Josef Tson: What His Suffering for Christ in Communist Romania Taught Him, and Can Teach Us
This article by Randy Alcorn www. patheos.com July 21, 2022 is very applicable to the “end times ” persecution that is unfolding in our time.
I opened the Scriptures with Josef in 1988, with a group of theologians discussing eternal rewards. Twenty years later, writing my book If God Is Good, I remembered his stories and insights and called him again, in order to share his insights with others. Josef explained to me how the belief that God doesn’t want His people to suffer once corrupted the Romanian church. In the interests of self-preservation, he said, they failed to speak out against injustice, tyranny, and the idolatry of turning men into gods. He recalls joining the crowd on the streets and crying, “Glory to Stalin.”
God convicted Josef. As a pastor, he refused to glorify communist leaders and started to speak out boldly for Christ. Interrogators threatened him with death every day for six months. Finally he told them, “Your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. My preaching will speak ten times louder after you kill me.”
Josef said, “During the time I was expecting to be crushed by the Romanian secret police interrogators, God became more real to me than ever before or after in my life. It is difficult to put into words the experience I had with God at that time. It was like a rapture into sweet and total communion with the Beloved. God’s test for me then became the pathway to a special knowledge of the reality of God.”
Finally, in 1981, the Romanian government exiled him. After facing much evil and nearly being martyred in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Josef told me, “This world, with all its evil, is God’s deliberately chosen environment for people to grow in their characters. The character and trustworthiness we form here, we take with us there, to Heaven. Romans and 1 Peter 3:19 make clear that suffering is a grace from God. It is a grace given us now to prepare us for living forever.”
He also told me he believed that 95 percent of Christians pass the test of adversity, while 95 percent fail the test of prosperity.
In the West, with our conspicuous prosperity and ease, Christianity’s popularity continues to shrink. In Africa, Asia, and South America, with much greater adversity and suffering, it continues to grow.
Josef Tson believes, “The gospel will never be spread without someone suffering.” He said our first question in suffering should not be, “Why?” but, “God, what do you want to do in the world through my suffering?”
Josef continues, “God achieves great things in the world through the one who accepts His way of suffering and self-sacrifice. In the end, however, it turns out that the greatest things are achieved in the sufferer himself. The one who sacrificially expects to be a blessing for others discovers that, in the final analysis, he is the one who has harvested the greatest blessings.”
Suffering can help us know God and prepare us to trade a shallow life not worth keeping for a deeper life we’ll never lose.
When interrogators worked Josef into exhaustion for ten hours a day, one of his persecutors made a strange statement: “Pastor Tson, when I interrogate people I am used to feeling their hatred for me. But you do not hate me. It has become a delight for me to be with you.”
Jesus saw our suffering as an opportunity to share the gospel, do you?
“Jesus said to them, nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you, they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.” Luke 21: 10-19
Josef viewed his suffering as God’s means to accomplish God’s purpose. He told of guards coming to Christ while beating Christian prisoners, then confessing their faith and being imprisoned and tortured themselves. As a result, the gospel his persecutors tried to dismiss touched them instead.
4 thoughts on “HOW TO COPE WITH PERSECUTION IN THE DAYS AHEAD”
Persecution for christians is truelly everywhere, and is strong. We should not lose heart, our God is not deaf and asleep.
Let us be clothed with the heart like that of Josef Tson.And at the final hour our unsleeping God will come for our rescue and take us home to be with him where we will rule and reign with him forever.
Hi Charles, Jesus will come for us (Rapture) just prior to pouring out His wrath on an unrepentant world. After which, we return with Jesus to this world for the battle of Armageddon and then to rule and reign with Him for 1000 years. Satan is bound for most of the thousand years but is released at the end. After defeating Satan’s last attempt to come against Jesus and the Saints this world is destroyed by fire. The second resurrection and the White Throne judgement is next before the new heaven and new earth where only the righteous dwell. Ron
Are we better than the Apostles ?
HOW THE APOSTLES DIED.
1. Matthew. Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, Killed by a sword wound.
2. Mark. Died in Alexandria, Egypt , after being dragged by Horses through the streets until he was dead.
3. Luke. Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous Preaching to the lost.
4. John. Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge Basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered From death.
John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully
5. Peter. He was crucified upside down on an x shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die In the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
6. James. The leader of the church in Jerusalem , was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club.
This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
7. James the Son of Zebedee was a fisherman by trade when Jesus Called him to a lifetime of ministry.
As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial.
Later, the officer Walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and Knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
8. Bartholomew. Also known as Nathaniel. He Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
9. Andrew. He Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony.
His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it”. He continued to preach to his tormentors For two days until he expired.
10. Thomas. He Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Subcontinent.
11. Jude. He Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
12. Matthias. The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot. He was stoned and then beheaded.
13. Paul. He Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational Doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here are indeed minor to compare to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their times For the sake of the Faith.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.