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John Balca was one of the early pioneer missionaries in Eastern Europe. He was particularly focused on the country of Yugoslavia in the 1930-1950’s. In his autobiography, he writes of the many difficulties that God helped him to overcome in the establishing of an Apostolic church in this region of the world.

Excerpt from My Life With God: An Autobiography of Jan Balca:

Persecution in Janosik

A few days after that, Brother Cereveny and I visited the saints in Janosik where I was scheduled to perform a marriage ceremony. I preached a message about marriage, and then the young couple came to stand in front of me to take their marriage vows according to the Word of God.

Suddenly, the door of the church burst open, and a policeman with a rifle marched in. He shoved the barrel of the rifle into my chest and yelled, "Hands up!" Everyone present looked on in fear and wondered what was going on. This reminded me so much of when they came to arrest Jesus and He said, "Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?" (Luke 22:52). Then the policeman took me to Lokva and handed me over to a member of the Interior Ministry.

He angrily began his interrogation, "What are you doing in Janosik?"

I replied, "I was invited to perform a wedding."

Then he yelled, "I will teach you a lesson! You will no longer wander around here and there and talk to people about some God who doesn’t exist!" Immediately he began to slap me in the face. While he was beating me he asked, "Does God exist?"

I replied, "Yes! And He created everything!"

He beat me even more furiously and yelled some more, "Then why did God allow the War (World War II)?"

I answered as best as I could in the midst of the blows, "It wasn’t God! It’s people’s hate and the evil of sin in the heart of man that causes devastating wars."

Then again he asked, "Does God exist?" Again I replied, "Yes, He exists!"

He became even angrier and began to beat me with his fists while calling me all sorts of names and blaspheming God. The third time he asked, "Does God exist, and where is He?"

I replied as always, "Yes! God exists, and He is eternal, and He is sitting on the throne of His glory in heaven. On the day of His terrible judgment we will all stand before Him to receive what we deserve: a reward or punishment, according to what everyone has done in his earthly life."

When I confirmed my faith in God and His existence the third time, he became furious because he could not force me to deny God. He snatched up a revolver and began to beat me with it, raining blows all over my body. He thought with this outburst he would scare me into submission. In his furious anger he hollered, "Where was God when the fascists were murdering our women and children? How could He have watched this awful injustice?"

As he was ranting and raving, I suddenly felt sorry for him. I pitied him because he was under the influence of the devil, not knowing he was blaspheming God who is a God of love who loves all people. I was just getting ready to reach out to him and comfort him as an unhappy soul who was on his way to hell, when he hit me in a sensitive spot on the chest near the heart, and I began to lose consciousness. Only then did he stop beating me for fear of killing me. He became afraid because President Tito had just passed a law that killing was no longer allowed until there had been a fair trial. He called for a policeman to take me to jail.

They also brought in Michal Cerveny, and they interrogated and beat him in another room. (He described these events in greater detail and eventually wrote a booklet about it.) Then at night they led us out of the prison. The man that beat me came to us and said, "You need to teach people to tolerate each other in love so that people live in peace one with another."

I replied, "We certainly do that, because we know that our God is a God of love, and He wants to save everyone who believes in Him and repents of his sins."

Then he curtly dismissed us, "Get on the train and go home, not back to Janosik!"

We traveled home, and on the way we praised the Lord for giving us patience and for counting us worthy to suffer for Him like the apostles.

(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, "A Purpose In the Heart" 1/31/2009)

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