Sunday, April 8, 2012

Words from our founder: Celebrating Easter in prison

While the prisoners were talking the next evening, I reminded [Gaston] that Easter was approaching.

“If we had any hard-boiled eggs we could dye them red and crack them together, following the Orthodox custom,” I said. I held out my hand as if offering an Easter egg, and said, “Christ is risen!”

Old Vasilescu, one of the farmers, hit my fist with his own and cried, “He is risen indeed!” A chorus of voices echoed the traditional response.

“That’s a strange thing to say!” I said, turning to the others. “Surely Christ died on the cross. What proof have you that He is risen?”

There was a silence. Vasilescu tugged at his heavy moustache. “I’m a simple farmer, but I believe it because my father and mother and his father and all our priests and teachers told me so. I believe it because I see how nature is resurrected every year. When the snow is on the ground, you can’t ever believe that the fields will bear crops in spring. But the trees bud and the air grows warm, and the grass green. If the world can come alive again, so can Christ.”

“A sound answer,” said Miron.

“But in a world where every Christian assertion is challenged, that’s not enough,” said Gaston.

“We need the strongest proofs, I agree,” I said, “and they exist. Mommsen, the great historian of the Roman Empire, calls the Resurrection the best-proven fact in history. Do you believe the classical historians were largely truthful?”

No one argued.

“They were usually courtiers, the flatterers of kings, men who praised for profit or to please powerful protectors. How much more should we believe Paul, Peter, Matthew, Andrew – apostles who died a martyr’s death to spread the truth!”

“It is rational to believe that Christ rose from the dead; otherwise we must accept the impossible – that the Church, which has survived the external assaults and internal corruptions of two thousand years, is built on a lie. Only consider that Jesus in His lifetime organized no church, wrote no books. He had a handful of poor disciples and one of these betrayed Him for money, while the rest fled or denied Him when the test came. He died on the cross crying, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’ His tomb was closed with a huge stone.”

“Not a hopeful start,” said Braileanu.

“Then how do you explain that it led to a world religion?”

“The disciples came together again,” said Gaston doubtfully.

“But what gave them the power to preach and to die for their faith?”

“They overcame their fear in time, I suppose.”

“Yes, they say how they mastered it: on the third day Christ appeared in person and gave them courage. Peter, who had been frightened by a housemaid, stood in Jerusalem and declared that he and his brethren had seen and spoken with Christ, that He had risen indeed. Peter said they might kill him before he denied it again. So the Romans did.”

“Was it rational to believe,” I asked, “that Peter and the disciples went to be crucified for a liar? Peter gave his first sermon about the Resurrection five hundred yards from the empty tomb. He knew that the facts could not be contradicted, and no one among Christ’s enemies attempted to do so.”

Excerpted from Richard Wurmbrand’s book, In God’s Underground. You can order this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

The Voice of the Martyrs was founded in the mid-1960s by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned and tortured by Communist authorities in his native Romania for 14 years. While still in prison, Pastor Wurmbrand envisioned a ministry that would focus on the plight of the persecuted Church, raise a voice on their behalf, and provide encouragement and assistance to them.

1 comment:

  1. What an encouraging read. I must get & read In God's Underground.

    ReplyDelete