Thursday 4 October 2012

Preparing for suffering - Richard Wurmbrand


Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) was a Jewish convert to first Anglican then Lutheran Christianity in Romania where he was imprisoned and tortured for many years by the Communist regime.

He left behind some invaluable words of advice for Christians contemplating a dark future - you need to read the whole thing



Suffering cannot be avoided in the Underground Church, whatever measures are taken, but suffering should be reduced to the minimum.

What happens in a country when oppressive powers take over? In some countries the terror starts at once, as in Mozambique and Cambodia. In other places religious liberty follows as never before.

And so it begins. Some regimes come to power without having real power. They do not have the people on their side. They have not necessarily organized their police and their staff of the army yet.


In Russia, the Communists gave immediately great liberty to the Protestants in order to destroy the Orthodox.  When they had destroyed the Orthodox, the turn came for the Protestants.

The initial situation does not last long. During that time they infiltrate the churches, putting their men in leadership. They find out the weaknesses of pastors. Some might be ambitious men; some might be entrapped with the love of money. Another might have a hidden sin somewhere, wherewith he may be blackmailed. They explain that they would make it known and thus put their men in leadership.

Then, at a certain moment the great persecution begins. In Romania such a clamp-down happened in one day. All the Catholic bishops went to prison, along with innumerable priests, monks and nuns. Then many Protestant pastors of all denominations were arrested. Many died in prison...


In a free country, to be a member of a church, it is enough to believe and to be baptized. In the Church underground it is not enough to be a member in it. You can be baptized and you can believe, but you will not be a member of the Underground Church unless you know how to suffer.

You might have the mightiest faith in the world, but if you are not prepared to suffer, then when you are taken by the police, you will get two slaps and you will declare anything.

 So the preparation for suffering is one of the essentials of the preparation of underground work.


A Christian does not panic if he is put in prison.  For the rank and file believer, prison is a new place to witness for Christ. For a pastor, prison is a new parish. It is a parish with no great income but with great opportunities for work...


So do not fear prison.

Look upon it as just a new assignment given by God.


I am very grateful to Dale Nelson for pointing me at this essay, which made a big impact on me, and which I find keeps coming to mind. 

I think one reason I find it especially encouraging is that Wurmbrand was a convert, and into a Christian denomination which was not large or dominant in his country.

This somehow makes his example seem more remarkable and relevant for the likes of myself, compared with those who have been raised from birth in their national faith.


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