In 1980 I went to a four day seminar that featured several of my favorite speakers, and one speaker that I had never heard of before. His name was Joseph and he had been a pastor in Soviet Romania. He pastored a very large church that was growing rapidly. The communist government ordered him to stop preaching and to stop meeting as a church, but he refused. The police would arrest him and torture him for hours. They would pull out his finger nails, burn him, shock him with high voltage electricity, beat him, and then he would go back and preach some more. They would arrest him again and increase the severity of the torture and when released he would go out and preach Christ on the steps of the police station. Finally the government had enough and told him they were going to kill him. When they said this he shared at the seminar, that he got very excited and thanked them because they would give him his greatest victory, being martyred for Jesus for preaching the Gospel. He went on to explain that those who are martyred for their faith get the greatest reward at the “Judgment Seat of Christ”, and are closer to Jesus for all eternity than others. His excitement over his impending death totally confused and unnerved the authorities who went back into a room to meet and talk about what to do with this person that they couldn’t control. They came out and declared that they weren’t going to give him his greatest victory, but instead they were going to kick him out of the country. I was glad for that punishment because I got to hear him speak as a result of his coming to the United States, which changed my life dramatically. I remember being absolutely mesmerized by Pastor Joseph as he spoke, thinking as I listened to him, this guy has something I can only dream about. He has absolutely zero fear of dying or of anything else, and therefore was totally free. I remember that after the first day I sat as close to the front as I could because I wanted to be close to him hoping that some of his spirit would infect me. I have been thinking about Pastor Joseph lately wondering what he would be doing in these days if he were pastoring my church.
My Greatest Victory
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