“Playing Marbles with Diamonds?”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
As a young minister, Ravi Zacarias was sent to preach the Gospel in Vietnam in 1971. The war was still going on and his outreach was primarily to the U.S. soldiers there. However, he also had opportunity to proclaim the message of Christ to some of the receptive villages. And that outreach was made possible through a friendly South Vietnamese interpreter named Hien Pham. The following account regards that interpreter whose life experience was absolutely amazing.
Soon after Vietnam fell to the Communists, Hien Pham was arrested for his collaboration with the Americans. And following that arrest, he was then subjected to torturous beatings, and an intense reeducation program. It was literally hell on earth. Daily, he was immersed in the writings of Karl Marx. And, sadly, he became convinced that the Americans were evil imperialists that should be despised–especially their religion of Christianity.
As a result, an internal conflict arose within him. In fact, it was all that he could think about for days. Maybe, he thought, God doesn’t exist. Maybe he shouldn’t even pray to Him anymore. And that’s what he did. He went to bed one night determined to not pray that following morning. But little did he know that God wasn’t about to give up on him!
The very next morning, he was sent to clean the latrines for the prison warden. Without a doubt, it was one of the worst chores that he could be assigned. However, as he cleaned out a large tin can that was overflowing with toilet paper, he noticed a piece of paper that appeared to have English words printed on it. Not wanting to draw any attention from the guards, he quickly washed excrement off that paper and slipped it into his pocket. Curiosity had gotten the best of him. He thought that it would be his entertainment for that night. That is, if it was a page of a book written in English.
After his roommates fell asleep, Hien pulled out that paper and his flashlight. The paper was still damp due to the humidity there in Vietnam, but the English was unmistakable. The top of the page read: Romans Chapter Eight! And, in absolute shock, he read those words: “….nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:39)
Uncontrollably, Hien Pham began to weep. You see, God didn’t allow even 24 hours to elapse without telling him about His love for him! It turns out that the warden was using confiscated Bibles for toilet paper! And so, Hien Pham collected as many pages as he could in the following days. It was his lifeline to sanity, and a restored hope that God was with him!
Let me ask you. Do you realize just how valuable that the Bible is? Or are you just playing marbles with diamonds? Folks, God’s Word provides what nothing else in this world can!