A Lesson From The Pastor's Wife

UPDATE: Something unexpected came up, so I am going to count my WFW as this week's Inspiring Story. I will also be extending the link party through Monday, October 18 this week. This should work out for ALL participants, so if you're thinking that you won't be able to make it, maybe you will! :D Be sure to link up (bottom of post) and then leave me a comment to let me know what you think!


The following is an essay that I wrote after reading The Pastor’s Wife, an inspiring book written by Sabina Wurmbrand, the wife of The Voice of the Martyrs' founder. I am posting it today for the WFW, because I believe it provides a challenge to us as Christians to be set apart for Christ -- to be representative of Him, showing the love of Christ to the world instead of following its ways. As the Scripture says,

“Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.’” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)



The Pastor's Wife

Sabina Wurmbrand’s book, The Pastor’s Wife, was an inspirational read. Sabina was a Jew in Romania under Communism (1949) who displayed amazing courage amid so much tragedy and tyranny.  Even though Jewish converts to Christianity were not particularly favored, she did not let this stop her from reaching out to others with the love of Christ and speaking words of wisdom, which left a lasting impression on the reader.

In the book, Sabina explains that the Hebrew word for “Jew” means “to stand on the other side.” The first real Jew, Abraham, had stood on the other side and worshipped God, becoming His friend through righteousness when all other men worshipped idols. (John 15:4 -- “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”) But one could see that now, Sabina, too, stood on the other side, being a friend of God in a world that was full of sinfulness. Knowing that one day she might be arrested, Sabina had  committed many Scriptures to memory, and she wanted to ensure that she would not only have God’s Word in her heart, but also that she would be able to offer hope to others. (And she still said, “How I wished I’d learned more of it by heart!”) That day soon came; Sabina spent three years in a labor camp for her faith. Still, she was always there to offer hope to those prisoners who needed it, but she never condemned them; instead, she steered them toward Christ. She told one person, “Remember, the soldiers not so much pierced Christ's side as ‘opened’ it, that sinners might easily enter His heart and find forgiveness” (page 137). (Interesting, considering the fact that one of Jesus last words on the cross was “Father, forgive them,” and 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ… cleanses us from all sin.”) Sabina would also tell Bible stories to those prisoners who wanted to hear it, upon request. She even witnessed to the guards on several occasions. Sabina was truly a light in the darkness. Her life verse may as well have been 1 Corinthians 9:20-22: “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law… to those who are without law, as without law… I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,” for she would talk to all manner of sinful people without reference to rank or color, but with reference to the heart of the matter: their salvation. She led many to repentance, so that they, too, could “stand on the other side.” This phrase, which is the meaning of the word “Jew,” gives one a better understanding of Romans 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” The picture this creates is of one standing on the other side of a creek or river, when everyone else is standing on the opposite side; it’s message is that anyone who stands on God’s side is, in essence, standing opposite from the world’s side, and he is a true Jew.

And standing on the other side they truly were when they became Christians, for Jewish converts to Christianity were frowned upon. After her conversion, Sabina wanted to proclaim the good news to everyone. She started by telling her best friend, “but the more I said about my change of heart, the less she wished to hear. ‘So now I’ve lost you!’ she [her friend] said, and turned away, weeping. We’d been very close” (page 78). Throughout history, the Jews have been persecuted for their faith, but they are especially persecuted for being Christian converts. Even in the Bible, this form of persecution is displayed. The Gospel of John “reflects a period of unprecedented polemic and antagonism between the emerging church and the religious establishment of the Jewish people” (The Gospel of John, DVD). What the Jewish persecutors fail to realize is that Jesus (the One who initiated Christianity) was a Jew, as were all of His disciples. Not only that, but they also suffered persecution under the Jewish leaders of their day. In addition, many of the leading personages of the Bible were Jews and they accomplished many important feats: “The commandments taught to every child were those of the Jewish Book of Moses. The psalms were the Jewish psalms of King David. The Old Testament [written by Jews] was full of arguments and prophecies about Christ.” Paul who, wrote more than half of the New Testament which contained many letters to Jews, was himself a Jew. As Richard Wurmbrand put it, “The fact is... that the Christian religion is simply our Jewish faith opened to all the nations of the earth” (page 75). Regardless, this has not stopped Christian-hating Jews from their attacks against Jewish converts; even today, there are anti-Christian Jewish groups that target Christian Jews.

In addition to persecution for turning to Christianity, Jews like Sabina also experienced another form of persecution: the Communists put great pressure on the Jewish Christians to join their Communist Party. Informers were everywhere, reporting on the Christians’ activities and landing many in prison, or worse. The Christians experienced 2 Corinthians 7:5 firsthand: “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” There was the conflict from without that the informers created between the Communist government and the Christians, and then there were the fears within, fears of what to say and to whom; these Jews-turned-Christians never knew if one was an informer, and if they were, what was said would be reported to the Communists to be used against them in some way. To combat this, the Underground Church, which was comprised of many Christian Jews who worshipped God in secret, used two tactics. First, if an informer came to them and admitted that he was informing against them, Sabina or another Christian would say, “Prove that you are sorry by telling us the time and place where you meet.” Then one of the Christians would sit across the street and take pictures of the informer. If the meeting took place inside the police station, they would take pictures of whoever went in and out. If they were unsure if someone was an informer, they would plant false information (i.e. of time and place), so that if this person were an informer, an unusual amount of police would be seen near the place. Then the Christians could say, “Sorry, we decided to change the meeting at the last minute and we forgot to tell you!” However, the rule was to never kick an informer out of the church, because he would immediately be replaced by another one whom you didn’t know. Instead, their tactic was to remain friendly, because as Sabina said, “A known informer is valuable; you can mislead him” (page 229). Secondly, the Underground Church sent young people into the Communist Party so that they could “inform” the Christians on the Communists -- playing their game and using their tactics against them. One young woman actually worked as a mistress for the wife of a colonel of the Secret Police, and she informed the Christians who he was meeting with. She also told the Christians when his family would be gone so that they could meet for services in his house! There was a huge amount of pressure placed on these Christians to join the Communists. They pressured many to become informers, using many false hopes and control tactics to discourage the Jewish people; the tactics they used were used on all, Christian or non-Christian alike. Despite all of this, the Underground church continued on and grew. They did not let opposition stop them, and Sabina worked tirelessly serving the Underground Church for many years by preaching, and offering advice and a listening ear. As Sabina said, “But if is dangerous to do God's work, how much more dangerous it is to leave it undone” (page 250). So, the Underground church was able to continue by coming up with creative ways to combat the indoctrination of the Communists despite the Communists’ attempts to infiltrate it.

Sabina Wurmbrand was a faithful Jewish Christian who was unafraid to speak the Word of God to those who would hear it, regardless of the circumstances of her day. Her kind, attentive ear, listening to all the troubles of those who did not know God and offering them hope and encouragement really made an impact on this reader, whose passion is to help people in need of hopeful words and a listening ear. Sabina had words of wisdom for almost every situation, and God used those words to plant seeds in others’ hearts. She spoke some profound words that are relevant to this day and age: when speaking of denominations, she said, “Roses spread their fragrance in every country, though they are called by different names. So do Christians” (page 250). Her words brought to remembrance 2 Corinthians 2:15-17, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” As Sabina learned, each of us, no matter who we are, can spread the words of Christ to the world; though some will receive it, and others will reject it, we are “standing on the other side,” doing God’s will from the heart, and our “praise is not from men, but from God.”

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The next link party will be held on October 29-31. I hope to see you there!


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