As best as we can figure it my husband was about 4 or 5 years old when his family went to listen to a Jewish Christian pastor who had recently been released from prison. He had been arrested for refusing to swear loyalty to the new communist government in Romania. He would spend a total of 14 years in prison, three in a cell below ground in solitary confinement. His wife, Sabina, served three years of hard labor digging a canal, leaving their nine year old son alone and homeless.
According to Persecution.com, when Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was ransomed from prison, he and his wife were urged to become a voice to the outside world and to spread the message of the atrocities that Christians face in the underground church around the world. In a three day period, he penned the flood of memories of his experiences in prison. The book that resulted is called Tortured for Christ. In 1966, Pastor Wurmbrand appeared before a U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, where he stripped to the waist and revealed 18 deep torture wounds on his body. His story spread rapidly and led to more and more speaking engagements. The Wurmbrands traveled the free world sharing stories of Christians suffering for their faith.
At one such Midwestern appearance, my husband was in the audience. To hear Pastor Wurmbrand speak, one cannot miss the thick Romanian accent. Yet the Holy Spirit overcame this barrier and unstopped the ears of this young preschooler to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. When an altar call was given, his heart burned to go forward, but he did not. He knew enough though of the workings of the Holy Spirit to recognize His call. Later that evening or soon after, Dana remembers praying in his room, confessing the sins he knew of, and asking Jesus to be his Savior. He then remembers a rush of love and well-being that flooded his little self. He forever associates his salvation with the message preached that night by Pastor Wurmbrand.
Since that time, Dana and I have come to embrace the organization that Pastor Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina, founded, a ministry committed to serving the persecuted church, called “Voice of the Martyrs” (originally “Jesus to the Communist World.”) According to the influential work of David Barrett and Todd Johnson, from 30 A.D. to 2000 A.D., history has produced 70 million Christian martyrs, over half of which (45 million) were concentrated in the 20th century. According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, the top eleven persecuting countries (designated as “extreme persecution”) are: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, and Syria. If you would like to receive Pastor Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ or receive the Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazine, you may do so at VOM’s website.
Here is a nine and a half minute clip of Pastor Wurmbrand made in the 1960’s as he discusses his experiences not only of man’s cruelty toward mankind, but also the very real presence and comfort of Jesus in the midst of such horrors. It’s a long clip (~9:30″) in this fast-paced insta-everything day in which we live, but it is well worth your time. If you’re a follower of Isus (Romanian for Jesus), it will leave you with comfort for the days of tribulation as well as a heart for those Christians who are currently sharing in the sufferings of Christ in restricted nations around the world. Isus is Lord!
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).