taking the sting out of suffering – at least a little; walking with Wurmbrand part #2

Richard Wurmbrand, leader of the “Underground Church” in 20th Century Communist Europe, is well known, and not just to his own Romanian people. His life of Christian faith is an encouragement to all who are persecuted, to all who go through trials and tribulations of every kind. We can learn from his book, Tortured For Christ, 1967, Hayfield Publishing company.

In Romania, Nazism persecuted Protestants as well as Jews. His son Mihai had to be given a non-Jewish name to prevent his death. As great as the Nazi terror was, it was only a taste of what was to come under the communists later. Wurmbrand says that there was value in the Nazi oppression though – “they taught us that physical beatings could be endured, that the human spirit with God’s help can survive horrible tortures. They taught us the technique of secret Christian work …”

I longed from the day of my conversion to be able to witness to the Russians. In Nazi times we had in Romania many thousands of Russian war prisoners …and then, beginning on August 23 1944, one million Russian troops entered Romania … beginning a nightmare which made suffering under Nazi times seem easy.”

  1. Life experience now is preparation for what will come next, so learn the lessons well!  “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand.”  (Deuteronomy 5:15)  “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself”. (Exodus 19:4) The struggles of yesterday make me stronger today because I hear those shouts of victory from behind. And the enemy ahead of me  will not be able to stand up to the voice of today, when tomorrow I hear it shout  its victory as yesterday.
  2. Look for the good that can come, even in times of suffering. Opportunity waits around each corner.  “I want you to know that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. It has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

magnetic church … walking with Wurmbrand part #1

Richard Wurmbrand, leader of the “Underground Church” in 20th Century Communist Europe, is  well known, and not just to his own Romanian people. His life of Christian faith is an encouragement to all who are persecuted, to all who go through trials and tribulations of every kind. We can learn much from his book, Tortured For Christ,  1967, Hayfield Publishing company.

Born a Jew, but a confirmed atheist by age 14, Richard Wurmbrand was still attracted to churches. He writes:

“I found it hard to pass near a church and not to enter it. However I never understood what was happening in these churches ….. I was very sure that there is no God ….. but I would have liked very much to know that a loving heart existed somewhere in the centre of this universe ….. I had longed that there should be somewhere a loving heart beating for me too.”

 

  1. How cool would it be that our churches possess an irresistible magnetism, even for atheists! If we could just get to that place where something in our speech or behaviour would attract and not repel. In one church I pastored, at a congregational meeting, an excellent leader, recently new to the fellowship, stood up and said “With all of you fighting like this, I don’t want to be around here anymore.”
  2. Never assume that what we do in our churches – our rituals, our liturgy, our language – is making sense to our guests. What we take for granted can be as confusing as a Latin Mass. Do not use outdated, denominationally distinctive vocabulary. Design with the newcomer in mind. Explain. Keep it simple.
  3. Is there anything more basic than the need to know that we are loved? This means that our churches must be places of grace. May our love for others be our badge, our nametag. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) must be said about the people of God as well.