by David Sisler

In the mid-1970s, Sergei was sentenced to Siberia for 25 years because he worshipped in the underground Christian Church. His wife was less than two weeks away from delivering their second child. She was hemorrhaging. Authorities told Sergei if he stopped meeting with the underground church, he not would be arrested.

Sergei told the officials that to accept their offer would be compromising his faith and compromising his Lord. For that he was transported to Siberia.

Year after year they told him he would be released if he would only agree never to publicly worship God again. Year after year he refused. He never considered accepting their offer, but eventually he wearied of life. “It would be better to die,” he thought, “than to continue this non-existence here.”

Sergei devised a plan. After eating lunch he would walk toward the fence. Since it was against the rules to approach the fence he would be ordered to stop. When he failed to halt, he would be shot.

When the day came to put his plan into action, Sergei ate lunch alone. As he finished his meal, a prisoner he had never seen walked up to him, and without a word, drew the sign of the cross in the snow, and then walked away.

Sergei said, “At that moment I realized I was not alone. That evening I looked for the new prisoner to thank him for his witness, but I could not find him. The next morning, after serving less than half of my original 25 year sentence I was released without explanation and transported back home.

“There was no explanation except the Lord released me. Through a series of events just as extraordinary and just as miraculous my family and I were allowed to emigrate to America.”

Sergei said, “I think that the prisoner who drew the cross in the snow was not from this world. I think he was an angel.”

Elisha, God’s prophet to Israel, knew what it was to see into a world beyond this one. Through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, Elisha had been revealing the enemy’s plans to King Jehoram. When the Syrian king learned the source of the espionage reports, he sent soldiers to find Elisha.

One morning, while staying in the city of Dothan, Elisha was awakened by a young man who had become his understudy. The young man was terrified. During the night, Dothan had been surrounded by enemy soldiers.

“Don’t be afraid,” Elisha said. “The army that fights for us is larger than the one against us.” Then Elisha prayed a simple prayer, “Lord, open his eyes.”

The young man looked with astonishment. The mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire. The enemy had surrounded Elisha, but God had surrounded the enemy.

In one manner of speaking, the whole world is surrounded just like Dothan. We are all captives, and like Sergei, to all appearances, there is no escape. There is no way out. Then when we come to the end of our own desperation, God allows us to see what Elisha already knew – it is the enemy who is surrounded, it is the enemy who is outnumbered.

Antigonus, a general under Alexander the Great, outnumbered by an opposing foe, rallied his troops by saying, “Yes, there are more of them than there are of us, but how many do you count me for?” With that encouragement they totally defeated their foe.

It was with that confidence Sergei could dismiss his plans of escape, his plans of suicide, and continue trusting the Lord. When Jesus says, “How many do you count me for?” can you trust him, even though you are surrounded and outnumbered? By His grace, you can.


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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