Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Light's Will Never Be The Same

The Lights of Christmas Story

OFTEN ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL GATHERINGS and creating social unrest, house church pastors in China face arrest, persecution and imprisonment. When imprisoned they are forced to do hard labor – making bricks, mining coal, putting together cigarette lighters...and even assembling Christmas lights. The same Christmas lights we use to celebrate the Savior’s birth are being used to punish Chinese pastors who have risked everything to share Jesus to the largest people group on earth – it’s a story that captures everyone’s heart who hears it. Instead of boycotting these items, house church leaders in China have asked that we use our Christmas lights as reminders to pray that they have the strength to stand firm for the Savior during their suffering, and for the Lord to protect and care for their families. The Lights Of Christmas Story PICTURE THIS! A COLD, DARK PRISON CELL IN THE NORTHERN INTERIOR OF CHINA. The cell is only 20' by 20' and occupied by 40 prisoners. One of these prisoners is a Chinese underground church pastor in his mid-40s, sentenced to a three-year prison term for preaching the Gospel of Christ. At 5:30 a.m., after being allowed four hours of sleep, a swift blow awakens him to his back from the boot of a communist prison guard. Pastor Stephen is allowed to have one of the two bowls of soup that will be his food for the day including the one small steamed roll he is given each day, he will consume perhaps 500 calories. Now all 40 prisoners are taken to a room and put in two lines facing each other and forced to kneel. In front of each prisoner is placed a box containing unassembled Christmas lights. The guard viciously barks out the command and Pastor Stephen quickly grabs the empty strings of lights and begins to assemble them. He takes the tiny individual light bulbs and threads the two small metal wires extending from the glass through the plastic holder and bends them into place. Before long, his fingers are raw and bleeding. Then he puts the bulb into the fitting on the string of lights and clamps it into place with his teeth, as prisoners are not allowed tools. His quota for the day - 5000 bulbs. Work will continue for 16 to 20 hours or all night if necessary. If the guards are unsatisfied with the speed or quality of the work, he will be beaten mercilessly. Such is a normal workday for this humble servant of God. When he is taken back to his cell, he recalls the many verses of Scripture he has memorized and thanks God for His faithfulness in spite of the hardship. Then quietly he begins to sing worship songs he has hidden away in his heart and he begins to pray for the well being of his family. Tears of thanksgiving begin to roll down his face as he ponders how blessed he is to be considered worthy to suffer for Christ. Blessed because he is a part of the underground Church of China - the largest Church in the world, numbering over 80 million believers. A Church that is vibrant and passionate and deep in the things of God. A Church that is paying a great price for this great turning to God with persecution and suffering. For more information on this click.


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