Bible Reading: John 15:18-16:4
Over the past two days we have considered the issue of persecution, as Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure. I would like to conclude this by sharing one of the most remarkable testimonies that I have ever heard.
I was ministering in Beijing and, after I had preached, Pastor Allen Yuan shared with me personally his experience following his arrest as an “enemy of the State in China in the 1950’s. He then gave me a nine page typed copy of his testimony.
Allen told me that he knew the People’s Security Bureau officials would one day come knocking on his door. When they came to arrest him he was forty-four years old and had a wife, six children and an aged mother. He was one of nine pastors, including Wang Ming Dao, who were tried together, and they were all sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. He and Ming Dao were sent to the border of Siberia and worked in a chain gang. The days were long and there was only one fifteen-minute break each day. Allen thought that he would die as a martyr there. “In the labour camp it was very cold,” he wrote, “food was bad, and the work was hard, but in 22 years I never once got sick. I was thin and wore glasses, but I came back alive; many did not. I also had no Bible for the 22 years.” He told me that he also had no contact with his family through all those years.
Allen was unexpectedly released after 22 years and allowed to return to Beijing, but for a further ten years was kept under house arrest. He shared with me that those years were very tough. Many times the security officials came and beat him and his wife in order to get information about Christians. Finally, after 32 years of prison and house arrest Allen was released. With a twinkle in his eye, Allen told me that from the age of 76 to 86 God had given him the privilege of planting eight unofficial house churches in Beijing.
I asked Allen what the most difficult thing was that he experienced on his return from prison. His eyes welled up with tears, as he said, “When I went to prison my daughter was three years old, and the next time I saw her she was 25 years old. He then gathered himself together and said, “But that’s what it means to follow Jesus, isn’t it!” I asked him if he had a word for me, and he responded, “Yes, and it is a more sure word of prophecy – “Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life” [Revelation 2:10].
Remember the promise of Jesus to His disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” [John 16:33]. Allen Yuan fully proved the truth of that promise in his life, and we can too.
What are the principle lessons that you have learned today from the testimony of Allen Yuan?
Read John 16:33. How do you put Jesus’ command to “be of good cheer” into practice when everything is going wrong in your life?