We speak of martyrdom, but we know little of it. We speak of persecution, but it is nothing more than an idea to the majority of American Christians. The church in America is guilty of turning her back on her brothers and sister around the world, whose faith brings torture day after day. Are you among the guilty? I am.
For years, as a young believer, a seminary student and Associate Pastor, I have spoken of suffering in the cause of Christ from an ideal point of view. The text of Scripture makes clear our calling as Christians; “It has been granted (by God) to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Phil 1:29).” Yet, it wasn’t until recently that my heart has been truly pierced by the sufferings of my brothers and sisters and my neglect to love and care for them as I ought.
I have one biological brother and he and I live approximately 515 miles apart. Our families see one another once a year on average. The distance makes me forget how much I love and care for he and his family. But just a few weeks ago we all got together for a week long vacation at the beach. I was quickly overwhelmed with a desire to spend time with him and enjoy the fellowship of his family. Since that visit, he, his wife and their children have been on my mind constantly, but I know that the more time we spend apart the less I will think of my only brother.
As a Christian, I have brothers and sisters around the world that I have never met, many of whom live under horrific conditions as a result of their faith in Christ. While I lean back in my cushioned chair to read my bible, they strain not to move for fear of the pain of nail points embedded in iron shackles. While I tuck my kids into warm and comfortable beds, they pray someone will risk their lives to feed their children who have become orphans because of their imprisonment as criminals. And what is their crime? Faith in Jesus Christ.
The reason this has come home to me as of late is due to the fact that a visitor to my church placed a copy of a book in my hand that has stood as a testimony for years of the sufferings of the Underground Church around the world. Tortured for Christ is a book written by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand a minister of the gospel who lived to tell the story of the persecution of Romanian Christians at the hands of Communist Russia. He was ransomed to the states from a Romanian prison, and upon his arrival he wrote his book and began a ministry we know as The Voice of the Martyrs.
In this book he not only gives details of his and others suffering, but he tells of the power of the Gospel to change the lives of even the hardest Atheist. He speaks of the love the suffering church has even for their torturers. And in the midst of his testimony he pleads with the church in the West to not forsake her brothers and sisters around the world who suffer for Christ. He pleads with me not to forget and not to overlook those who are my sisters and brothers whose lives have been torn apart and burned to the ground because they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of the world.
My hope in this post is to pass on to you a book and a plea that will stir your heart to pray for, support, and love the Underground Churchwhose beautiful feet carry the wounds of the faith. If you would like more information about the Underground Church please visit the website of The Voice of the Martyrs here.