Monday, January 21, 2008

Clouds of Witnesses: "Tortured For Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand, Part III.

Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian pastor arrested by the Communist authorities in 1948. He spent many years confined and underwent unspeakable torture. After his release, he came to the West to speak out on behalf of those Christians tortured by the Communists behind the Iron Curtain. He and his wife founded "Voices of the Martyrs" ( ) to highlight persecution of Christians world-wide. Biographical information concerning Wurmbrand follows this article. The following quotations are from Wurmbrands book "Tortured for Christ." ( ) You can read Parts I and II of this post in the November and December archives of this blog.

p. 79 "A religious service in the Underground Church is like one nineteen hundred years ago in the Early Church. The preacher knows no elaborate theology. He knows no homiletic, as Peter did not know it. Every professor of theology would have given Peter a bad mark for his sermon on the day of Pentecost. The Bible verses are not well known in communist countries, because Bibles are rare. Besides, the preacher has most likely been in prison for years, without a Bible."

p. 80- "Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches.
"I suffer in the West more than I suffered in a communist jail, because now I see with my own eyes the western civilization dying.
"Oswald Spengler wrote in Decline of the West:
You are dying. I see in you all the characteristic stigma of decay. I can prove that your great wealth and your great poverty, your capitalism and your socialism, your wars and your revolutions, your atheism and your pessimism and your cynicism, your immorality, your broken-down marriages, your birth control, that is bleeding you from the bottom and killing you off at the top in your brains-can prove to you that there are characteristic marks of the dying ages of ancient states-Alexandria and Greece and neurotic Rome."

p. 89-90 "The Underground Church has very little means of opposing the huge forces of a totalitarian state. The underground ministers in Russia have little theological training. There are pastors who have never read a whole Bible.
"I will tell you how many have been ordained. We met a young Russian who was a secret minister. I asked him who ordained him. He answered, "We had no real bishop to ordain us. The official bishop would ordain nobody who is not approved by the Communist Party. So ten of us young Christians went to the tomb of a bishop who died as a martyr. Two of us put our hands on the gravestone. The others formed a circle around us and we asked the Holy Spirit to ordain us. We are sure we were ordained by the pierced hands of Jesus.
"For me, this young man's ordination is valid before God!
"Men with such ordination, and who have never had any theological training, and who very often know little of the Bible, carry on the work of Christ.
"It is like the Church of the first centuries. What seminaries did those who turned the world upside down for Christ have? Did they all know how to read? And from where did they get their Bibles? God spoke to them.
"We of the Underground Church have no cathedrals. But is any cathedral more beautiful than the sky of heaven to which we looked when we gathered secretly in forests? The chirping of the birds took the place of the organ. The fragrance of flowers was our incense. And the shabby suit of a martyr recently freed from prison was much more impressive than priestly robes. We had the moon and stars as candles. The angels were our acolytes who lit them."

p. 105 "The second part of the Underground Church is the vast army of dedicated laymen and laywomen. It must be understood that there are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in Russia or China. The price Christians pay is far too great. The next point to remember is that persecution has always produced a better Christian-a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet."

Biographies of Richard Wurmbrand: , .

I came across another biography of a pastor arrested by the communists that I highly recommend. It is called "Tortured For His Faith" by Haralan Popov. ( ) In the 1940's, Popov was the pastor of one of the largest Protestant churches in Bulgaria. He was arrested the same year as Wurmbrand and spent thirteen years in various prisons before being released in 1961.

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