Dmitri, a simple man who loved God and loved His word, lived in Russia when the communists took over. When churches were closed and the communists tightened their grip on Christians, Dmitri continued to openly share scriptures with his family. Through his open windows, the villagers would stand outside to listen as Dmitri told the Bible stories and the hymns he knew. When the communist authorities took notice, they threatened Dmitri, yet he continued to share about God. When those outside his window grew to 150 people, the authorities threw Dmitri in jail.
Dmitri was tortured, yet every morning at daybreak, he would stand at attention by his bed and face the east, raise his arms in praise to God, and sing a Heart Song to Jesus. 1500 hardened criminals tormented him, laughing, cursing, doing anything to try to extinguish the one tiny light shining in that horrible prison.
Anytime Dmitri found a scrap of paper, he would sneak to his cell, and using a stub of a pencil or a piece of charcoal he found, he would write as tiny as he could on the paper all the Bible verses and scriptural stories and songs he could remember. When the scraps became full, he would go to the corner of his little jail cell where there was a concrete pillar that constantly dripped water. He would take the paper, reach as high as he could and stick it on that damp pillar as a praise offering to God. When the jailers noticed, they would come in his cell, take down the paper, severely beat him, and threaten him with death. This continued day after day and year after year.
Much more happened in his story, but finally his jailers had enough and dragged Dmitri out for execution. Seeing what was happening, 1500 hardened criminals stood at attention, faced the east, and raising their arms they sang the Heart Song they heard Dmitri all those years sing to Jesus.
The jailers instantly released their hold on Dmitri and stepped away from him in terror. One demanded to know who he was. “Dmitri straightened his back and stood as tall and as proud as he could and responded: ‘I am a son of the Living God, and Jesus is His name!’”[i]
After being in prison seventeen years, Dmitri was released. What happened to him was terribly evil, however Romans 8:28 reminds us that “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Dmitri hadn’t been removed from ministry in his home and village; he had been given a huge ministry field to shine God’s light in a dark prison. For seventeen years, 1500 hardened criminals and guards had the opportunity to hear a Heart Song to Jesus every morning. How many men were saved by Dmitri’s testimony in song? How many guards removed those papers Dmitri gave to God as an offering, and how many read those words and treasured them in their hearts? How many men are in heaven because of Dmitri? How many families were touched when their men returned home? Someday, when we get home to heaven, we will know the rest of the beautiful story of Dmitri’s faithfulness to God.
Until then, let’s be faithful like Dmitri even during times of opposition and hardship to share about God. Let’s trust God’s timing, follow Him, and walk in His ways, spend time with God and His word, and tell others about our wonderful Savior.
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day” (Psalm 96:1-2, NASB).
“Go ahead—sing your brand-new song to the Lord! He is famous for his miracles and marvels, for he is victorious through his mighty power and holy strength” (Psalm 98:1, TPT).
“O come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with a song of thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with songs” (Psalm 95:1-2, AMP).
[i] Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God, B & H Books