"It's the most wonderful time of the year..." As the secular Christmas season rolls around once more, I want to bring your attention to a story that I heard first publicized by Larry Burkett of Christian Financial Concepts which has become Crown Ministries since then. Their radio program used to air the original broadcast annually. The story was so moving that I have never forgotten it and have never been able to buy cheap Christmas ornaments and lights. Not that I ever did, much, but this cured me of ever getting "the Christmas spirit" of shopping ever again.
Blurb: "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. That's right, your tree is probably trimmed by lights made by Christian pastors persecuted for sharing the Good News of the True Light of the World! Check out The Lights of Christmas website for more information and what you can do to support these Chinese pastors and their families."
For more information, see:
Unfortunately, both sites are Flash-based on the start page and can't be viewed as normal HTML.