Years ago, I read a book entitled “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand. This book really gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a Christian. In the following excerpt, I want my readers to know that at this time in Communist Russia that there were very few, if any, Bibles to be had. The preachers and pastors had been tortured and brain-washed to the point where they didn’t even remember their favorite Bible verses! Imagine, my fellow Christians, not having a Bible to study, but even worse, not being able to even remember any verses at all. You couldn’t gather together and worship or talk about your faith…for if you dared to do so, you would be guaranteed, if caught, of a long stay in torture chambers, prison, and in many cases…death. How would you function? Would you lose your faith? Think of the implications of how you would witness to someone, how you would find a way to communicate the gospel of Christ. Here is a beautiful example from the book.
We of the underground church have no cathedrals. But is any cathedral more beautiful than the sky of heaven to which we looked when we gathered secretly in forests? The chirping of birds took the place of the organ. The fragrance of flowers was our incense. And the shabby suit of a martyr recently freed from prison was much more impressive than priestly robes. We had the moon and stars as candles. The angels were our acolytes who lit them.
I can never describe the beauty of this church. Often, after a secret service, Christians were caught and sent to prison. There, Christians wear chains with the gladness with which a bride wears a precious jewel received from her beloved. The waters in prison are still. They receive His kiss and His embraces, and would not change places with kings. I have found truly joyful Christians only in the Bible, in the underground church, and in prison.
In formerly communist Russia, no one remembered anymore the arguments for or against child or adult baptism, for or against papal infallibility. They were not pre- or post- millennialists. They could not interpret prophecies and didn’t quarrel about them, but I wondered very often how well they could prove to atheists the existence of God.
They prove that eternal life exists. I heard one pleading with an atheist: “Suppose that we could speak with an embryo in his mother’s womb and that you could tell him that the embryonic life is only a short life after which follows 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 the 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 toward my chest. Why do they grow? Probably life in a large world follows, where I will have to walk. Eyes grow, although I am surrounded by perfect darkness and don’t 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.”
That’s beautiful, isn’t it? What just kicks me in the teeth is his statement of the only truly joyful Christians he has ever met were either in prison, the underground church, and the ones in the Bible! Richard started the foundation The Voice of the Martyrs. He lives in America, he had been out of the Communists oppression for a while when he wrote this book. What an indictment on us! We have lost the joy of our salvation? According to Mr. Wurmbrand, we have.
I want to disagree with him, but I don’t have the complete perspective necessary to see the contrast. Are you joyful? Would you consider yourself a joyful Christian? If not, then why? I suggest this FREE book to anyone who would dare glimpse, even for a moment, what Christians have and are going through for the Name above all names. We in America are not persecuted like this, but we are persecuted in a more cunning way: we are numbed, anesthetized, and de-sensitized. The enemy is not attacking us from the outside, he is attacking us from the inside…like an undetected cancer, he eats up our joy, our peace, and stuffs our hungry mouths with sugar-coated apathy. We all need to wake up! Read the New Testament and then look around you! This church is unrecognizable and in dire need of an extreme makeover!
So I guess I wanted to share the beauty of the embryo metaphor, but couldn’t help getting all jacked-up on zealous fervor…sorry…I love the body of Christ, I love His bride…it’s just that we are not ready for Him…we don’t look anything like what we should…and it breaks my heart. Let’s get this Revival going and tear down the walls that seperate us: denominations, race, social status, income level, and whatever else keeps us apart. When we are knit together in love and embrace diversity, the Third Great Awakening will spring forth like a wildfire! Let us begin to lay the foundation in prayer and humility.