Take up my keys
Published 8:46 am Thursday, August 18, 2016
The upcoming film “The Insanity of God” will introduce the public to many stories of Christian heroism, including the fantastical story of Dmitri. Dmitri was an engineer in a factory and his wife was a school teacher. His kids went to the government school. He felt compelled to start reading the Bible with his family. But there was one problem — they lived in the Soviet Union where Christianity was illegal. However, Dmitri obtained a Bible and started having family devotions.
The family devotions grew to a group of 75. One day the KGB stormed into the house meeting and declared their convocation to be illegal. The colonel grabbed Dmitri and told him that if he continued, he would be arrested.
On the way out the door, an old woman who attended the house meeting prophesied to the colonel that because he touched and threatened the man of God, he was going to die. A few days later the colonel, only in his 40s, dropped dead. Great fear and yet validation spread in the community. As a result, the next meeting doubled. Dmitri’s fate was sealed.
He was arrested and sent off to a prison 1,000 miles north of his home. He would spend 17 years in the prison. When Dmitri would write down a Bible verse, he would be beaten. Every morning he would rise out of bed, face east, stand at attention, raise his hands to the sky, and sing a heart song to Jesus his father had taught him as a boy. The prisoners would sneer at him and throw items towards his cell.
The authorities demanded Dmitri sign a document confessing he was not a Christian, and that he was an agent of western governments to overthrow the Soviet Union. He refused to sign.
The prison guards obtained some of his wife’s clothing, and dressed up a female criminal of a similar physique and walked her by his cell with her face turned away in order to taunt and trick him. While he was in his cell, he could hear the woman crying in agony as she was tortured and killed. They carried the wrapped body by his cell and told him, “You’re next.” He buckled under the immense psychological abuse. He told the guards he would sign the document.
But the next morning when the guards entered his cell, he straightened his spine, and with gusto exclaimed he would not sign the document.
As he continued to live for Jesus, the day finally came when the guards sought to execute him. He was taken out of the cell and was prodded towards a post where he would be tied and killed. However, all 1,500 prisoners stood in unison to their feet, faced east, raised their hands, and sung the heart song to God that Dmitri had faithfully sung each morning.
I have a master of divinity degree. But there is nothing I could teach Dmitri about being a follower of Jesus. He teaches me. He encompasses the very words of Jesus when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” On Tuesday, Aug. 30, I will at least take up my keys to see Dmitri hit the big screen.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.