Joy in the Journey Part 2: Learning Love from Embattled and Persecuted Believers
This is part 2 in a series of articles about the founder and visionary of SOM International, who has encountered joy and contentment among persecuted believers in the Church at Risk. David has traveled to 53 countries around the globe and walked alongside many who have faced extreme persecution.
Armless Love – A Persecuted Believer in Indonesia
I interviewed a persecuted brother who had lost both arms from a bomb explosion by Islamic terrorists targeting Christians. His joyous countenance told his story of overcoming love. For over an hour, he told stories of serving others and witnessing daily the love of Christ to struggling Indonesians and specifically Muslims. A year after the explosion, the brother explained to me the long healing process and challenge of using prosthetics. ‘I am so glad to be healed enough now that I can again go out and share Christ with broken people.’ When I asked him whether he forgave the terrorists responsible for the loss of his limbs, he replied with a smile. ‘Oh, yes. In fact, I share my story with other Muslims as a demonstration of His love for them.’
Caged like a Tiger – A Persecuted Believer in Vietnam
I was in Ho Chi Minh City, sitting across the table of a seasoned and courageous pastor. He just shared his story of two years in prison for Christ and the first four months in a ‘tiger cage.’ The nickname ‘tiger cage’ came from the similar description of where tigers are kept, similar in size and condition. The pastor told me how he was isolated and underground in this small cage of a five-foot square.
This confined shepherd was not allowed visitors and was only given one small bowl of rice daily for his nutritional intake. Inside the cell, they chained him by his neck and wrists to a rack. He daily was released from the rack for only short periods.
Humbly and soberly, I asked him what this experience has done for his faith in Christ. ‘What did that do for my faith in Christ?’ He beamed, ‘Why I would never exchange that time for anything in the world. It was the most intimate time I have ever had with Christ.’
Troubles on Countless Travels
For the past 22 years, David Witt has traveled to dozens of nations visiting persecuted Christians. Traveling can be exhausting. The foreign foods, digestive repercussions, respiratory sickness, dangers of the roads, and governments’ surveillance have kept him wary on the journey.
“I have a debt to my persecuted family,” reveals David. “The Persecuted Church first taught me to refine my vision and behold Christ suffering–beaten, battered, and rejected. There is a great intimacy associated with the suffering with Christ. When Christ is genuinely beheld on the cross, His resurrected power is unveiled for its true glory-transforming lives.”