We did not view the trip as a failure. We, foreigners from two other countries, had come to give aid to men we had never met; and who knows but that the Lord may have used this very incident to stir the hearts of some of those hardened officials to seek after the Lord Christ? The Lord’s ways are not our ways. And in the Lord’s providence, even the confiscation of the video cassette served a good purpose. For if we had not been questioned where we were, a long way from the prison buildings themselves, we would have continued on right up to the doors of the maximum security prison, and possibly been invited in by some low-ranking warden, only to be caught inside the prison itself! Thus did “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28).
In 2002, through the generosity of dear friends and brethren in Christ, I made a brief but exciting trip to Athens and Paris. It was nevertheless of deep historical interest to me to see these places, as a Christian, a Bible Protestant, and a minister; and I shared my impressions in the ministry’s magazine when I returned. For as an important purpose of Bible Based Ministries is to expose the antichristian and idolatrous nature of the Papal religion, and to uphold biblical Protestantism (which is nothing less than biblical Christianity), there are lessons to be learned from the histories of those countries which have great relevance to true Christians as they contend for the faith against Roman Catholicism. What follows is abridged from what I wrote after returning:
“I ‘travelled back in time’ in Athens, by visiting the ancient ruins and heathen monuments found in that city, all built centuries before the Saviour walked on earth. How tragic that multitudes worshipped at the ornate shrines to these heathen divinities – these demons (1 Cor. 10:20) – in this ‘city wholly given to idolatry’ (Acts 17:16). But, blessed be God, the light of the glorious Gospel came to this city! For Paul the apostle came to Athens; and he beheld the idolatry of the Athenians; and his spirit was stirred in him (Acts 17:15,16,22,23). And ‘therefore disputed he … in the market daily with them that met with him’ (Acts 17:17). I stood in the ruins of that very marketplace, in the valley below the Acropolis, and I imagined the apostle preaching there.
“And certain Greek philosophers encountered him there; ‘and they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus [called ‘Mars’ hill’ in v.22], saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?’ (vv.18,19). And how exciting it was for me to stand on that very hill! In my mind’s eye I could picture the scene: there, in the very shadow of the Acropolis where the heathen gathered to worship their goddess Athena, Paul preached to them, condemning their idolatry, telling them that God dwells not in temples made with hands, and that the Godhead is not like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and man’s device (vv.22-29).
“From Athens I travelled to Paris. And there I saw a more modern example of idolatry: the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, with its idolatrous images of Mary and various Papist ‘saints’, its high altar where the blasphemy of the mass is repeated, and its grotesque gargoyles, supposedly representing the souls of people between heaven and earth – a tragic reminder of the utterly false theology of Romanism…. [Notre Dame] is as much a heathen temple as the Parthenon in Athens.
“Paris is a city full of history. And what a history! As I walked through the magnificent Palace of Versailles, that history was almost tangible. The arrogant Papist kings and queens of France, the terrible French Revolution with all its bloodshed and tragedy, which changed the world forever and was a divine judgment upon the system of the Beast. Some hours were spent in the famous Louvre, where both the artistic genius and the blindness of man are revealed: artistic genius, in that the great artists of Europe were men of such vast talents and skill; and yet their spiritual blindness shows forth so clearly, in that their works reflect their Romanism, with their paintings of Mary and the so-called ‘saints’, and their sinful attempts at depicting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
“I thought of the terrible persecutions of Protestants which occurred in Paris – such as what is known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, when in the year 1572 tens of thousands of Protestant Huguenots were massacred by fanatical Papist mobs, led by their priests, so that the beautiful streets of Paris literally ran with blood. And even today, France is in the forefront of the European Union’s persecution of Protestants via legislation and judicial interference in religious matters…. Romanism and Socialism are extremely powerful forces in that land.
“And so I returned to my own Marxist country, having seen something of the world of yesterday and the modern Europe of today, and giving thanks to the Lord that the Gospel, that same blessed message which Paul preached on Mars’ hill, is still being preached today, in a very different world, but still a world of idolatry and persecution, and a world still in desperate need of that same soul-saving message! The idols of ancient Athens are in museums now, but modern man worships idols still: a piece of bread is adored as God; idols of a woman, called by her devotees the ‘Blessed Virgin’, are worshipped by multitudes more than ever prostrated themselves before the giant image of Athena that once stood on the Acropolis…. Times have changed, but the heart of man remains the same.”
In early 2003 one of our Gospel tracts addressed to Roman Catholics was made available in Serbian. Also, we added a Gospel tract addressed to Hindus to the ones we already had for Papists and unconverted Protestants. Our local church attempted to have 4000 of these tracts distributed in a predominantly Hindu section of our city. We engaged the services of a distribution company to deliver them directly to each and every household. However, only about 400 had been distributed when the company was inundated with phone calls from angry Hindus; and the company manager immediately put a stop to all further distribution.