Josef Korbel endured 10 harsh years in a communist prison camp, where despite severe punishment and constant threats of death, the Brigadier continued his Christian witness.
My poor fellow prisoners all over the forced labor camps and in the prison cells were often downhearted and even desperate, ready to commit suicide. It often happened that a verse from the Word of God, which I quoted to them from memory, was a source of help and encouragement. Then I had an idea, and much later in a forced labor camp I was able to realize it.
At that time we were working on buildings and so it was easy to get brown paper from cement sacks. Taking a clean part from such a sack, I made a little notebook, using a piece of thin wire to pin it together.
Although it was against the rules of the camp to possess a pencil, I had a little stump hidden in my jacket. With this I wrote many beautiful Bible verses I knew by heart. Soon my notebook was full and I started to lend it to fellow prisoners, who were sad and downhearted.
After a while my “Bible” was in such demand, that men had to wait for days until it was their turn to get it. Shabby, mended and worn out from hiding it under ragged jackets, this “Bible” was a source of much blessing.
“Joe, is your Bible back?” they would ask. “Remember it is my turn now to get it.” I was so glad to see the eagerness in their eyes.
Once we got a hint that there would be a search of the camp. On such days the guards inspected every corner of the cells, including the ceiling and the floor boards, looking for knives, pencils, needles, notebooks, family photos and like articles that were strictly forbidden.
What should I do with my Bible? I wondered. At last I took it with me to the working place, hoping that we would have no personal inspection. I managed to get it safely there, and rolling it up I inserted it in one of the hollow bricks which were piled up.
“I shall take it out again tomorrow,” I thought. However the next day the pile of bricks was not there any more. The night shift used them and so my “Bible” was somewhere in the wall of a newly built house and lost. I never had the opportunity of making another one, but the Lord’s Word was kept hidden safely in my heart (Ps. 119:11).
Josef Korbel, When the Gates Were Opened