Today at church we had four baptisms. Two of the boys have been reared in the church, but the other two, a man and a woman not related to each other, are from China. Both spoke and were addressed through an interpreter. The older woman spoke of her coming from three generations of Christian believers, but when she saw her parents persecuted for their faith in China, she rejected Christianity. But the Hound of Heaven chased her to Hong Kong and then to America. Through God’s faithful Word which was given to her by a church in Hong Kong and through the witness of a faithful sister here, she came face to face with the reality of God and the victory of his Son.
These two are not the first Chinese to be baptized at our church as we have a student group that meets there, but I am always reduced to weeping as I watch. Unlike me or my family, baptism for these new brothers and sisters is a definite line in the sand; a very public proclamation of their inward transformation. By it, they declare, “From here on, I choose to identify with the Church.” For them, more so than for us, they must weigh the alternative (life apart from Christ) and decide that is insufficient and unthinkable, even in light of the very real suffering that may be theirs when they return to China.
The persecuted church is a burden that my husband and I carry. We have found the organization Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) to be a reliable and trustworthy source of information for us as well as a resource for practical means of participation (ex: weekly prayer focuses, writing to Christian prisoners, Bible programs for restricted nations, parachutes for dispensing the Gospel in Columbia, aid to the families of those in prison, etc.)
“Voice of the Martyrs was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned 14 years in Communist Romania for his faith in Christ. His wife, Sabina, was imprisoned for three years. In the 1960s, Richard, Sabina, and their son, Mihai, were ransomed out of Romania and came to the United States. Through their travels, the Wurmbrands spread the message of the atrocities that Christians face in restricted nations, while establishing a network of offices dedicated to assisting the persecuted church.” More of Pastor Wurmbrand’s story is found in his free book, Tortured for Christ.
It was during Richard and Sabina’s United States tour back in the 60’s that my husband was taken by his parents to hear Pastor Wurmbrand speak at our local civic center. My husband traces his conversion to that event as thoughts of what was said that evening concerning the gospel churned around in his mind and prompted him to desire to receive Christ. [As a side story, after trying several prior attempts, my husband’s dad left off smoking cold-turkey after hearing Pastor Wurmbrand speak that night. He reasoned, if the Pastor could go through something like that for the gospel, he (my father-in-law) could certainly give up smoking. And he did.]
VOM continues the Wurmbrand’s mission around the world today. Their ministry takes its charge from Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
For those that may be skeptical or those who would like more information, current and specific details on where persecution is taking place today around the world is found at VOM’s newsroom page.