One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple…Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
~ Psalm 27:4, 6 (NIV)
Brother Zhang, a young medical doctor and preacher in Zhejiang, China, refused to join the government Three Self Patriotic Church. He was arrested and spent eighteen years in prison eating poor food, being beaten and drowning in the stench of cellmates. He shares this testimony:
“The eighteen years were a tremendous spiritual challenge, which brought great blessings I never before thought possible in my life. Prison officials ordered me to empty the camp night-soil pit, the prison’s cesspool. While I had little experience of physical labor, its hardship and suffering did not frighten me. Although most of the other prisoners dreaded night-soil pit duty as the most difficult task in prison, I accepted this assignment without complaint. The pit stored all the human excrement, both liquid and solid, from the entire camp. Once the pit was full, its human waste steeped until its foul contents were ripe enough to be used as fertilizer. Not only did I walk into this disease-ridden mess to remove it, but I had to breathe its stench as I scooped away each successive layer and dropped hundreds of shovel loads into collection buckets for others to carry to the fields.
“The night-soil pit’s pungent odors lingered with the digger at least three days, literally surrounding him with an almost maddening stench. All the guards and other prisoners avoided the night-soil pit digger to escape being overcome by the lingering odor. One reason I could enjoy working in the night-soil pit was the solitude. Surrounded only by foul air and human waste, I could sing music of praise to God as loudly as I wanted. And the guards were never close enough to protest this otherwise objectionable behavior!
“One of my favorite songs during those days was ‘In the Garden.’ My Chinese night-soil pit was hardly the garden that the composer of that hymn had in mind! But God delivered great happiness to me to be able to sing His praises in such earthly misery.”
RESPONSE: Today I will sing praises to God no matter how terrible my circumstances turn out to be.
PRAYER: Lord, may all Christian prisoners experience the joy of praising You in their trials this day.