Monday, July 21, 2008

Red Button That Save 3000 Men

Sister Li and the Earthquake

In the early 1950s as persecution swept through the Chinese church, a pastor named Li lived in Guangdong Province in southern China. Li had a wife and five children, aged from twelve to a newborn baby. The authorities arrested Li for ‘counter revolutionary’ activities, and sentenced him to prison with hard labor in an iron mine in remote northeast China.

Li was ordered to take a train more than 2,000 miles to Heilongjiang Province, where he was to begin his sentence of many years. Li’s wife was understandably devastated. She had five children to take care of including a newborn, and now their only source of income was taken from them. They had nowhere to turn except the Lord. The Lis decided they should travel with their father all the way to Heilongjiang, hoping they would be allowed to visit him in the prison from time to time, and if a miracle happened and he was released early they would be near him. They sold most of their possessions and made enough money to purchase seven train tickets for what in those days was a week-long train journey. During the trip their hearts were heavy. Pastor Li prayed for his beloved wife and children, exhorting them to follow the Lord at all costs and praying earnestly for them, hoping to somehow compensate in a short period of time for what would be years of silence to follow.

The Li family finally arrived at their destination. Many tears flowed as Pastor Li entered the prison. His destitute family found some wooden planks and bits of canvas, and constructed a makeshift hut on the side of the road not far from the labor camp. The icy winds and winter temperatures of minus 20° cut like knives through the hut and thin clothes of the abandoned family. The children cried night after night, especially the newborn baby who could not get enough nourishment or warmth. Their existence was so miserable that words cannot adequately describe the inner and outer pain this family went through – all because they loved and served the Lord Jesus Christ.

Life inside the labor camp for Pastor Li was intolerable. He and the other prisoners were forced to work 14 hours per day, seven days a week. The backbreaking work of hauling heavy loads like a pack animal, coupled with the putrid and meagre food rations, quickly caused his health to deteriorate. The worst pressure of all for Pastor Li was the knowledge that his beloved family were suffering in freezing conditions just outside the prison gates. Three months after entering the prison, Pastor Li died.

When the news was passed on to Mrs Li and her children, all hope was lost. The family plunged into deep depression and despondency. Mrs Li could see no way out, and longed to die. The children were miserable beyond words. Mrs Li told them she would have to find a job in order for them to survive. Her eldest child, a daughter aged twelve, said, “No mama, you cannot work. Our little brother needs you. He cries all day for you and there is no-one else to help him. I will go and look for a job.” The little girl entered the prison office and requested to see the director. She said, “My father was put in this God-forsaken place because of his love for Jesus Christ. That is the only crime he ever committed. He was a good man who loved and helped people. Now he is dead. We have nothing. We have no money, no place to live, and no food. We cannot even return to our home in the south. I want to know if there is any job at all in this prison that you can give me.”

The prison director knew about Pastor Li’s death and, realizing that his little orphaned daughter was now speaking with him, a slight tinge of compassion welled up in his heart. He told her, “I have a job, but it is not interesting and pays very little.” She exclaimed, “I will take it!”

The prison director took her outside to an area above where 3,000 prisoners worked below the ground in an iron mine. He said, “Do you see this red button? Your job is to stand next to this pole all day, every day, and when someone tells you to push it, you must push it straight away. This button is the emergency button and when it is pushed a siren is triggered deep below the ground that makes the men evacuate as fast as they can. This button should never be pushed by accident, or without us telling you to push it.” For day after day, week after week, young Sister Li stood next to the pole with the red button. When she received her first pay—just a few dollars—she and her family were overjoyed.

One afternoon, as she was standing next to the pole, she suddenly heard a voice say, “Push the button!” She spun around to find no-one near her, and was confused. A few moments later she heard the same voice again, this time louder: “Quick! Push the button now!” Sister Li again turned but saw no-one. She thought she was losing her mind and just stood there confused. She couldn’t push the button unless there was a major emergency, and nothing looked any different from normal. A few seconds later she heard the voice for the third time, but on this occasion it was with great authority: “Sister Li, push the button now!”

This time she realized it was no less than the voice of the Lord that had been speaking to her. She didn’t understand why He was telling her to push the button but she knew she had to obey. She immediately pushed the red button and the emergency alarm sounded deep underground.

Three thousand men emerged to the surface as quickly as they could, confused and eager to learn what emergency had taken place. The prison director came running from his office and demanded to know why Sister Li had pushed the button and brought production to a halt. Then, just moments after the last man had evacuated from the mine, the ground started to shake violently. A strong earthquake struck that lasted for about 20 seconds, completely collapsing the mine to such an extent that nobody has been able to enter again to this day. When the shaking stopped an eerie silence came upon the gathered mass. Every eye was fixed upon the tiny frail figure, still standing next to the pole and the red button she had so jealously guarded.

The terrified prison director asked in a stammering voice, “Comrade Li, how…how did you know that you should push the button when you did?” She was given a fruit-box to stand on so that she could be seen just above the heads of the gathered men. In the loudest voice she could muster she said, “It is the Lord Jesus Christ who told me to push the red button. He told me to do it three times and finally I did. Jesus Christ is the only way for you to know the true and living God. He loves you, as seen by the fact he saved all your lives this day. You need to repent of your sins and give your lives to him!”

Immediately all three thousand men, including the prison director, knelt down and prayed with great sobs, asking Jesus to come and forgive them and live in their hearts.


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