In January 2004, I (Paul) was leading a group from my home church in Canada on a mission trip to Cuba. The church in Cuba had experienced a significant revival movement and the fast-growing house church movement was overflowing with new believers.
In Havana we visited the Baptist Seminary and were delighted to have some time with its elderly president, Rev. Dr. L. Veguilla. He spoke perfect English and shared with us how he had spent five years in Castro’s prison system in the 1960’s just because he was a Christian pastor. He further itemized the pressures the church had experienced at the hand of the Castro regime over the past forty-five years. Then he smiled and in his very positive and gentle manner concluded, “But we have learned three things through all these years. We learned not to fear, not to hate and not to harm!”
We have meditated on this statement for some time and conclude that it expresses very succinctly the biblical essence of standing strong through any storm. Learning “not to fear” infers developing boldness and courage. Learning “not to hate” implies focusing on love, forgiveness and grace. And learning “not to harm” indicates commitment to the biblical principles of non-violence and aggressive love—especially toward your perceived enemy. Three valuable insights.
Ministering to persecuted Christians in communist countries during the cold war years, Brother Andrew and his Open Doors teams quickly developed awareness of the need for preparatory training in regions where Christians were threatened by the prospect of persecution. Years of listening and observing principles of victorious Christian living—as well as the failures—in restricted-access countries produced a basic framework for such training. Dr. Everett Boyce, of the Open Doors-Asia team, produced the first training manual titled More Than Conquerors. He taught these lessons to Christians of varied denominations throughout Southeast Asia in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. They primarily centered on biblical and practical methodology in preparing for and responding to the threat of communism.
As the challenges of militant Islam and religious intolerance in Hindu and Buddhist nations increased, it was soon apparent that the preparatory training program needed expanding. This was the origin of the training manual Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS). A committee of talented Open Doors field staff from Southeast Asia, the Gulf, Latin America, China and Africa worked together for years to make sure the final product was biblical, practical and teachable. I (Paul) was privileged to be the curriculum text writer. And Dr.Jim Cunningham, now heading Go Teach Global, produced a student and teacher’s manual.
Christians are like tea leaves. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!
These files contain short 2 page "Nuggets" from the SSTS text materials.