How Can We Be Silent?
Last week, I talked about Richard Wurmbrand and how he forgave his torturer, resulting in that man's salvation. This week, I would again like to use Richard as an example for today's Inspiring Story. I've read the Voice of Martyrs magazines cover-to-cover, because they present the heroic actions of people who have given their all for Christ no matter what the cost. Lately, I've been re-reading some older VOM magazines. Here is an excerpt from the December 2005 issue...
Seventy Christians came together for the secret prayer meeting. It was dangerous to have so many gathered together, but tonight was a special night. They were saying good-bye to their pastor and his wife and son who were leaving the country the next morning. The pastor's family could have left some 20 years earlier, before the inevitable oppression came upon them in full force, but they chose to stay and serve. However, the years of prison and torture had taken their toll, and another calling was now evident.
Securing permission to leave the communist nation cost thousands in "fees." Every document came with a cost; every official had to be paid. The funds had been provided by Christians in the free world who knew it was time for this pastor and his family to leave.
Just days before their departure, the pastor had been told: "Your passport is ready. You can go where you like and preach as much as you wish, but do not speak against us. Keep to the gospel. Otherwise, you will be silenced for good. We can hire a gangster who will do it for $1,000 -- or we can bring you back as we've done with other traitors."
The threat fell on deaf ears. How could they not speak up for those in bonds they were leaving behind? How could they remain silent?
.... The preceding story hightlights the events leading up to Pastor Richard, Sabina and Michael Wurmbrand escaping Romania. After arriving in America, they began the work of The Voice of the Martyrs, wit only $100 and an old typewriter. The first issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newletter, a single sheet of paper, was published in October 1967.
I have shared this story, because I would like to present a challenge to every person --- no matter who they are -- who calls himself a Christian: If someone told you, "You can preach the gospel but don't you dare speak evil of us or we will kill you," when they had abused and persecuted you and are persecuting your brothers and sisters in Christ, what would you do? And if someone told you, "You cannot preach the gospel or we will kill you," what would you do? Richard Wurmbrand experienced both of these polar opposites.
Here is his answer: he went out and told people anyway! He had already been in prison for 14 years in Communist Romania -- what difference did it make if they killed him? I'm sure he didn't want to die, but he would have gladly died for the sake of Christ if necessary. When he came to America, Richard stood before Congress and told them of the horrors of persecution, even going so far as to remove his shirt and show them the beatings!
"Keep to the gospel," he was told. (This is actually ironic, because while Richard was in Romania, he was told NOT to preach the Gospel!) Sounds simple enough, right? So why do we need to speak out on persecution? Because we have a voice! No matter where we live, if we have freedom we need to be speaking out on these things -- these are our brothers and sisters in Christ! Surely we can do something to help them! In fact, that is part of the Gospel; Jesus taught that to love Him is to love one's neighbor as himself! If we do nothing, do we really love? This is why Richard could preach the Gospel even though he knew that it could cost him everything -- even his very life! He loved God too much; he had to tell people the Good News!
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)
That's why it's great to support ministries that reach out to our fellow Christians. The Voice of the Martyrs does everything in their power to make sure that Christians in restricted nations get the support they need -- physically as well as spiritually. They equipt believers to reach out to their fellow man for Christ. Many times, the Christians will even preach the Gospel to their guards! VOM equipts them for this challenge, as well. To these Christians, they may be the only representative of Christ -- these may be the only words of Christ that their persecutors ever hear! Would we do the same?
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20)
So, what will you do to share the love of Christ today? I wrote a letter to VOM recently; part of what I expressed is as follows: Too often, we look at our own free-world circumstances and think, "If I were in their shoes" as we look at the restricted nations and the circumstances that surround these Christians. The only trouble is that we are in a free world; they are not! It is a totally different perspective, a totally different lense. This is why we need to put aside our selfishness and do something to support these precious Christians. "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus has done so much for us; can't we at least do SOMETHING for Him in return?
I am also aware that there are SO many other organizations out there doing the will of God amidst dire circumstances. They are doing their part to change the world. Time would fail me to mention each and every one, and I am so greatful to God for them. A few that I have discovered just recently deal with human traffiking. They are as follows: Pearl Alliance, an organization dedicated to rescuing young children from a life of slavery both here and abroad; and the Home Foundation, an organization started by singer Natalie Grant with the same mission. For both ministries, $10 dollars is all it takesto make a difference! Both sites have lots of information on human traffiking and what you can do to help; I strongly encourage you to browse around on their sites, learn all that you can, take action, and pass this information on to others. Together, we can make a difference!
"Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'" (Mark 10:21)
"Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)
Each of these ministries makes it SO easy to get involved; they've done most of the work for you, and now it's up to you to give back! Be a voice! Find something that you can get involved in! Consider what you can do to help! Change the world for God! Share the love of Christ with others! How can we be silent?
In Matthew 25, Jesus said, "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"
In closing, here is a song that Natalie Grant wrote about human traffiking. Natalie wrote this at a time when she had just become aware of it and was deeply moved... May it stir your hearts to action!
"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister." ~ Hebrews 6:10