Andrew is the one who saw this book offered by The Voice of the Martyrs and filled out the form to receive it. It came about a month ago, but we both were reading other books so I put it on the bookshelf. The other day I was browsing through a few books trying to figure out which one to read next when I decided to give Tortured for Christ a read. (USA residents can get a free copy at this link.)
I've really been amazed at how much these words from the late founder of VOM have spoken to me. From chapter 4 so far I've made note of these sentences.
On why he suffers more in the West than he did in Communist lands where he was tortured in prison for his faith, Richard Wurmbrand states:
"The Underground Church is a poor and suffering church, but it has few lukewarm members" (pg. 84).
Reflection time: how does this description compare to most American believers? Some think us still to be a Christian nation yet the culture has dominated us and influenced us way more than we have influenced the nation. When more than 70 out of 100 people claim to be Christians yet the nation is in the shape that it is ... um, well, we are poor and suffering spiritually and very lukewarm. Perhaps we've had life so good that our faith has been watered down and it's become ineffective.
"Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches" (pg. 85).
Hmmm. Wouldn't you like to experience that kind of spiritual beauty? I would!
"The distinctive feature of the Underground Church is its earnestness in faith" (pg. 113).
Maybe this has something to do with the verse about the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold. It seems that trials strengthen our faith if we respond in the right manner.
"How underground Christians rejoice on those rare occasions when they meet a serious Christian from the West!" (pg. 114)
This statement really made me pause .. and think, "Would they believe that I am a serious western believer by the way I live my life? Would I stand true to Jesus despite persecutions?" To be honest, I am often scared that I am such a coward that I'd justify denying Christ if I were given a choice to denounce Him or die. :-/
Pastor Wurmbrand challenges western believers to reach across borders even into restricted nations. He said we don't need government permission to evangelize. As he asks, did the apostles ask permission from Nero? He encourages us to sustain the Underground Church and reach others by working with the Underground Church already there. (pg. 116)