Monday, August 22, 2011

Inseparable: Witnessing and persecution

Written by Glenn Penner

During his 14 years in prison, Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand was terribly tortured. Communist Colonel Sandu Franco was bewildered as he interrogated his victim. Wurmbrand had once been an atheist like him. Returning home one day, Franco said to his wife, “Something is wrong with me!  I am sick.  I have never met anyone like this man in my whole life.”

The colonel was deeply convicted by two forces that were unknown to him: brotherly love and godly humility.  Against these, he had no defence. Seeking to destroy the life of another, he received new life from God.  Franco became a Christian and shortly afterwards also went to prison.

Immediately following Matthew 5:10-11, when Jesus declared that those who were persecuted for their faith were to be congratulated for following in the footsteps of God’s messengers throughout history, our Lord commands us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These two thoughts cannot be separated: witnessing and persecution.

As we witness for Christ, we can expect opposition and, as we suffer, the love and joy we demonstrate testifies to the reality of Christ in our life and the truthfulness of what we profess. Others then say, “I have never met a person like this before!  Something is wrong with me!”

All over the world today, followers of Jesus are languishing in prison just as Richard Wurmbrand did.  Many are beaten. Others are tempted through bribery to abandon their faith.  Starvation, cold, and abuse are daily realities. If only they would deny their confession or promise to be silent and never to witness for Christ again, many would be freed.

Our call is to remember them in their bonds, to minister to them and their families, and to speak on their behalf. Will you join us?

Glenn Penner, former CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, passed away in January 2010. Glenn was passionate about researching and teaching the theology of persecution. For more of his writing, you can check out his book, In the Shadow of the Cross, at www.persecution.net/catalogue.

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