Tuesday, September 23, 2014

800 Grams of God

Recently, The Voice of the Martyrs publication, which details the persecution of Christians around the world, featured the amazing conversion story of a Vietnamese spinster named Xuan.

Every day, Xuan would pick through the garbage and find things to recycle for cash to support her family. Her husband had left her. She was paid by the gram for paper. One day, Xuan saw some people worshiping in the area where she was going through garbage. She kept going back to watch them as they sang and prayed. “I found out that they worshiped God in heaven and I realized that they had a different God than me,” she said.

Then, a woman came by and handed her a Bible. She told Xuan, “Read this book.” Xuan took it home and weighed it on her scale. It was 800 grams, not a large amount to recycle, but she could get a little money for it. She thought, “How could God be in this 800 gram book?” So she decided to read the book at the rate of 10 chapters a day. She finished in six months.

“The first time I read it, I did not understand, so I was going to give it back to the lady,” Xuan said. “Then I thought I heard someone say, “I will give you wisdom.” She didn’t have electricity in her home, so she raised the candle she was using to read and looked to see who had spoken to her. No one was there.

“The second time I read the Bible, I still did not understand, then I heard the same voice. I lit a whole newspaper to make light to see who spoke to me,” she said. But there was no one.
The third time she read the Bible through, Xuan heard the same voice saying again, “I will give you wisdom.” Though again she saw no one, she finally began to understand the Bible, and she turned her life over to Christ.

That was nearly thirteen years ago, and today Xuan has read the Bible 21 times through. Today, Xuan is sharing the gospel as a local worker through VOM. Every week she is teaching the Bible to new converts in her church, sharing the gospel on the streets, at work and in another village. One of the young boys she mentored went on to Bible school and is now also in full-time ministry. She owes her new life and the fruit of her ministry to a small, 800-gram God book.[1]

Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (KJV).” Eugene Peterson paraphrases Hebrews 4:12-13 like this, “God’s Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what (MSG).”

The Word of God never fails. When it is faithfully declared or read it will comfort or convict, build up or break down, repel or compel. Because God is omnipotent He possesses the power to communicate with us in any way that He desires—whether it’s through the written word or a burning bush or a donkey’s mouth. Because God continually sustains the universe by His word (Heb.1:3) then He can faithfully preserve His word through epochs of time and the sword of persecution.

There is no other book like it. Martin Luther said, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” Charles Spurgeon added, “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”

There is explosive power in the message of the gospel because Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. . .” (Rom. 1:16, ESV). We often underestimate the raw power of the gospel in reaching even the most hardened heart. We think we need to add to it, dress it up, make it ultra-contemporary, gloss it over, or even complicate it. But there is distinct power in the simple message of the life, words, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Never underestimate its appeal. Never be ashamed of its simplicity. Never add to it or take away from it. Just proclaim it, and then stand back and watch what God will do.  -DM

[1] “Vietnam: 800 Grams,” The Voice of the Martyrs, 5 September 2014 <http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID==373034>  

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