KEYWORDS: church, people, way, jesus, bishop

How to Survive in a Closed Country

David Berg

DO 1764France‚ 15/11/80

1. I DON'T AGREE WITH A LOT OF THINGS GODAHFI DOES. I don't agree with him supporting a lot of these terrorist organisations & the violence that he goes in for‚ etc. But he's a revolutionist, he's a political fighter, he's a militant, a warrior, a soldier & he believes in not only preaching it but fighting for it as well, & that's Muslim, that's Islam!

2. THE PROPHET MOHAMMED FINALLY DECIDED THAT IF THEY WERE GOING TO MANAGE TO SURVIVE, THEY WERE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT‚ literally fight‚ & that was just about the only way they survived!—And he won battles! They had to fight with their enemies with swords & staves & spears & on horseback‚ & that's the only way they ever made it! They had to resort to violence, otherwise their enemies would have wiped them out in the first few years! At least that's what they claim they had to do‚ & probably so. That's the way they survived. And they not only found it was a very effective method of survival just to chop off their enemies' heads, but that it was also one very good way of spreading their religion! "Take it or leave it!" So they gave people a choice, an offer they couldn't refuse!

3. THEY HAD THE ARMENIANS KNEEL DOWN IN A ROW ON THEIR KNEES, bent over like this, heads hanging over & the swordsman would go down the line & give them the choice whether they would accept Mohammed or not. It was free voluntary choice! If they didn't want to, "Off with your head!"—Very voluntary religion. After all, it's only fair to give'm a choice, right? They didn't have to deny their faith, they didn't have to accept Islam or Mohammed, & in the case of the Armenians who were staunch Christians, most of them didn't, so the Turks massacred them by the thousands!

4. THAT WAS ONE OF THE OLDEST‚ MOST ESTABLISHED REALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN THE WORLD & has some of the earliest history as being strong, staunch Christians, & they resisted the Muslims. But I think they might have been a little smarter, as I was when I was in [one Arab country], if they'd have said, "Well, of course I believe in Mohammed & I believe in the Holy Koran too!"—A lot of it, not all of it, but I didn't tell them that!

5. I BELIEVE IN MOHAMMED, I BELIEVE HE EXISTED, I BELIEVE HE WAS A PROPHET! Of course I can believe in Mohammed, but I don't necessarily believe everything he said. And I believe he was a prophet. … I mean there are ways, nice … ways of not having to confront the issue. Like that Jew when they asked him how he wanted to die, if he wanted to be shot, drowned or whatever, he said, "Well, since you give me a choice, really I just prefer to die of old age!" So why not? The Jews have learned to get along & survive in the World under all kinds of conditions under all kinds of regimes & people & they're still around. Whereas the Armenians nearly got wiped out, including a lot of other people. There was a religious movie that came out called "The Seventh Question," did you ever hear about it?—About being "red like a radish"! How red is a radish? (Family: Only on the outside!)

6. A LOT OF THE MARTYRS TO COMMUNISM, CHRISTIAN MARTYRS, DIED & SUFFERED UNNECESSARILY BECAUSE THEY INSISTED ON GOING TO CHURCH! They insisted on repairing the church building when it was against the law. They insisted on getting their babies baptised when it was against the law. These are all things they could have practiced in their homes & forgot about the church‚ but they insisted on going to church on Sunday when they were supposed to be at work in the factory & take Friday or Saturday or some other day off.

7. BUT YOU SEE, CHURCHIANITY WAS THEIR RELIGION‚ NOT NECESSARILY JUST JESUS CHRIST & JUST BY FAITH. When your religion is based on church works, then your whole faith is based on the churches. And if you can't go to church & perform church services & church practices & keep the church building up & go to church on Sunday, then where's your religion?

8. WELL, GOD BLESS THOSE POOR DEAR DELUDED CHURCH PEOPLE, they went ahead & went to church & baptised & did all the things they weren't supposed to do, so they got martyred or thrown in jail or out of jobs & all kinds of other things when they could have been just as good, if not better Christians at home & on the job & at school by complying with the rules & obeying the laws & doing what they were told to do as long as they didn't have to deny their faith! In fact, it seldom ever got to the point where the Communists said, "You must deny Christ or your faith in Christ or off with your head!"

9. COMMUNISM DOESN'T USUALLY MAKE A FRONTAL ATTACK THAT WAY, IT JUST MAKES IT TOUGH ON CHRISTIANS, ESPECIALLY CHURCH CHRISTIANS. Look what a much better job & a better witness they would have been if they would have been good Communists, shining examples of the good kind of Communist a Christian can be‚ up to the point of doing everything & obeying everything except denying your faith in Christ! See?

10. MANY CHRISTIANS HAVE PERISHED OR BEEN PERSECUTED UNNECESSARILY, EVEN SOME OF OUR OWN PEOPLE! We've had people going into closed countries doing the most stupid things, passing out the most stupid kind of literature, passing out [one ML about an ex-leader] under the government that killed him! Can you imagine anything so ridiculous? No wonder they got thrown in jail & kicked out of the country! So for God's sake, use your head! Don't be stupid idiots & go out of your way to be obnoxious & objectionable & unbearable to where the authorities have got to do something & get rid of you! [One Arab country] told Mother & Stephen so many times to leave, they finally had to escort them to the border & kick them across the border…!

11. JESUS & PAUL TAUGHT JUST THE OPPOSITE! You were to obey the government‚ obey them that have rule over you, obey magistrates‚ obey the police officer, "agree with your adversary whilst thou art in the way with him." (Rom.13; Mat.5:25) As long as it doesn't compromise your faith in Christ & His Love & His grace & your own salvation, as long as you don't have to actually deny Jesus Christ as your Saviour, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to get along with most governments of the World!—Except for your witnessing, & that's, of course, where the crunch comes.

12. THAT'S WHAT WE DID WHEN WE LIVED IN THE EXTREMELY CLOSED COUNTRY OF FRANCO SPAIN, WE OBEYED THE RULES & WE USED A LOT OF WISDOM, BUT WE COULDN'T STOP BEING CHRISTIANS, & DIDN'T! The Franco government had nothing against Christ, in fact it was supposed to be very Christian, & had nothing against the Bible, they were supposed to believe the Bible, so we talked to people about God, we talked to them about Jesus‚ we talked to them about the Bible. How could we go wrong? We certainly didn't attack the Catholic Church & we avoided every way we could attacking the government. In fact, we praised the government for its many good points, that it had resisted Communism & that it was at least officially Christian & all the rest.

13. WE DIDN'T START JUST STANDING ON STREET CORNERS PASSING OUT LITERATURE WHEN IT WAS FORBIDDEN, not until it was unforbidden, after Franco was dead & there was a more liberal government & freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc., then we began to just distribute like mad! And that's when we started turning out to the clubs in force & began to witness like mad & distribute literature & all the rest & got in the papers, etc. And we were a sensation! Most everybody liked us except the Bishop! Even the police liked us, even the Guardia Civil liked us, even the Secret Police liked us‚ they were some of our best friends & fish!

14. TOO BAD THE BISHOP DIDN'T COME DOWN & GET A SAMPLE, MAYBE THAT WAS ONE OF HIS PROBLEMS, HE WAS JEALOUS! His favourite spy was Sergio, personal representative of the Bishop, who used to come down & enjoy our home & the girls & the swimming pool & talk to me by the hour! He really liked me & was practically converted. In fact, he went back to the Bishop & made such a good report the Bishop said, "My God, you too! The Greeks have converted you!"—Going back to an old historical precedent…! I think he called us Greeks because of our liberal views & sexuality, etc.—the way ancient Greece was.

15. IN TENERIFE WE NEVER INTENDED TO SAY ANYTHING AGAINST THE CHURCH OR THE GOVERNMENT or anything, in fact we didn't, we avoided that like the plague! We cooperated with the local church, even sent people there to go to mass & sent gifts to the priest! We were well–accepted in our local village, attended their fiestas & donated to their causes & their church building program & gave presents to the people & their children. We did everything we could—& they loved us! The local villagers stuck up for us, & amongst all those journalists who came down to find out about us, the local folk never had one bad word to say about us, never one bad word from them was ever printed in the papers! They said nothing but good about us! "We don't understand them, but they're good people & have never done any harm, never done us anything but good," etc.—Couldn't get a bad word out of them, or the local officials of that area!

16. NOBODY HAD A BAD WORD TO SAY ABOUT US, neither the police nor the Guardia Civil nor the Secret Police nor the Mayor nor the Chief of Police nor anybody! Think of that! Not once!—Only the Bishop & his judge! He was scared to death that we were going to take over the Island, our religion was going to sweep the Islands!—And I believe it would have! (Sara: It did!) Yes! I would say that most people there still love us & still like to believe in us & thought we were good people.

17. BUT THE BISHOP, JUST LIKE THE SCRIBES & THE PHARISEES & THE CHIEF PRIESTS IN THE DAYS OF JESUS, SAW A THREAT TO THEIR STATUS QUO & a threat to their believers & a threat to their followers & a threat to their hierarchy & a threat to their religion. After all, the Bishop had never had that much publicity! Even with one encyclical letter a month in the newspaper, he never got that much publicity & that many newspaper photos & front page headlines & all the rest!

18. WHO THE HELL IS INTERESTED IN AN OLD DRY FUDDY-DUDDY BISHOP & THE UNEXCITING LIFE HE LIVES?—With no concubines & multiple wives & all that sort of thing, no pretty girls representing Catholicism in the Clubs! I mean, who the hell cared about the Bishop? Nobody could have cared less! And that's what his problem was, he was furious because we were getting all the publicity & all the news & all the popularity, & he wasn't getting any! So he had to go to court & go to law to try to stop us‚ accusing us of public scandal!

19. WELL‚ THAT'S WHAT THE PUBLIC LOVES, SCANDAL! So he had to preach a whole encyclical sermon against it, in which he mentioned "public scandal" seven times! "The worst & most heinous & most horrible of all sins!"—And he got that in the paper just the day before I was arrested! In other words, he was defending himself ahead of time for having us arrested! And that's what it was, I was arrested! When you get a summons to go before a judge in court, you have been arrested! The judge didn't come down there & grab me & lock me up & take me to jail—I think they were afraid to because we were so popular, or I believe they would have—but they wanted to first try to convict me & publicise the reasons.

20. —JUST LIKE THE JEWS DID WITH JESUS! Why didn't they attack Him? They had the force & the means & everything‚ but it says‚ "They feared the people!" (Mk.12:12) We had too many friends! Now that's the way to do it if you want to go in & witness in a closed country. You may not stay there forever, you may eventually have to go‚ but for God's sake, leave a lot of friends behind & lots of believers & lots of converts who are carrying on after you're gone!

21. WE DIDN'T ATTACK THE CHURCH, we didn't attack the government, we didn't attack the police, we didn't even particularly attack their religious mores or anything else‚ we were simply going down to the Clubs & dancing every night & talking about Jesus! And what's illegal about that? They never attacked us on our girls & the business of going to bed with the men, because if they'd start putting them in jail for going to bed with the men‚ they'd have had to start putting every tourist woman on the Island in jail, because that's the main thing they came there for!

22. SO WHAT COULD THEY DO TO US FOR DOING THAT? They couldn't condemn us for witnessing, they couldn't condemn us for talking about Jesus, they couldn't condemn us for quoting the Bible, they're supposed to be Christians, believers in Jesus & the Bible. They couldn't condemn the girls for dancing with the men because all the tourist women did it! They didn't even try to get us on the girls going to bed with the men, because they'd have had to arrest all the tourist women. They'd have had to stop the practice completely & the hotels would have lost half their business! So what could they do? They must have really had a hard time trying to think up something!

23. SO FINALLY THEY THOUGHT UP THIS PUBLIC SCANDAL THING. And one dear old Swede who had been a native there practically for years, an artist, said they'd arrested him & fined him for public scandal too just because of the way he was dancing with this woman! He said, "I got a bit drunk & I kind of overdid it so they took me to court & fined me. It's nothing‚ Dave, don't worry about it, don't worry about it!" But I'll tell you, the Bishop was really going to make something out of it!

24. SO THE LORD WARNED US & WE GOT OUT WHEN THE GOING GOT TOO HOT & TOO ROUGH! We'd done our job & it's still going on, thank the Lord! We have "fruit that remains" & the Word is still being spread, thank the Lord, with lots of good results! So if you're going to go to a closed country, that's the way to do it, do it with a lot of wisdom. We were little sheep in the midst of wolves, but we managed to turn most of the wolves into sheep, thank the Lord!

25. EVEN ALL THESE GUYS THAT WERE SENT TO INVESTIGATE US & came to our home & stayed overnight, Guardia Civil—supposed to be the ultra of the ultra, like the SS troops of Franco, the most loyal & the most unapproachable & incorruptible of all the Francoites—they became our best friends! They took back nothing but good reports to their commanders.

26. ALL THE GUARDIA CIVIL WERE CONCERNED ABOUT WAS THAT WE WEREN'T ATTACKING THE CHURCH & THE GOVERNMENT, so they just went back & said, "They're nice people! He praises Franco, he praises the government, he thinks Spain's a great Christian country, wonderful, more Christian than the rest of the World!"—And I'd say it was! So they had nothing to say except the fact that the girls went to bed with the guys, which they certainly didn't object to! That didn't happen to be on the Guardia Civil's list of objectionable behaviour! After all, they'd done it with plenty of other women & their own besides, so why should they object to that? All the tourist women were doing it, so if they'd started getting on our trail for that, they'd have scared half the tourists away because that's what the women came for, the four S's!—Sun, sea, sand & sex!

27. SO WE'RE LEARNING HOW TO TRY NOT TO OFFEND, & how to live with it, to try to love our neighbours & even try to love our enemies & to try to get along with them & try not to offend them. So there are ways of getting along with people & along with governments & even along with opposing religions if you learn to be "wise as serpents & harmless as doves," knowing you're "sheep amongst the wolves." (Mat.10:16) There are ways to do it. And the smartest way is to try to not get in any trouble!

28. (AMEN!—MAKE FRIENDS OF THE INFLUENTIAL & POWERFUL!—DON'T ANTAGONISE THEM!—AND ABOVE ALL, STEER CLEAR OF THE RELIGIONS & RELIGIOUS STRONGHOLDS & RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES!—That's who gave Jesus the most trouble!—And He tried to avoid'm!—For 3-1/2 years!—Till finally they couldn't ignore Him & His job was done & they killed Him!—But His native disciples carried on!—Until it got so hot most of them fled!—Into all the World to preach the Gospel to all!—Amen?—That's when your job'll be done! Try to survive until then, by [staying low-key or moving], OK?—Tx! GBAKY till then!—In Jesus' name, amen!)