ROMANIA: RICHARD WURMBRAND
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43-44
The words seemed strange from a pastor who spent fourteen years in Communist prisons, but Richard Wurmbrand was sincere when he said them.
“Many Communists were willing to die to defend their 'Utopia.’ They were more committed to their cause than some I met in churches.”
In every enemy Pastor Wurmbrand saw a potential friend and a potential Christian. By loving his opponents, he not only saw many come to know Christ but also increased his opportunities to witness.
“When they called me a 'dirty Jew’ and told everyone not to read my books, people immediately went out to see what this 'dirty Jew’ had to say,” he chuckled. “I welcome anyone who has offense against me. Others are not always interested in what you have to say. You need to challenge them to the truth before you share your beliefs. To do this you must understand where they are coming from and be able to speak intelligently. But we must also remember to always speak in love.”
Pastor Wurmbrand’s words were not some high-minded ideal that he didn’t exemplify. He and his wife Sabina welcomed into their home a Nazi officer who worked at the very concentration camp where all of Sabina’s family had been exterminated. When the officer saw their forgiveness and love for him, he was won into the kingdom.
Editor's Note: These statements were made during one of Pastor Wurmbrand’s final interviews prior to his death in February, 2001.
Jesus taught us that others would recognize our faith by our love-especially when it comes to dealing with the opposition. How we treat our enemies is equally important as how we treat those in our own Christian family. In fact, our response to criticism often makes a greater statement for Christianity than any other example. When believers put this powerful principle of the Christian faith into practice, they distinguish themselves from the rest of the world. The natural r esponse to opposition is to refute it or return the favor. Instead, believers strive to understand their enemies, not undermine them. Opposition, when put into this perspective, is welcomed as an opportunity to exercise faith and imitate Christ’s commands.