My dear sisters and dear brethren in Christ,
It is true that my Bible is Romanian because I come from Romania, but it is still the same Bible as yours. And there in my Bible and in your Bible it was read to you about Stephen, the first who gave his life for Christ. The first martyr. And I would like this morning to take you with me to a very special beauty parlor. But before this, I have to remind you that a television crew is here in the church in order to make an exact video tape of this meeting. You would wonder perhaps that you don’t see the men. They are here. Angels of heaven are around you, for it is written that whenever those who fear the Lord are gathered, the angels God are around you. And a book is written in heaven. So one day when we will be home, in heaven we will find many books and about the many books we will find also the pages written this morning. And I pray to God, that He may fill your heart with His grace, with His peace and with His deep compassion on order that the pages written this morning may be beautiful ones and a blessing to all whom will read them.
I come from a world apart. Romania, my homeland is a Communist country located in the Communist block, which is one third Communist dominion of influence. I come from a world of prisons, of slave labor camps. A world where Christians are put in a silence for mad men. I came from a world with many, many fears and many, many tears. And whatever newspapers or even churchmen will tell you, do not forget the tears of your brethren and of your sisters in Communist countries. There are thousands of women in Communist prisons; one hundred thousand men. I don’t know if many of us know how to count to one hundred thousand. But it is very, very much; 1,2,3,4,5 till one hundred; till one thousand, till one hundred thousand men. Christians, political fighters were put in prisons and in slave labor camps when the Communists took over Romania and when the men were put in prison the churches and Christians remained without pastors. The women, the Christian women did not start to discuss about rights, they just took over the work. The Communist did not expect it. They looked amazed. And so we could work nearly two years and afterwards; after these two years, the Communists did not look anymore. They gathered the Christian women, and thousands, and thousands of women were put in prison and slave labor camps.
Dear sisters, as I speak especially to you, I look at you, you are so beautiful. You are a happy and blessed company. When we were put in prisons without anything, absolutely needed. Hungry, beaten, we worked at a certain moment at the canal and we had to throw heavy stones in the rivers. So we picked up the heavy stones and the stones cut our hands and made them bleed, but not only our hands were bleeding, our hearts were bleeding. Mothers, wives behind locked doors and iron bars. Sometimes the Communist would gather a few children in a cell near ours and would start to beat the children. We were six or seven in the next cell and when the children started to cry the first one among us said,” It is my Mary”. We began crying every one of us. We were convinced it is my child, my child in the hands of the Communists and beaten. Altogether we cried, “My Child!” but we never saw it.
You have your children, dear sisters. Treasure them. Give them your time. Give your children your heart. Thank God for having them. Give them your best. Give them your Savior. There are dark clouds all over. The Communist would also like to have your children too in their hands. So we worked at this canal. We never knew what day it was. There was no Sunday, no Christmas, no Easter. Sometimes when we worked on the fields, someone would whisper, “It is Sunday”, and you could see the prisoners working and weeping remembering such a beautiful morning when they could be the house of the Lord. How you should treasure your church, your pastors, all the gifts, all the blessings the God has given you. Pray for those who today, thousands and thousands and thousands in the Communist block are somewhere in the snow, freezing, hungry, beaten. Remember them. Pray for them and learn to thank God for the many blessings, which you have.
On such a Sunday, we were reminded it was Sunday. That day we were brought back to the prison cell and a few Christians wished to read the bible together. Sometimes I am asked, “But were you allowed in Communists prisons to read the bible and pray?” We surely were allowed. We made a deal with our Communists guards. We allowed them to beat us so they allowed to read the bible and to pray together.
On this special Sunday when we were brought back to our prison cell. Some five or six women gathered on the concrete, under the bed in order to be able to pray together without being seen through the peephole because the door had a peephole and in order not to be seen by the guards who looked again and again. We gathered under the beds on the concrete and then we sat and read the bible. During years and years in Communists prisons, we had note seen a Bible. We did not have a bit of paper. We did not have any book all these years. We did not have a Bible. We did not see a Bible.
Some had just come from India. India, you know is so very poor, very, very poor. But we were in a gathering of tens of thousands and people, the Christians came with their Bibles. And I stood there and looked and I so envied them; thousands and thousands and thousands coming and everyone with his Bibles. Although they are so poor they had their Bibles and I told them, “Have you ever thought about how rich you are? You hear always speaking about poor India, but have you ever thought how rich you are having the Bible?” It is only in Communists prisons that I understood how rich we are having the Bible.
Altogether there we were so poor. We were so hungry that during the night we could not sleep. We would awake and we would cry, “I am so hungry, I am hungry”, and nobody could help us. We could not sleep so hungry we were. While we were thousands so poor and so hungry. The Christians discovered how rich they are. We could not come with our Bibles as our beloved Indian brethren did, but Christians gathered in their hearts the word of God.
The Communists have taken everything away from us everything; our beloved ones, our children. They put some on the streets without father, without mother. We did not know any thing about them. But they could not take away what we had gathered in our hearts. A little bit of faith, a little bit of hope, and a little bit from the word of God. And we had seen there in Communist Prison, how from one word from the word of God taken out from the heart of a Christian and given to some prisoner in despair; one word from the word of God has brought new light and new hope. Lives were saved from this our richness. You have the Bible dear sisters. Just thank God for having the Bible. Read it, study it and treasure the word of God and gather it in your heart. You can need it very soon. We have seen the greatest richness that we ever could ever had gathered was the word of God and it gave life to those in despair.
Now I told you that being gathered there under the bed, we read the Bible. We had among us a young Christian lady. She knew whole chapters from the Old Testament by heart. I wonder how many of you are reading the Old Testament and I often when I am in the free world among my sisters I read especially from the Old Testament. It does not happen often that I take the New Testament just in order to bring this book to your heart. She knew by heart whole chapters from the Old Testament, but she also knew chapters 6 & 7 from the book of Acts. And so we were under the bed and we read Acts chapter 6 about how Stephen, and how he stands before his enemies and his enemies looked at Stephen and they saw that his face was beautiful, so beautiful like the face of an angel. This was the last verse of chapter 6. Please read it again at home. It is a very interesting chapter. It is written there that Stephen was full with the Holy Ghost and with the wisdom from God. And when you are full with the wisdom of God and with the Holy Spirit, no wonder that his face was beautiful like the face of an angel. And while we finished this chapter and we started to speak about Stephen, we had among us, we were Christians altogether, I can assure you there under the bed it was not so comfortable as it is for you, but it was still it was a corner from paradise.
So we were Christians, but we had among us a lady, one of the riches ladies of Romania. She was not a Christian. She was in prison because her husband had been the political leader of the country. So she listened with us about all these things; about Stephen. Then she said, “I wonder about you the Christians, you seem to be intelligent women, but how could you believe that Stephen, standing before his enemies knowing that he would be put to death. How could you believe it that his face could be so beautiful? In what beauty parlor could have he had been in order to have a face like the face of an angel in such a crisis, in such critical moments when he was before death?” A Christian lady answered, “I am sorry for you. You do not know Jesus, the Son of God. But whenever Jesus comes in a heart, he never comes alone, He always comes with all His richness. He comes with His angels. He comes with the glory of heaven and so when you open you heart and Jesus comes in your heart to be your Lord and Savior, He brings His beauty. And so Stephen could be so beautiful like an angel. And while we spoke at once the door opened, the Communist guard came directly to the place where we were gathered under the bed took us out all, gave a hard beating to everyone; bleeding with many hearts he threw us back in the prison cell. But we the Christians we knew what price we had to pay to read the Bible and to pray. But we were afraid for this lady who was not a Christian, how will she react and what would she say. And while were thinking about these things, the first one who came to speak with me was this rich, rich lady who now was poor and hungry bleeding all over the face which was smeared with blood and tears. She said, “Now I know the very fact that the Communists are persecuting the Christians, the very fact that they have beaten us only because we would speak about Jesus, this very fact for me is the best proof, that your God is God indeed. And your Jesus will be also my Jesus the Savor. And she did not know that now her face smeared with blood and with tears, shone and was beautiful like the face of an angel.
It is wonderful to pass in the beauty parlor of Jesus, the Son of God, who has given His life for you and wishes to be Lord and master in your heart. He forgives your sins, He takes over your problems. He brings His grace and His peace and His richness in your life. And you become beautiful like the angels in heaven. It is quite a beauty parlor, set apart but the best, which can exist.
And you will read further Acts 7. We see there another picture; the picture of those who were the enemies of Christ and the enemies of Stephen. And you saw how they are described. Ready to throw stones and to put to death Stephen. Righteousness, love from heaven makes you beautiful. Anger, and fight against God and against his people makes you ugly. Remember these two. And I invite you everyone, come into the beauty parlor of Jesus. You need it. Your heart will be washed clean and will be filled with the joy of heaven.
And now I would like to tell you how God loves you. How He knows everyone of you. First we learned in prison how rich we are. Having such a Savior and having the Word of God. And now I would like to tell you, how beloved you are; every one of you. How God knew us. It is written that Jesus calls those who are His by their name. He calls us by name that means He knows everyone.
I would like to tell you that in Communist prisons when it was very, very hard. And it was very hard. There are no human words that could ever describe what it means for Christian women in the hands of the Communists. And when it was very, very hard. We thought, “Are we forgotten, nobody cares, no help from anywhere”, and then the Lord Himself reminded us that He cares and knows us.
As I told you, our children, we did not know anything about them. Some were on the streets, hungry, eating from the garbage if they found something in the garbage. Mothers did you every think that the children of your sisters in the hands of the Communists, without father, without mother, hungry.
So working at the canal, hungry and sick, we got so weak that we could not work anymore. So the Communists thought to lure us, and they said,” If you work, and make such amount of work, (it was very, very hard), you will be able to see your children”. They will come on such and such a day. Could any human words express what it meant for us, after, let me say 2 or 3 weeks, you will see your children. Nights and nights we did not sleep, preparing everyone, the words we will speak with our children. Because there was only 10 minutes fixed and the guards stood around, we could not speak whatever we have liked. So during nights we did not sleep, and prepared the words we would tell our children. Then we had a very big problem, we were very dirty, and the stones had got our clothes and made them just like rags. We were ashamed to appear before our children. We tried to have a scarf from somewhere which went around to every women, somewhere a skirt in order to appear before our children.
Perhaps dear sisters, you know how we are the women, we always have the impression that we do not have enough clothes, and we absolutely need a new dress and we are ready to quarrel and to fight, “I need it, absolutely “. Perhaps, when your heart is so unhappy about your new dress, which you need, remember your sisters, in rags, hungry, beaten, put to shame by the Communists. Pray for them and praying for them thank God for all you have. And learning to thank God your heart will be blessed and will be happy and you will be a blessing to those around you.
So the nights passed quickly, composing and recomposing and again composing the words we would speak to the children. And the great day came when 2 guards took me out from the prison cell let me say like this room. At the door, I being there stood my son, 2 guards around him. I looked at him. He was so pale so frail, and while I looked at him, he looked at me, and all I had compose at nights and nights, in a second it was forgotten. And I did not know to say one word but neither would him speak. He told me he had prepared something to say. And the minutes passed and the guards were already taking him out, taking him out taking me back to the prison cell. And while I saw him, leaving already, trying to give him my best, perhaps I would never see again, my child so I said, “Mihai, love Jesus with all your heart”. With these words he was taken out, I was brought back to my prison cell. The prisoners, the mothers, the women, came around me, gathered all around me, “How does your child look, what I did he tell you, how is it out in the free world?”
Many, many days I could not speak a word, but after a long time when I was freed, I had the great joy to find my son a young Christian ready to fight for the Kingdom of God. These few words, God has blessed them as a sign of His love. As a sign that we were not forgotten. As a sign that our children were in His care. We have a Savior whose name is wonderful. All Praise be to Him. In Communist prisons, in tears and mocked by the Communists, we have seen the glory of God and there we have understood that our Lord and Master, Jesus, the Son of God, His name is wonderful. Wonderful are His deeds and my very, very beloved ones, wonderful are all those who are His. And may God bless you and may God help you not to forget the beauty parlor. For whosoever takes Jesus in his heart, as Savor, as Lord, as master, as heavenly friend, He will be brought into the beauty parlor of Jesus and the glory of God will shine over him. Not only the Christians have seen it, even Communists saw the glory of God shining over those beaten and tortured by them. And therefore, in our country, in the Communist block we did not have Bibles.
We have changed a song of yours, you sing here, Jesus loves me, and this we have seen,” Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Since we did not have the Bible, we changed the song, Jesus loves me so, for their faces tells me so.” Hungry, sick, beaten and mocked by the Communists, the faces of the Christians shone with the glory of God, And even Communists could learn this song, “Jesus loves me this I know for there faces tells me so.”
May God bless every one of you? May God fill your heart with His glory in order that your faces and your life should witness to all those around you that Jesus the Son of God loves you and loves all those who need Him as Savor and Lord.
God bless you all.