In the closing stages of World War Two, Russian forces invaded Romania, ushering in over four decades of oppressive rule under both Russian and Romanian communism. Once the communists came to power, they sought to win the allegiance of the different Christian denominations in Romania. They arranged a congress of over four thousand priests, pastors, and ministers from all these denominations in the Romanian Parliament Building, with the proceedings broadcast on national radio. Sadly, one after another, pastors and ministers stood up to declare that Christianity and Communism were the same and to assure the new government of the loyalty of their churches.
Present at that congress were Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. Richard was a Lutheran pastor, and as he and Sabina listened to the compromise of the Christian leaders, Sabina turned to him and said, “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ. They are spitting in His face.” Richard responded, “If I do, you lose your husband.” Sabina replied, “I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.” Richard Wurmbrand did stand up and address that congress, and the nation heard him praising Jesus, not the communist ideology responsible for the murder of countless Christian believers. The price he paid for that stand, and for others he took, was fourteen years of imprisonment and torture.
When the Wurmbrand family were eventually allowed to leave Romania in 1964, Richard Wurmbrand repeatedly warned the Christian Church in the west of the threat of atheistic and humanistic ideologies. True to his warnings, in western and other democratic nations, we now see Christian teaching and freedoms being openly attacked by such ideologies. The fragile minds and identities of young children are being targeted in schools, and some Christian denominations have forsaken the Bible’s teaching on moral issues.
I’ve been thinking of how I should respond as a believer in these increasingly dark times. I can remember times in the past, when, for fear of the disapproval or rejection of others, I’ve remained silent, when I could have spoken out for the Lord. Such failures were all the more painful when I remembered how Jesus had suffered so publicly for me on the cross. Thankfully, like the Apostle Peter, when he’d failed Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest, I too found forgiveness and fresh opportunities to be His witness.
Perhaps, for each of us, today could be an opportunity to ask the Lord to search our hearts and show us anything that would cause us to be silent when He wants us to speak for Him. Jesus already knew the fear in Peter’s heart that led to his denial. He also knows the fears and hurts in each of our hearts that might cause us to do the same. Honestly bringing those things to Him now can allow Him to heal us and prepare us to stand for Him in the days to come.
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