Tag Archives: Richard Wurmbrand

Freedom in Christ – A Poem

Two months ago I wrote my first pantoum poem. I learned about how to write this form of poem at the dVerse Poets Pub. The other morning I was thinking about what to write for my Thankful Thursday poem for this week and this wonderful form came to mind. Because tomorrow is Veterans’ Day here in the U.S., I knew I wanted to write a poem about freedom. Not just about the political and social freedom that we enjoy in this country, but about the spiritual freedom that is available to all through Christ, even if they are not fortunate enough to live in a country where they are free to believe in Him without fear of persecution.

Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ transcends all
Stephen was stoned, his soul was free
His is a faith I honestly seek
When the Son sets you free you are free

Stephen was stoned, his soul was free
Paul was in chains, his joy was complete
When the Son set them free they were free
The love of the Redeemer breaks chains

Paul was in chains, his joy was complete
Wurmbrand was tortured, his captors he loved
The love of the Redeemer breaks chains
With a power only hope comprehends

Wurmbrand was tortured, his captors he loved
Youcef is imprisoned, his faith is strong
With a power only hope comprehends
The Spirit dwelling within overcomes

Youcef is imprisoned, his faith is strong
His is a faith I honestly seek
The Spirit dwelling within overcomes
Freedom in Christ transcends all

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36 (NIV).

Update 8/2/12: The Pantoum is once again the subject of Form For All at dVerse Poets Pub, with a call to write and link a pantoum. I don’t have time today to write a new one, but decided to share this one that I wrote several months ago. Samuel Peralta shared his own very good pantoum about Michael Jackson and I’m sure there are others linked from Mr. Linky.

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Christ Is the Master

I was assigned the privilege of doing the devotion at the start of our Board of Elders meeting Tuesday evening. I thought perhaps I would use a post that I had already written for my blog, so I spent some time on Sunday afternoon perusing past posts. I found two possible candidates, but neither seemed completely right for the occasion.

Then during my focused prayer time on Monday morning I asked God for wisdom and guidance on what to do for the devotion, and He brought to mind an article I had just read in a newsletter called Eternal Perspectives. But it was kind of a long article, really too long to read in its entirety for our devotion.

Then yesterday morning I received a quote by Martin Luther in my Quotemeal email and suddenly the whole devotion came together in my mind. I decided that I would “kill two birds with one stone,” as they say, and write the devotion as my Wednesday post.

Christ is the master; the Scriptures are only the servant.   – Martin Luther

Faith is essential to the Christian life, for “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV). But this quote from Luther reminds us that we must be careful what we put our faith in, or rather who we put our faith in. We must be careful to not elevate the written Word of God, the Bible, above the author and perfecter of that wonderful book. The Word of God is wonderful precisely because it is the servant of the Living God, pointing us to Jesus Christ, the master.

As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV).

While the Scriptures help to guide us and teach us of the love of Jesus Christ, if tomorrow we no longer had access to God’s Word in print or on the Internet, Jesus Christ would remain. I want to share two stories of how God answered prayer and made the reality of Christ evident even without ready access to the Bible.

The first is the story from Eternal Perspectives, which you can read in its entirety here on page 12 of this newsletter. The story is titled “The Hot Water Bottle: A True Story.” This story illustrates the incredible faith of a small child and the ability of our God to answer her prayer even before it is offered. There is no mention of the reading of the Scriptures in this story, but nonetheless Jesus is there in the midst of a crisis. A baby, whose mother died in childbirth, is in dire need of a hot water bottle, but there are none to be found in a small African village. As a missionary gathers other children to pray for the baby, one girl prays, “Please, God, send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead, so please send it this afternoon.” She also asks God to send a doll for the baby’s two-year-old sister. This little African girl is confident that God will answer her prayer.

The missionary is doubtful, however, thinking of all the reasons why God couldn’t possibly answer this prayer. Then that very afternoon a package is delivered to her hut, a package that was packed five months before. Guess what’s in the box beneath all the other wonderful supplies sent by a church in the United States? A hot water bottle and a doll.

The second story is that of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand who wrote Tortured for Christ, about his imprisonment in Romania for preaching the Gospel. While in prison, Wurmbrand and his fellow imprisoned Christians did not have access to the Scriptures. In fact, he wrote that at times they were so weak from being beaten and starved that they could scarce remember a single verse that they had once known. But what they never forgot was Jesus Christ. He remained with them, upholding their faith even in the darkest of circumstances. Though the servant, the Word of God, was not with them, the Master never left their sides. Wurmbrand wrote:

A minister who was horribly beaten was thrown into my cell. He was half dead, with blood streaming from his face and body. We washed him. Some prisoners cursed the Communists. Groaning, he said, “Please, don’t curse them! Keep silent! I wish to pray for them.” Tortured for Christ, pg. 57.

It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the Communists. It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility for them. It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them. Tortured for Christ, pg. 58.

Wurmbrand and his fellow Christians suffered terrible atrocities at the hands of the Communists. Wurmbrand himself was imprisoned for 14 years. It is unfathomable that a human being could endure such hardship only to turn around and show love to those who caused it. It can only be attributed to the love of Christ dwelling in his heart.

Without the immediate benefit of the Scriptures, the servant of God, Jesus was nonetheless present and alive in both of these stories. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). He is the Master and He is in control of all things in a way we can only glimpse from stories like these.

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The True Light Shines in the Darkness

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer as we move towards winter. I really don’t like winter. Too much darkness and too much cold. With the time change two weeks ago it is now dark when I go home from work. Even now at 4:00 in the afternoon, with the clouds and rain, it is looks dark and ominous outside.

Sometimes the darkness gets to me, but then I am reminded that no matter how dark it gets, there is a light to show me the way. Speaking of Jesus as well as His witness John the Baptist, the apostle John wrote:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:4-9.

Jesus is light for all to see. But just as a flashlight that is not turned on or a lamp that is hidden in a closet does not help one see, if Jesus is not believed and trusted He cannot help one see. The darkness of men and women has not, and will never, overcome the light of Christ in the hearts of believers. But today darkness still remains because some people refuse to accept the light God has provided. After saying that He had come to save the world because of God’s love for mankind, Jesus said:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21.

In the book I am reading, Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, the darkness and evil of men who have been deceived by communism and atheism is evident. The communists in Romania, Russia, China, and other countries have tried not only to avoid the light of Christ, but to crush and destroy it. They have not succeeded. They clung to the atheistic belief that there is no God, and they imprisoned, beat, and tortured those who believed God exists and that He loves us, those who live in the light. And still the light was not extinguished.

Wurmbrand writes that the communists were content to allow the old people to cling to their belief in God, but that they violently opposed teaching the Christian faith to children and teenagers. In school, children were taught the communist party line that atheism is the truth. If the Christians tried to teach them otherwise, they were punished for their “crime.” Nonetheless, “Parents were also encouraged to give a Christian education to their children as an antidote against the atheism with which they were poisoned in the communist schools.” Tortured for Christ pg. 124. And parents who loved their children heeded this encouragement, and so the light shone on.

As I read this, I thought about the teaching in our own public schools here in the U.S. My son began this year in sophomore English with a lesson on creation myths, beginning with Genesis. I suspect that any suggestion by a student that the creation story of Genesis is not a myth would be discouraged because people of other faiths or no faith at all might be offended. In biology class, a large part of the curriculum for this year is on the Theory of Evolution. I suspect that any suggestion by a student that Evolution on the macro-level (meaning humans evolved over time starting with a single-celled organism) is not true and that the Theory of Intelligent Design makes more sense would be laughed at, and any test answers to that effect would certainly not result in a good grade.

It seems to me that in our current environment, parents should be encouraged to give a good Christian education to their children as an antidote to the subtle atheism and godlessness with which they are poisoned in our public schools. As darkness sets in, we must work to keep the light burning. We cannot sit back and hope the younger generation understands that faith in Christ is grounded in reason, that the scriptures we rely on have a firm foundation for accuracy, and that God is real and loves them with a love so divine it transcends all understanding. We must teach them these truths. We must show them the light.

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A Love So Divine

This past weekend I started reading Tortured for Christ by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. It is the true story of his imprisonment and torture in Communist Romania for preaching the Gospel. I had intended to read the whole book and then write a book review. But something I read last night struck me so profoundly that I was compelled to share what he wrote and my thoughts on it.

Wurmbrand talks of love divine that cares for the souls of all mankind. It can only be attributed to the love of Christ dwelling within the heart of a believer. I can relate to this first passage, though the pain he describes did not come upon me when I first believed, but has been developed within me by the Holy Spirit over time.

In the first days after my conversion, I felt that I would not be able to live any longer. Walking on the street, I felt a physical pain for every man and woman who passed by. It was like a knife in my heart, so burning was the question of whether or not he or she was saved. If a member of the congregation sinned, I would weep for hours. The longing for the salvation of all souls has remained in my heart and the Communists are not excluded from it. Tortured for Christ, pg. 56.

For me it is not always a case of wondering whether or not others are saved. Often I know by their own words that they have rejected Christ. In many instances, it is family or friends, and the pain is all the greater. This passage was encouraging to me because Wurmbrand put into words what I feel in my heart, and it was a blessing to know I am not alone. It also reminds me that I cannot pick and choose whose salvation I should care about for it is all of mankind that God wants to redeem at the cross.

But in this passage Wurmbrand speaks only of the stranger passing in the street and a general love for mankind. On the very next page, he speaks of a love so divine is defies all human logic. He speaks of the love not of one’s family and friends, but of one’s enemies. He writes:

A minister who was horribly beaten was thrown into my cell. He was half dead, with blood streaming from his face and body. We washed him. Some prisoners cursed the Communists. Groaning, he said, “Please, don’t curse them! Keep silent! I wish to pray for them.” Tortured for Christ, pg. 57.

It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the Communists. It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility for them. It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them. Tortured for Christ, pg. 58.

How does one love those who have beaten, starved, and tortured them, those who have deprived them of their physical freedom? Wurmbrand spent a total of 14 years in prison, his only crime preaching the love of Christ. As I read his description of the atrocities he suffered it is unfathomable that a human being could endure such hardship only to turn around and show love to those who caused it. It can only be attributed to the love of Christ dwelling in his heart.

As I read his account, I am convicted of the paucity of my own love for not only my enemies, but my friends and family as well. Given my regular reaction to those who have slighted me in some small way, would I respond to torture and hatred the way Wurmbrand did and other persecuted Christians do even today? Wurmbrand refered to 2 Corinthians 4:17, saying that the troubles he endured were “light and momentary” compared to the eternal glory he would experience in Heaven. I’ve used that same verse as encouragement, struggling with the concept that my own troubles are truly “light and momentary.” By comparison to what Wurmbrand and other persecuted Christians endure, my troubles are nothing. Yet I find it difficult to feel or show love towards those who cause them.

This morning I received an email that illustrated the divine love that comes from Christ. I am in charge of prayer requests at my church and the email I received was a prayer request for a young woman who had been hit by a drunk driver. She is in critical condition with serious brain injury and the doctors don’t know if she will regain speech or sight after the surgery they must perform. This first part of the prayer request is pretty normal; we often ask for prayer for our loved ones. It was the next sentence that struck me as being a wonderful example of divine love. “Please also pray for the young man that hit her.  Not sure what his issues are that he was drunk at 5 pm.  He and his buddy are fine, but need prayer about his/their life choices.”

Wurmbrand, no doubt, would not only pray for this young drunk driver, but would track him down and share with him the Gospel of Christ. Perhaps that is the response we should have as well. But I think even the thought to pray for one who has caused a loved one such pain and injury is evidence of the love of Christ in the heart of the person who sent me this prayer request. It is the type of love we should all aspire to.

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.

Richard Wurmbrand has done just as Jesus commanded here. We have the power to do the same if we rely on the Holy Spirit. It is only when we allow the love of Christ to dwell richly in our hearts that we can so. It is when we see all of humanity, including our enemies, as God sees them that we will be filled with the desire that they know His love. And that desire will override our natural tendency toward hatred and revenge. In the end, it is a love so divine that it defies all human logic that has saved the human race from itself.

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