Sunday, May 05, 2013

Lessons from Those who've Suffered for their Faith!

Just finished reading the Sabina Wurmbrand story in the book "The Pastor's Wife." Simply amazing! I had already read the book "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand, and have really been getting more and more involved in supporting the ministry they started, "Voice of the Martyrs." Anyway… If you need a fresh dose of faith and inspiration up against unbelievable hardships and trials, this book has it.

Let me share a little bit about this amazing women of God!

Sabin Wurmbrand, at the age of 23, met and married Richard Wurmbrand. Neither were Christians when they married. However, while they were spending some time that first year in the mountains of Romania for Richard to recover from a health issue, both Sabina and Richard were converted to the Christian faith. Upon returning to their home in Bucharest, they joined the Anglican Mission Church.

During occupation Romania during World War II, Sabina’s parents, two sisters, and one brother were killed in Nazi concentration camps and in the ensuing years the couple spent their time rescuing Jewish children from ghettos that they were forced to live in by the Nazi regime. They also taught in bomb shelters and were arrested several times for underground Christian activities.

After the war a million Russian troops poured into Romania, enabling the Communists to seize power. As the communists attempted to control the churches for their own purposes, Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand immediately began an effective “underground” ministry to their enslaved people and the invading Russian soldiers. The Wurmbrands also traveled to Budapest, smuggling in goods and food that were needed by refugees living there. During her travels, Sabina actively spoke to the Russian occupation troops about the Christian faith. In 1946-47 she organized Christian camps for Romania’s religious leaders of all denominations and conducted street meetings with gatherings of up to 5,000 people. This was the beginnings of what would become “Voice of the Martyrs.”

One day during a great communist convention on which they were required to attend, they sat watching pastor after pastor get up and praise the new Stalin government and leadership. Both Sabina and Richard were infuriated. Finally, Sabina whispered to her husband. "
Will you not wash this shame from the face of Christ?” He responded. “IF I speak, you will loose a husband.” She replied, “I don’t need a coward for a husband.” Richard did get up and speak for the glory of Christ that day and what he said made such a stir and had the leaders so angry that they had to shut down the entire convention for that day, and they severed the wires to the microphone as his message was going out all over Romania!

A few months later, Richard was arrested. It was 1948. As a result of his stand for Christ and Christian work, he spent a total of 14 years in Communist prisons, three of those years in solitary confinement, suffering unimaginable torture at the hands of his captors. 

Not many women have had their faith tested like Sabina Wurmbrand. Though she suffered much sorrow and loss during the war and post-war years, she never gave up her faith. During Richard’s imprisonment, Sabina selflessly helped the persecuted church while struggling herself for survival for her and her young son. Sabina was eventually arrested herself and spent three years in Romanian slave labor camps and prisons, where they were beaten and abused and starved, and had to deal with unimaginable conditions of hardships. Many women died, and only those who had faith kept their sanity. What was the hardest is that she had to leave her young son to live on the streets and with the care of friends. 

After being released, she spent several years under house arrest. The Communist leaders offered her freedom if she would divorce her husband and renounce her faith. She refused although she didn't even know if he was still alive. They then told her that her husband died in prison. She would not believe the report and kept a hope alive that she would see her husband again someday.

In 1964 Richard was released from prison returned home. He soon resumed his work. In 1965, the Wurmbrand family was ransomed from Romania for $10,000 and Richard was warned again not to preach. The family traveled to Scandinavia and England before arriving in the United States, where Richard testified before the Senate in Washington, D.C. regarding his inhumane treatment in Communist prisons. His story and the stories of many thousands of persecuted Christians from behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains were carried across the world in newspapers in USA, Europe, and Asia.

For the rest of their lives, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand worked with “The Voice of the Martyrs” to serve the persecuted church around the world. 
Sabina actively spoke to churches, groups, and conferences for 32 years after the founding of the ministry and accompanied her husband to testify at Congressional hearings on religious persecution. 

Here in the freedom of the United States, we don't even understand what Christians around the world are dealing with today! However, I'm ashamed at my ignorance for so many years as I've discovered Christians are persecuted and imprisoned right now (over 200,000 of them) in Vietnam, China, North Korea, Cuba, Laoas, and even still in the former Soviet Union. In many other countries like the Middle East and in parts of Africa, Christians are threatened on a daily basis by radical Muslims. Many Christians are killed each day….yes, even today. I think of Pastor Saeed, an American Pastor from Idaho, that still lies locked alone in a prison in Iran! He's one face I know…but there are so many others that I don't know!

The Wurmbrand's challenge us today to not be silent, but to stand up, speak up, and do all in our power to help our persecuted brothers and sisters! What will you do today? What will I do today?

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