... Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. 1 Chronicles 22:13b
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
This is a true story about our brother, a native Kazakh, by the name of Bakhtiyar. It is a story of someone who has put his faith and trust in the Lord.
Bakhtiyar was caught by the Kazakhs in his own village and taken to the local leaders with tied hands.
The crowd was shouting and demanding he be punished for betraying Islam and becoming a Christian. Bakhtiyar looked in the eyes of the people and saw hatred, anger and disgust. One of the village masters asked, "How much did they pay you to betray our religion?" It was a serious challenge, which enraged the mob even more.
Bakhtiyar looked around for any way he might escape but, surrounded by people and cars, there was none. All he could do was pray: "Dear Lord," he said, "for the sins I have done, please forgive me. And forgive these people who want to kill me. You know I have done nothing wrong to them. Jesus is my Savior, and somehow they think that means I betrayed them."
Suddenly, another village elder pushed him and demanded an answer. Bakhtiyar replied, "I betrayed no one. I have only trusted God's invitation which says, 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' All I have done is believed in Jesus, Son of God." (See John 3:16.)
For a moment the crowd was silent, but then it exploded in swearing and shouting.
As Bakhtiyar prepared himself for the worst, he heard a very quiet voice: "Don't be afraid. I am with you."
Bakhtiyar looked around, but couldn't see anyone who might have spoken those words of comfort. No, all he could see and hear were the shouts of those who were demanding he be taken to the village court while others said he should be executed right there. That group was divided: some wanted to stone him, and others wanted to hang him.
The argument escalated and the crowd began to fight among themselves. It was then that the ropes on Bakhtiyar's hands were loosened and fell off. A quick inspection revealed no earthly helper. As he stood, the voice spoke to him again and told him he was "free to go."
With the mob arguing and fighting about how to murder him, nobody paid him any attention. As the voice had said, Bakhtiyar, freely and without challenge, walked through the crowd. No one seemed to notice his escape. Bakhtiyar immediately went to a pastor's house and shared what had happened.
Divine deliverance? In more ways than one.
Not only was Bakhtiyar delivered from the mob, others were delivered as well. You see, a week later some young men came to the church and asked for Bakhtiyar. Not knowing what to expect, it took some faith for Bakhtiyar to go out and greet them. Hanging their heads in shame the men asked for forgiveness. Then they added, "We would like to be with Jesus, just as you are!"
This history is based on true events told to me by our brother Bakhtiyar. You may make of that story what you will. As for me, it has reinforced the truth that says our living Lord Jesus is with His people ... and through their suffering He will save souls from hell.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we live in a scientific age where many people demand proof. May they come to realize the empty tomb is proof of Your love. Let them know the same Savior who can free a man from an angry mob wants to free every soul from the fires of hell. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Alexandr Starchenko. He has been the director of the Lutheran Hour Ministries office in Kazakhstan since February of 1998. As an educator, he has received many awards from the secular world. As our director, he is much appreciated as he spearheads media ministry, which promotes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A husband, father and grandfather, Starchenko is a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Almaty. He supervises the writing and preparation and delivery of Lutheran Hour Ministries materials. In this Central Asian country of nearly 17 million people, people from all walks of life are impacted by LHM-Kazakhstan's broadcasting of television and Internet radio programs. Reaching young people via its online community known as Pure Line, this ministry center offers youth-based programs that address real-life situations often encountered by younger men and women. Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) are also popular with many and are part of the outreach materials supplied to those who are in prison.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries