Werner Janzen - 11/12/10
Dear family and friends: Last night we heard an amazing testimony which was delivered in an amazing manner. The speaker, Paul, who lives in Portland, Oregon, is a Ukrainian man, who is an evangelist, and he, together with his wife (who sings), travels all over the world sharing what God has all done for him/them. He mentioned to me after the service that he frequently shares in Mennonite churches and that he and his wife will go and speak to whomever will invite them. They speak at 250-270 gatherings each year and the congregations vary in size from 50 or less to more than 10,000. Since there were a few people in the congregation last night who spoke Russian, Paul shared his testimony in Russian; it was translated into English by a staff member from Kazakhstan, and then a student teacher from Landsberg translated the English translation into German. Here is Paul's testimony:
Paul grew up in a Christian home and from childhood on he knew what it was like to suffer for his faith. His father had spent five years in a Soviet prison for sharing his faith. All young men in the Soviet Union had to serve in the armed forces for two years, and when it was time for Paul to serve in this way, he went with a fire burning inside him that led him to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to all those around him. He enthusiastically shared his faith in Jesus with the soldiers in his group. All of these 38 men were Muslims, except for Paul. One day, when Paul went to rest in his bed, he had quite the "welcoming" committee waiting there for him. As he entered his room, there were 12 big, strong Muslim soldiers waiting there for him. When Paul saw them holding a bed sheet, he knew what they planned on doing to him. The soldiers said that because of his faith, Paul was an enemy of the people/state and so they were going to "re-educate" him. Paul knew that they had something nasty in mind for him. Paul asked for, and was granted five minutes to share with these Muslim soldiers. Paul told them that he would tell them who the real enemy of the people was, and for the next two hours he proceeded to tell the the story of Joseph and his brothers. Paul told them how Joseph's brothers hated him and how God used Joseph to provide for his brothers. Soon the bed sheet disappeared and Paul saw tears in the eyes of the men who had come to beat him senseless. The next morning, the officers came to see how badly the soldiers had beaten Paul and whether or not they would have to take Paul to the hospital. They were shocked to see that there wasn't one bruise on Paul's body.
A few days later, the Muslim soldiers came to Paul and told him that they wanted him to be their mullah (an honored religious leader, a wise man/leader who had spiritual authority). At first Paul said that he couldn't accept that, but that it would be OK if they would call him "Christian". The men insisted that for the next two years that they served in the military with Paul, he would be their mullah, and so Paul accepted. A short time later, the Muslim soldiers came and told Paul that they were bored with the military routine and that he should teach them something new. Paul said he would and over the next few days he wrote a song about Jesus, Who is alive. He wrote the words down on a piece of paper, taught the song to the men and then in the evenings they would march around the compound singing this "Jesus" song loud enough that the people of the community could hear it. The community members were not the only ones who heard the song, though. One evening, as the soldiers and Paul marched past the officers' quarters, Paul could see the loathing and the hatred in the eyes of the officers. It didn't take the officers long to take action. The next day, the officers put Paul in a cell that was 80 cm x 80 cm (31" x 31"). There was no bathroom, no shower, nothing except the one cup of water and the single slice of bread he received each day. Paul was told that he would stay in this cell until he renounced (recanted) his faith in Jesus, and he was told that no one had ever survived longer than three days in the cell. Three months later, Paul managed to escape and found his way to a prayer meeting, held by nine grandmothers, who were much in prayer for him. As this group prayed with Paul, they all felt that God was telling Paul to go back to his cell, which he did. Soon after that, Paul was put on trial on charges of being an enemy of the people/state and this trial was held in the open so that all the soldiers could see what would happen. At his trial, the Muslim soldiers cried out, "We are here for you, Mullah!" When Paul again refused to renounce his faith in Christ, one of the officers made Paul stand in front of a concrete wall and then the officer proceeded to slam Paul's head against the wall three times, resulting in Paul vomiting, getting a concussion and falling to the ground where the officers began beating him. When the Muslim soldiers saw that the officers intended to kill Paul, they attacked the officers and a brawl ensued. 14 men suffered wounds that required them to be hospitalized. The highest ranking officer had to file a report and say who was responsible for this riot and he laid the blame solely on Paul.
When Paul had somewhat recovered from his wounds, the officers ordered him to get into a car and they took him for a drive. The drive lasted for three days, as they drove on the frozen river in the taiga (forested wilderness area like northern British Columbia). At the end of the third day, Paul was given an axe and a knife, and was ordered out of the car. He was told, "Let the God you worship provide you with the fire". At first Paul thought the officers would come back, but after waiting for three hours, he knew that wasn't going to happen. Paul knew that they had left him there to die, and so he began to walk back home. It was mid-winter and the temperatures dropped to -40C to -50C, and he hadn't been provided with the warmest clothing. For 10 days Paul ate nothing, but on the 11th day he saw a flock of small birds and he asked God to give him one of these birds to eat. As Paul prayed and cried out to God, God gave him a way of catching these birds, and so he had food for the first time in a very long while. The journey back home took seven months and took him through winter, spring and well into summer. Along the way, God showed Paul how to trap small animals that he could eat, and God miraculously protected him from bobcats, bears and other large animals. Paul was, however, bitten by hundreds of ticks and when he tried to pull them out, their heads were left under his skin, making him extremely itchy all over.
Paul's parents spent much time praying for their son and they also asked the military where he was. All they were ever told was that Paul had vanished and that he was dead. When Paul eventually made it back home, he had 30 valuable fur pelts with him. He said that no one recognized him, as he hadn't shaved during this incredible journey. Paul went back to the army base, where he had a hard time convincing the people that it was really him. Even after he showed them all his documents, they couldn't easily accept the reality that he had survived. Paul was then quickly discharged from the military. Paul got married and began working as a manager in a local factory. He also went to the doctors, as the itching was definitely not getting any better. The doctors told him that the heads of the ticks were still in his body and that within three to five years he would get very sick. They told Paul that he would have infections throughout his whole body and that no one could survive that!
After three years, when he and his wife were expecting their third child, Paul had to quit working, as he was getting progressively sicker. The itching was driving him crazy, he was experiencing major stomach and intestinal problems and his internal organs were all shutting down. Eventually, paralysis took over his whole body so that he could no longer speak, he could no longer hear and he couldn't even open his eyes. All he could see were some black spots through his eyelids. Paul was so sick that they sent him to a special research hospital in Kiev, where for six months the best doctors tried to help him, but it was all to no avail. During that entire six-month time, Paul was not able to eat a single thing. When the doctors were absolutely convinced that Paul would die, they sent him home and told him he had three days left to live. When they carried Paul into the house, it was the first time his wife had seen him in six months, as she had not been allowed to visit him in the hospital. She was shocked at how close to death Paul was. Paul was unable to eat, speak and hear, so friends and neighbors came to say their goodbyes and some stayed to pray for him. One day when there were 50 people in Paul's room praying fervently that he would be healed, they said, "Paul, stand up", and Paul had gotten up and stood beside his bed. Then he started jumping up and down and running around the room. Paul said that he didn't remember them being in his room praying and he does not remember getting up and standing beside his bed. He did remember that when he felt that he was at the point of death, he suddenly saw a very bright light and a man dressed in white came and sat on his couch. Paul asked this man, "Are you Jesus?" The man said, "No, but Jesus is coming and He wants to know what you want". Then Paul saw Jesus coming in a golden carriage pulled by horses and Jesus asked Paul, "What do you want from me?" Paul said, "I want to be able to speak. I want to be able to hear, to run. I want to be healed". That's when Paul began running around and jumping all over the room. Paul then saw a big, burly man come to him, put him in a headlock and try to restrain Paul but it was all to no avail. Immediately, both men were jumping up and down. A second strong, tall man came and tried to stop them, but that failed and all three of them were jumping around, sometimes reaching the ceiling in this room that was 3 1/2 meters high. After 15 minutes or so, the jumping/running stopped and Paul said, "I'm hungry! I want to eat". His mother asked, "What do you want to eat?" He said, "I want some borscht!"
Then Paul ran outside and ran up and down the street, yelling for his neighbors to come outside and see what God had done for him. Paul wanted them to see that God had healed him! The next day, Paul went to see the doctors (who were Communists) to be checked out. At first, the doctors had a hard time believing that it was him. Paul's obituary was already in all the local newspapers! However, after showing them all his documents, they thoroughly examined Paul and compared their findings with the file (and x-rays) they had from his time in the research hospital in Kiev. The doctors said that his internal organs were like new, the itching was gone and Paul was 100% healthy. In their report, the doctors wrote that Paul had been healed because of his religious beliefs. Paul had been totally healed from head to toe.
Next, God asked Paul if he would be willing to spend the rest of his life travelling wherever he was invited to go and share his testimony of how God had healed him, and to share what all God had done for him. If Paul wasn't willing to do this, God would call him home. Paul agreed to do this and he also agreed to move to the USA, as this is where he felt God wanted him to live. In the past 21+ years, Paul and his wife have travelled all over the world, sharing his testimony and leading people to Jesus.
What a testimony! We all like to hear a testimony like Paul's, but I wonder, am I willing to suffer for Him?