This Day in Presbyterian History:
Though He was Bound, the Word of God was Not Bound
Bruce Hunt was not totally unprepared for the inevitable. This Orthodox Presbyterian missionary had been ministering to the Korean Church in Manchuria since 1936. With the imperial nation of Japan on the offensive, attempts had been made to control the church in lands under their control. Specifically, the attempt was being made to force all people, including Christians, to engage in emperor worship. To committed Christians, to those who confessed that Jesus is Lord alone with no other God beside Him, this was unthinkable. Bruce Hunt not only believed this firmly, but he taught this truth to the church of Korea. Twice he had been taken down to prison and warned that if he persisted in his teaching, judgment would be waiting. On October 21, 1941, Bruce Hunt was arrested in Harbin, Manchuria.
For the next year, Rev. Hunt would be separated from his family, his church family, and his freedom. But he was not separated from his God and Savior. In testimony of the gospel, like countless persecuted Christians before him, including the apostle Paul of New Testament times, he witnessed to his tormenting guards, evangelized his fellow inmates, and offered encouragement to others who were being tried for their Christian faith.
In one of the many cells into which he was thrown, he realized that a tiny metal tip on one of his shoe laces provided him with a writing tool. In the darkness of his cell, he wrote in Korean on the soft walls of the cell the famous verse, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His own begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” You dear reader, surely recognize these words as coming from John 3:16. It was just one of the many times that he left a witness to the next prisoner who would enter that cell.
Once, he decided to place all ten commandments of the Law of God upon the wall in Korean. He made it to eight commandments, when a guard saw it and stopped him from completing it.
Another time, he found the time to write Romans 6:23 all the way through. It said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Finally, when all “tools” to write had been taken away, Scripture texts on his lips provided divine opportunities to share his Christian faith with guards and fellow prisoners alike. Quite clearly, while Rev. Hunt was imprisoned, the Word of God was not imprisoned.
Eventually he was exchanged and went back to the United States with his family.
Words to live by: In our true story about Bruce Hunt writing Scripture texts on the wall of his cell, there is a very real presupposition which was necessary for him to witness in this way. And it was this. He had memorized certain portions of the Word of God so that he could write them without having his Bible as a guide. Question? If you did not have your Bible present with you to read and write verses of it, how many texts of Scripture have you memorized which could prove to be a comfort to you and a witness to others in prison with you? Scripture memorization, even with a proliferation of Bible versions today, is a spiritual exercise of our parent’s generation. Yet, we are closer than they are to difficult times. Memorize the Word of God! Begin today. Start with the texts of salvation. Ask your pastor what you should memorize. Ask yourself the question, what verses would I want to know if I was arrested for the sake of the gospel?
Through the Scriptures: Matthew 23 – 25
Through the Standards: Benefits of communion with Christ in glory in this life
WLC 83 — “What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy in this life?
A. The members of the invisible church have communicated unto them in this life the first-fruits of glory with Christ, as they are members of him their head, and so in him are interested in that glory which he is fully possessed of; and, as an earnest thereof, enjoy the sense of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of glory; as, on the contrary, sense of God’s revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and a fearful expectation, are to the wicked the beginning of their torments which they shall endure after death.”