I was in a prayer meeting several days ago, and I asked the Holy Spirit if He had anything specific to tell me. I felt Him giving me the reference Hebrews 11:37. So, I looked it up. It is not seemingly the most encouraging verse. It says, “They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated…” (Hebrews 11:37, NIV). I then felt directed and moved to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted around the world. For we are commanded to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
An estimated forty million martyrs have already given their lives since Jesus walked the earth. And persecution and martyrdom is dramatically increasing. But what about those of us living in relative comfort and ease? Are we prepared for the coming tribulation?
In 1974, Corrie Ten Boom made this statement, “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.”
Today, forty year later, I read a recent statement made by Brother Andrew (God’s Smuggler) of Open Doors. He said, “seventy–five percent of the world’s population live in areas of severe persecution and restriction.” The Voice of the Martyrs stated that martyrdom doubled from 2012 to 2013. They also said that it increased tremendously from 2013 to 2014…and in 2015 it is off the charts!
Will persecution eventually reach one hundred percent of the followers of Jesus Christ around the world? The Bible virtually guarantees that it will. Jesus said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20, NIV). He also said, “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9). The Apostle Paul made this statement, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted“ (2 Timothy 3:12).
But someone may ask, “Isn’t this time of great trouble just happening in Israel, or only in Jerusalem?” Jesus provides the answer. He said, “For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth” (see Luke 21:35). We also see further clarification in the book of Revelation. It appears that whole Bride of Christ—followers of Christ from every tribe, tongue and nation—will experience the great tribulation.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands…
…Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:9,13-17).
The Word of God couldn’t be more plain about this subject. Yet, why are so many of us asleep, ignoring what is happening? The Day of the Lord is at hand. Yet, we are lulled into thinking that things will go on as they always have. Yet, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who will be found watching…” (Luke 12:37).
I pray that you prepare your hearts. I pray that the Lord Jesus would grant you great peace, grace and endurance. I pray that He would prepare you with the oil of joy necessary for what is coming, for what is about to happen in the years ahead.
“How do we prepare?” you may ask. I could not think of a better way to start than to read from a letter from someone who went through great persecution herself, a survivor of the Great Holocaust—Corrie Ten Boom.
I pray that you are encouraged and enlightened and filled with joy of the Lord as you read the following excerpt from one of her letters. And let us always remember,
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
(Psalm 23:4-6, NASB)
“…lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NASB)
“PREPARED FOR THE COMING TRIBULATION”
(Excerpt from a letter written by Corrie Ten Boom in 1974)
“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.
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 come to shouting “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 traveling 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.
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. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in 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 some months ago.
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, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the 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”, (Job 13:15) for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life.
– Corrie Ten Boom – 1974