There comes a time in every man's life when he learns to pray." For John Noble, that moment came on this day, February 13, 1945. As allied bombers pounded Dresden, he fell to his knees. The fire bombs would leave the city a burned-out husk. At least 35,000 people died.
John feared that he was about to become one of those casualties. Raised in a home which paid lip service to Christ, he realized that the thick walls of their basement shelter were no match for the powerful bombs raining down upon the city. "What would I say to God on Judgment Day if I were to die right now?" he asked himself. "I was not worthy of salvation and, as I stood there realizing that any moment might be my last, I knew it."
The bombers left after twenty minutes. A second wave came soon after. Surviving a blast that took one third of his home's roof off, he stumbled to the basement with ears ringing and began to pray in earnest. Bomb after bomb exploded nearby, but John and his family survived. When the bombers left, they battled for an hour to save their damaged house from fire.
Below them, Dresden burned. They could feel the heat on their faces. John felt he had been spared to do some work for God. However, he quickly forgot his promise to be thankful. American citizens, the Nobles had returned to Germany to operate their camera business. They expected their American citizenship to protect them from the Russians who moved in to occupy East Germany.
Instead, John and his dad found themselves taken into Soviet custody. There, as the Soviets starved the prisoners into submission, he learned to pray. At first, he prayed for bread and release. He finally reached a point of weakness in which he told the Lord he could not go on any longer. He asked the Lord to either take him or, if he meant for him to go on, to give him the strength to do so.
A new strength flowed into him. "Literally, I felt as though I was born again."
God remained with John for the ten years he spent in Soviet prison camps. His faith deepened. Later he would write a book of his experiences, I Found God in Soviet Russia. It sold tens of thousands of copies and reported many miraculous experiences of himself and other Christians in those terrible days.
He told of worship services that crossed the barriers of denominations. He saw priests who suffered dreadful reprisals for carrying out their duties, nuns who went without winter clothes rather than take part in tasks they considered wrong.
He was able to share his testimony with Russian prisoners (and even guards), who also hungered to know about Christ.
A group of Christians in America, who had never met him, began praying for his release. Two years later, he was freed. The American government had discovered he was alive and had instituted inquiries about him.
- Noble, John. I Found God in Soviet Russia. Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 1971.
Last updated June, 2007