JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
THE CORN OF WHEAT
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit'" (John 12:24).
There must have been international warnings against terrorists that day, because all the passengers of a rather innocent flight from Copenhagen to Sweden were thoroughly searched.
I was among them.
Men with machine guns were watching us, while others were searching over our bodies with special radar-equipment, which gave an alarm, if you were carrying weapons (knives, guns, grenades or other metallic objects). Every time the radar sounded out its ‘peeb-peeb’ the guards in front of us came to attention and other men checked with their hands on the place causing the radar to sound.
I was on my way to a conference for Bible-translators in Sweden, and was looking for eventual colleagues boarding the same plane. In front of me stood a black-haired Spanish-looking man. He looked more like a terrorist than a Bible-translator. While he was searched the man opened his bag, and I could not help but seeing what was in it.
I was stunned.
On top of his shirts and socks was a small book with a French title ‘Le petit livre blanc’ (the little white book). I knew that book because I had written it myself together with a few friends from Denmark. But this was years ago and I had not seen a copy of that book for a long time; now suddenly this French translation gave like a small radar-signal from the bag in front of me.
When we had passed the control and boarded the plane, I went up to the Spanish-looking gentleman, and said (in French, because I had seen the book-title in that language): "I noticed, Monsieur, that you had a bomb in your luggage!"
The man looked up from his newspaper; surprised. "A bomb?" he said. "What do you mean by that? I have no bomb in my luggage."
"Oh yes, you have", I said with a smile. "The guards didn’t see it. But I saw it; you had a small dangerous bomb in your bag!"
"I don’t understand, what you mean", the man repeated with his distinct Spanish accent, and once more he looked more like a terrorist than a Bible-translator. "I carry no bombs with me! You will have to give me an explanation!"
"Well, I saw a small book with the title: ‘The little white book’ – and that‘s what I call ‘a bomb’ in your bag, Monsieur. Don’t misunderstand me, please; I don’t insinuate that you are a terrorist carrying real bombs with you."
The Spanish looking gentleman lightened up. His enormous smile changed his appearance so that for a moment he looked more like a Bible-translator than a terrorist.
"Well, now I understand", he laughed. "You see, on my way to a conference for Bible-translators in Sweden, I have stopped in Copenhagen to try and find one of the three authors of that little book. I am from Portugal, and we want to publish that book in my country. Unfortunately I didn’t get in contact with those, who have written the book. So there you are…"
"Yes, here I am", I said. "I am one of the three men you are looking for, and if you want, we can sign a contract immediately."
That’s what we did, and the rest of that week we enjoyed a brotherly fellowship in the studies and lectures on the outstanding and prominent art of bringing the Holy and unchangeable word of God into the common language of our own tongues.
I also told him about the small booklet which he wanted to publish in Portugal.
The book was first published in Denmark in the beginning of the seventies, when a flood of sin tumbled over this small nation. In our zeal for God we thought as young Christians that we would withhold such powerful tide with ‘demonstrations’…
It all started one night when 120 of us went out all over the nation and covered all pornographic exhibitions with a poster called ‘Love is clean’.
In the early morning news, the speaker on the Danish radio broadcasted that this action had been accomplished with ‘military precision’ – but we soon learned that nothing real was obtained by such demonstrations. Sin increased and pornography spread more than ever.
When the abortion laws were voted in Parliament, we gathered a good number of clergy men from the Danish Lutheran church; they filled the public section in the large assembly hall at ‘Christiansborg’ with their black robes, and some of them spoke brave words with the politicians; the law however was never stopped in that way.
When a Danish filmmaker wished to produce a pornographic film on our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Danish government planned to support this wicked idea financially, we marched the streets of Copenhagen with 5000 young Christians singing the old reformation hymns – but lawlessness was not stopped in that way! That particular film was stopped – but others of the same sort were produced later and shown to the public.
We even ‘broke into’ a political gathering at the west-coast and obtained late night talks with the minister of justice, the late Mr. Knud Thestrup, who at that time was considered to be the political responsible for the moral decay of the nation. He was obviously a kind and well-meaning man, who had publicly testified that as a Christian he carried a pocket edition of the New Testament with him. According to our opinion however he held the dangerous view that ‘the law’ had no effect in our ‘New Testament-dispensation’; that’s probably why in increasing permissiveness he was pulling down all legal protection against the powers of lawlessness.
That night we took our ‘pocket-edition’ and read aloud for the minister of justice the words of the apostle Paul, "But we know the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers… whoremangers… liars… and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1.Timothy 1:8-9).
The minister of justice listened with a kind smile, but never changed his ways. As long as he was in office, sin prevailed all over the nation – and we still had to learn that it is never the politicians who are the main-responsible for what is ‘contrary to sound doctrine’. It is the theologians and the called out ministers of God! It is the church of Christ!
It was in this context that the ‘little white book
was published and translated into many languages – with no lasting effect. Like so much similar Christian literature it stirred up some debates and discussions for a short time, but the folly of sin continued with even greater pressure. In those days we had access to the national television and were invited to speak in all sorts of gatherings, but our voices were drowned in the waves of the ongoing sexual propaganda.
The last major action in this long series of demonstrations was in favour of Israel. But that didn’t change the pattern of inefficiency! It was during the first great worldwide crisis of petrol, when the Arab states boycotted all nations which followed pro-Israeli politics. Ten heads of states were gathered in Copenhagen to try and find a solution to the problem. Only every second lamp was burning in the streets of the freezing capital and it was forbidden on special days to drive a car. Petrol was like gold, and 1000 journalists from all over the world were following the important talks of the ten prime ministers from the European Market.
Suddenly a crowd of Arab ministers appeared. They literally ‘hijacked’ the top-meetings, and in the hours, in which they put pressure on the ten most responsible men in Europe by promising oil and petrol to those nations, who would sell out their old friendship with Israel, we turned up with gigantic banners in Danish, German, French and English, saying: ‘It’s cold – but we love the Jews!"
It was of course nice to know that our message was covered by 1000 journalists, and that our words appeared on TV-screens all over the world, and it was also with a warm feeling in our hearts that we received thanks from the Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen, telling us that in this decisive moment we had shown ‘ethical courage’… but that was all! Everything remained on the surface, and personally I do not think that our ‘demonstration’ had any influence on the talks behind the walls of the king’s castle ‘Amalienborg’, whereto all the foreign dignitaries were invited.
It was only when we at last discovered our own weakness in a many years’ deliverance ministry amongst the ‘drop-outs’ and finally, after a long time of hard work had to admit that unclean demons and evil powers of this present age simply were laughing at us, that we came to know the secret about the ‘corn of wheat’.
It happened like this:
Because of the daily disasters on the drug-scene, where hundreds of young lives were either destroyed or put to death, we were about ten young couples who with the help of others bought and renovated a house in the centre of Copenhagen, where we started a help-work for addicts. We ran this house which we called ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ for a number of years. Many young people were saved and rescued, but the drugs became ‘harder’ and the cases grew worse from month to month. At last – after a great number of young lives had been delivered and restored, we had to acknowledge however, that we did not have sufficient power to continue this special deliverance ministry.
Nevertheless, it was something of a surprise to us, when during a Danish prayer- and Bible-week with the well known British Bible-teacher, the late Mr. Denis Clark; we ultimately understood that we should close down the ‘Soli Deo Gloria’-work.
We did it in faith and sent home a good number of full-time workers with the more or less secret expectations that God would resurrect this blessed ministry; with more power (of course) and in a bigger (no doubt) house and with more people (it couldn’t be otherwise)!
This however never happened, and it was not until years later that I personally grasped the ‘garden-truth’ which the apostle Paul with excellence puts forth in his first epistle to the Corinthians. "Thou fool", he says, "that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die!" and then he goes on to explain the secret, which I and others, who worked in that house have later experienced. "And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be… but God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body" (15:36-37). In other words (and as the Living Bible puts it): "You will find the answer in your own garden! When you put a seed into the ground it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it ‘dies’ first. And when the green shoot comes up out of the seed, it is very different from the seed you first planted. For all you put into the ground is a dry little seed of wheat, or whatever it is you are planting, then God gives it a beautiful new body – just the kind He wants it to have; a different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed…"
When the ministry in the ‘Soli Deo Gloria’-house as a weak and naked corn of wheat was put down in the ground, several new ministries were shooting as new plants out of the seed. One of them had a body, which I would never have dreamed of. It consisted of families living in old gipsy-trailers, travelling from nation to nation – and with an ultimate destination called: JERUSALEM.