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Christian Union
February 11, 2014

Missionary's Testimony Inspires Penn Students


In November, students at the University of Pennsylvania heard a love story, not about a man and a woman, but about the love of a man for his God and the transformative power that inspired him to reach out his hand in friendship to the one who had tortured him for nine months.

Dan Baumann served as a missionary in Afghanistan and traveled to Iran to share the Gospel, where he was arrested in 1997. He was held in isolation in an Iranian prison and beaten almost daily. The torture became so much, and the despair so great, that he tried to end his life four times. Unable to actually end his life, Baumann fell broken on the prison floor. It was there that he saw a vision of Jesus Christ and heard a message of love. He was assured by Christ that he was not alone and that the Lord would walk with him on this dark journey.

Spiritually resurrected by the vision, Baumann approached his days in captivity differently, and he even came to befriend the man who tortured him each day.

As a result, the prison guards who once abused him were also converted to Christ.

As he shared this story during a presentation sponsored by PennForJesus, Baumann helped Penn students rekindle their own love for the Lord and to view their lives in a fresh way.

"What Dan said is so right. God loves us so much and there are no conditions," said pre-doctoral student Xiao Linda Kang, Penn '12.

"I guess after being here so many years, I might have gotten jaded. I had too much spiritual pride. But being reminded that I couldn't do anything by myself has been an incredible lesson. I think Jesus has really been trying to draw me closer to Him and that's a confirmation for me to keep going in whatever situations."

When he arrived in the Middle East, Baumann had a vision of Jesus waiting for him at the airport. He sensed the love and friendship of the Lord and that the mission would draw him closer to God.

In addition to the personal message of love and hope in a foreign land, Baumann's story also served to bring the Bible into a new light of relevance for the students.

"Hearing the way God worked in Dan's life, both in meeting him and using him to lead several of his captors to Christ, seems like something we read about in Acts," said Michael Hu, director of Campus Renewal Ministries at Penn. "To see the joy in the demeanor of one who went through persecution makes those stories in the Bible tangible. Connecting that impact with our American lives is what I feel is important about this event and the message of the speaker."

Hu also pointed out that the international awareness of many Penn students added to the relevance of the message.

"For our believing students involved in political discourse, in the present and future, I feel it is a very valuable story and experience to have when viewing Iran and for any conversations they may have surrounding it," said Hu.

Although the message was geared toward the students, it also edified Hu as he works with students who walk through their own dark times and face moments of doubt and uncertainty.

"Knowing that if God met Dan in what could be considered the most hopeless of situations, it gives me confidence in encouraging struggling students that God is with them there," Hu said.

Therefore, this story of a man's love for God and God's love for all men continues to bring light into the darkness and give hope to the lost, as God redeems all situations and speaks into the heart of the Penn community.