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Great Joy in Tribulation

by Kenneth V. Ryland


Last night I sat down to read our monthly magazine from Voice of the Martyrs. It is very inspiring because there are personal stories and photographs of people from all over the world who are living under tyrannical dictatorships and are still joyously following Christ. I am reminded of the Bible verse that says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2). That is something that we in America find hard to comprehend or even believe. How can people "count it all joy?"

The story that interested me the most was one about the Hmong people who live in Southeast Asia. The Hmong tribe are a people scattered through at least three nations, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Many of them are Christians, and more are coming to Christ all the time. They have their own language, and never had a Bible in their language until about five to 10 years ago. Workers associated with Voice of the Martyrs carry in Bibles and supplies to these people any way they can.

In Vietnam most of the Hmong live in the north part of the country. However, the persecution in the north is so bad that thousands are migrating to the southern highland forests. Actually, I should say that thousands are being driven out of their homes and forced to migrate southward. Many of the Christians have been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and some even beaten to death, yet they have not turned away from Christ.

Recently in a village in one of the provinces of Vietnam their meeting place was destroyed and the police erected an idol and an altar of their traditional god and told the people that if any of them would bow down before the idol and give up Christ, they would be left alone. If not, they would be beaten and imprisoned. The police gave them until the following morning to make their choice. In the morning the police found the altar had been torn down and its pieces scattered in the jungle, and the idol was destroyed. When the villagers were called together to give an account, a pastor stepped forward and said that he would rather die than deny his God. The police proceeded to beat the pastor to death and burn and destroy many of the people's homes. Some were hauled off to jail. Still, no one turned away from Christ.

Many of the remaining people are now in the south of the country living in tents in the forested highlands. To them such a life is preferable to giving up their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They have an understanding that we have lost in this country: the toil and pain of this life are temporary; eternity is with God and Christ.

The Hmong truly counted it all joy when they were tested. Jesus said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37-38).

It's easy to look at these words of Jesus and wonder how it is even possible to endure such a thing, but we often forget that Jesus sent another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in order to give us the strength, the joy, the mind that make it possible to go through anything and count it all joy.

Christ gives the strength. Learn to call on Him for everything as the Hmong Christians have done.

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