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I’ve often read the stories of Christian persecution and martyrdom, both from history and present day. Each time I’m filled with praise to our God for His sustaining grace, heartbreak for those who suffer such pain for His sake, grief over the deception of sin, desire for God’s enemies to be transformed into God’s people, and joy, knowing that God uses the suffering of His people to strengthen and grow His church. In the mix of emotions, these stories of the faithful who willingly undergo persecution for Christ’s sake have had a tremendous impact upon my walk with the Lord. They are heroes to me.
It’s one thing to read these stories about believers whom you have never met. It’s quite another flood of emotions and impact upon your soul to read such a story about a personal friend! That is exactly what I felt as I read through Samuel and Shelley Thomas’ account of his arrest, imprisonment, and suffering for the cause of Christ. I’ve known Samuel personally now for almost 20 years. I’ve been to his ministry in India numerous times. I’ve traveled with him. He’s been a guest in my home. He’s been a guest preacher at my church. We’ve ministered together, prayed together, fellowshipped over a meal together. I count him as one of the greatest men of God I know alive today. For this reason, because I have come to know him not only as a hero of the faith, but as a friend, a husband, a father, I trembled when I read this book.
I encourage you to visit www.hopegivers.org and purchase a copy of Behind Bars with God. It gives you the awesome privilege to walk with a man through a time of trial through incarceration and rejoice in how God delivered him.
I simply cannot stop at recommending the book however. You must get to know this ministry! The true, real life story of persecution, God’s deliverance, and God’s grace exploding in India you’ll find throughout the book is only a microcosm of what God has been doing through this ministry since its founding in 1960. Through the rescue of orphans, this ministry has seen God raise up literally thousands of men and women to take the Gospel throughout India and beyond. It is truly a miraculous story that continues to this day. It hasn’t come without great suffering though. However, with the suffering has come great rejoicing, great grace, and great growth.