Recently I read Richard Wurmbrand's, Tortured For Christ and it led me to think about the strength of my own faith. For a little background, Richard Wurmbrand spent fourteen years in a Romanian Communist prison where he was mistreated, tortured and beaten for preaching Christ to the unsaved Soviet Union. He also went to prison in other places as well for less lengthy periods of time. It took eight and a half years for Christians to find where he was and several more years to get him out. He also was imprisoned under the Nazis in Germany during WW II. The story of his life and the stories of hundreds of martyrs like him, draw me to consider the state of my own faith. Here is a man who was tortured, imprisoned, separated from his wife and son, endured unspeakable horrors and who continued to love his enemies and preach God's Word. He is just one of the millions of Christians who have been and are being persecuted around the world. I consider his life and I think, "Wow!" The majority of Christians in America today do not know what persecution is and many of them do not know what pain is. Sure, lots of us have encountered pain, but none of us have endured pain to the extremity that Richard Wurmbrand, or Justin Martyr did, or the rest of the incredible men who preached the Gospel to Communist Russia and China and Europe and the Roman Empire.
After considering the incredible sacrifices these men made, I considered the state of Christianity in the United States today. Christians in America don't know the horrible persecution that those men endured and they do not face the same persecution today. Christians today do face the slow loss of their rights and many more Christians will face the loss of their rights and will probably have to withdraw from society, but we can thank God that we are not in the same situations as those brave men and women. I would say that my main point here is that we should consider the state of our faith and ask ourselves if, when the time comes, we will be able to stand against the persecution, not deny our Lord and remain faithful to the end. Also, it has made me more thankful and grateful that I have not had to face those trials, or my family or my friends. It will make us much happier if we consider all the freedoms we still have in America and to be grateful that we are even allowed to meet and worship when so many around the world are not allowed to do.
I wanted to give you a quote here from Justin Martyr or Wurmbrand but now I can't find it, but it went something like, "The more Christians are persecuted, the more Christianity will spread." This quote is totally true. The martyrs turned more people to Christ than the evangelical program of any church. Their deaths turned more people to Christ than their lives. They gave a standard and an example to the rest of the world and their persecutors and those who saw them turned to Christ. Think about it, Christians in America today are not persecuted and Christianity is not shooting up in America right now. wherever there is persecution there will be growth. History has proved that.
Now, just for a little clarification, of course I'm not saying that evangelical programs are bad or that we shouldn't try to have those types of programs or that we should be persecuted, I'm just saying that we should be very thankful for the freedoms we have, pray for those who do not have them, love our enemies as the martyrs did, and daily strengthen our faith so that we too, will be able to serve Christ and be faithful to the very end. For more information on Wurmbrand and other martyrs, I recommend Wurmbrand's Tortured For Christ, and Jesus Freaks by the Dc Talk band with the Voice of the Martyrs, a program started by Wurmbrand. Remember the martyrs.