Jesus Addresses Racism

Taken from Don McCurry’s, Tales That Teach (2009) ~

The greatest problem Jesus had with His disciples was racism [Blogger comment: I wouldn’t say it was “the greatest” problem, but agree it was bad]. The most dramatic illustration of this is seen by His disciples’ reactions to contrasting events in Nazareth and a village in Samaria.

Let’s look at them. The first occurs at the synagogue in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Jesus had just read the great prophecy in Isaiah 61:1, 2, and explained that those words were fulfilled on that day in Him. The audience was impressed with the gracious words that came from His lips.

A few seconds later, to the same audience, Jesus referred to two miracles done by the prophets Elijah and Elisha, respectively, to show that no prophet is ever honored in his hometown. The first miracle was about how the prophet multiplied a Canaanite widow’s food supply at a time when Jewish widows were starving. The second had to do with curing the Syrian general Naaman of his leprosy at a time when no Jewish lepers were cured.

Suddenly, the mood of the Jewish audience turned ugly. The people took Jesus to the brow of a hill to hurl Him to His death (Luke 4:24-30).

What did Jesus’ disciples do in His defense? The answer is “nothing.” Jesus escaped the people’s wrath by His own devices with no help from His disciples. He simply turned and walked untouched through the hostile mob.

But on another occasion in Samaria, under far less provocative circumstances, the disciples’ reaction was totally irrational. Or shall we say, “typically racist”?

Luke 9:54 says that in passing through a Samaritan village, Jesus had asked for lodging for the night. The Samaritans did not welcome Him. John and James, two of the inner core of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus for permission to call fire down from heaven and burn up the village. Interesting.

They did no such thing in Nazareth when their Master’s life was in real danger. But in a village of hated Samaritans, they wanted to destroy their “enemies” for their lack of hospitality.

The explanation for these two starkly contrasting attitudes is not hard to find. Why total passivity in Nazareth on the one hand and murderous intent toward the Samaritans on the other? The only answer is racism.

Jesus rebuked His disciples on that occasion in Samaria. Later, He healed ten lepers: one was a Samaritan–the only one to come back and thank Him. He called attention to that. On another occasion, He led His disciples to Jacob’s Well, where He had that memorable experience with the woman who led her whole Samaritan village to believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Perhaps the story that has become the most famous of all Jesus’ parables is that of the “good Samaritan,” the man who showed mercy when no one else would (Luke 10:25-37).

What about us? Are the Muslims of our day like the Samaritans of old? Are we like the Jews? I think so.

pp. 337-338

Just as Jesus came to save all cultures and races, so His followers owe it to Him to enter all cultures and races with His message.


Audio of “Success”

When rich and strong rule,
With scholars at their sides,
Convincing mankind
That your strength,
Your riches,
Your intelligence,
Are the marks of your success,
And the only things
That change the world;

And when words
Are the new currency–
The more you use them,
The more you are vindicated,
And the more influence you have–

At that time,
In the fullness of time,
God sent one Word,
Not many.

Born to poor parents,
Wearing poor clothes,
Without a home to lay his head.

Called, “unusual and un-scholarly,”
By the scholars of His day,
Who screamed inside,
“You’re not one of us!”

And when some became hopeful,
That maybe He was strong enough,
To free them from oppression,
And be the rebellion leader,
He said,
Not that way.
Not now.”

And as He stood near His death,
And was asked to speak,
To vindicate Himself,
To not be misunderstood,
He remained quiet.
And his silence,
To them,
Was a sure indicator
Of his guilt.

And He was robbed
His only possession
(A robe)
At His death.

And at His weakest moment,
When those surrounding said,
“Show us your so-called strength.
Free yourself!”
He didn’t answer,
But bowed His head,
And breathed His last.

This single Word
In the prime of life.
Without riches,
Proper scholarship,
And speaking
Less words
Than they wanted Him to.

Tell me,
How did Jesus
Change the world?

-Brian Holda (Dec 10, 2014)

Richard Wurmbrand – Tortured for Christ

Richard Wurmbrand relays his time under Communist oppression for Christ.


My whole night I passed walking through and through this cell. I didn’t have shoes. Every night I begin by meditating on the word of God, the verses which I remembered by heart. I meditated so much that through meditation I began to see the scenes which the Bible speaks. I saw Abraham, and I saw Jesus surrounded by multitudes and preaching to them. I saw St. Paul traveling. I saw the angels about whom the Bible speaks. Everything in the Bible became a reality to me. Then I would pass hours praying. Praying for the whole world. I traveled in my spirit from one country to another. Every night I would pray for America, Britain, for Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France. I would pray for your churches. I would pray for your children. As I’m very sure that you pass a good time of your night praying for the prisoners in communist countries. 

Every night I would end with a sermon. There was no visible audience, but I preached to God, I preached to the angels. They’re also interested to know what I think and what I have to say. I would prepare a regular sermon and I would deliver it.

Sometimes we would be handcuffed with the handcuffs like this [he shows on the video] to the back…the hands tied to the back. We could not move them. For bowls of water we had to lap it exactly like the dogs [shows lapping with his tongue]. We could not move our hands. 

The human body has many necessities. The hands were tied to the back day and night. But who can tie a soul? The soul can fly to the Lord. It has not even to fly because the Lord is everywhere. We forgot that we are with our hands tied, and we beat the communists. They have killed many Christians…millions. They have tried to kill us. How stupid. They can kill only bodies. We are not bodies. We are spirits and the spirit can’t be killed to die. For Christ, loving Christ, means to go to glory…means to go to Christ.

You wonder probably why I smile. It is because I wish to convey to you the joy of those who suffer for Christ in communist prisons. We think about their sufferings. And their sufferings are really huge. In Red China Christians are burned with iron pokers. They’re pelted with stones while tied on crosses. Others are burned alive. In Russia, prisoners are compelled to stand the whole day barefoot on the ice (in Northern Siberia, where the ice never melts). All kinds of physical tortures are used…the sophisticated methods of brainwashing. But this is only one side of the story. 

Prison is not hell. In hell there is no water. We have water. We have rivers of living water. I was in a cell like this [shows cell]. During 3 years, I and many other prisoners, Christians, we are kept in such solitary cells, 30 feet below the earth. During 3 years, out of my 14 years of prison, I never saw sun, moon, snow, stars, flowers, trees. I had forgotten that these exist. You never heard a noise in that prison. People would believe that it has been only deep suffering. But when I remember that time, I remember it as a glorious time. The bride was in the embraces of the heavenly bridegroom. We received his holy kiss. We knew his caresses. It has been one of the most beautiful times of my life.

…I am free now. Hundreds of thousands are in prison today [names many he knows]…they sit in cells exactly like this, alone. Alone isn’t really alone. God is there, Christ is with them, and the holy angels feel this cell. And for the first time, being in solitary confinement, we realized the truth of what is written in Hebrews, that a cloud of witnesses (those who have suffered for Christ’s sake in times before) encompass around us. They’re not somewhere far away. They were with us in our cells, giving us strength, encouraging us by their beautiful examples. Feel with those in chains as if you yourself would be bound together with them [Hebrews 13:3]. Share their suffering, but share also their joy…

…But these sufferings are not hell, because it is suffering with Jesus. He is with the sufferers. He blesses them. He gives them the grace of His presence. Hell means to be without Jesus in eternity. And it’s a conclusion of everything which you have seen. I would tell you flee from hell. Seek paradise. And whatever you have done in your life, the gates of paradise are open for you. Only repent of your sins. The blood of Jesus Christ has washed your sins away. Believe in Him and you will be saved. And being saved, remember your brethren and sisters in faith who suffer because they love the Lord. And remember the hundreds of millions who are under communist oppression and have no possibility to hear the saving word of the gospel. And remember the poor souls of the communist torturers, they also have to be saved. They must hear the gospel. Pray for them that the gospel might be known for them, too.

Highly Favored

The angel said to her,
highly favored one,
The Lord is with you;
Blessed are you!”

And soon after,
She was forced to travel
80 miles
As a pregnant woman,
Then give birth in a
Meant for Animals.
And not long after–
With a small child–
Their lives were threatened,
And they were
Exiled to a strange land–
Where their ancestors
Worked so hard to leave.

Later, this highly favored woman,
Would see her firstborn son beaten,
And tortured,
And killed in a gruesome way.

And her affinities to her son,
And belief in His resurrection,
Led to her joining
A small band of rebels,
Whose lives
Were perpetually endangered.
And she died,
We know not how,
But surely in the poverty
That she’d known
Her whole life.

And the angel, Gabriel, said,
“O Daniel…
you are greatly beloved.”

Strange words
For a man
Who spent 70 years in captivity,
Threatened with death,
In a den of
Ravenous Lions.
And who would never know life
Outside of exile.

And the Holy Spirit called him,
“The disciple whom Jesus loved.”

As such,
John would be
And tortured,
For a cause
That was still
Relatively obscure
When he died.

And God said of Paul,
In a vision,
“He is a chosen vessel of mine.
He will bear my Name…
So he must suffer.”

And he did–
In stripes above measure,
In prisons more frequently,
In deaths often.
Shipwrecked thrice,
In perils of water,
His own countrymen,
And more.

Were the words
He penned
To give proof
That he truly was
Appointed by God
As a chosen vessel.

“This is my Son,
In whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus was told.

And as
A well-pleasing son,
He would be terribly
In the prime of His life.
But first,
He was beaten,
And whipped,
Ridiculed and slandered,
And lived
A life of obscurity
For the first 30 years,
And misunderstood,
For the next few.

And others,
“Highly favored”
Were said to be:
With trials
Of mockings and scourgings,
And of chains and imprisonment.
Sawn in two,
Slain with the sword.
Wandered about,

Of whom the world was not worthy.

Such is
The precious cost
Of being
Highly Favored
By God,
And carrying
The life of Jesus
Inside us.

-Brian Holda (Jan 28, 2015)

Breaking of the Outer Man and the Growth of the Spirit

Hebrews 12:5-11 (NKJV):

My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.'

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peacable fruit of righteousnes to those who have been trained by it.

Suppose you eliminated suffering – what a dreadful place the world would be! I would almost rather eliminate happiness. The world would be the most ghastly place because everything that corrects the tendency of this unspeakable little creature, man, to feel overimportant and overpleased with himself would disappear. He’s bad enough now, but he would be absolutely intolerable if he never suffered.”

Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered, pp. 199-200

Suffering Breeds Life and Growth:

  • The Gospel! (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
  • Genesis 32:24-32 – Jacob becomes Israel through suffering and a time of darkness
  • Exodus 1:12
  • Leviticus 24:2
  • Numbers 17 – rod had to wait a dark night before budding
  • Job 23:1-10
  • Psalms 66:8-12
  • Song of Songs 5 – Bride was taken through period of separation for her maturing
  • Mark 6:38-44 (especially verse 41) – breaking bread –> multiplying of food
  • John 12:3 (compare with Mark 14:3)
  • John 12:24 – firstfruits produced by death
  • John 15:2
  • Acts 9:15-16
  • 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
  • 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 – the mark of Paul’s apostleship: suffering

Suffering is part of True Christianity

  • Acts 5:41
  • Acts 14:22
  • Romans 8:16-17
  • Philippians 1:29
  • 2 Timothy 3:12

10 Shekels & a Shirt – by Paris Reidhead

It’s been called “the Sermon of the 20th Century.” It led to the name of a popular Christian band.

And now…more than ever, I think it’s time this generation listens to this penetrating message by Paris Reidhead. Spoiler: humanism has mixed with the pure gospel in devastating ways that have left the church thinking they are following Jesus when they are actually following self. May Christ forgive us for what we’ve done!

Enoch Wang’s Story: Resurrected Daughter; Unified Church

This is a first-hand testimony from Enoch Wang (a “key leader of the Chinese church”). It is well known among the Chinese church and is verified by many church leaders in China (recorded by Paul Hattaway, Back to Jerusalem, 2003, Ch. 7):

On New Year’s Day 1997 a unity meeting was organized by Brother Yun near my home town. Leaders of various house church networks were invited to attend so that we could all have fellowship with one another, pray together, and break down the barriers that existed between different groups. I was eager to attend because the Lord had been showing me that unity within the house church movement was essential if we were to advance with the gospel as God intended. Until we truly forgave each other and were reconciled, I knew that God would never fully bless our work.

At that time my family was being hunted by the police. We were living in a fourth-floor apartment in a building that was still under construction. We couldn’t get a normal place because doing so would have required us to register with the local authorities, which would have led to our immediate arrest.

On the very morning that I was to travel to the unity meeting, I was talking on the telephone when I heard screaming. My wife burst into the bedroom shouting hysterically. My eldest daughter, who was 18 years old, had been holding her baby sister, 15 months old at the time, on the balcony overlooking the street. Somehow our baby girl managed to slip out of her sister’s grasp. She fell four stories and landed, head first, on a pile of bricks on the street below.

My wife was holding our baby daughter in her arms and crying. She said, “Hurry, we must take her to the hospital at once!” I immediately saw that the baby was dead. Her head was smashed and a small piece of white brain tissue was protruding through the front of her skull.

I said, “There’s no point going to the hospital. She is already dead. There is nothing the hospital can do to make her any better.” An array of emotions went through me. On one hand I knew she was dead, so there was no need to go to the hospital. I also knew that if we went to the hospital the authorities would soon find out we were not registered, and I would be arrested and sent back to prison, quite probably on charges of murdering my own baby. We would be in trouble for living illegally in an unfinished building, and the family who gave us permission to live there would also be in trouble.

I also felt that this incident was a direct demonic attack, intended to distract my attention and prevent my co-workers and me from attending the vital unity meeting. Satan is not happy when God’s people come together to break down barriers between them. He had spent years slyly building walls of unforgiveness, misunderstanding, and prejudice. It was not surprising that he would throw all his efforts into preventing the meeting from taking place.

I knelt down and prayed. I was angry, shocked, and in grief, all at the same time. I said, “Lord, if it is your will for the church in China to be unified, then I pray you will bring my daughter back to life. I pray that today you will put the breath of life back in her body, tomorrow you will allow her to speak, and the day after tomorrow she will be able to walk. But if it is not your will for the church in China to be unified, then I will hide myself and will never preach your gospel again.” Of course I would always continue to believe in the Lord, but I would remove myself from the front lines and would just lead a quiet, peaceful life.

Some people might say I had no right to speak to God like that, but you need to understand I was in deep shock and I knew this accident had been a deliberate demonic action designed to stop me attending the unity meeting.

My wife continued to hold our baby in her arms and rock the lifeless body back and forth. Our beautiful daughter had completely stopped breathing, her heart was not beating and she was pale.

The meeting was due to begin that evening in a location about 20 miles away from my home. I decided to put my grief aside and attend the meeting as a sign of defiance of Satan and an act of faith in God. I also decided not to cry, even though I was deeply grieved in my heart. I wanted to show the devil that he could never intimidate or stop me.

In the late afternoon I left my home and made my way to the meeting, well wrapped up against the cool winter air. When I left home my wife was still holding the baby in her arms and weeping. The piece of brain was still exposed, sticking out of a crack in her skull. My eldest daughter was devastated, blaming herself for having dropped her sister from the balcony.

When I got to the meeting, Brother Yun was already speaking. My co-workers and I took our seats and didn’t tell any of the other believers what had happened. During the evening meal we chose not to eat. Instead we fasted and prayed together in the meeting room, but I still didn’t tell anyone else what had happened. I reminded the Lord what a blessing our little girl was, and how much delight her birth had brought to me at the age of 45. I examined my heart to see if this had happened because of any sin in me. I told the Lord if it had happened because I had offended him, then I would have nothing to complain about. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?….The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 2:10, 1:21).

After the first day’s meetings concluded, I knew my family needed me so I returned home where I found my wife and elder daughter still weeping. Their eyes were red and swollen. My wife was still holding the dead baby in her arms. I leaned forward and prayed over my baby in the name of Jesus Christ. Suddenly I heard a small kind of gasping noise come from her mouth, like a small burp. I realized that she must be breathing and I cried out, “Praise be to God!”

All four of us slept in the same bedroom, but that night none of us got any sleep. Emotionally drained, we just sat there praying quietly. At five o’clock I got up and went back to the unity meeting and spent the whole day in prayer and discussion with the other house church leaders, who were still ignorant of what had happened. At ten o’clock in the evening the meeting ended for the day and I again returned home.

When I entered the door of our home I found a different atmosphere. Despair had turned into joy. My wife was breast-feeding my little daughter. She was breathing fine, the color had returned to her cheeks, and she was hungry! God had miraculously healed her skull, and skin had covered the part of her brain that had been exposed. No medical help had been given her, except that of the great physician, Jesus. All that remained of her fall was a small scar in the middle of her forehead.

Despite these obvious improvements, she was still far from normal. She could not walk or move, her eyes were closed, and she just lay there almost motionless except for breathing and sucking.

I called out her name, “Sheng Ling”, which means “spiritual blessing.” When she heard my voice she stopped drinking her milk and a small sound came from her mouth, as if she were greeting me. That night I was able to sleep soundly, knowing the Lord was doing a great miracle.

The next morning I again awoke early and made my way to the third day of the meetings. There was much repentance and confession by the leaders of various groups. We heard many hours of testimonies about how God was working in each house church network, and we all realized that the Lord was with those other groups just as much as he was with us. Many years of bitterness and division came tumbling down at the foot of the cross. Tears flowed as we embraced one another and accepted each other as true brothers and sisters in Christ. Satan was furious that we were sitting together as God’s people. He wanted us to continue to work separately, weakened by dividing walls. Jesus’ desire is that his children will walk together. He prayed in John 17:22-23,

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

I believe that without this meeting, and others like it, there would be no unity among the different branches of China’s house church today. In our previous splintered state there would have been no way we could ever have hoped to obey God’s call to take the gospel through the Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu nations back to Jerusalem. This is why I want to share this personal testimony, as for me it was a pivotal moment in my own understanding and involvement with the Back to Jerusalem movement.

When I returned home on the third night, my wife was again breast-feeding my daughter. I held out my arms and said, “Sheng Ling, come and let your daddy hold you.” She took one step towards me and then toppled over, but we all rejoiced that she had taken that one step. Just two days before she had been dead with her brain sticking out of her smashed skull. I started to cry with joy.

It was on this third night that I told my family what I had prayed when Sheng Ling first fell out of the window. I told them, “When you first brought her body up from the street, I knelt down and said to God, ‘I pray you will bring my daughter back to life. I pray that today you will put the breath of life back in her body, tomorrow you will allow her to speak, and the day after tomorrow she will be able to walk.'”

When they heard this they rejoiced greatly, knowing God had done a great miracle.

On the fourth morning I went to the meeting with overwhelming joy in my heart. My enthusiasm was soon dampened when a number of house church leaders pointed at me and said, “Those attending this important meeting are expected to stay here. What kind of commitment do you have to unity if you can’t even stay with us, but have to go hurrying home as soon as the meeting ends every night?”

I still hadn’t shared any information with the other leaders at the meeting, so they had no idea what had been going on in my life.

In the final session of the meeting Brother Yun was scheduled to speak, then the leaders intended to pray together one last time before everyone dispersed back to their homes. While he was speaking, my eldest daughter came into the room and started to whisper excitedly into my ear. She had hurried to the meeting place to tell me that her little sister was now walking and talking normally! It was at that stage that I felt compelled to stand up. I declared to everyone, “Now I know that it is God’s will for the church in China to be unified!” Before more than one hundred leaders, I testified about what had happened to my baby daughter. Everyone praised God. Those who had criticized me for going home every night came up and apologized.

Not only did the Lord heal Sheng Ling from the fall, but he has blessed her in a very special way. She is now eight years old and is so smart that her school made her skip a year ahead of her classmates! She has suffered no long-term damage as a result of her fall. The only thing that remains is the small scar on her forehead. It is as though the Lord left the scar to remind us of his great grace and power.

Paul Hattaway, Back to Jerusalem, 2003, Ch. 7