This story from Voice of the Martyrs is just one of many demonstrating the truth of these words.
It is the story of Sergei Bessarab who was shot to death in a small city called Isfara, where he had planted a church.
Sergei Bessarab became a Christian in prison as a result of another man also named Sergei who had prayed for Bessarab’s salvation. The two men had met in prison while Bessarab was serving time for his criminal activities.
In prison, Sergei prayed every day that Bessarab would come to Christ. But Bessarab was less than grateful for his friend’s concern. “Don’t waste time praying for me,” Bessarab told him.
Sergei remained steadfast in prayer, however, and Bessarab did eventually bend his knee to Christ. This should be a lesson for all of us. Keep praying, particularly for family members and loved ones. The former criminal became a bold witness for his Saviour both inside the prison walls and, after his release, as a pastor on the outside. In addition, he made frequent return visits to the prison to share the gospel with inmates.
Soon after, Bessarab and his wife Tamara moved to Isfara and planted a church, which began to grow as Muslims turned to Christ, a headline in the local paper asked the pointed question, “What’s Going to Be Done About Sergei Bessarab?”
On Jan. 20, 2004, the son of a local mosque leader answered the question, shooting and killing Bessarab as he strummed his guitar during his nightly time of worship, Scripture reading, and prayer.
When the young man who killed Bessarab was convicted and sent to prison, Christians were waiting there to meet him. In God’s amazing providence, the killer was eventually assigned to a cell with a Christian prisoner who had been led to Christ and discipled by Bessarab!
And over time, the mosque leader’s son became Bessarab’s spiritual grandson, placing his trust in Christ.
Think about it, Bessarab was once a convicted criminal. Many would have written him off spiritually. His killer, a Muslim was also far from God, and some may have written him off as well. But God’s grace can reach any heart.
Picture the final chapter of this story: Pastor Sergei Bessarab stands worshiping before God’s throne with the man who ended his life on earth and perhaps the two may be working together on this earth again during Jesus’ soon coming Millennial Kingdom.
“Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6