GOD’S GRACE CAN REACH ANY HEART

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?”

Picture of a man playing the guitar
Sergei Bessasab strumming his gutar in worship

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

ANOTHER POWERFUL TESTIMONY

You need to watch this video of young, Shelby Houston, speaking at her father’s memorial service. Her dad, Officer Richard Houston, was shot and killed on December 3 in Mesquite, Texas while responding to a domestic disturbance.

This clip from her message is so wonderful, so powerful. This is the grace of God. What a legacy her father left and what a reminder of the incredible impact that godly cops can and do make in our culture. Watch and listen—this dear young woman is a living, breathing embodiment of the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. She knows she will meet up again with her father and perhaps serve with him during Jesus’ coming Millennial reign on this earth. Jesus will rule and reign with the resurrected Saints.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 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 20:4-6

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/tears-and-laughter-at-funeral-for-mesquite-police-officer-richard-houston/2835335/

TESTIMONIES ARE POWERFUL

And they have conquered him (The Accuser/Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11

Brian Ivie
Brian Tetsuro Ivie

Young Christian filmmaker Brian Tetsuro Ivie says Christians are losing relevancy in modern-day society for not speaking to people’s spiritual and physical needs as Jesus did. To change that, Ivie has teamed up with NBA all-star Steph Curry to create films with original content that will inspire Christians to do both.

Ivie’s testimony is inspiring and is typical of how God works with His new children:

“When I became a Christian, I thought I was gonna leave the film industry entirely because I figured once you became a Christian, you had to go to Africa, or you had to give up all of your dreams,” Ivie told The Christian Post in a recent interview. “I think, in some ways, that was good because it taught me how to just walk with God and not look at my career as something that was going to ultimately fulfill me because it’s not.”

At the beginning of his faith walk, Ivie took part in philanthropy and social work for a few years, a season he pegged as a “desert.” He worked in South Korea and other parts of the world, which is how his film “The Drop Box” came about. The movie, made in partnership with Focus on the Family, told the story of South Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who, after gaining a reputation for his willingness to care for disabled children, built a box into his home’s wall because he did not want any babies to be discarded and left for dead.

Years later, Ivie was asked to make “Emanuel,” which tells the story of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. It was then that he and Steph Curry became acquainted, and soon after, Curry joined the film as an executive producer. 

So when the famous athlete thought about launching his own production company, he brought in Ivie to help create the faith content that would be overtly Christian and inspiring to viewers. 

It felt like it was the realization of the dream — the new dream and the new vision God had put into my heart when I became a Christian. It felt like the moment where the old dream and the new dream came together. And it felt like, ‘OK, this is God’s plan for my life,’” Ivie said.

SAVING POWER OF JESUS CHRIST – POWERFUL TESTIMONY

As the victorious South African national rugby team prepare to return home to a hero’s welcome, one player’s life story has captured the world’s imagination.  Captain, Siya Kolisi has been on an extraordinary journey.  Growing up in an extremely poor township outside Port Elizabeth, his mother died when he was just 15 years old and his family struggled to get him a decent education.

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  Captain, Siya Kolisi

 “Sometimes we didn’t have enough money to pay my primary school fees of R50 ($4) a year,” Siya said.  Relying solely on his talent and a relentlessly positive attitude, Siya was eventually scouted for his athletic talent after being spotted playing a sports game with his friends.

He earned a scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.  The rest was history.  Fast forward to Tokyo and this extraordinary player, the first black man to captain the South African national team, was lifting the Webb Ellis trophy aloft, his proud family watching on.  

Speaking to SportGo Mag just prior to the World Cup, the rugby star opened up about how the Lord had been getting him ready for the big stage by refining his character.  “God has been preparing me for such a time as this,” he said.  “While struggling with a lot of things personally, temptation, sins and lifestyle choices, I realised I wasn’t living according to what I was calling myself: a follower of Christ.  I was getting by, but I hadn’t decided to fully commit myself to Jesus Christ and start living according to His way.”

Kolisi continued: “Something I was struggling with in my personal life was suddenly exposed to the public (God will do this to cause us to make a decision). I knew I either had to change my life, or lose everything. Up until then everything I was fighting against was hidden, but when my sin was exposed I decided to lose my life and find it in Christ.  Walking alongside a spiritual mentor, I’ve been able to discover the saving power of Christ in a whole new way.  This new life has given me a peace I’ve never experienced before.  Now that I have given everything to God, nothing else affects me.  I now live and play with the freedom of knowing His plan will always happen, and at the end of the day, that’s all I care about!”