Several weeks ago I posted the story about a Chinese Christian pastor who said the way he survived extreme persecution was by remembering in the darkness what God had taught him in the light.
Recently I encountered a very similar story. Could this be the “true” story from which the other sermon illustration descended? Are they different stories, told by different Chinese pastors to different hearers?
“…I recall a conversation with Pastor Alan, a Chinese house-church leader. He had been imprisoned for nineteen years, sixteen of which he had not been allowed to see his wife and children. I sat next to him on a wooden frame bed in a small apartment that would soon be packed with 60 to 70 house-church leaders he would teach. It was obvious that the years of forced labor, reeducation, and deprivation had not made him quit the faith or become bitter. I asked him what had kept him faithful all those years. He simply replied Psalms 27 and then he began to quote it.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”
I read this story in a sermon by Dr. Michael W. Stroope, published in The Truett Pulpit (2007-2008). Dr. Stroope is Associate Professor of Missions and M.C. Shook Chair of Missions at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas. Is his first-person story the predecessor of the other? Does it matter? My husband would say that both are stories that “if they aren’t true, they ought to be.”
The idea that God is our Light and that God is willing to go with us into our extreme darkness is at least as old as the Psalmist and is a reality that can be as close as today. I pray you will cling to God in your darkness and experience the powerful difference even a dim glow from the Light of God can make in your bleakest hour.