I came across a little book today as I was clearing up my study. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, it’s a small book, rather faded with an overexposed black and white picture of a smiling family on the front but as I flicked through its pages I became deeply effected by its contents. It’s called “Tortured for Christ” and its 128 small pages contain the testimony of Richard Wurmbrand.
When the Communists seized Rumania they started persecuting the church and Richard was arrested in 1948 for preaching the gospel to his people and to the Russian soldiers.
In his book he describes in detail some of the most horrendous tortures imaginable that were meted out to him and other Christians day after day, year after year in an underground dungeon. I was appalled. But listen to what he says:
“When I look back on the fourteen years of prison, it was sometimes a very happy time. Other prisoners and even the guards very often wondered at how happy Christians could be under most terrible circumstances. We could not be prevented from singing, although we were beaten for this. I image that nightingales too would sing, even if they knew that after finishing they would be killed for it. Christians in prison danced for joy. How could they be so happy under such tragic conditions?”
It’s in the very nature of a Christian to rejoice. But why? He gives three reasons:
i) Because their eyes, as well as having seen terrible suffering have also seen the saviour, Jesus.
ii) Because they knew the glorious end of the story, they “saw in the shabby and dirty and weak martyr…the splendid crowed saint of tomorrow”
iii) Because some of the guards received Christ. “In those who watched mocking when Christians, smeared with excrement, were tired to crosses, we saw the crowd of Golgotha which were soon to beat their breast in fear of having sinned”. They experienced close up the transforming power of the gospel that “Where sin increased grace abounded all the more.”
Listen to this and see if it doesn’t stir your prayer life, increase your passion for Jesus, release you from unforgivness, and enlarge your love for the lost.
“In solitary confinement, we could not pray as before. We were unimaginably hungry; we had been doped until we became idiots. We were as weak as skeletons. The Lord’s prayer was much too long for us. We cannot concentrate enough to say it. My only prayer repeated again and again was “Jesus I love thee”. And then, one glorious day I got an answer from Jesus: “You love me? Now I will show you how I love you” At once I felt a flame in my heart which burned like the coronal streamers of the sun. The disciples on the way from Emmaus said that their hearts burned when Jesus spoke with them. So it was with me. I knew the love of the One Who has given his life on the cross for us all. Such love cannot exclude the communists, however grave their sins. Communists have committed and still commit horrors but “many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods down it”.
I am reminded again of that song of the Jesus Culture album:
“Come be the fire inside of me
come be the flame upon my heart
come be the fire inside of me
until you and I are one”
Jesus be the flame upon my heart.