Recently, I heard a story from a friend of mine about an old Romanian pastor who he met during one of his travels. He noticed that the pastor was hobbling along and could barely walk; his feet were clearly crippled.
When asked what had happened to his feet, with a large smile the pastor said, “I never denied Jesus.”
He went on to tell his story. He had pastored a church during part of the communist rule in Romania. Everywhere he went, he would tell people about the love and hope of Jesus. The authorities asked him to stop telling people about Christ. He responded, “I will never deny Jesus.”
The officials said, “We are not asking you to deny Jesus. We are just asking you to stop telling everyone about him. You can talk about him as much as you want as long as you stay in your building.”
The pastor responded, “For me, to stop telling others about Jesus, would be denying him.”
The authorities gave the pastor a few more warnings before they arrested him. At the prison, they strung him upside down by his feet. While the blood drained to his head, they began to beat his feet with rubber hoses until all of the bones in his feet broke.
Then they asked him one more time. “Will you agree to stop telling other people about Jesus?”
Again the pastor said, “I will never deny my Jesus. “
Again the officials said, “We are not asking you to deny Jesus! We are just asking you not to speak about him in front of others! This is your last chance.”
But again the pastor replied, “For me to stop telling others about Jesus is to deny him.” Seeing that he would not relent, the authorities then took the pastor and put his feet into boiling oil. The pastor was never able to walk normally again.
But after sharing his story, he said to my friend again with a smile, “But I never denied my Jesus.”
This Romanian pastor’s story is a challenge to us. What is Jesus worth to you? What is sharing the gospel and hope of Jesus with others worth to you? No one could condemn the pastor, given the pressure he was under, if he had simply agreed to stop sharing about Christ outside the four walls of his church.
How often do we neglect to tell others about Jesus outside of our church when we have no danger of our feet being crippled? To this pastor, living out his faith was more than not denying his belief in Christ; it had to do with sharing the gospel with others. May we also, years from now, be able to say with a smile: “I never denied my Jesus.”
“Grace Taylor” serves on the staff of VOM. She was first introduced to the ministry of VOM by her parents and grandparents, who received the VOM newsletter, and through the VOM book Jesus Freaks. She has served in 12 different countries and is passionate about helping expand God’s Kingdom throughout the nations of the world.