A quiet, unassuming man who I will call Paul because he reminds me of what I believe the Apostle Paul must have been like, sat with me on several occasions as he told his story, which has been verified by several people. Years ago Paul was miraculously healed of liver cancer. When Paul learned that he had cancer, he served as a governor over a region that is predominantly Buddhist and the people are mostly Tibetan. They are the families and descendants of those who fled Tibet with the Dalai Lama when the Chinese took over their land.
After the doctors told him to go home and die, Paul had a friend who quietly followed Jesus convince him to allow a visiting pastor to come and pray over him. Reluctantly, he agreed — after all, what could it harm, he was going to die anyway. The pastor came to where Paul was, prayed over him and Paul was completely healed of cancer. From that moment, Paul became a fully committed follower of Jesus. His conversion and testimony spread like wildfire throughout his hometown. Many came to faith and miracles began to happen. Paul could not keep quiet, he had to tell people about the good news of God’s delivering love and forgiveness. Despite miraculous evidence of God at work, local religious leaders from the region became enraged and persecuted Paul, his family and anyone who listened to his message. They went so far as to murder his son and burn down his house.
How would you feel? What would you do if people from your community descended upon your home, burned it to the ground and murdered our son because you left their religion and started preaching about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ? I have asked Paul several times, “Why don’t you leave? Why do you stay there with your family?” Paul and his adult children have looked me in the eye and said, “If we leave who will tell them?”
Paul is so committed to telling people about Jesus that he is now venturing into forbidden territory, while in disguise, to bring hope and relief to people who are under watchful eye and suspicion. It is dangerous for him, but God is miraculously at work! In one situation, a miraculous fog settled over the small town where Paul was sharing Christ. The fog was so dense, that even though the person next to you could be heard, their face could not be seen. Paul was able to freely share the love of Christ, leave under-cover and have the hope of being able to return again.
This picture that was taken of Paul and his family soon after their house was burned. My friend and Wooddale representative for the region, was able to visit Paul and his family to console them. He expected sadness and grief over their losses. Look at their faces, do you see sadness? What could possibly cause someone to smile after their house is burnt, their son is murdered and they face daily threats? The undeniable and all-powerful presence of God living in you and working through you is what makes Paul and his family smile.
I love Paul and his family, they inspire me and challenge my faith. How about you?