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The place is not a pretty sight. I.V.’s drip fluid into skinny arms. Doctors and nurses scurry from one wooden-slab bed to another, responding to pleas for help. I am at Ban Vinai, a refugee camp along the Mekong River just inside northern Thailand. It is populated by some 35,000 H’mong (pronounced Mong) tribal refugees from the mountains of Laos. They suffer from severe malnutrition, malaria, amoebic dysentery, tuberculosis, pneumonia and a host of parasites. For many there is a tragic complication: they have been gassed. 

One of them is a friend of mine; yet I don’t recognize him, although I have passed his pallet at least 20 times. Finally, through his pain, he recognized me and sends a relative to bring me to him. 

Nhia Yang Vang, about 40, had once been vigorous, energetic. Now he is a skeleton with sunken, haunted eyes. In a weak voice he tells me he had returned to Laos after I saw him in January. Concerned about relatives, he had gone back there with a party of 19 men for three months. During that time, he says, his team had been in areas sprayed by poisonous chemicals nine times. 

Every few minutes his talk is broken by a racking cough that nearly strangles him. He spits bloody sputum into a tin can. A H’mong nurse tells me that he has chest pains, finds breathing difficult, cannot eat. 

Nhia continues: “They hit us at the end of May at Nam Khing with the yellow chemicals. It was a white plane like a Soviet helicopter-low enough so that I could see the figures of two pilots. Immediately when they dropped the gas I fell to the ground vomiting blood. My eyes burned; I could not see. I have the ‘red’ diarrhea. 

“It was a powder. When it touched my skin it became sticky, like an ointment, and when water is put on it, it becomes liquid.” He stops for another bout of coughing. “You know, after a rain the chemicals will get into the water and poison it. Now that it is the rainy season it will be so easy to poison us all.”

What you have just read are the opening paragraphs of an article in the October issue of the Reader’s Digest, entitled “Gas Warfare In Laos: Communism’s Drive To Annihilate A People.” Immediately following that title, and preceding those paragraphs that I have just quoted, you will find this sentence: “The article that follows is about genocide—the extermination of thousands of people whose only ‘crime’ is that they were friends of America.” 

Perhaps you receive the Reader’s Digest in your homes. If you do, perhaps also you have read this article. I very strongly encourage you to do so. And I very strongly encourage you to do so thoughtfully! What I mean is, read the article. Then having done so, put the article aside and think. Ponder in your minds that which you have just read. If you do, maybe your thoughts will be the same as mine were after I read the article.

What were my thoughts? They were these. Having read the article, I thought to myself: if these things be true, what a horrible, horrible thing is happening to people these days. Literally thousands of people are being exterminated, killed, in communist countries because they did something which those communist countries did not like. And too, so my thoughts were, what horribly sophisticated means are being used to exterminate those people. They were exterminated by dropping poisonous gas out of a helicopter! They were not exterminated by swords and spears. They were not exterminated by communist gladiators or by wild beasts in a communist amphitheater. No, not even by rifle or machine gun fire were those people exterminated. Very simply and easily, literally thousands were exterminated by gas warfare. Those were the thoughts that ran through my mind. 

But then a different thought ran through my mind, I picked up the article once more. I read once more the title of this article, that sentence underneath the title, and that last sentence of the portion of the article which I quoted. And this horrible thought came to my mind. What if the title of this article was changed somewhat? What if a word here and a word there were taken out and a new word here and a new word there were supplied? Let me see, so I thought, what if I would omit the word “Laos” in that title and change it to “Christendom.” What if I would omit the word “Communism’s” and change it to “The Antichrist’s” What if I omit the word “People” and change it to an “Elect People.” And, with respect to that sentence underneath the title, what if I omit the phrase “that they were friends of America,” and in its place substitute the words “that they were the friends of Jehovah God.” What then would I read? I would read this, “Gas Warfare In Christendom: The Antichrist’s Drive To Annihilate An Elect People. The article that follows is about genocide the extermination of thousands of people whose only ‘crime’ is that they were friends of Jehovah God.” That is what I would read. And when those thoughts came into my mind, I tell you, I have never been so startled in all my life! I thought to myself: could that be? Is such a thing possible? In future years, as the evil day approaches, could the Antichrist in his drive to annihilate the Church actually use such sophisticated means as gas warfare? And my answer to all those questions was an awesome, yes! Yes, he could do that! And why not, so I thought? If that dying man could say at the end of the portion of the article which I quoted above, “it will be so easy to poison us all,” so also can the child of God say that. “It will be so easy to poison us all.” 

And it will! In the last days, when the Antichrist will bend all his efforts to exterminate the Church with all of the sophisticated means at his disposal, it will be so easy. You know as well as I that in the days of the early Church, the Roman Empire, that manifestation of the Antichristian Kingdom, tried to exterminate the Church. It did! It used all the means at its disposal to annihilate God’s people. But it was a very difficult task. The means at its disposal were not sufficiently sophisticated to annihilate thousands upon thousands of God’s people at one time. The Roman Empire used the means of crucifixion to exterminate God’s people. The Roman Empire captured God’s people and brought them into its amphitheaters to die at the hands of gladiators and wild beasts. And there were other means’ which the Roman Empire used to destroy God’s people. But thousands upon thousands of God’s people at one time, the Roman Empire could not destroy. But the point is, the Antichrist in the last days can! He does not have to use the means of crucifixion, gladiators, and wild beasts in his attempt to destroy thousands upon thousands of God’s people. All he has to use is gas warfare and literally thousands upon thousands of God’s people will be destroyed! 

Well, you say, that is somewhat farfetched, isn’t it? In order to destroy vast numbers of God’s people the Antichrist will have to separate God’s people from the rest of the ungodly, wicked. Otherwise when he uses gas warfare to destroy God’s people, he will also destroy the wicked right along with them. That he will not want to do. I submit to you, however, that that is not at all farfetched. It will not at all be difficult to separate God’s people from the ungodly wicked. After all, the Bible tells us that in the last days the people of God will be separated from the ungodly wicked. In the last days the people of God, if they truly manifest themselves to be the people of God, the friends of Jehovah God, will not receive the mark of the beast. And by that very fact they will be separated. They will be distinct. And if that be true, and it will, what will be so difficult for the Antichrist to gather together those distinct, separate people in an isolated area here and in an isolated area there and to exterminate them with his sophisticated means? That will not be difficult at all. 

To that you say: yes, but why be so morbid? I would rather not think about such thoughts. I would rather think about the relative freedom from persecution that I experience today. Let us just think about today! I do not care to worry about what might or might not happen tomorrow. If perchance those be your thoughts, my response to those thoughts is this. In the first place, I am not morbid. I am simply realistic—as realistic as our Lord Jesus Christ was when He said in John 15:18-20, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but. I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” With respect to those words of the Lord Jesus, I need say no more. They speak for themselves, and they are and shall be far more realistic than we care to admit. That is right! Than we care to admit! None of us cares to admit that we shall be persecuted, and persecuted by the means of which this article speaks. I do not. When I read this article in the Reader’s Digest, when I thought about this article along the lines that I have just written, I say once more, I was horrified. 

But that exactly brings me to the second thing that I want to say. I was not so horrified that I was cast into despair. Yes, it may very well be the case that the Antichrist shall attempt to annihilate God’s people by gas warfare and various other sophisticated means. Yes, it may very well be the case that sometime you and I may actually read an article in some magazine entitled “Gas Warfare in Christendom: The Antichrist’s Drive To Annihilate An Elect People. The article that follows is about genocide; the extermination of thousands of people whose only ‘crime’ is that they were the friends of Jehovah God.” That may very well be the case. But even if it is, we the people of God, the friends of Jehovah God, whose only “crime” is that we are the friends of Jehovah God, shall be delivered. We shall be delivered by the Son of Man Who will not ever, ever permit the Antichrist to succeed in his drive to annihilate God’s people. He will not! Never will the Son of Man permit His elect people to be annihilated. How do we know that? Listen to the words of none other than the Son of Man as they are recorded for us inMatthew 24:29-31: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Those are the words of comfort and assurance spoken to us by our Savior. And we know that they are true, for He Who spoke those words, also spoke these words, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” They are true and they are sure. In the assurance of those words then, let us watch. Let us watch as the true friends of Jehovah God. To be a friend of Jehovah God may indeed be a “crime” in the eyes of the Antichrist, for which “crime” he may indeed attempt to annihilate us, but in the eyes of Jehovah God, that is no crime. On the contrary, it is the awesome calling which Jehovah God has given unto us, our calling even unto the end!