“The number one desire of Satan is to deny people access to Jesus… you can go anywhere in the world – including the Middle East – and live a happy life… if you will only keep Jesus to yourself.” Nik Ripken
Freedom should never be taken for granted. Remember… freedom is NOT free!
Living in Eritrea, Helen Berhane found herself in prison when she was 30 years old. Why? She would not stop talking about Jesus. She would not deny her faith either and was beaten so severely she could not walk. Chained for hours outside in the severe heat of the sunshine, then handcuffed and thrown into an old rusty shipping container full of fleas, lice and holes, Helen lay on the icy floor in her thin dress, her whole body aching… and to keep alive, she sang a song of praise she made up, over and over. In spite of being frequently tortured, she had no fear. Once when interrogated she said, “…I am not afraid of you. You can do what you want to me, but ultimately all you can do is kill my body; you cannot touch my soul. You cannot even kill me unless it is God’s will that I should die.”
Oh, to be so brave!
She encouraged others imprisoned with her. “We should praise God in spite of the fleas, in spite of the lice, in spite of the heat. We should thank God despite our circumstances… Remember that the walls of Jericho came down because of praises. If we keep complaining, we cannot win. Instead we must continue to pray, praise and sing. Satan wants to use discouraging words as a weapon against us, so we must continue to praise God in all circumstances… crying and complaining cannot solve our problems. Let us be like Caleb and Joshua… We should just reach out to Jesus and have faith.”
Pressure is increasing – all across the world – for us to keep Jesus to ourselves. Who will we obey?
“…the guards were making their own situation worse, because people began to ask what was so special about this religion that Christians refused to give it up, and they also believed. Our suffering became a glory for our faith…” Concentrating on maintaining a thankful heart, she coped by giving praise to God, singing and serving the other women crammed into the shipping container prison with her.
Later, after she was released, Helen wrote these words… All because of my belief in a God who is risen, who charges me to share my faith with those who do not yet know him. A God who I am forbidden to worship. I think back to a question I have been asked many times over my months in prison. “Is your faith worth this, Helen?” As the guards continue on their rounds, I whisper the answer… “Yes.”
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Act 5:29
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 *
Inspired by Helen’s story and too many others like her, I designed this free printable Bible poster (minus the black border… that’s just to give you an idea what it might look like in a frame). It features Bible verse from 2 Corinthians 4:18 and says, ‘I’m gonna do the praising and let God do the stressing… now if I could just remember that! Lord, Please give me a thankful heart. So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us; but we look forward to the joys in Heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.’ You are welcome to download it for your own personal use… and Helen, if you happen to see it, I hope you like it. :)
THINK SPOT: Did you know several of our kids’ countries are on the Open Doors watch list?! :o
Lord, keep them safe in You! *
Is our turn coming? Freedom of religion in America under attack (Answers in Genesis)
Helen Berhane interview
Helen Berhane’s book, Song of the Nightingale: Open Doors ; audio excerpt
The Cross – Responding with Singing (Open Doors daily devotional about Helen Berhane)
Pray Sing Talk
Be not Afraid
The Cross – tortured for Christ
Freedom to cherish the Bible
The Cross – Suffering
Photos of Helen Berhane
Another Helen Berhane interview
Longer interview with Helen Berhane* * *
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