Across the River: Part 2

From ICC's 40-Day Challenge

In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.

10/28/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)The next day, Brian returned to the riverbank. Somehow word had gotten out, and a few other Christian villagers joined him. Others were total strangers, but together they joined him in praising God in song and those voices continued to drift across the river.

The next day, even more villagers came and sang together. No one was preaching; no one was teach­ing. No one was leading. No one told them when to come. They just sat there, watching the river flow and praising the Lord. As the Spirit moved, some cried softly; others cried openly and freely.

Seeing that God was doing something, Brian kept coming to the riverbank and within a few days, there were many people gathered. He remembered how only a handful responded when he asked them to come to church or a Bible study. Seeing this large gathering, he thought, I should start a church. Then, he realized that what he was seeing was already a church, a real church that had nothing to do with him and he repented for his selfishness.

Suddenly, the singing stopped and everything became very quiet. As he turned away from the river, he saw that he and 30 people were completely surrounded by the PSB. The PSB shouted and many fled. Those who stayed were caught. The police asked who led the gathering. No one told the whole truth, as they wanted to protect Brian. Many were made to sign a statement that they would not participate in any illegal assembly without prior approval.

Because Brian was a foreigner, he was treated differently. Though no one accused him, the PSB deduced that he must have drawn all these people to the riverbank. Yet, since there was no evidence and no witnesses, he wasn’t arrested.

A few days later, after the sun went down, Brian went to the river­bank alone. As he walked, he heard movement in the bushes behind him. Someone was there. When he stopped, the movement also stopped. Often North Koreans crossing the river will not approach others until they feel safe. So he sat on the bank facing North Korea. From behind him came a whisper, “Are you the one who sang for many nights?” He couldn’t turn around or the person would run. He recognized a North Korean accent, so he kept his silence. The person came a little closer. In the darkness, it was hard to recognize his face. “Why do you ask?” Brian finally replied.

 “Teacher, why did you stop? Those sounds encouraged us so much.” Now, the North Korean was close enough for Brian to see tears streaming down his cheeks. “Though we couldn’t sing with you, we were able to listen and praise Him along with you.” He told Brian that a few curious people had gathered on the North Korean side of the river on the very first day to listen. Over the next few days, the number of hidden listeners had multiplied into the dozens.

It had all been God. Brian wasn’t a song leader, and he doesn’t even sing particularly well. He had simply been publicly praising God from a full heart. Because of that praise, underground Christians in North Korea who could never sing out were fed, encouraged, and drawn closer to God. In spite of the fact that their lives could end if caught, they sat by the river and were silently filled with the joy of their salvation and the Holy Spirit.

The lessons revealed in this story are numerous and never grow old. One is to stay the course if you have been called until clearly released. Another is that our greatest use is to merely be a pipeline for God’s presence into a world He desperately wants to touch. Finally, there’s the lesson that praise seems to invite the presence of God and brings peace, no matter the circumstances. So praise Him, Christian. Don’t just praise Him in spite of your troubles. Learn from the persecuted. Move to where you can praise and thank Him for the trials and the fire that come your way. This is your door to freedom.

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