am a
little bit fearful when I think that after my eighty years,
including the horrible concentration camp, I might have to go
through tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am
glad. When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says.
Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we
got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner
strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will
not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you
will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For
seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He
ever left me, or let me down. Though He slay me, yet will I trust
Him, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown
of life. Hallelujah!

Written in 1974
by Corrie Ten Boom