Eternity – Richard Wurmbrand and Tortured For Christ
Who nailed it for this week? Usually on this podcast I select a weekly digital gem in the form of a video or podcast from someone who has redeemed the internet or social media in a way that stands out for its wisdom or insight and makes it, in my opinion, worth hearing. But today I’m taking a two-part, circuitous route back to the days before cyber-space held our communications hostage, accompanied and inspired by an actual face-to-face interaction, the printed word and, hopefully with this podcast, staking out another redemptive space on the world wide web.
I’m Joel Fieri, Executive Producer of Christian Podcast Central. And this is “The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week”
If you’re new to this podcast, my goal here is to highlight what I see as the redemptive voices on the internet and social media. It’s not all hate, anger and bile on the web. And while it may seem like Satan’s domain out there, there are people redeeming cyber-space for God’s kingdom, and I want to point my audience to them. Today though, I felt God was prompting me to add something to the internet that came in the form of two old-fashioned modes of communication and connection – books and personal conversation. Today I want to highlight the former. Here goes;
For the first time in decades I re-read the book “Tortured For Christ” by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. If you aren’t familiar with this story, Pastor Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured for his faith for fourteen years by Communist leaders in Romania, from 1948 through the mid 1960s. The book details the strength and loving witness of the Underground Church as they suffered the horrors of persecution, imprisonment and torture under Communism. A movie was released last year based on the book and Pastor Wurmbrand’s story. You can watch it here; torturedforchrist.com
This is an old story now, one we barely remember or care to revisit. The Cold War is a fading memory, and with it fades the memory of how brutal and satanic Communism and Socialism really are. Pastor Wurmbrand wrote his book to remind and inform us so we won’t forget.It’s a book full of stories that are gut-wrenching but at the same time inspiring almost beyond belief. Stories of Christians suffering evil yet truly loving their tormentors and counting it as an honor to suffer and die for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One passage from the book stood out to me for it’s eternal perspective. In the face of atheistic communist propaganda aimed at discrediting the idea of an eternal God apart from the material world, one Underground Church believer responded with this; “Suppose that we could speak to an embryo in its mother’s womb and that you would tell him that the embryonic life is only a short one, after which flows a real, long life. What would the embryo answer? He would say just what you atheists answer to us, when we speak to you about paradise and hell. He would say that life in the mother’s womb is the only one and that everything else is religious foolishness. But if the embryo could think, he would say to himself, ‘Here arms grow on me. I do not need them. I cannot even stretch them. Why do they grow? Perhaps they grow for a future stage of my existence, in which I will have to work with them. Legs grow, but I have to keep them bent towards my chest. Why do they grow? Probably life in a large world follows, where I will have to walk. Eyes grow, though I am surrounded by perfect darkness and do not need them. Why do I have eyes? Probably a world with light and colors will follow.”
“So if the embryo would reflect on his own development, he would know about a life outside of his mother’s womb, without having seen it. It is the same with us. As long as we are young, we have vigor, but no mind to use it properly. When, with the years, we have grown in knowledge and wisdom, the hearse waits to take us to the grave. Why was it necessary to grow in a knowledge and wisdom that we can use no more? Why do arms, legs and eyes grow on an embryo? It is for what follows. So it is with us here. We grow here in experience, knowledge and wisdom for what follows. We are prepared to serve on a higher level that follows death.”
The Underground Church was the foundation of true believers that God used as his remnant to save even the most wretched Communist soul. The tortured and imprisoned believers were able to love Communists while hating Communism. It’s an entirely different level of faith. By their deprivation and suffering, and eventually their cruel deaths, these believers held on to the promise of eternity. Pastor Wurmbrand’s life was saved so he could tell their story and remind us comfortable Western believers that God’s plan and promises are eternal. Can we keep such a perspective in the midst of our day to day cultural and online distractions? We have the witness of Richard Wurmbrand and the Underground Church to help us, and that’s The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week.