PRAISE GOD

Three things about praise believers should know:

i.   Enter into God’s presence with praise and thanksgiving, Psalm 100:4
ii.  Praise glorifies God, Psalm 50:30; Psalm 22:3
iii. Praise brings victory, 2 Chronicles 2:22

Psalm 22:3. The praises of God’s people, ascending like clouds of incense, form as it were the throne upon which the LORD sits. (Cambridge Bible)

This morning as I was going through an online magazine, I read these words by Robert Murray McCheyne: “I am deeply persuaded that there will be no full, soul-filling, heart-ravishing, heart-satisfying outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit till there be more praise and thanksgiving.” He then goes on to stir up the hearts of his readers by pointing out God’s goodness, His holiness, His infinite wisdom, His power, His love, His mercy.

I thought, ‘I need to praise God in the same way! And there are a lot more attributes of God that I remember.’ I said, ‘Let me write them down!’ This is what I wrote, and what I intend to practice now and henceforth during my times of devotion.

PRAISE GOD

1. For His goodness, Psalm 52.1; Psalm 31:19
2. For His holiness, Revelation 4:8
3. For His wisdom, Prov 21:30; Rom 11:33
4. For His power, Psalm 62:11
5. For His love, Rom 5:8; Rom 8:38,39
6. For His mercy, Psalm 103:11, 17.
7. For His grace, John 1.16; 2 Cor 12:9
8. For His faithfulness, Lam 3:23
9. For His truth, Rom 3.4; John 3.33
10. For His omnipotence, Luke 1.37; Rev 19.6
11. For His divine comfort, Isaiah 40.1; Rev 21.4
12. For His peace, Isa 26.3; John 14.27
13.For His two great spiritual resources, ie Word of God and Prayer, John 17.17, Matt 7.7
14.For the fellowship of the saints, Phil 1.5, 1 Pet 2.17
15.For the Church, the Body of Christ, Rom 12.5; Gal 3.28
16.For the Holy Spirit, John 14.17b, 1 John 4.4
17.For His presence, Exod 33.14, Matt 28.20, Heb 13.5
18.For His eternal salvation, Heb 5.9, Isa 61.10
19.For the Saviour, Matt 1.21, John 3.16, Heb 7.25
20.For His security & protection, Psalm 121, John 10.28, 29
21.For His glory & majesty, Psalm 45.3; Isaiah 6:1; Revelation 4
22.For His past deliverances, 1 Chron 16.12; Psalm 105:5.
23.For His ministering angels, Heb 1:14; Matt 18.10
24.For the Finished Work of Cross, Heb 10:10,12,14.
25.For His gifts & blessings (both spiritual & material), Eph 1:3, James 1:17

We need to meditate on the glorious attributes of our great God and Saviour, the Triune God: our Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Holy Spirit.

We should spend time pondering over the divine virtues of our loving God, who has revealed Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ, while rejoicing over His past deliverances and thanking Him for His innumerable gifts and blessings. Then we can say from the bottom of our heart: ‘Our God is good and His mercy endures forever. The goodness of God endures continually. There is none good but God.” Imagine a world where there is nothing good; how terrible that would be! How we need to thank and praise God for being so very good, so full of grace, and so holy and righteous and true! Above all, we need to praise Him for His wonderful, everlasting, inseparable, Calvary love!

JK

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THE DENIALS OF PETER

Denial of Peter – Painting by Karel Dujardin, Dutch, 1622-78

My daily portion today was Matt 26:57-75. I usually read a chapter a day, but sometimes when the chapter is too long, I read half of it for a day. So I was completing Matt 26. I read about the many false witnesses against Jesus; the high priest putting Jesus under oath (which means Jesus had to answer the high priest according to the Law, and acknowledge that He is the Christ, the Son of God; followed by the powerful words in verse 64). How completely blinded they were! If Jesus were just a man, he would have spoken blasphemy. But He was not only a Man; He was God in the flesh; He was Son of God, v 63, and Son of Man, v 64. The dual nature of Jesus is not understood by many Muslims today; they being blinded by Satanic deception. But there are also many Christians who are not familiar with this important doctrine, confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.

But what I want to focus on is regarding the denials of Peter, Matt 26:69-75. Read also Mark 4:66-72; Luke 22:55-62 and John 18:17-18 & 25-27. It is significant that Peter’s threefold denial is narrated in all four gospels. That means it is worthy of deep meditation.

We usually declare that Peter denied the Lord Jesus thrice, and leave it at that. Or we say that Peter’s downfall happened in stages – ‘seven steps’ to his downfall, as in some popular sermons. But surely we need to go deeper than that. How did Peter deny the Lord? What were his utterances? In Matthew there is first a flat denial, v 70. “I don’t know what you’re saying!” And then he says, “I don’t know the Man!” v 72; which he repeats again, cursing and swearing, “I don’t know the Man!” (The cursing and swearing is not against God; he is making a strong oath which if untrue will bring a curse upon himself!)

We say, “O Peter, O Peter! How could you do that?” But we are ignorant of the deceitfulness of our own heart! Let us direct Peter’s words against ourselves. Are we, by our life and conduct, declaring that we don’t know Jesus? Are we denying Him both by words and works? Titus 1:16 says: “They profess to know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Strong language that!

When did we last speak up for Jesus? Are we truly His witnesses, like the early Christians in Acts of the Apostles who boldly declared, Jesus is Lord! Do others in this world know that you are a follower of Jesus? Or, are you hiding your light under a bushel? What is your Christian witness? Where is ‘the word of your testimony’, testifying that you truly ‘know’ Jesus? Are you indwelt by Him as a born-again Christian? Peter said twice, I do not know the Man! Do you ‘know’ Him? Do you know Jesus as God? We have to search our hearts.

Look at Mark’s Gospel. Here Peter is a little more elaborate. He says to the servant girl: ‘I neither know nor understand what you are saying.’ Mk 14.68. The girl twice says that he was one of those who were with Jesus of Nazareth, i.e. one of His followers or disciples. Can you say that you are a follower of Jesus? Do you truly follow Him? Do you truly serve Him? Read John 12.26. The Greeks wanted to see Jesus, but Jesus goes further than ‘seeing’; He says, in effect, ‘You will ‘know’ Me if you follow Me, serve Me and surrender your life wholly for Me.’ (I believe that John 12.24-25 speaks of our being a living sacrifice for our Lord Jesus.) Inward knowledge is more important than outward seeing.

Let’s turn to Luke’s Gospel. Here again, Peter denies that he was with Jesus, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him,” Lk 22.57. Again he denies that he is one of the followers of Jesus, Lk 22.58. And when he is exposed as a Galilean (the majority of Jesus’ followers were from Galilee, where Jesus did most of His ministry), he flatly denies it.

Finally, John’s Gospel chapter 18. John is very clear. The servant girl asks Peter: “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He denies it, v 17. Again the same question from others, and he denies it, v 25. Finally he is almost caught by a relative of Malchus, servant of the high priest, whose ear Peter had cut off. “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” In fear and panic, Peter denied it with oaths and curses.

The question, or challenge, for us is: Are we ready to stand the test? (Remember, Peter was tested regarding his vow that he would not deny Jesus. Matt 26:33, 35.) Will you stand up for Jesus? Or will you back down, cave in? We are all going to be tested in the fire. May the Lord make us His bold witnesses, ready to give ‘the word of our testimony’ in this wicked Godless world; let us declare that we are the followers of the Lamb; let us be His bright shining witnesses in this dark world. We know Him, we follow Him, we serve Him…and we ‘do not love our lives to the death’, Rev 12.11. May the Lord strengthen our hearts and make us bold witnesses and brave disciples, living by faith and fearing none.

I believe the story of Peter is not just about human weakness or the deceitfulness of the human heart. We all are like Peter; it is difficult for us to stand in the hour of testing and trial. But, remember, the Lord is praying for us even now in heaven; He is our heavenly High Priest and Intercessor. At times our faith may fail, but He is ever faithful, 2 Tim 2:13. He will carry us through; He will restore us, revive us and use us mightily (as He used the same Peter mightily in the days of the early church, Acts 5:15).

Let us love the Lord Jesus with all our heart and serve Him joyfully as we get to know Him more intimately as we follow Him, walking in His footsteps daily, in our earthly lives.

In the end a true witness is a martyr for Christ. And Simon Peter, who denied Jesus so terribly in the passages referenced above, ended his life as a martyr for his Lord. Does it not speak of the immense grace and mercy of our loving and compassionate Saviour and Lord? We may fall terribly, but underneath are His everlasting arms. “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail; and when you have repented and been restored, strengthen and establish your brethren.” Luke 22.32

RO

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ANITA DITTMAN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Anita Dittman Holds Up Her Book, “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell”

According to Anita Dittman, there is an old saying, “Love your enemies and do good to those that hate you.”

“Well,” said Dittman, “God made me put this into practice.”

Dittman, author of Trapped in Hitler’s Hell, got a little choked up, something that happened many times throughout the afternoon as she spoke at First Lutheran Church in Ellendale Sunday, April 26.

Dittman was born in 1937 in Breslau, Germany, near the Polish border. Her mother was an Orthodox Jew and her father was a pure-blooded German. They lived in a lovely suburban neighborhood in a nice, big house. She lived a very comfortable lifestyle for 5 ½ years until Hitler came into power. When that happened, each person had to write their names on a list, either Jew or Aryan. Anita looked at her mother and asked, “What am I? I’m both.” When her mother directed her to write her name on the Jewish list, she responded, “I would rather be on that list. I would rather be a victim than the oppressor.”

Ballet was her one main passion in life. Her mother had enrolled her in a class where the teacher, who used to be a prima ballerina, took a special interest in her. Her teacher groomed her to be a prima ballerina as well. When she was 7 years old, her teacher allowed her to start dancing with the “big girls” and she was featured in her first ever performance. At the end, everyone applauded and her teacher gave her a little doll. That night, she said, “I had some of the sweetest dreams I ever had. But come morning, the papers were saying, ‘Germans no longer wanted to be entertained by the Jews.’”

She continued her ballet classes, however, until the time when her father left the family and they were forced to move. They were no longer able to afford ballet lessons anymore and she had to give up on her dreams. A few months later, a friend invited her to Easter service at her church. “During that service, I was so awed,” she said. “Christ came into my life at that point and I had the deepest sense of security.” She ran home to tell her mother and older sister what she had just learned. At first they didn’t believe her. She said, “It took my mother a few years, but she finally listened to me. My sister never did. I learned that no matter what, Christ has a way to scoop up our shattered hopes and dreams.”

November 8, 1938 is the night known as Kristallnacht, when Nazis smashed Jewish storefronts and dragged old men from houses by their beards. “Some of them came back, but most of them didn’t. One of our neighbors, who was an Aryan, came to our house and said for us not to go to school the next day because it would be too dangerous. The teachers all understood why we did not come and we didn’t get punished,” said Dittman. “The teachers were all very kind still and no one had joined the Hitler Youth yet.”

At the beginning of 1939, the family received some good news. An organization was going to help them get visas so they could go to England before the storm that had been brewing finally erupted into war. Unfortunately, not too long after they received this news did they hear that the Nazis had burned all the papers and they had to reapply for visas all over again. During that time, they had to move out of the suburbs and into the inner city Jewish ghetto. It was basically one huge building with many floors and apartments. More than 200 people lived in the building. Four families lived together in one apartment, which had one bedroom and one bathroom. Dittman said, “It was all okay though. We all adjusted to each other because we were thankful that we were still free.”

When Anita was 15 years old, she was pulled from class by the principal and handed an envelope from the SS. Fearfully, she opened the envelope but found that she had only been permanently suspended from the school. Dittman said, “The principal had said that it was about time that they got people like me out of schools anyway. So I went to go work with my mother in the labor camp. We had to work hard labor for 10 hours a day, but we were still allowed to live at home and go to church.” During the summer of 1939, something wonderful arrived in the mail. It was a visa. The only problem was that the only visa that had arrived was for her older sister. The others were still being processed and would take some time yet. They urged her sister to go to England and they would eventually meet up with her soon.

The time to meet up with her sister never came. As of September 1, 1939 no traffic could go in or out of Germany without Nazi approval and no foreign mail was allowed in. Along with that, her hope of getting a visa and leaving the country vanished. Life went on until January 2, 1943. That day she and her mother were getting ready to go to work at the factory when someone knocked at the door. The SS agents grabbed her mother by the collar of her coat and demanded she go with them. They also put red labels on everything in the house except for Anita’s bed. When asked what the red labels were for, Anita was informed that everything with a red label was now property of the Nazi party and would be taken to a storage facility. If she wanted anything back she would have to pay for it. Anita was allowed to accompany her mother to the train where she would be taken to the concentration camp. She asked her mother what she should do about getting the things back. Her mother responded with, “Call your father.”

Dittman said, “When I saw my mother go into the train and the door closed behind her, I had to do everything in my power to keep from crying out. I didn’t start crying until I was all alone.” Luckily, the camp that Anita’s mother was taken to allowed them to get mail and food packages. Anita knew she had no money to pay for food packages to send to her mother, but she did not want her mother to starve. She decided to spend half her rations on food for her mother and went with very little food. She had always sent her mother a big loaf of light bread with the money, but one morning she woke up with the decision to send her dark bread instead. She didn’t know why this was but she followed that instinct. Years later she found out that her mother had gotten sick and couldn’t eat the light bread. She laid in her cot, thinking to herself, “Lord, please have her send dark bread instead.”

Eventually there was a knock on the door for Anita as well. She was told to pack a knapsack and suitcase with anything she would need and head to the railroad station by the next day. She decided she would have to send a message to her mother somehow to let her know Anita would not be sending food for a while. She bought one more loaf of light bread and wrote a small note on red paper and stuck it deep into the bread. She then made it look like the bread had never been cut into so no one would become suspicious. After sending the bread off, she prayed that the Nazis, who sometimes helped themselves to the food instead of giving it to the prisoners, would not do so this time. Years later she found that when it had arrived at the camp her mother was staying at it was so covered in mold that the Nazis wanted nothing to do with it and gave it directly to her mother. When her mother wiped all the mold away, she found the bread still as fresh as the day Anita had bought it and the note inside the bread.

At the railroad station, Anita was put onto a train with other people. Some of them were clubbed if they did not move onto the train fast enough. When they arrived at the camp, she was housed with 150 or more other women in a filthy, old cow shed. They were each given two gray horse blankets. The men were staying in the horse stable. The toilet was an open ditch with no shelter from the environment. There was one faucet on the outside of the barn for washing. They were awakened at dawn each day and given some bread with imitation coffee for breakfast. They were then supplied with digging equipment and were going to dig ditches to stop the Russian tanks. They were told many times, “You are working for Adolf Hitler now. You should feel honored.”

They were not given any food to eat during the day besides the bread at the beginning. They were allowed a sip of water every once in a while. Rest was only awarded for the day if it was raining; it did not rain for the first six weeks they worked there. At the end of the day, they were finally allowed to eat. Food was brought in a huge bucket and everything was mixed together. Dittman mentioned, “We never asked what was in it. We didn’t really want to know what might be swimming around in there.” After they ate for the night, they were allowed some free time. Anita found four other women who were Christians and formed a little Bible study with them as they were all allowed to keep their Bibles. 

In October, they were forced to pack up and move to another camp. In this camp they were working in the forest cutting down trees. They were told in November that when the work was completed they were going to be sent to Auschwitz to be cremated. The conditions at the camp were horrible and many of them contracted lice; however, all of them thanked God that they were not in Auschwitz yet. During Christmas, those who were Christian were allowed to go to church for one hour of reprieve from the camp. On January 23rd they were told to pack their things and stand outside where they were marched away. At this time, Anita had a chance to run away.

A group of boys from her hometown told her they were going to run back to their hometown. They said that since everyone was gone from there already, nobody would find them there or even think to look. They urged her come with them. She was tempted to go but a man that she had grown to love, named Christian, urged her to stay back with him and his sister. She loved him dearly and chose to stay with him. This proved to be a good choice: the boys who had run away had been reported to the Nazis, who tracked them back to their hometown. They had been hiding out in the apartments when the Nazis dropped a bomb on the building, killing them all. 

Around this time, Anita noticed all the German villagers were getting restless and were running around, packing their belongings. When asked what was going on, she was informed that the Russians were coming. They all began walking, hoping to outrun the Russians by a good amount. At this point, Anita had a blister pop. Dirt started to get into the sore and she began to feel weak. She did not let the guards know this because, “They had a saying, ‘If you are not fit to work, you are not fit to live.’ And I wanted to live.” After a while, the men were held back and the women were forced onto wagons, some having to leave their husbands behind. 

They finally came up to a camp but found that it needed a key. Anita and one of her friends volunteered to go get it with a driver of one of the wagons. While the guards discussed things among themselves, Anita, her friend, and the three others from the Bible group devised a plan to run away. The three others would sneak off and head to the railroad station where they would wait for Anita and the other friend. Thankfully, they were all able to get away and meet up and shed their work clothes; they had regular clothes on underneath. They agreed Anita looked the most Aryan of the group with her long, blonde hair and everyone would believe them if they said she was one. They were able to sneak away on a train.

Anita fell asleep and woke up shivering and feverish. They had no choice but to take her to the Red Cross facility in Berlin. When it was time to stop, a nice German officer carried her off of the train, believing her to be Aryan. They found shelter at one of the girls’ in-laws where the soldier dropped her off and left. By morning, it was determined they were going to have to take her to the hospital. They discovered the nurse was a Nazi, so they were all forced to keep quiet about who they really were. The nurse wrapped her wound and told her they would have to operate on her. After Anita came out of the operation, she heard the nurse speak, “Boy, that girl sure talks a lot.” After hearing that, Anita knew she had most likely mentioned something about her being a Jew.

The nurse’s behavior soon became sadistic. She refused to give Anita antibiotics after the surgery and would allow soap and other residue to enter into the infection, making it worse. Along with physically harming her, she also mocked and ridiculed her. Dittman mentioned, “She really wanted to kill me. She could see herself getting awarded with a medal from Hitler for killing a Jew. That thought seemed to please her.” Eventually one of Anita’s friends brought concerns to the doctor in charge, saying he should go check on Anita. The doctor had been hearing from the nurse that Anita had been healing perfectly and had not thought she needed to be checked upon.

Dittman said, “That was one reason I knew the doctor was not a Nazi. When he checked up on me, he actually did something about it.” She immediately had to go into surgery again and when she woke up she discovered she had a new nurse. The other nurse was sent to another section of the hospital with bigger pay. Dittman stated, “They had to be careful in those days. The doctor couldn’t fire her and say it was because he was trying to save a Jew’s life.” Anita prayed every day for God to save her leg and not have it cut off. Her prayers were answered. She eventually was able to walk again and got better day by day. One day the sirens went off, informing everyone the Russians had arrived. 

Anita was lucky in one regard to her legs being in the state that they were. When the Russians invaded the hospital, they immediately started assaulting every woman. When one got to Anita, they thought that the bandages around her leg was fake and immediately took it off. Puss began to ooze out at him and she said, while laughing, “I guess I grossed him out so bad they all left me alone after that.” She got up eventually to go out into the hall. There, she spotted someone sitting on a mattress and crying. She recognized her as the nurse that had tried to kill her. She deliberated for a moment and finally went over to comfort the nurse.

The nurse cried out that the Russians had assaulted her various times. Anita comforted her and after a while the nurse asked, “How can you come and comfort me? Don’t you realize I tried to kill you?”

Anita said, “Yeah, I know that. The Lord has given me courage to come and forgive you.”

After that day, Anita was forced to leave the hospital because there were more residents coming in who needed the beds. She started her journey to find her mother. She met up with another Jewish person who informed her his home in Prague was not too far away from the camp that her mother was at. He said he would like to be her escort for that part of the trip. On June 7, 1945 she was finally reunited with her mother. She found out the Russians had invaded 24 hours before her mother’s camp had finished construction on the new gas chambers and they had been spared.

Together, they reached out to her sister in England. Although they were in contact with her, they were still not allowed to go to England. It had been badly ravaged during the war and could not take in immigrants for a long time. They set off for America instead. They sailed over very rough sea for 11 days. Her mother was one of four out of 200 people who did not get sick. Dittman mentioned, “That’s fine. I was sick enough for the both of us. But we all, all 200 of us, were up on deck to see the statue of liberty for the first time. Well, it didn’t turn out the way we expected. The foghorn was blaring the whole time and there was so much fog we couldn’t hear and see anything for a good while. But when we say it,” she began to choke up, “it still gets me every time I think of it.”

Anita and her mother stayed in New York for a while to rest. They eventually made their way to Iowa and settled down. Anita finished her schooling and went on to college and married; she has two children who live in the Cities. 

NICOLE BILLING

(A Minnesota Newspaper Report)

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ANGELIC PROTECTION

During the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in 1960, missionaries Matt and Lora Higgens were returning one night to Nairobi through the heart of Mau Mau territory, where Kenyans and missionaries alike had been killed and dismembered. Seventeen miles outside of Nairobi their Land Rover stopped. Higgens tried to repair the car in the dark, but could not restart it. They spent the night in the car, but claimed Psalm 4:8: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” In the morning they were able to repair the car. 

A few weeks later the Higgenses returned to America on furlough. They reported that the night before they left Nairobi, a local pastor had visited them. He told how a member of the Mau Mau had confessed that he and three others had crept up to the car to kill the Higgenses, but when they saw the sixteen men surrounding the car, the Mau Mau left in fear. 

“Sixteen men?” Higgens responded. “I don’t know what you mean!” 

While they were on furlough, a friend Clay Brent asked the Higgenses if they have been in any danger recently. Higgens asked, “Why?” 

Then Clay said that on March 23, God had placed a heavy prayer burden on his heart. He called the men of the church, and sixteen of them met together and prayed until the burden lifted. Did God send sixteen angels to represent those men and enforce their prayers?

TRUE MISSIONARY STORIES

From crossroads.to

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THREE RED MARBLES

 One day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

      I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

      Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and  the ragged boy next to me.

     “Hello Barry, how are you today?”

     “H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas … sure look good.”

      “They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”

      “Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”

      “Good. Anything I can help you with?”

      “No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”

      “Would you like to take some home?”

      “No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”

      “Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”

      “All I got’s my prize marble here.”

      “Is that right? Let me see it.”

      “Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

      “I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort  of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”
      “Not zackley … but almost.”

      “Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”

      “Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.”

      Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.  With a smile she said, “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one,  perhaps.”

       I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering. 

      Several years went by, each more rapid that the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

      Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts … all very professional looking.

      They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes  followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes. 

      Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size … they came to pay their debt.”

       “We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.” 

      With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. 

      Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles. 

W.E. PETERSEN

This story first appeared in the October 1975 Ensign Magazine

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GEORGE GRENFELL RESCUES TWO SLAVE GIRLS

Over a hundred years ago, two young girls lived in a small village in the jungles of Congo, Africa.  Instead of a house, they slept in a small grass hut. Instead of worshipping God, they believed in all kinds of nature spirits and witchcraft. When they weren’t helping their mothers with baking bread and preparing meals, they often stood on the shore of the big river and watched the men come and go in their dugout canoes. 

But one day something terrible happened.  Warriors from an unfriendly tribe raided their village and captured the two girls. They brought them back to their own village and sold them as slaves to their chief. The two frightened girls had to work very hard. If they didn’t please the chief, they were beaten. Nobody seemed to care about them anymore.

But God cared. He soon sent a young man to rescue them.  His name was George Grenfell, and he had come all the way from England to tell the people in Congo about Jesus, the Savior. He traveled up and down the river — which was also called Congo — on a small steamboat named “Peace.” As he passed the different tribes and villages, God led him to the natives who needed His love and were ready to hear about Jesus.

One day, God brought him to the village where the two girls were held captive. When the chief showed him his unhappy young slaves, Grenfell felt sorry for them. Though he didn’t want slaves himself, he paid the price for freeing them from their unkind owner.  

The girls were both excited and a little scared. They didn’t know why Grenfell had paid their ransom. But they climbed into his boat, and started the trip upriver.  

Before long, they faced another danger. Grenfell spotted a group of warriors carrying their swords along the river bank. Some of them jumped into their dugout canoes and paddled toward the steamer. When the big boat was close enough, the warriors began to throw their spears at the boat. Grenfell knew their lives were in danger, so he prayed to God for wisdom and protection.

Suddenly one of the girls began to shout and wave her hands.

What is it?” asked Grenfell.

“That’s my brother!” she cried. “This is my village!”  

By now, both girls were waving and shouting. So were the warriors. They were too noisy to hear anyone else. 

Then God gave Grenfell a great idea. He told the pilot to blow the ship’s whistle. The loud, piercing sound frightened the men. They had never heard anything so shrill and strange. Suddenly all was quiet.

“Call your brother again,” whispered Grenfell. She did, and this time he heard. He paddled up to the boat and recognized his sister. She told him how the man in “the canoe that smoked” had saved her from her slave master.

When the warriors saw that their “enemies” were actually their friends, they put away their weapons and invited Grenfell and the pilot into their village. There they listened quietly as Grenfell told them about the real Savior, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to pay the ransom for all people held captive by sin and by satan. 

By trusting in Jesus and following His way, they, too, could be part of His family. God would free from all the frightening things in their lives.  He would watch over them in this life, then bring them home to heaven for all eternity.

The two young girls had suffered terribly, but God turned the tragedy into triumph.

TRUE MISSIONARY STORIES

From crossroads.to

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LESSONS FROM THE 1905 REVIVAL IN MEGHALAYA

    

Nongsawlia Presbyterian Church, Meghalaya

      That evening a friend called to see me; she had spent many years in India, she knew the life, she had learnt her lessons and gained her experience. “I was in the Great Revival”, she said to me. “I was here when it broke out in the Khasya Hills. I will tell you about it.” And there until midnight we sat and talked of the wonder-working power of the Blood of the Lamb and the Life Giving Spirit sent to revive. She had a great story to tell, and it has made an impression upon me that I never want to forget.

      Eagerly she bent forward, and her face lit up, as she began to tell of the wonderful happenings she herself had seen and felt. It was the time of the Welsh Revival, and the weekly mail brought letters telling us how God was using one man to stir the principality; sinners were convicted of sin, whole villages were converted and the Holy Ghost was working in power in every town and village they knew. A hunger and a thirst for God took possession of them. The Mission to which they belonged was a part of the same church in Wales gripped by Revival. It didn’t take long for them to realize that this was for them too, and prayer was vital. They felt the power in the letters received and they knew it was of God, and nothing else would satisfy them, but that they should also be in a Revival, and so they gave themselves to prayer.

      Pentecost was their need, Pentecost was what they asked for, and it was Pentecost they received. In a little Chapel where a few Christians were gathered for prayer, they suddenly felt an Unseen Power, and all went down in His Presence. Their cries went up as one, and the noise was so great that the heathen in the village ran to see what it was, and a great fear came over them. “What was this power?” they asked. “Why are these men on their faces? ” And even while they questioned, they were silenced by the Spirit moving over them, and they cried out to be saved.

      The Revival spread; one station after another caught the fire, and the glory of the Lord was revealed. Singing and praying and worshipping God went on through the night and a band of born-again Christians were gathered into the fold. The missionaries were revived, new life came to them, and this missionary friend said to me: “I have never known such glory, wherever we went we saw the work of the Holy Ghost, and we gathered together to tell each other of what we knew.   We read about the Revival in Wales, but we experienced it in the Khasya Hills, and never was there such an experience before or since. The fire melted us all together; we saw the Lord and we trod the heavenly way. Oh, it was glory just to walk with Him.”

      “I went to another station to meet some friends; others arrived at the same time, and I was put into a grass hut, for the house was full. It was the cold weather, and I wondered how I could keep warm. A hot bottle was put there for me; sleep would not come, but oh the glory that filled my soul! I felt as if I must be in Heaven; the cold night was filled with holy gladness, and I sang unto the Lord in an ecstasy of joy unspeakable, and love inexpressible was mine. I knew I had found Him, and He had found me, and the Holy Ghost had come to immerse me in Himself that I might abide in Christ forever.”

      “I got out of bed to kneel before Him in worship and adoration. The clock struck twelve, then one and two, and I lived in the glory; my heart was satisfied and His presence filled the little hut. Before breakfast was served the next morning we sat round the table and sang to Him. All our conversation was of Him. In a very real and intimate way He had come to us. The Welsh Revival had reached US. God had spoken to us, and was speaking through us to others. Every day we heard of those who were being added to the Church. Conviction of sin was very real; repentance and restitution came hand in hand, and we all felt that we had lived for that time, and all my being said, ‘ Glory’.”

      “We were there for some days, and then a friend called to see me, and we began to gossip and criticize others. Something was said that was detrimental to another, and as we talked something happened.” The speaker paused, and her voice quivered, “I lost the glory from my soul; it just slipped away, and I stood there after the friend left, feeling as if something was slain within me. I went to my grass hut, but there was no glory. I knelt to pray, and I could only cry. I knelt in an agony of mind. What had I done? Nothing very much, I only joined in conversations that led to gossip, making light of another and with drastic swiftness we took away her good name, and the glory I had received departed from my soul.”

      “And then?” I questioned. She shook her head and with a very sad voice answered; “I have never felt the same; that glory has not come back to me.” I was awed by the story, and I felt her agony. Oh, to be a helper. “Thou shall not go up and down as a talebearer,” is written in The Book, and how little we heed it! Is that why we see so little of His glory? I asked myself. Then Psalm 101:5 came to my mind: “He that secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will cut off.” “CUT OFF”? What is this thing that must be handled with such drastic treatment? Slander is falsely accusing another. It is taking away a good name and putting something else there. It generally begins with a bit of gossip, no harm is intended, but gossip leads to criticism, and criticism kills love and creates unkind thoughts and words, and slander is made easy. “Shun gossip, as you shun the Devil,” wrote one who knows what she is talking about, and I remembered her then. We sat in silence for a very long time, and then we knelt to pray. A longing that was inexpressible took hold of me, and I prayed that I might never forget that lesson.

      God knows all there is to know about us. He has nothing to find out and He is not deceived by any one of us. When He told us to be holy in all manner of conversation, He meant exactly what He said. It may be that some of us have missed the way because we have not ordered our conversation aright. To be entangled in the yoke of gossip is a snare and a delusion, it is love destroying, time killing, and a power that separates beyond recall, and it had stolen the glory from the friend who sat with me.

      Hand clasped hand as we stood at the door. We looked up at the stars, and then she went out into the night. I turned in and began to think it all over. I knew that God had a special reason for letting me hear that story and a solemn responsibility of the truth of life took possession of me. I sat there alone while a long procession of God’s children passed before my mind. I saw visions, and heard words, and gathered thoughts that are a sign and a warning. There are no shortcuts in the way of holiness. An unguarded word may send one who seemed safe down a steep incline. A word of slight may take all the heart out of a brave warrior, and a good word withheld may do untold harm when it might be said.

      I thought on, and I seemed to hear the whisperings of those people who had seen the miracles of the Savior. Being jealous of His reputation because the Crowds followed Him, they began to gossip. “Who is He?” asked one. “He does that which is not lawful on the Sabbath.” “He is a nobody.” “Is not this the carpenter’s Son?” And as they talked, another joined the group. “He is a friend of publicans and sinners. He is a wine-bibber. He is a bastard.” And though they knew His life and heard His words and saw His miracles, they set Him at naught. Who likes to be set at naught ? Yet they did it to Him. The leading religious people of the day called Him up and asked Him to explain Himself, but ” He answered them nothing.”

      He understands the suffering caused by unkind criticism. He has led the way of silence in cruel and unjust accusation. He has made a clear cross-marked way for those who would follow Him, and if we are ever tempted to think that we suffer unjustly, one look at Him will silence every murmur, and in reverent awe we shall sing:

      “Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus-
      Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on.
      Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus,
      By the Cross-marked pathway,
      Till my journey’s done.”

MARY WARBURTON BOOTH

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MY BORN AGAIN TESTIMONY PART 3

Hebron Church, Hyderabad, Aerial View

My born again testimony will not be complete until I share how I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. After I was born again, I attended two small assemblies in Hyderabad, but the Lord was leading me to Himself. It was about a year after my new birth that I came across some books in a Christian book exhibition of the local YMCA. Those books, or booklets they might be called, were by Bro Bakht Singh. One was ‘My Chosen One’ and the other was ‘The Voice of the Lord’. When I read those books I felt that God’s light was shining into me through those pages. I was drawn to reading more of Bro Bakht Singh’s books. One was titled ‘David Recovered All’. This book had a great impact on me. I had lost 18 years of my life in wrong doctrines, being caught in the Worldwide Church of God cult of Sabbath-keeping. Bro Bakht Singh’s book spoke of how ‘David recovered all’, 1 Samuel 30.18. I was reading this book in Surabaya, Indonesia where I had gone for a 14 day visit to the kampungs. I was in Hotel Elmi and reading this book when the Lord touched my heart and I confessed my sins and wretchedness before the Lord and wept into my pillow and surrendered myself to Him, knowing Him now as Jesus my Saviour and Lord. It was like the experience of the man born blind in John chapter 9. He came to know Jesus as the Messiah in stages, by gradual revelation. And that’s what happened to me, one year after I was born again.

I was not baptized by full immersion, but had undergone ‘sprinkling’ in the Anglican Church. A message on baptism by Watchman Nee in one of his books touched my heart; he said baptism is the first step in Christian obedience. I was determined to be baptized. But I did not know where. I was working in the Municipal Administration and Urban Develpment Dept of the Govt and an opportunity came to me to go to Delhi for a meeting, at a time when some Christian convocations were going on in Delhi. There were two convocations: one in a big school called Mt Carmel in South Delhi and the other on the outskirts of Delhi in a slum area called Mongolpuri, about 25 kms from India Gate. I was told to go to the big convocation. But when I attended the first meeting in the school, I was not satisfied. The man on the stage was weeping in an artificial manner, and something inside me was telling me that this is not the place. So I left. The next day was October 2nd, 1992. I spent time in my guest house praying and by evening, the Lord told me to speak to a certain brother who was associated with the other convocation in Mongolpuri. I rang up the brother, and he gave me directions. It took me about 2 hours to travel by bus to the place. When I landed in Mongolpuri, I did not know where to go. I asked some rickshaw pullers at the bus-stand about where some Christian meetings were being held and by God’s grace I was directed to the place by the rickshaw puller who took me there. It was all the Lord’s leading.

It was dark when I arrived, and the Lord’s messenger was speaking on Jacob. The message immediately went to my heart, and I knew that this is where I was to be baptized. That night I slept on the pulpit of that little church called Bethany in Mongolpuri. The next morning we went out to distribute gospel tracts, and sell gospel and Bible literature. I too took part in the open-air procession of believers. I tried to sell the books given to me, but I couldn’t. When we were returning, I experienced ‘open heaven’. Within a few minutes, people started asking for the booklets and New Testaments, and everything I had was sold. It was a novel experience. Another novel experience was kneeling down to pray in the dusty lanes of that huge slum village. I felt I was kneeling down to God, and by humbling myself I was giving glory to Him. My heart rejoiced in giving glory to God. That night I was baptised in the small baptistry (tank) in the church. I felt Satan trying to attack me in my mind with an evil thought. Little did I know the ways of Satan, but the Lord was continually protecting me. After baptism there was the laying on of hands, and when I returned to Hyderabad I started attending Hebron Church, the church started by Bro Bakht Singh in 1958.

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MY BORN AGAIN TESTIMONY PART 2

Karimnagar Landscape. (This can be viewed on the road to Huzurabad.)

I was posted as Collector Karimnagar in 1990. This district stood last in the rankings of the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh. There was a severe Naxalite problem in that district. I was determined to make a mark as a District Collector, and toured all the 56 mandals, working night and day. My wife was with my two children in Hyderabad, since they were studying in a school there. In those days the Chief Minister wanted the Naxalites to come into the mainstream and he made an announcement that they could hold public meetings. The region of Telangana was a backward region in Andhra Pradesh and suffered from feudal domination by the upper castes. The Naxalites built a large stupam (martyr’s column, supposed to be the 2nd biggest in Asia) in a place called Husnabad, not far from Warangal. The Superintendent of Police was a North Indian who did not understand the problems in Telangana. He behaved in a high-handed way, sending police to obstruct the construction of the Martyr’s Column (stupam). In retaliation the Naxals kidnapped three officials as hostages and a mandal president and threatened to kill them if they were not allowed to inaugurate the stupam.

In those days, due to my working too much and being away from my family, I suffered from sleeplessness, lost my health and developed bronchitis. When the news of the kidnapping of the officials came to me, I realized I was in a deep crisis. If the officials were killed, the Government would immediately transfer the Collector; that would give me, as a Christian, a bad name.

I had a Managing Director of the Spinning Mills in Sircilla who was a Christian. He was from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. I was Chairman of the Mills. We would occasionally meet and discuss spiritual matters. But what really touched my heart was that in my sickness (bronchitis), his wife would send me chicken soup every day to recover my health. It was chicken broth, made not from bones, but from the chicken itself. In a sense, I can say that I was saved by chicken soup!

The stupam was to be inaugurated by the Naxals on 25th October 1990. The Police had camped in Husnabad, and were determined to stop the inauguration. (Now, it happened that in 1981-82 in Adilabad district in a place called Indervalli, in a clash between Police and the tribals, about 100-200 people died in police firing. I did not want such a tragedy happening in my district during my tenure.)

On the night of October 24th, I felt a distinct ‘urge’ that I should go to Husnabad and camp there. Usually, when there is a crisis of such magnitude, Collectors do not visit the troubled spot, but instead they send a lower-rank official like an MRO (official of less rank than a Tahsildar) or an RDO (Revenue Divisional Officer, in charge of a subdivision). But I felt I must go. it was a divine ‘constraint’ or ‘urging’ that came from the Lord, the Holy Spirit.

I remember going in my white Ambassador car without any armed escort. We had to plough our way through hundreds of people who were flocking to Husnabad to attend the public meeting and to witness the inauguration of the Martyr’s Column.  About a lakh of people from the four northern districts of Telangana attended the meeting. I went and camped in the Mandal Office at Husnabad. In the hall sat the Chairman Zilla Parishad, MLAs and other political persons along with journalists from the Press. When the SP heard that the Collector himself was camping in Husnabad, he changed his mind and decided not to indulge in any pressure tactics or provocation that would result in Police firing. The public meeting proceeded smoothly, the stupam was inaugurated and then, wonderfully, the hostages were freed and brought by the Police Circle Inspector himself to the Mandal Office. The wives of these kidnapped officials were also present. They fell down at my feet saying that I was a god and that because of me their husbands were freed. I opened my mouth and said in Telugu, ‘I have not done it; it is God who has done this!’ (In doing so, I was giving all glory to God!) There was a casteist Indian Express reporter who had Marxist sympathies. He questioned me saying, ‘Collector, are you saying God has done this?’ I said, ‘Yes, God has done this.’ He said, ‘Then I will write what you are saying!’ He was trying to deride me. But I said, ‘You write what you like; but I say, ‘God has done it’. (I believed strongly that the deliverance of the kidnapped officials was entirely due to the grace of God!) All the political leaders in the mandal office congratulated me, because there was no police firing and because the hostages were released.

When I opened my mouth and gave glory to God, I believe something happened to me — deep inside, I was born again. On the way to Husnabad, I had inaugurated a medical camp at Huzurabad. The doctor checked my blood pressure (BP) and found that it was 160/110. He was shocked, saying, ‘Sir, you have high BP.’ I said, ‘I never had BP in my life!’ I refused to believe it. But the fact is the day I was born again is the day I discovered that I had BP, which has remained with me ever since!

The next morning after the developments at Husnabad, it seemed that everything had become new in my life. It was as if I had recovered from a long sickness, a huge weight had fallen off my shoulders, and I had come ‘out of darkness into God’s marvellous light’, 1 Pet 2.9. I was reading my Bible, and the verses on Cornelius the Roman centurion (Acts 10:1,2) leapt out of the Bible and spoke to me. They were ordinary verses, they did not contain any promises, but I was seeing them in a new light! The Bible had become a new book to me. It was actually speaking to me. It was the living Word of God! (I remember the numerous times I had read it before I was saved, marking out passages with a red or blue pencil, but really not understanding anything; now with the Spirit indwelling me, the words in the Bible gained a new life; it was as if they sprang up and touched my heart!)

Within a few weeks all the wrong doctrines that I had imbibed from the magazines of the Worldwide Church of God, during the early 1970s, were washed away by my regular reading of God’s Word, Eph 5.26.

Did the Police keep quiet? No, they wrote a false report against me, saying I was a Naxalite Collector. A few weeks later, I was attending a Collectors’ Conference in Hyderabad, when the Chief Minister spoke angrily about certain Collectors who were encouraging Naxalites. I thought he was speaking about me. I asked the CM’s Secretary to give me an interview with the CM. I spoke to the CM for about 15-20 minutes and explained what had happened at Husnabad, how the Police were provoking the villagers and the Naxals, the reasons for the officials being taken hostage, the ignorance and stubbornness of the SP regarding the situation in Telangana, etc, etc. The CM Chenna Reddy could be a terror to officers, but he listened to what I was saying. I was a timid young man, but that day God gave me courage. I told him that I was a Christian and had nothing to do with Communists. The C.M. kept nodding his head and saying, Is that so? Is that so? He realized that he was misled by the Police. (It was the presence of God that was with me, when I spoke to the C.M. in that small room.)

I continued as Collector in Karimnagar, but the next CM who came was a weak man. The SP was  transferred; but to salvage the ego of the Police I too was transferred after completing a year in the district.

I wrote a detailed report to the Government on the Husnabad incident; in that report, I used Christian terms like ‘the grace of God’. I was determined to give glory to God. In fact, what had happened within me was of greater significance than the extraordinary events outside. From a person who was trapped for 18 years by wrong doctrines – in bondage to a cult – now I felt free. It was experiencing the glorious liberty of being a child of God, Rom 8.21.

Some years later, I came to realize that the Police writing a false report about me was just like Pharaoh and his army pursuing the children of Israel to the Red Sea. Satan hates to let his captives go. But the wicked plans of Satan and the Police were foiled. (In fact, the then Chief Secretary and the political leaders in Karimnagar appreciated the steps taken by me regarding the Husnabad crisis.)

It was a short stint in Karimnagar, but the Lord made it a glorious experience. From the day I was born again (25th October, 1990) God laid a table before me in the presence of my enemies, Psalm 23.5. He lifted my head above my enemies all around, Psalm 27.6. When I left the district, I had won the affection of all the Departments, since, by God’s grace, I had been instrumental in saving the lives of those officials. I had earned the goodwill of the people and the love of one’s subordinates – it was entirely the Lord’s doing! Psalm 118.23.

There is one verse in the Old Testament that stuck in my mind. “Them that honour Me, I will honour,” 1 Sam 2.30. I had honoured the Lord publicly before politicians and the Press. I discovered another verse from the New Testament, Rom 10.9, 10. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…you shall be saved….with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” I had opened my mouth and given glory to God.

The manner in which I was saved was so unique, and the impact of my conversion so great, that I asked my Camp Clerk to prepare a small wooden plaque on which were written the words ‘GIVE GLORY TO GOD’ (each letter in different colours); this was hung up in my Camp Office. Along with it, I also put up Proverbs 3.27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.” Many politicians and officials who visited my Camp Office were struck by that verse. When they asked me about it, I said it is my duty as a Collector to do good to those to whom it is due – especially the poor and needy. The Lord gave me wisdom in handling my administrative duties. 

I was instrumental (by God’s grace) in lifting the district to the topmost position. When I joined Karimnagar as Collector, the district stood at the bottom of the 23 districts in AP in all developmental activities. When I left Karimnagar it was ranked No 1 in all developmental activities. In those days, the performance of a District Collector was measured by two programmes: the Central Govt 20 Point Programme and the State Govt Pragathi Padham. In both Karimnagar district stood 1st.

But to save me from getting puffed up over my achievements, the Lord allowed me to be transferred after exactly a year. The month after my transfer the next Collector received the Best Collector Award for Excellent Performance. Years later when we met at a training session, he told me he was embarrassed to receive it, since the outstanding achievements were those of his predecessor.

But by then, being under the discipline of the Lord, I had moved away from seeking name and fame for oneself; I learnt that one thing God abhors is pride or self-glory!

The motto of my life was and is: “Give Glory to God*”. 

Stupam at Indervalli. (The stupam at Husnabad was subsequently destroyed. The Husnabad stupam was of black granite, and supposed to be the 2nd biggest in Asia.)

(To be contd….in Part 3)

Note: *’Give glory to God’, Jeremiah 13.16, and other verses.

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MY BORN-AGAIN TESTIMONY PART 1

Madras Christian College, Tambaram, South India

I was born again when I was Collector Karimnagar in the year 1990. The exact date is 25th October 1990. That is 30 years ago!

I was born in a Christian family. We lived in Madras (now Chennai). We attended a small Anglican or CSI church in Strahans Road, Otteri. My parents were from Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. We were six children; I was the third in the family. My father worked in the Labour & Employment Ministry of the Government of India. We studied in good schools, and spoke mostly English at home. Our father spoke to us in English, but our mother spoke to us in our mother tongue, Telugu.

I studied in Doveton Corrie High School, Vepery. I was good in my studies and was usually top in my class. I loved reading story books, but I also played outdoor games. At the age of 16, I was confirmed by the Bishop of Madras, Rev Leslie Newbigin. But immediately thereafter I fell into ‘wrong doctrines’.

I was 16 years old when a free-subscription magazine titled ‘The Plain Truth’ started coming into India from America. It was a glossy magazine with good pictures, etc. But it contained doctrines that differed from the Bible. It was associated with the Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, CA. This Church, headed by one Herbert W Armstrong, was a kind of Jewish-Sabbatarian cult. It preached the seventh-day Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, various Jewish feasts, besides other erroneous beliefs too numerous to mention. It was oriented towards the Law, and knew nothing of Grace. It did not preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. One heresy of this church was that the Lord Jesus was second to the Father. Another heresy taught by this church was that the Holy Spirit was an influence, not a Person. This church also taught annihilation, instead of eternal torment in hell. There were also restrictions on food-eating habits. As a result I did not eat prawns or crabs for almost 15-20 years, because of the injunctions laid down in Leviticus chapter 11. You can say that the WCG Church was a mix of Jewish, Jehovah Witness and Seventh Day Adventism – quite a dangerous mix. Many youngsters were trapped by these false doctrines.

I studied in Loyola College and Madras Christian College. I later attempted the highly-competitive Civil Services Exams and cleared the IAS in my 2nd attempt. I got a good rank in the IAS 1977 batch, and was given my home state, Andhra Pradesh. I worked in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar, and East Godavari, besides Hyderabad city.

In April 1980 I married my wife who was a born again believer from Hebron Church in Hyderabad. (I had met her at the time of the great solar eclipse of 16th February 1980.) Hebron was an evangelical, indigenous, non-denominational church founded by Bro Bakht Singh, a great man of God – like Sadhu Sundar Singh and others before him. Bro Bakht Singh who was from Sargodha, West Punjab (now in Pakistan) was a man of faith, in the tradition of George Muller and Hudson Taylor.

Not very long after my marriage, my wife got to know about my Sabbath beliefs. This distressed her very much. So she, her mother (a widow) and ‘sisters’ (full-time servants of God) from Hebron started praying for my conversion. I believe those prayers resulted in my conversion.

God was dealing with me right from my marriage onwards. By nature I was highly competitive and always wanted to be No 1 in everything. I aimed to achieve ‘great things’; I worked hard, and kept myself busy in my work. As a young Sub-Collector in Narsipatnam in 1979-80, I intervened in an atrocity case against Dalits in Nathavaram village and upset the upper caste landlords in the area. They got me transferred. I seized a train smuggling rice from Jedcherla, Mahboobnagar in 1981. In 1983-84, as Joint Collector, East Godavari, I stopped rice smuggling from Yanam and saved crores of rupees for the Government.

Life in the IAS was not smooth. As a Christian you are surrounded by enemies on all sides – superiors, subordinates, outsiders, unbelievers. In 1987-88 I worked in the GCC (a Tribal Development Corporation) in Vizag, and pulled that organisation out of the rut. I was posted as Collector Adilabad in 1989, but was transferred after six months, despite doing good work. Life was not stable.

But God was working behind the scenes. Despite all the ups and downs of working in Government service, especially as a straightforward IAS officer, God, in answer to the prayers of my loved ones (my wife, especially), kept his good hand upon me. After 13 years in the service, I was posted as Collector Karimnagar in 1990, a large district in Telangana, having 56 mandals and a population of about 3.7 million.

(Contd….in Part 2.)

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