1. Wen Wei Chieh (Jeanette Li), China
“He [God] used sickness and death to break up the home in which I had been lovingly nestled. But He did not cast me off and forsake me. As the eagle He ‘spread forth His wings, caught me up in his wings,’ and carried me even to His own Home to become his child, and obtain such blessing and peace and joy as this world cannot give.”
Born in 1899, Wen Wei Chieh was a Chinese missionary who remained steadfast in the face of arrests, imprisonment and torture. Wei Chieh converted to Christianity when she became dangerously ill with a fever and was admitted into a mission hospital where she would cry out to her dead father. Her treating physician, Dr. McBurney comforted Wei Chieh with the truth of her loving “heavenly Father”, and from that moment, Wei Chieh prayed to God and believed. At a time when many were abandoning the faith, Wei Chieh felt a great call towards the evangelization of China, serving in a mission orphanage and standing firm in her public witness. Despite the ongoing threat of arrest and imprisonment, Wei Chieh insisted on travelling everywhere with the Bible, claiming: “If the Lord allows me to go, the Bible will cause no difficulty or trouble.” She spent the latter years of her life serving the Chinese community in Los Angeles and penning her autobiography, ‘Jeanette Li: A Girl Born Facing Outside’.
Photo supplied by musicgoon
2. Anatoly Berezhnyi, Ukraine
Anatoly Berezhnyi was a 26-year-old member of Irpin Bible Church (IBC), an evangelical church on the frontlines of feeding, housing and evacuating Ukrainians from Russian shelling. After sending his wife to safety, Berezhnyi selflessly returned to Irpin to help his church protect civilians from Russian advance. On Sunday 6 March, Anatoly lost his life while helping a young mother and her two children access evacuation buses across a collapsed bridge. According to his Pastor, Mykola Romanuk
, Anatoly was a “deeply spiritual man with a good Christian character. When he saw a need, he tried to help.”
Anatoly and his wife, Diana Berezhnyi. Photo supplied by Sydney Anglicans
3. Esther Anh Kim, Korea
“I knew it would be impossible for me to keep my faith in my own power. God would have to work through me if I was to stand firm.”
Esther Anh Kim was a courageous Christian woman who lived in Korea during Japanese occupation. She converted to Christianity after observing her mother’s faith in Jesus—a decision that would ultimately lead her into prison where she stood in bold defiance against demands to bow to Japanese gods and shrines. To prepare herself for the harsh conditions, Esther fasted for days, slept in the cold, and memorised more than 100 Bible chapters and hymns. Once detained, Esther faithfully shared God’s love to other prisoners, and brought many to Christ. In 1945, Japan surrendered, and Esther moved to the United States to attend seminary and planted a church in Los Angeles with her husband, Don Myun Kim. She went to the Lord in 1977 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. She documents her story in the book, ‘If I Perish’.
4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Germany
“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”
Born in 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer served as a German pastor and theologian during World War II. He rose to leadership during the rise of the Nazi regime, and at a time when church leaders refused to speak up, he stood firmly against Hitler’s anti-Semitism policies. This forced Bonhoeffer to teach underground and to briefly seek asylum in the United States, but he returned to Nazi Germany, unable to abandon his responsibilities to his friends and people. Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in helping Jews flee the country and was hung in April 1945 when his involvement with Abwehr, a group dedicated to the assassination of Hitler was discovered. A camp doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer’s hanging describes his last moments: “I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer….In the almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
5. Amanda Berry Smith, America
“Since then, I have been a widow, and have traveled halfway round the world, and God has ever been faithful. He has never left me a moment; but in all these years I have proved the word true, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end.”
Born into slavery, Amanda Berry Smith was used by God as a preacher, missionary and founder of the Amanda Smith Orphanage. By her early thirties, Smith had already lost two husbands and four out of five children. After losing one husband in the American Civil War, Smith worked extra hours as a cook and washer woman, but ultimately turned to God and trusted in Him to provide for her. Immersing herself in religious activities and meetings to curb her depression, Smith soon became well-known for her powerful preaching of the gospel in the South. This prepared the way for overseas mission, where she was invited to preach in India and African countries of Liberia and Siera Leone. On returning to the United States, Smith founded the very first orphanage for Black children in Illinois, housing 33 children by 1910. Her persistence and humility in suffering earned her the description of “God’s image carved in ebony”.
What does following Christ look like in a world where culture pushes us to seek our own comfort and safety first?
Are we prone to seeking out a ‘safe’ faith, and how do we have courage for obedience when we are faced with fear?
At Katoomba Easter Convention (KEC) 2022, we will hear Bible talks aimed at expanding our vision of God so that we can be empowered to persevere with a grit that follows Jesus, all the days of our life. This year, we are pleased to host a combination of local and international speakers including Matt Fuller, Russell Moore, Sam Chan, Malcolm Gill and Jonathan Dykes. Together, they will open God’s word to explore the theme, “True Grit: God’s Call to Fortitude in a World of Fear”.
Visit our website for tickets or more information.