Pastor Richard Wurmbrand once said, “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” He was qualified to make this statement, because he lived his life ready to die for what – and whom he believed in. His body wore the scars of fourteen years of torture and suffering for his faith in a Communist prison, where he observed the unshakable courage and enduring faith of hundreds of fellow believers. He and his wife, Sabina (who also suffered two years in prison) founded The Voice of the Martyrs in 1967, to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians worldwide, and to encourage the body of Christ to pray for and assist them.
It’s easy to become complacent in the comfort of our personal walk with the Lord. It’s truly delightful to gather for worship on Sunday mornings with our church fellowship and to hear from His Word. I was in that “complacent” state of mind and heart when God, through a dear friend, opened my eyes to the plight of the many believers who are suffering through a very different experience. But God didn’t just settle for opening my eyes. He broke my heart. Oh, I had heard about them before, but after reading a couple of books, and some VOM Newsletters detailing current events, it became personal – and gut wrenching. I would lie awake at night, unable to get these precious people out of my mind. I’d pray for them, and weep. My friend happened to be the Area Coordinator for Voice of the Martyrs, so I went through the training and served as an Area Representative in NH for a time, until my health wouldn’t allow me to continue. But oh, how those blessed brothers and sisters have earned a permanent place in my heart. They are my family. God says so!
Did you know that there are approximately 200 million believers suffering significant persecution around the world every year? That’s about one third of the body of Christ. In about 60 countries it is basically illegal to practice your Christian faith or even have a bible. These Christians are being harassed, and deprived of their homes, possessions and liberties. Some are imprisoned, and some are tortured. Reports indicate that about 160,000 believers make the “ultimate sacrifice” each year for the sake of the gospel – that’s one every 3 minutes. Think about that. They are passing from this earth via an untimely death, just because they chose to stand for Christ. In most cases, if they chose to deny Christ, they would be spared. But they don’t. In spite of all that they go through, they still choose to stand for Christ, and their commitment to share the gospel, no matter the cost. They take to heart 2 Tim. 2:12, “If we endure we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, he will also disown us,” and Rev.12: 11, “They overcame him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
What’s that to us? Everything. The Word tells us, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given one Spirit to drink.” (1 Cor. 12:12,13) WE are His body. It’s not “us,” who worship here in America, in our comfortable churches with stain glass windows, and “they,” who worship in the forests, or huddled in their houses in hiding, or in filthy jail cells . . . It’s we, the body of Christ. Verse 26 teaches us that if one suffers, we all suffer. We are family, and family matters!
“While we are worshipping in our beautiful sanctuaries . . . they go to church knowing that the building may not be standing when they arrive. While we are enjoying the privilege of singing songs about Jesus . . . the reason they sing, is the reason they are imprisoned. While we meet in the open to pray and worship . . . they meet in secret, and, in some cases, whisper their praise songs and prayers, or it may be their last time. While we, even at a young age, get to live for Christ . . . they are dying at a young age for Christ.”
Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those who are in prison as if you were in prison with them, and those who are mistreated as if you yourself were suffering.” This is our responsibility as the body of Christ. You can visit http://www.persecution.com for more information, current prayer concerns, and, if God leads, how you can help.
When this life is over and all has been said and done, there’s only one thing that will really matter. Did I live my life for Him? These precious folks will be able to answer with a solid “Yes.” I hope that I will, too. Will you? Please pray for them. They are our family . . . and family matters.
That’s the view from here.