2012 Florida Baptist State
Convention Annual Meeting
ORLANDO (FBC)—Modern technology helped tell a decades-old story of religious persecution in the lives of Chinese believers John and Lena Yeh, along with their call to perseverance in the faith.
A dramatic videotape introduction to the religious persecution the couple endured in China more than 40 years ago set the stage for David Uth, pastor of Orlando’s First Baptist Church, to interview the Yehs via Skype from their home in New York during the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 12-13.
Believers as a result of Southern Baptist missionaries in China, the young couple in 1968 were arrested, confined and isolated. Beatings and humiliation were common.
“I was like a caged animal,” recalled Lena, then 27 years old. Although she “refused to yield,” she found herself becoming “desperate and hopeless.”
After years of confinement, Lena was told her husband was dead. Despondent, she cried out to God, “If You are merciful, take me home tonight.”
That evening, in her confinement, she pulled a bobby-pin from her hair. She began to etch a cross on her chest, scratching at her skin until she began to bleed. She then etched four words in Chinese, two words on each side of the cross, translated, “Heavenly Father, be merciful.”
Planning her own suicide, Lena was begging, through the etchings on her skin, for God’s forgiveness for the sin she intended to commit, she said.
The next day as she was led from her confinement to a public humiliation, she broke away from her captors and threw herself into a 360-foot rock quarry. Left for dead, but somehow miraculously clinging to life, Lena was discovered the next day by quarry workers.
Although the back of her skull, along with both legs, were broken and she had lost sight in one eye, Lena still stood resolute in her faith, refusing to renounce the God she loved.
When Communist leaders in a public forum asked her if she still believed in God, she said, “Yes,” challenging her accusers to explain how she could still be alive if there were no God.
“I see God’s hand in the whole process,” she said.
“He wanted me to live for His purpose.”
Lena’s husband had not been killed, and the husband and wife were ultimately reunited after the years-long ordeal.
The Yehs now live in New York, where John is a respected cardiologist.
Speaking to messengers at the annual meeting through Skype because Lena recently experienced a stroke, the couple reflected on the 2012 annual meeting theme, “What Really Matters,” with their emphasis on the importance of faith.
“We will encounter spiritual warfare, but we must proceed as good Christian soldiers. Though we walk through trials and tribulations, we fear no evil because God is with us,” said John.
Recalling her thoughts as she etched the cross on her chest so long ago, Lena said, “I didn’t know it would become a witness for God.” Miraculously, Lena suffers no long-term physical disabilities from her plunge into the quarry.
“I will praise His name as long as I live,” she said.
The witness that began for the couple more than four decades ago in the midst of persecution continues today.
God has given the couple many “opportunities to share the Gospel” throughout the world today, according to John. “Gospel articles” written by John about the essential body and soul connection have even been printed in Chinese, he said.
Trials, according to John, are “spiritual growth opportunities.”
With a humble, persevering faith, John said, God “continues to transform us. He always astonishes and thrills us.”
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