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Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

Artist, Christopher Powers, attends Bethlehem Baptist Church and Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, MN, both of which have become very dear to Dana and I over the last several years through our children’s involvement in the same.  He has an unexpected and insightful, philosophy of art that declares the glory of God (Psalm 96:1-4).  View Powers’ other works on his website.  (Feel free to contribute if led.)

All I Have is Christ

v. 1
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

v. 2
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Chorus
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

v.3
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

All I Have Is Christwritten by Jordan Kauflin; sung by Devon Kauflin.
Copyright 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Song used by Christopher Powers with permission.

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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).

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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.

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