Story of Théophane Vénard (1829-1861)
French missionary priest Théophane Vénard, born in 1829, was only twenty-three years old when he sailed for China. After serving in Hong Kong for several years, he went to Western Tonkin to minister to nearly ten thousand Chinese Christians who were suffering severe persecution. Théophane was respected even by many of his persecutors for his patient love and gentility. After five years of hiding in caves and preaching secretly at night—and sometimes in broad daylight—he was arrested and imprisoned in a cage, which was suspended in the open air. During that time, he wrote many endearing letters of consolation to his family in France, especially to his brother, Eusebius, and sister, Melanie, for whom he had a special affection. He was finally beheaded on February 2, 1861. The following words are extracts from those letters.
I know the sorrow I will bring to my family.
It has cost me tears of blood to take such a step
and give those I love such pain.
Who is there who cared for home
and family more than I?
All my earthly happiness was to be found there,
But you, O God, who united us with such
weaned me from what I love that
I might serve you.
I do not regret this world;
my soul thirsts for the waters of eternal life.
My exile is over.
I am approaching the soil of my true country;
earth vanishes, heaven opens, I go to God….
About two feet from my cage,
a feeble oil lamp throws a wavering glimmer
on this sheet of Chinese paper
and enables me to trace these few lines.
From day to day, I expect my sentence—perhaps tomorrow….
Within a few hours my soul shall quit this earth,
exile over and battle won.
I shall mount upward and enter into our true home.
There, among God’s elect,
I shall gaze upon what the eye of man cannot imagine,
hear of undreamed-of harmonies,
enjoy a happiness
that the heart cannot remotely comprehend.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
What are your momentary afflictions producing in you?
In prayer, bring such afflictions, and seek after God for this eternal weight of glory that is far beyond all comparison.
Specific Prayer Need
Please pray for John Cao who is currently imprisoned in China. John Cao is a missionary who was working in Myanmar to serve the Kachin people, a persecuted Christian minority. Cao was arrested for a human trafficking offense, but it was because of his Christian work with the Chinese house church and his work with the Kachin people that he was truly arrested. His trial was recently delayed until March in an effort by the Chinese government to have the rest of the world forget about John Cao. Please pray for John Cao. You can even write a letter to him in prison to show that you have not forgotten him. More information can be found at https://vomkorea.com/en/2018/12/18/vomk-report-35/.