Merv Knight is one of the longest-serving members of VOM’s worldwide family, having met VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand on the first day of August in 1969. Merv, the co-founder of VOM Australia, shares this week stories of the Wurmbrands, how they ministered both under persecution and after coming to the free world, and some of the challenges they faced launching a ministry to serve persecuted believers around the world.
Merv also shares testimonies from some of the many persecuted Christians he’s met during more than 45 years of service to our persecuted family, and the lessons he’s learned from the lives of those willing to suffer and even die rather than deny their faith in Christ.
A brief reminder to pray about and to carry with you into this weekend, from Sabina Wurmbrand, the wife of VOM's founder, Richard Wurmbrand. Sabina spent three years in a labor camp in communist Romania because of her Christian work alongside her husband. Pastor Richard spent 14 years in prison.
Each month VOM produces "The Jesus Freaks Minute," a daily radio-PSA that shares the stories of the persecuted church with Christian radio listeners all over the United States and around the world. Here's the script for one of the spots that will air this month, a spot entitled, STEP CAREFULLY:
[TOBYMAC:] Hey, this is TobyMac with truth every Jesus Freak should hear from the Voice of the Martyrs.
[VOM:] Decades ago, Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, watched a new crop of inmates arriving at a prison gate.
A murderer, sentenced-to-life, stood in chains also sizing up the new arrivals. The criminal recognized one of the recently convicted men. It was his son. The younger man glared at his father, “Was it for this that you brought me into the world?”
The hardened criminal dropped his head. He could not speak.
Wurmbrand summed up the lesson: “Be careful of your steps. You will not be the only one to walk in them.” For ways to follow the steps of Christ, go online to persecution.com.
[YOUR TURN:] Are there ways you are intentionally choosing steps that you hope your children will follow? Share how in the comments to this post.
When the Audio Publishers Association announced the nominees for 2016 Audio Book Awards ("Audies"), The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand was one of the nominees. Sabina (1913-2000) was the wife of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand and the co-founder of The Voice of the Martyrs.
The audio version of The Pastor’s Wife was narrated by Sadie Alexandru and published by Voice of the Martyrs. The audio version was produced and released by christianaudio. It was nominated in the Inspirational Non-Fiction category.
Cory Verner, President and Publisher of christianaudio offers, “The Pastor's Wife is a gripping account providing background on the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry that serves the persecuted church. It truly is an honor to play a part in publishing these audiobooks and make them known to new audiences. Awards like this speak every bit as much to the underlying content as they do the professional narrators who read them. It is difficult to listen to books like... The Pastor’s Wife and walk away unchanged.”
The Audie Awards are the Audiobook Publishing Association’s highest honors. The Audies gala will be held Wednesday May 11 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Seeing Beyond Suffering to Resurrection and Glorification
“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. … He will glorify Me. …”
As we approach Good Friday again, let us, who complain about many things, remember how much Jesus endured and how He took suffering.
He entered this world in utter poverty, born in a dark cave fit only for beasts and cradled in a manger. Within months, Herod tried to kill Him. Immediately thereafter, for an unknown period, He was a stranger in a strange land. All His brothers refused to accept Him or acknowledge who He was. In fact, for 30 years He was ignored: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
When He went forth teaching and preaching, His words were warped and twisted to mean the opposite of what He intended. More often than not, His words and actions were met with ingratitude. His good deeds were misapprehended, even maligned. He knew loneliness and sorrow; even His closest friends were insensitive to His needs. He was betrayed with a kiss for a paltry sum….
In His hour of trial, all His close friends forsook Him and fled. Of the three closest, one denied Him vehemently. Condemned to a cruel, agonizing death, He felt deserted even by His Father in heaven. He who came as Savior of the world was mocked and derided for being “unable” to save Himself.
Nevertheless, “He opened not His mouth.” He endured to the end, knowing that beyond the cross and the tomb lay victory. Through the Spirit of truth, God would glorify Him. Good Friday was followed inevitably by Easter, death by the Resurrection.
Christians who suffer in prisons nurture the same blessed hope. We commend to you, in all your difficulties, the faith that sees beyond suffering to resurrection and glorification.
(Excerpted and edited from the April 1982 VOM newsletter)
When communists seized power in Romania and began to control or eliminate Christian activities, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina, chose to continue their work as part of the underground church, meeting in the woods, in caves and in other secret locations. Both Richard and Sabina paid dearly for their evangelistic work. Richard served a total of 14 years in prison, enduring severe mental and physical torture, and Sabina was forced into slave labor for several years on the Danube Canal. In December 1965, Christian organizations paid the Romanian government a $10,000 ransom in order to get Richard and Sabina out of the country. Just under two years later, they started the ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs with $100 and an old typewriter. Pastor Wurmbrand’s testimony is told in his acclaimed book Tortured for Christ, which is available from The Voice of the Martyrs.
Today is leap day, and it also marks the anniversary of Richard Wurmbrand's arrest by communist secret police in Romania. In honor of this date we share two excerpts from Richard's book, In God's Underground:
The first half of my life ended on February 29, 1948. I was walking alone down a street in Bucharest when a black Ford car braked sharply beside me and two men jumped out. They seized my arms and thrust me into the back seat, while a third man beside the driver kept me covered with a pistol. The car sped through the thin traffic of a Sunday evening; then, on a street called Calea Rahova, we turned in through steel gates. I heard them clang behind us.
My kidnappers belonged to the Communist Secret Police. This was their headquarters. Inside, my papers, my belongings, my tie and shoelaces, and finally my name were taken from me. “From now on,” said the official on duty, “you are Vasile Georgescu.”
It was a common name. The authorities did not want even the guards to know whom they were watching, in case questions should be asked abroad, where I was well known. I was to disappear, like so many others, without a trace.
_ _ _ _ _
I knew that I faced questioning, ill-treatment, possibly years of imprisonment and death, and I wondered if my faith was strong enough. I remembered then that in the Bible it is written 366 times—once for every day of the year—“Don’t be afraid!”: 366 times, not merely 365, to account for leap year. And this was February 29—a coincidence that told me I need not fear!
In Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ he shares the story of an old carpenter whose inner turmoil led him to ask God for a reward; the prize of bringing a Jew to Christ. This carpenter not only knew how to talk to God in prayer — he had the tenacity to ask for a reward.
“My God, I have served you on earth and I wish to have my reward on earth as well as in heaven. And my reward should be that I should not die before I bring a Jew to Christ, because Jesus was from the Jewish people. But I am poor, old, and sick. I cannot go around and seek a Jew. In my village there are none. Bring a Jew into my village and I will do my best to bring him to Christ.” – Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand.
What would happen if we had the tenacity to ask God for a reward like the old carpenter did? When I read the prayer of the carpenter I hear the voices of men of old like Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. Being unafraid to ask; they gave ear to their inner turmoil and allowed it to lead them into conversation with God.
I remember joining a prayer meeting in the Middle East once. In our small group there were men and women from Brazil, Sudan, Libya, South Korea, Egypt, America, and Syria. I watched as a woman prepared the room before we prayed. She knelt and laid upon the floor pieces of paper with the names of Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan written on them. One by one we all stood and stepped forward to surround the nations represented on the floor before us. We joined hands and formed a circle around the pieces of paper. Then we took turns praying for the countries and people represented. The sound of prayer in each native tongue was beautiful beyond description. We prayed passionately for a reward – the hearts of lost people.
Among those in our circle was one of two men who had been imprisoned for their part in delivering Bibles to one of the countries we prayed for. He was imprisoned in a country that was not his own for over one year. He survived the imprisonment and torture inflicted on them while in prison. His friend did not — he died as a result of the beatings he endured. Another one of the men there has barely escaped arrest for his evangelistic activity a number of times. Today he regularly visits mosques in his country and prays quietly for the souls of those he is surrounded by. In countries hostile to the gospel men, women, and children are asking God for the reward of bringing their Muslim neighbors to Christ. The limits to God’s answers to our tenacious prayers are boundless.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! – Isaiah 52:7 NLT
In 1844 Willem Ten Boom started a weekly prayer service for the Jewish people and the peace of Jerusalem. Later his son Casper continued in prayer for the Jewish people with his own family. The meetings continued for 100 years, until February 28, 1944 when Nazi soldiers arrested Casper and his family for hiding Jews. The Ten Boom home was open to anyone in need and provided — a hiding place for Jews and members of the Dutch underground. The end result was the rescue of 800 Jewish people.
You too can join in one voice with our brothers and sisters in hostile and restricted nations. The Voice of the Martyrs 2016 prayer map is a great resource to use when praying. Your prayers may be the wings God uses to usher the next Saul to Paul conversion in our times. Perhaps they will be the fabric that sustains a prisoner yet another moment, hour, or day? You may not know the full effects of your prayers this side of heaven — but, be assured they are heard.
3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Revelations 8:3-4 NLT
Order The Voice of The Martyrs free Special Issue and receive the prayer map insert at www.persecution.com.
Tami Yeager was first introduced to the ministry of VOM through a newsletter she was handed in 2003. As she began to read the stories shared within those pages she was confronted with a reality that did not fit into the package she had unknowingly wrapped her knowledge of God in. As she began to learn of the suffering of Christians around the world a desire grew to serve them. Today she serves as volunteer Community Coordinator in the Community Voice ministry of VOM. This post first appeared on her personal blog.
How would you respond to the person who betrayed you to the authorities, leading to 14 years in prison? Richard Wurmbrand’s response was simple: “We all make mistakes.”
Dale Rhoton, co-founder of Operation Mobilization, joins us again this week on VOM Radio to share about his visits with VOM founders Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, including a walk with Richard when they met the man who had betrayed Richard, leading to his arrest.
Dale also shares thoughts and advice for those sensing a call to missions and talks about his own early days ministering in communist and Muslim nations, and fellowshipping with Christians who faced arrest and persecution for serving the Lord. Even in the worst of human circumstances, Dale testifies, God is able to triumph.
You can also listen to this and every episode of VOM Radio by subscribing to the VOM Radio podcast.
In the current episode of VOM Radio, our guest is Dale Rhoton, one of the co-founders, along with George Verwer, of Operation Mobilization. One of the stories Dale shared is about meeting VOM’s founder, Richard Wurmbrand, inside Romania shortly after Richard’s release from prison.
VOM Radio host, Todd Nettleton: Dale, along the way as you are traveling through those Communist countries you met a man who most of our listeners with be familiar with, Richard Wurmbrand, the man who founded The Voice of the Martyrs. Tell us about that first time you encountered Richard.
Dale Rhoton: This was 1964 and we were, 5 of us OMer’s. I was 26 years of age and I think the others were younger, except for one man named Ray. He, today, is in his 80’s. We said, “It is time for us to drive from the Middle East to Europe.” Then we heard that Richard Wurmbrand had been released from prison and we said it would not take us too much out of the way if we go by way of Bucharest. We went to Bucharest and told some believers there that we had known before. We said, “We understand this Pastor Richard Wurmbrand has just been released from prison and we would like to visit him.”
They said, “We don’t think that is a good idea. It might not be good for him, he is just out of prison and to receive visitors from the West may not be good.” We said, “We respect that, but could you just even ask him if he would.” He consented he wanted to meet us.
He came and there were five of us, total 10-15 people in the living room and I was looking around the room trying to figure out who has just been released from 14 years in prison. I didn’t see anybody who looked like they had been released from 14 years in prison. I asked the young man on my left. I said, “Tell me who is the person that is just released from prison for 14 years?” He pointed to a man over in the corner. I looked at him and he was shiny, his face was aglow and he seemed to have a happiness about him, a peace. I thought he doesn’t look like he has been 14 years in prison. Then I asked the young man, again, “How do you know that he was in prison 14 years?” He said, “That’s my father.” I thought, “Wow. I guess you know.”
Todd Nettleton: What was it about Richard that enabled him to come through 14 years in prison and still have that sense of joy, have that glow about him? Do you have any kind of hints of how he seemed to be so unscathed after so much suffering?
Dale Rhoton: Total commitment to Jesus Christ! More than counting all the pain and suffering he was counting his blessings; just an amazing person. Here he is, just out of prison after 14 years and what does he talk about, he talks about wanting to go to Paris and get up in the nightclubs and preach the gospel in nightclubs. He talks about going to Israel to the Knesset and he would like to stand before the Knesset and preach the gospel. He wanted to have somebody go with him who could hold the people off so he could preach the gospel.
I thought, “These are not the words of someone who is just released from those years in prison.” One of our group, an OM’er named Ray Lynch. Ray had worked in Israel and Pastor Wurmbrand said, “Is there someone in Israel who will help me with what I want to do? Ray said, “There are a number of real fine believers in Israel.” Pastor Wurmbrand said, “No, you don’t answer me until I tell you what I want to do.” Then he told him that he wanted to get up in the Knesset and preach the gospel. Then our man, Ray Lynch, said, “You know, they will put you in prison for that.” Without missing a beat Pastor Wurmbrand said, “Yes, I get two years."
So here is a man who is just released from 14 years in prison and what is he doing? [He's] thinking about how he can get back in prison. This is just a totally different breed!
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