18 posts categorized “Richard Wurmbrand”

April 3, 2014

Extreme Conquerors

ROMANIA: PASTOR RICHARD WURMBRAND

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

“My wife is sleeping in the other room because she has been ill,” Pastor Richard Wurmbrand began. “She and I are both Jewish. Her family perished in the same Nazi concentration camp where you just boasted of killing Jews with children still in their arms. Perhaps you murdered my wife’s family.”

Upon hearing this, the pastor’s guest, a soldier, became very angry and stood to leave. But Richard stopped him. “Wait. I want to propose an experiment. I want to tell my wife who you are and what you did. But my wife will not curse you or even look at you angrily. She will accept you.”

The man sat with his mouth open, but speechless. ED_Cover

The pastor continued, “Now if my wife, who is only human can forgive you-then how much more will Jesus love and forgive you?”

The man buried his face in his hands. “What have I done? How can I go on living with the guilt of so much blood? Jesus, please forgive me.” The soldier went on to give his life to Christ.

Then Richard went and woke his wife Sabina. “This is the murderer of your sisters, your brothers, and your parents,” he introduced the man. “But now he has repented.” She wrapped her hands around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.

“Love conquers all” is a popular saying. Christians, however, know the truth of this saying first hand. When we are at the mercy of our anger, we are consumed with hatred. But when we have allowed God (who is love) to control our lives, we find that our natural emotions like anger submit to him. We don’t even feel like getting upset over situations that used to enrage us. Love must conquer anything within us that is contrary to the character of Christ. The end result is that we are so consumed with love that even our worst enemy benefits from our transformation. Are you experiencing victory over bitterness and vengeance? Ask the God of love to conquer your anger today. 

This is one of the readings from the book, Extreme Devotion, available from VOM’s online bookstore. You can also receive devotional thoughts daily via email. Sign up here.


March 12, 2014

Extreme Places

ROMANIA: PASTOR RICHARD WURMBRAND

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11

Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who suffered in prison for fourteen years, once told a story that he had heard from a fellow prisoner. It had helped him through his most difficult times of torture. The brother told him:

“I once went to a circus and witnessed a most impressive scene. A sharpshooter placed a burning candle on his wife’s head. He then stepped out of the center of the arena and, from quite a distance, shot the candle off her head."

“After the show was over, I approached her and asked if she was ever afraid the arrow would strike her. She replied, ‘Why should I be? He was aiming at the candle, not at me.’” ED_Cover

When Pastor Wurmbrand heard this story he thought, “Why should I be afraid of the torturers? They don’t aim at me. They may beat my body but my real being is Christ within. I am seated with him in heavenly places, and therefore they cannot touch my real person. From this incredible viewpoint I can look down and see the futility of their efforts.”

Pastor Wurmbrand lived through years of suffering and had neared death many times. But he was encouraged with this simple lesson and even flourished spiritually because he knew his place with Christ was secure, no matter what happened to his body.

Persecution, though indescribably painful, has its limits. Neither physical torment nor emotional trauma can destroy the deepest parts of who we are. What we carry on the inside is the most valuable part of ourselves—our souls. Christ’s Spirit lives within us and protects our soul from emotional and physical harm. True, our enemies may strike us and even kill our bodies. However, when our enemies take a swipe at us, they are really maligning the name of Christ—the one who lives within. And he can never die again. However personal and pointed the opposition, it is really part of a bigger picture. The battle may involve us, but it concerns an overarching war between good and evil. 

This is one of the readings from the book, Extreme Devotion, available from VOM’s online bookstore. You can also receive devotional thoughts daily via email. Sign up here.


February 13, 2014

Free Copy of Tortured For Christ

It was the book that shocked the nation. After surviving 14 years in communist prisons, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand came to America to proclaim the trials and testimonies of our persecuted brothers and sisters.

TFC_COVERIn Tortured for Christ, Wurmbrand tells of his imprisonment for his work with the underground church and introduces the work of The Voice of the Martyrs. More than 45 years later, The Voice of the Martyrs remains true to its calling to be a voice for persecuted Christians, to serve with them in their time of need and to assist them in their efforts to proclaim the gospel.

We would like to extend this special opportunity for you to request a complimentary copy of Tortured for Christ for your Christian friends and family members. Help spread the message of today's persecuted church. Simply follow the link below.

I would like to request a complimentary copy of Tortured for Christ for my friend(s).

Note: this offer is only available to United States residents.


January 24, 2014

Silence

VOM’s Kids of Courage resources help parents and educators teach children ages 5 to 13 about persecuted Christians around the world, and provide opportunities for children to serve and pray for them. The following post appeared earlier this month on www.kidsofcourage.com.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who started The Voice of the Martyrs, was in prison in Romania for his Christian activities. He spent part of his time in prison in “solitary confinement,” meaning he was by himself in a silent cell. RW

After he left prison, Pastor Wurmbrand wrote the following.

“Two thousand years ago a Greek man named Phocion waited his turn to get his beard trimmed by a barber. The barber talked on and on about current events to the customer he was shaving. Phocion waited wearily while the barber talked.

“Finally the barber turned to Phocion and asked, ‘How would you like to have your beard trimmed?’

“Phocion replied, ‘In silence.’”

Pastor Wurmbrand continued, “We are victims of a plot against silence. Every day we hear the noise of cars, trains, planes, radios, TVs, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, fans, chatter, clatter, and speech.

“I have known Christians who have spent years in solitary confinement in complete silence. When they once again heard humans speak, they wondered why so much of their speech was unimportant.

“If you wish to talk to God, create some silence around you. Turn off the noises that intrude on silence. You will learn more from God if you listen, as did Jesus when he spent whole nights in prayer on silent mountains.”

(Source: Reaching Toward the Heights by Richard Wurmbrand. Edited, paraphrased, and adapted.)

To Think About

  • Sit still and note all the noises you hear. Which noises would not have existed in Bible times?
  • Do you have a daily “quiet time” when you can read the Bible and pray without distractions?

December 2, 2013

Keep Reading!

Last week at our VOM chapel, Brother Merv shared with us. Merv is one of the longest-tenured members of the worldwide VOM family. (You can watch a video interview with him here.) One of the stories he shared was from his time working side-by-side with Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand as Merv helped launch and lead our VOM sister office in Australia.

Merv said that on one particular day he was with Pastor Wurmbrand, and Merv was sharing about his own personal Bible reading.

And he was frustrated.

“Sometimes,” he told Pastor Wurmbrand, “I read the Bible in the morning, and by lunch time I can’t even remember what I read!” Bible-reading

“Keep reading!” Pastor Wurmbrand encouraged Merv. “You are putting into your mind something that God will bring out at the right time. When I was questioned [by police in communist Romania], God would bring to my mind verses that I didn’t even know I knew!”

Paul, in writing to Timothy, warned him that Christians would face persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) and then pointed him down the pathway to prepare for that persecution: God’s Word:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (3:16-17).

One of the consistent lessons of our persecuted brothers and sisters is the value of the Scriptures. These brothers and sisters LOVE God’s Word. Sometimes they work and pray for years to have a copy of the Bible. They take great risks to own, study and spread its precious truths. They work to memorize its passages, knowing that a physical Bible can be confiscated or burned, but the words hidden in our hearts cannot be removed.

I appreciate Merv’s story. Sometimes I, too, struggle as I attempt to consistently read my Bible. My mind wanders, my attention is short, and it seems at times the words go in through my eyes and then quickly out of my mind and memory. But as I continue in this discipline, there are days the words seem to jump off the page, as if they were written just for me on that particular day. And I’m reminded again of the power of God’s Word and the importance of feeding it to our hearts and minds.

Keep reading!

Your Turn: Do you ever struggle to be consistent in your personal Bible reading and study? What keeps you motivated to keep reading? Continue the discussion in the comments to this post.

Todd Nettleton has served the persecuted church and VOM 15 years. He has been interviewed more than 1900 times by various media outlets. He's the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea, and served on the writing team for FOXE, Extreme Devotion, Hearts of Fire and other VOM books.

Image credit: thedisciplers.com.


September 2, 2013

Now You Know God

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, shared this story in his book, Alone With God, a book of sermons composed while Richard was in prison:

AWGAn ancient sage sent his son to a Bible teacher. When the boy returned, his father asked him, "What did you learn?" The son told him all the subject matter.

"This is nothing," the father replied. "Go and learn more."

The son returned one year later. This time he boasted of having learned other disciplines. The father sent him back a second time.

When the son returned again, his face shone. The father embraced him. "You knew theology before. Now you know God."

May your face shine today with a love that draws others to our Savior.


August 28, 2013

A Country Boy, A City Girl and a Prison Convict

What can a country boy, a city girl and a prison convict have in common?

This might sound as an odd question, but in God’s economy there’s a never ending sequence of what we might call “odd.”

Let me start with the country boy.

He was born the year Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the fifth child of six in a family of small land-owners in the heart of Transylvania. He was six when Russia invaded Romania, to drive out the Germans, and forgot to leave. He was eight the year the King abdicated and the communists took over the country after rigged elections. As catastrophic as that turned out to be for the country, the bigger and more personal tragedy happened in the boy’s life that year when his mother, suffering from misdiagnosed appendicitis, suddenly died.

The question “why” would haunt the boy over the years, even as the communists took over the family’s land and animals, forced them to work the state’s land “voluntarily,” imposed enormous taxes on them and forbid the children a higher education.

Richard with Ioana's parents
Richard Wurmbrand, left, with Ioana's parents.

Enter the prison convict.

The year was 1956. He had just been released thanks to a general amnesty, after spending 8½ years in prison, many in solitary confinement. The crime for which he had been separated from his wife and only child was this: serving and praising no one except his Lord and Savior. The condition for his freedom was that he would never preach again.

Of course, the first thing Richard Wurmbrand did when he got out of prison was go around preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. On his way home to a wife who thought he was dead and a child he hadn’t seen in nearly nine years, he stopped in villages and encouraged burdened pastors and persecuted churches to stand firm and remain faithful.

In one of those village churches, a young man of 17, bitter over the loss of his mother and of the family’s property, resentful of his actual slavery to a corrupt and tyrannical state, was listening. Pastor Wurmbrand preached about the glory that awaits us in heaven. As the image of God’s home began to take shape in the young man’s mind, promising the presence of his mother once again, his heart was fully turned to the Giver of eternal life and the young man dedicated his life to Him.

I began to know the depth of that dedication when that man welcomed me, his daughter, into the world nearly 20 years later.

So that’s the country boy and the convict. Let’s return now to the city girl.

She was born, the youngest of six, to the family of a clerk-turned-pastor right after the family returned home to Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, after having lived as war refugees in then-kingdom Romania.

She was not yet 10 years old that summer when Richard Wurmbrand came out of prison and visited her home to encourage and be encouraged by her father, pastor Ioan Dan, one of the founding pioneers of the Baptist Church in Transylvania. To this day she remembers her sister washing Pastor Wurmbrand’s calloused, damaged feet, and taking him to the train station with her father. The strong friendship the two pastors shared provided a lasting impact on the little girl’s life over the next three years of freedom for Pastor Richard, and during his subsequent 5-year stay in prison.

Although Richard Wurmbrand returned to prison in 1959, the eternal impact he had had on my family was already made. That little girl grew up to be my mother, and although the Wurmbrands were no longer living in Romania in 1972 when she met my father, nor a few years later when they got married, the Wurmbrands’ presence was – as it will forever be – etched into our family’s very existence.

I had the unspeakable honor to meet Richard and Sabina in 1994, when I was a freshman at Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University). As I introduced Pastor Wurmbrand to the student body in chapel, I couldn’t help but think: God’s ways are odd.

“Holy” means set apart, or different. It is, in a way, synonymous with odd. I love my wonderfully and mysteriously odd God. I love that His ways are higher than my ways. I love that He can see and plan what I can’t. I love Him for helping me grow in faith by giving me hindsight. My personal history – the Wurmbrands included – is the way hindsight helps my faith. The same is true for all of us: we are creatures that lack the big picture; we see in hindsight what we should have seen in faith: that our mundane, day-to-day and year-to-year comings and goings are somehow being turned into something that makes sense. That our words and actions have an eternal impact, no matter how small and inconsequential they may seem. That our stand for faith now has a very real consequence on what will be down the road. That the glass of water we give can turn into a river of blessing. That the prayer we say now can shatter the world and shape the future.

If there’s one encouragement I have to give, it is this: our God is spinning every little thread of our life, every little history, experience, decision and action into a work of art. I am – and you are – His masterpiece. Both in hindsight and in faith, I’ll say: we look AMAZING!

Ioana Achim grew up in communist Romania and was a teenager when the communist regime fell. She graduated from Columbia International University in the US and returned to Romania, where she currently lives and works.


August 2, 2013

Forgiving Our Persecutors

Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 18 that they were to forgive those who sinned against them 70 times seven, an excessive number with which he meant that forgiveness should be unlimited. The issue of offering forgiveness to our persecutors has been central to VOM’s ministry since the beginning. VOM’s founder, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, often spoke of forgiving our enemies to reach them with the gospel, and he exemplified this approach in his own life.

IAug_NL_Covern his book In God’s Underground, Richard tells the story of meeting a man named Borila who slaughtered hundreds of Jews and likely killed the parents, sisters and brother of Richard’s wife, Sabina. When Richard discovered this possible connection, he challenged the man. Richard told him that if Sabina learned who Borila was, she would forgive him and offer him the best that was in her house.

“Now if Sabina, who is a sinner like us all, can forgive and love like this, imagine how Jesus, who is perfect Love, can forgive and love you!” Richard told Borila. “Only turn to him — and everything you have done will be forgiven!”

Borila fell to his knees and repented at that moment. Richard awakened Sabina, who was ill and sleeping in the next room, and told her about the man’s past and possible connection to her family. As Richard had predicted, Sabina came out and immediately embraced the man. Forgiving our persecutors is as necessary in our work today as it ever was, and we continually see how God uses the responses of persecuted Christians to touch hearts.

Excerpted from Seventy Times Seven, the feature story in VOM’s August newsletter, by Dory P. United States residents can sign up to receive VOM’s free monthly newsletter here.


July 19, 2013

What Does It Mean to Be at Peace?

Richardwurmbrand

What does it mean to be at peace?

Have you ever met anyone that turned a perspective you had in life upside down? Maybe I said that too softly. Have you ever had someone just shatter a life perspective?

When I was a teenager my parents took me to hear a man speak by the name of Richard Wurmbrand. This Jewish Romanian minister born in the early 1900’s was old and quite crippled. Not exactly exciting for a teenager. When we walked in I was astonished to find the room packed. The event began with a lengthy introduction of all this guys accomplishments. No music, no flashing lights, no smoke, no video projectors, nothing except a microphone. After the first old guy finished introducing the second old guy, he stood up with assistance and slowly limped over to a deep-seated armchair on the stage. After he situated himself he started to speak, slowly. He shared about growing up in an anti-Semitic Romania and ultimately becoming a Christian.  His life was a laundry list of sacrifice because of his beliefs. He had been imprisoned for spreading the Gospel and went through horrific psychological and physical torture. The Communists even told his wife that he had died in prison when he hadn’t. In 1966 he testified in Washington D.C., revealing his physical scars that brought much of what was happening in the dark to light. The unforgettable part to me was his peace. Yep, you read that right. His peace. His testimony wasn’t delivered from a dark heart, but one of hope.

It’s hard for me to explain, but he seemed happier and more fulfilled than any of my high school friends who drove new cars, partied on the weekend, and lived off of mom and dad’s hard work.  Theoretically my friends lived the good life. Why was this guy so much more fulfilled? This old man threw my perspective of peace and joy on its head. His life fulfillment wasn’t conditional on external circumstances. Something in him was stronger than life itself.  As he shared I realized his peace isn’t in what is, but in his hope of what will be.

2 Peter 3:11-13, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Do you have a hope this strong?

Mike Colaw is the pastor of Trinity Church in Indianapolis, IN. He attended college at Oklahoma Weslyan University and blogs at www.mcolaw.wordpress.com.

June 4, 2013

Wurmbrand Archives: Homecoming

In prisons around the world Christians are suffering today because of their Christian faith. Farshid Fathi in Iran. Chhedar Bhote in Nepal. Asia Bibi in Pakistan. They are praying and dreaming of the day they’ll be released; the sweet moment they’ll be reunited with their families.

Richard Wurmbrand, VOM’s founder, was also a Christian in prison for his faith. He spent 14 years in the prisons of communist Romania. In his book, In God’s Underground, he writes movingly about coming home to his wife, Sabina, and his son, Mihai:

At last I reached my own front door and hesitated a moment. They were not expecting me, and I was a fearful sight in my filth and rags. Then I opened the door. In the hall were several young people, among them a gawky young man who stared at me and burst out: “Father!”

It was Mihai, my son. He was nine when I left him: now he was eighteen.

Richard_release
Richard Wurmbrand after his release from prison.

Then my wife came forward. Her fine-boned face was thinner, but her hair was still black; I thought she was more beautiful than ever. My eyes blurred. When she put her arms around me, I made a great effort and said, “Before we kiss, I must say something. Don’t think I’ve simply come from misery to happiness! I’ve come from the joy of being with Christ in prison to the joy of being with Him in my family. I’m not coming from strangers to my own, but from my own in prison to my own at home.” She sobbed, and I said, “Now if you wish, you may kiss me.” Later, I sang softly a little song I had made for her years before in prison to sing if we ever met again.

Mihai came to say that the place was full of visitors who would not leave without seeing me. Members of our church had been telephoning all over Bucharest; the doorbell rang continuously. Old friends brought new ones. People had to leave so that others could find standing room. Every time I was introduced to a woman, I had to bow politely in my absurd trousers, held up by string. By the time all were gone it was nearly midnight and Sabina pressed me to eat something, but I felt no hunger. I said, “Today we have had happiness enough. Let's make tomorrow a day of fasting in thankfulness, with Holy Communion before supper.”

I turned to Mihai. Three of our visitors—one a philosophy professor from the university whom I had not met before—had told me that evening that my son had brought them to faith in Christ. And I had feared that, left without father or mother, he would be lost! I could find no words for my happiness.

Mihai said, “Father, you've gone through so much. I want to know what you've learned from all your sufferings.”

I put my arm around him and said, “Mihai, I’ve nearly forgotten my Bible in all this time. But four things were always in my mind. First, that there is a God. Secondly, Christ is our Savior. Thirdly, there is eternal life. And, fourthly, love is the best of ways.”

My son said, “That was all I wanted.” Later he told me that he had decided to become a pastor.

In my clean, soft bed that night, I could not sleep. I sat up and opened the Bible. I wanted the Book of Daniel, which had been a favorite, but I could no longer find my way to it. My eye was held instead by a line in the Epistles of St John. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” I had this joy, too. I went into my son's room, because, I had to be sure that he was really there. In prison I had dreamed so often of this, only to wake in my cell.

Will you take a moment, right now, to pray for Christians in prison and for their families waiting at home, praying and hoping for the release of their loved one? You can encourage Christian prisoners by writing them a letter at www.PrisonerAlert.com. VOM is able to provide assistance to the families of imprisoned Christians through our Families of Prisoners fund.