Many years ago when my adult children were still kids, I bought them the book, Jesus Freaks, by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. This powerful book is filled with testimony after testimony of Believers who have gone before us into torturous places because of their faith. Most suffered and died with glory on their faces, just as Jesus did. And because of this, these precious saints beheld Him face-to-face — His blood never being so powerful! His grace never so amazing!
In today’s Faith Notes, I’m sharing an excerpt from Jesus Freaks about a young Russian named Nikolai Khamara who, because of the faithful witness of Christians sharing space in a Communist prison, Nikolai came to know Jesus and to ultimately die for his faith.
Over the years I have often asked myself if I could remain faithful while facing down a gun barrel, or feeling the threatening prick of a sword. It’s easy to say, “Well, of course I would remain faithful to Jesus! Of course!” — very easy while sitting at my desk with my Pioneer Woman’s coffee mug warming my chilly fingers and my ears tingling at the sound of quiet praise music filling the atmosphere of my study. “Of course I could do that!”
But could I? Could you?
Oh, I pray so. May the testimonies of those who have gone before us inspire us toward courageous faith and stir authenticity into every breath we take.
And may we never forget our brothers and sisters within the persecuted Church.
“What kind of men are these?” wondered Nikolai Khamara. “They show joy while suffering. They sing in very dark hours. When they have a piece of bread, they share it with someone who has none. Morning and evening, they fold their hands and speak to someone whom no one can see. As they do, their faces shine.”
For months, Khamara had watched the Christian who shared his cell in the Communist prison. Unlike the believers who were in prison for refusing to deny their faith in Jesus, Khamara was there for crimes he had committed. Arrested for robbery, he had been sentenced to prison for ten years. He described himself as “a man with no conscience.”
One day, two of the Christians sat down with Khamara. He told them the sad story of his life and finished by saying, “I am a lost man.”
One of the Christians asked Khamara, “Suppose somebody loses a gold ring. What is the value of that gold ring when it is lost?””
“What a foolish question!” Khamara replied. “A gold ring is a gold ring. You have lost it, but somebody else will have it.”
“Then what is the value of a lost man?” the Christian asked. Answering his own question, he continued, “A lost man, even one who is a thief or an adulterer or a murderer, has the whole value of a man. He is of such value that the son of God forsook heaven for him and died on the cross to save him.”
The Christian said to the robber, “God loves you. You are valuable to Him.”
“When Jesus met drunkards, robbers, prostitutes, or others who had committed great sins, He never asked them what sins they had committed. Instead, He told them, ‘Be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven.’ I also tell you, Khamara, that your sins are forgiven because Jesus died for you. You only have to believe.”
Khamara became a Christian.
When he finished his prison term and was set free, he joined the underground church even though it was in constant threat from the KGB. He became a faithful member of his local congregation.
Some time later, the pastor of Khamara’s church was arrested. The authorities beat and tortured him, hoping he would tell the names of the church members and give them information that would help them stop the printing of Gospel booklets that had been circulating throughout their province. He was tortured but he told them nothing. If he had, thousands of his fellow believers would have been arrested.
After he had beaten the pastor repeatedly without success, the captain of the investigation said, “We will not torture you anymore. We have another method.”
They arrested Nikolai Khamara.
They brought him before the pastor and told him, “If you do not tell all the secrets of your church, we will torture Khamara in front of you.”
The pastor could not endure someone suffering for him. He asked Khamara, “What should I do?”
Khamara said to him, “Be faithful to Jesus and do not betray Him. I am happy to suffer for the name of Christ.”
The captain said, “We will gouge out Khamara’s eyes.” The torturers picked up a knife and started toward Khamara. The pastor could not bear it. He cried to Khamara, “How can I look at this? You will be blind!”
Khamara replied, “When my eyes are taken away from me, I will see more beauty than I see with these eyes. I will see the Savior. You remain faithful to Christ to the end.”
When he had finished, seeing that the pastor had not yet given them the information they wanted, the captain turned to the pastor again and said, “If you do not betray your church, we will cut out Khamara’s tongue.”
In despair, the pastor cried, “What should I do?”
Khamara’s last words, were, “Praise the Lord Jesus Christ. I have said the highest words that can be said. Now, if you wish, you can cut out my tongue.”
Khamara died a martyr’s death.
*Jesus Freaks by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs (Tulsa: Albury Publishing, 1999), pp. 76-79
To view Jesus Freaks on Amazon, click here.
To learn more about The Voice of the Martyrs and their work with the percecuted Church, please visit their website at www.persecution.com
Thank you so much for stopping by. I would love for you to share what’s on your heart in the comments below. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see where you can leave your comments. Together, we can find the nearness of God in our darkest moments.
Sweet blessings to you,