Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Real Life Experiences - Harold King

(Harold King, photo on pg 243 of the JW Proclaimers book)

*Yesterday's text about perservering in prayer, and today's text discussion about not allowing inherent, negative, human emotions dominate our attitude or behavior, is the perfect segue into the experience I wanted to post today. It's about Harold King, (the brother who was briefly mentioned in yesterday's experience about Br Barr). He was a missionary who spent 5 years in solitary confinement in Communist China, from 1958 to 1963 because of his Christian faith. He really has an amazing story. His example shows that the power of Jehovah's holy spirit, combined with prayer and strong determination on our part not to 'give up' or 'give in' to negative emotions due to negative circumstances, can fortify and strengthen us to endure any situation we may find ourselves in, no matter how dire.

(photo of Stanley Jones (left) and Harold King (right) on pg 489 of the Proclaimers book - they arrived in Shanghai in 1947)

He even managed to celebrate the memorial by himself! ...to the best of his ability, even though doing so could have resulted in severe punishment from the guards. On pg 243 of the JW Proclaimers book he says: “From my prison window I watched the moon grow full near the start of spring. I calculated as carefully as I could the date for the celebration.” He improvised the needed emblems, making a little wine from black currants and using rice, which is unleavened, for the bread. He also said: “I sang and prayed and gave a regular talk for the occasion, just as would be done in any congregation of Jehovah’s people. So I felt that each year I was united with my brothers all over the world on this most important occasion.”

You've gotta watch him tell this short experience about celebrating the memorial and how he made the wine in
this videoclip...listen all the way to the end of the video...it totally cracked me up what he said Br Franz did after he got done telling him the story. lol. there's also more videos linked to this one where he tells his other prison experiences too.

(following info from pg 15 of the 9/15/03 Watchtower)
"Regular prayer can also help us face severe trials...Concerning his experience, Brother King said: “I might be isolated from my fellowmen, but no one could isolate me from God. . . . So, open to the view of any who might pass my cell, I knelt in my cell three times a day and prayed aloud, keeping in mind Daniel, of whom the Bible speaks. . . . It seemed that on such occasions God’s spirit guided my mind to the most beneficial matters and gave me a feeling of composure. What spiritual strength and comfort prayer brought to me!"

*I also wanted to include some info from the 9/22/93 Awake! article, "Loneliness—Are You Determined to Fight It and Win?" Because it includes info about what Br King did during his time in prison to bolster his outlook and not succumb to negative emotions...(and if anyone ever had an excuse for caving into overwhelming feelings of despair and loneliness, it certainly was him!)

(excerpts from pgs 6-11)
"The feeling of true loneliness builds up from the very inside of us rather than from the outside. Loneliness may be triggered by some saddening event—a death, a divorce, a lost job, some tragedy. When we light our inner world brightly, that loneliness can be made to diminish, perhaps even disappear in time, and the loss that afflicted us can be accommodated, absorbed.
Feelings arise from your thoughts. After a loss has been absorbed and the feelings it produced have been allowed to recede into the background, it is time to give prominence to upbuilding thoughts that allow you to get on with your life.
Bestir yourself. Take yourself in hand. There are positive things to be done. So be outgoing. Phone someone. Write a letter. Read a book. Invite people over. Have an interchange of ideas. To have friends, you must show yourself friendly. Reach into yourself to reach out to others. Show little kindnesses. Share some comforting spiritual tidbit with them. You will find Jesus’ words to be true: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” You will realize another proverbial truth: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”—Acts 20:35; Proverbs 11:25.

It Is Up To You
Difficult to do? Easier said than done? Everything worthwhile is easier said than done. That’s what makes the doing of it satisfying to you. You have to put forth special effort. A part of you goes into the giving, and the bright light inside of you grows brighter. It is up to you to put forth the effort to rout the loneliness that seeks to dominate you...
Too often the one suffering from loneliness will not rally himself sufficiently to help himself, to lift himself out of the depths of his despair. There is an inertia, an unwillingness, to exert himself to that extent, but if he is to get to the bottom of his loneliness, it must be done. Dr. James Lynch wrote of people’s resistance to advice they find hard to take: “The human condition is such that we generally resist hearing, or at least resist incorporating into our behavior, information we do not like.” A person may want to escape his loneliness, but he may not be willing to muster up the willpower needed to effect the release.

Act as You Want to Feel
To overcome a deep depression, one needs to persist in pursuing real cheerfulness and kindliness. (Compare Acts 20:35.) This calls for breaking through the entrenched mood of loneliness by acting just the opposite of its deadening lethargy...crowd out the morose mood with happy thoughts. Such as?
Such as those at Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”
The need is to put some meaning into your life. If you feel that your life has some meaning, you will be energized to respond to that and seek to fulfill it. You will not likely fall into a feeling of despondent loneliness. This is interestingly shown in Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. He discusses it relative to prisoners in Hitler’s concentration camps. Those who had no sense of meaning in their lives succumbed to loneliness and lacked the will to live. But “the consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life.” He continued: “Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice. . . . Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.”

The Ultimate Relationship You Need
The way to achieve a truly spiritual outlook is to come all the way to God and his Word, the Bible. Faith in God and earnest prayer to him can give our lives meaning. Then, even if human relationships crumble, we are not alone, not condemned to loneliness. As Frankl said, suffering with meaning is bearable, even a source of joy. One observer of human nature said: “A martyr at the stake may have happiness that a king on his throne might envy.”
The apostles of Christ felt joy from Jehovah when persecuted by men; such suffering held great meaning for them. “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) ...

Where You Tend a Rose, a Thistle Cannot Grow
Fill the soil of your mind with seeds of beauty and positive purpose; leave no room for the seeds of negative despair and bleak loneliness. (Compare Colossians 3:2; 4:2.) Difficult to do? Under certain circumstances, seemingly impossible. A poet noted: “Where you tend a rose, . . . a thistle cannot grow,” which again requires positive effort and determined exercise of willpower. But it can be done, is being done...
That was the case with a Watch Tower missionary, Harold King. Sentenced to five years in solitary confinement in a Chinese prison, he was a perfect candidate for a long siege of loneliness. He rejected that negative outlook, however, and by a deliberate act of willpower launched his mind on a different course. He later described it as follows:
“I arranged for a program of ‘preaching’ activity. But to whom does one preach when in solitary confinement? I decided that I would build up some appropriate Bible sermons from the things I could remember and then preach to imaginary characters ...All this I did aloud, so that the sound of these things would further impress them on my mind.” ...

If God Is With You, You Are Never Alone
One faithful African Witness of Jehovah, after enduring terrible persecution and feeling abandoned, said that even if her human relationships failed, she was still not alone. She quoted Psalm 27:10: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” Jesus felt the same way. “Look! The hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”—John 16:32.