Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quotes from the Persecuted Church, Part 1

"We shall not end our lives in the fire, but make a change for a better life." - Julius Palmer, burned at stake in England in 1556

"This is the end. For me, the beginning of life." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hung in Germany 1945

"Remember the Lord's people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don't forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them." - Hebrews 13:3

"A minister I had heard of in Romania had been horribly beaten and was thrown back into the cell with the other prisoners. He was half-dead, with blood streaming from his face and body. As some of the prisoners washed him, others cursed the Communists. Groaning, the minister said, "Please, don't curse them! Keep silent! I wish to pray for them." - Richard Wurmbrand, spent 14 years in a Communist prison in Romania during the Cold War

"Suffering saints are living seed." - Charles Spurgeon, 19th century theologian

"Some Christians haven't even attempted to think about whether or not they would die for Jesus because they haven't really been living for Him." - Dc Talk, former Christian band

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot, speared by headhunters in Ecuador on a mission trip in 1956

"Without fear we sang in prisons 30 feet beneath the earth. We were terribly hungry, beaten, and tortured. The Communists were good at torturing us. We would say to each other, 'The Communists beat us very well - let us do our work well. Let us sing well.'" - Richard Wurmbrand, spent 14 years in a Communist prison in Romania during the Cold War

"Death is much sweeter to me with the testimony of truth than life with the least denial." - Geleazium, martyred in St. Angelo, Italy during the Middle Ages

"Now I suffer what I suffer; but then another will be in me who will suffer for me, because I too will be suffering for Him." - Felicitas, martyred in Carthage, North Africa in 202 AD

"However it goes with me, I labor that you may have the Gospel preached among you. Though it may cost you your life, I think it well bestowed." - John Peary, martyred in Wales in 1593

"A Communist officer told a Christian he was beating, 'I am almighty, as you suppose your God can be. I can kill you.' The Christian answered, 'The power is all on my side. I can love you while you torture me to death.'" - Richard Wurmbrand

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Denial of Christ

During the Communist regime, there were many "illegal" Bible studies that took place. This story occurred in an Asian country in the 1970's. Further details of the setting are not available.

Communist soldiers discovered an illegal Bible study while the pastor of the group was reading from the Bible. The soldiers had guns and terrorized the believers. They insulted the Christians, and the leader pointed his gun at the pastor's head and demanded his Bible.

The pastor handed over the Bible, and the Communist leader threw the Bible on the floor and said that they would be set free if they spat on the book of lies. Anyone would be shot if they refused, no other choice.

The soldier pointed the gun at a man and said "You first!" The man slowly knelt before the Bible, spit on it, and said "Father, please forgive me." He stood up, and the soldiers let him leave. The next person did the same thing; she unwillingly spat on the Bible, and was set free.

Then a young girl was next in line. She had a zeal for her Savior and refused to obey the atheistic Communists. She wiped off the spit with her dress, picked up the Bible, and said "Oh, Lord. What have they done to your Word? Please forgive them."

The soldiers pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Faith of True Believers

Throughout history there have been stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the cause of Christ. During the Communist regime of the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War, there were numerous stories of Christians standing firm in their faith. Many people do not know that the Communists in the Soviet Union hated God; they infiltrated atheism into every aspect of people's lives. They did their best to put Christians away from the podium; they put many in prison. The Communists hated God and brainwashed many people. They promoted Marxism. Millions of Christians were killed during this period because of their faith.

Thankfully, Christianity was growing at a rapid pace, despite the fact that the government was trying to stop it. A famous Christian reported seeing a pastor in a Communist prison who was speaking to other prisoners about Christ. Suddenly, a few guards took the pastor out of the cell. Ten minutes later he was thrown back into the cell, bleeding, bruised, and swollen. It was a terrible sight. The pastor slowly got up off the floor and said to the other prisoners "Sorry for the interruption, brethren. Now where was I?" And he resumed his discussion! The person who reported this incredible incident said "I have seen beautiful things inside these prison cells!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Persecution of Pastor Selchun

During the year of 1992 in northern Nigeria. Muslims in Kaduna, Nigeria brought an attack against Christians. Two pastors and their families were killed, as well as 300 laymen! When the fanatics severed Pastor Selchun's right hand, he lifted his other hand to the sky and sang:

"He is Lord, He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead, and He is Lord.
Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord."

His wife and sister stood by praying.

The Islam faith is trying to take full control of Nigeria. Christians in the northern states have been the victims of rioting and looting. Churches have been looted and destroyed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Burnt Offering

This story is about a man named Philip from Sudan. Muslim leaders commanded him to renounce his faith, and they said they would burn and cut him until he became a Muslim. Philip, along with thirty five other Christians, was taken to a military barracks.

For eleven days, Philip and several of his friends were beaten and burned as government officials tried to convert them to Islam. There were twelve women who were tortured, and none of them survived. Philip still has scars on his chest from the burning log they used against him.

He said this: "My faith was very strong when they burned me. I prayed, 'God I will never forget You.' I refused to be a Muslim because I knew God was with me."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Martyrdom of Anne Askew

Anne Askew, an English woman, was imprisoned for trying to spread the gospel. She was shown the rack in her cell and asked if she would name those who believed as she did. Askew declined to name anyone at all, so she was asked to remove her clothing. She then climbed onto the rack and her wrists and ankles were fastened. Again, she was asked for names, but she would say nothing. The wheel of the rack was turned, pulling Askew along the device and lifting her. Askew claims in her own account that she fainted with the pain, and was lowered and revived. This procedure was repeated twice. She then began to witness to her torturer, Kingston, for two hours. Kingston refused to carry on torturing her, so he left.

Not long after this, she was burnt on 16 July 1546, with John Lascelles and two other Protestants. Askew was carried to execution in a chair since she couldn't walk. She was dragged from the chair to the stake which had a small seat attached to it. Finally, she was asked to deny her faith, but she told everyone watching that she did not come there to deny her Lord and Master. The executioner hung a bag of gunpowder around her neck in order to speed her death along, and it exploded nearly immediately. Those who saw her execution were quite impressed by how brave she was, and reported that she did not scream until the flames reached her chest.

Anne Askew has left us a legacy that we all need to follow in terms of radical service for Christ.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Suffering of Kiffien, Perfectus, and Adalbert

Kiffien was Bishop in Germany, and preached to Germany. He actually converted the governor, and God did an incredible thing with that moment because his incredible testimony was so powerful that in just two years it inspired most of the citizens in that town to convert. In A.D. 689, Kiffien managed to convince the governor that his marriage to his brother's widow violated God's will. This made the governor's wife angry enough to order Kiffien to be beheaded.

Perfectus was born in Corbuba, Spain in the 9th century. He was raised in the Christian faith, was intelligent, and read as many books as he possibly could. He became an ordained priest as a young man. In A.D. 850, he was bold enough to declare that Mohammed was an imposter, which resulted in his beheading. Spain became a Muslim-dominant nation since the early part of the 8th century.

There was a bishop in Prague in the 10th century named Adalbert, and there was a point in his life in which he became increasily burdened for the conversion of infidels, so he went to a city in Persia where, by the work of the Holy Spirit, he converted and baptized many citizens. All these conversions and the visible work of God at work caused the leaders of the town to attack and kill him with long darts.

May God continue to use the current results from the work of these men centuries ago.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Suffering of Nadejda Sloboda

Sometime in the 1960's, Nadejda Sloboda told her neighbor to come to her house and listen to the radio with her. Her reason? "A man is preaching the Word of God from the Bible, and these broadcasts are changing my life.

Slobada was the first one in her village in the U.S.S.R. to come to Christ from radio broadcasts transmitted to her village. Her zeal for Christ started a church in her community. The church grew to the point of police supervision so that other communities wouldn't hear about it. Because of this, her children were taken to an Atheist school and she was thrown in prison for four years.

Slobada was active in sharing her faith to her fellow prisoners. Because of this, she was forced to sleep on the cold concrete with no mattress. It's said that prisoners sleep standing up with their foreheads against the walls in order to get the best type of sleep. Prisoners find it very difficult to sleep in these conditions. She also was forced to perform difficult labor. The Communist guards thought she would breakdown from the lack of sleep and extreme labor, but her faith never shrunk.

She says that the way she endures it is when she lies on the floor she trusts in God, and it becomes warm around her. "I rest in the arms of God."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Martyrdom of Thomas Hauker

Thomas Hauker died in England in 1555. He was in prison the day before he was killed, and his friend next to him said "Thomas, I have to ask you a favor. I need to know if what the others say about the grace of God is true. Tomorrow, when they burn you at the stake, if the pain is tolerable and your mind is still at peace, lift your hands above your head. Do it right before you die. Thomas, I have to know."

Thomas promised he would.

The next day, Hauker was bound to the stake and the area was lit on fire. Hauker's skin was burning and his fingers disappeared, and he remained motionless. Everyone thought he was dead until all of a sudden he lifted his burning hands above his head toward the heavens and clapped three times.

The people watching began to cheer and applaud. Hauker's friend's request was answered.

R.I.P. Thomas Hauker

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Muslim attacks against Mary Khoury

Mary Khoury and her family were attacked for their faith in 1991 during the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1992. A group of fanatical Muslims attacked Mary's village, and the leader of the group was waving his gun carelessly and said with hatred toward Mary and her family, "If you do not become a Muslim, you will be shot."

We should remember that Jesus was given a similar choice: Deny his claims of being the Messiah, or be crucified, and He chose the latter. Courageous Mary said "I was baptized as a Christian, and His word came to me: 'Don't deny your faith'. I will obey Him, so go ahead and shoot." The Muslim did just what she told him to.

The Red Cross came by two days later and found Mary to be alive, the only one to survive in her family. Her spinal cord had been cut by the bullet, so she couldn't move her arms. Even though she was handicapped, Mary knew God had a plan for her life. Though she couldn't do any physical work or marry, she became a prayer warrior. She offered her life for Muslims like the ones who cut her father's throat and stabbed her mother. "My life will become a prayer for them."

These types of prayers shatter the governments of those who persecute Christians. It brings people face-to-face with the Son of God. We will always remember your fight for the cause of Christ, Mary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Martyrdom of Thomas Hudson

Thomas Hudson was a devout English Christian in the 16th century. His strong Christian witness was the reason that he was scheduled to be executedin 1558. A bishop was questioning him again and again in order to get Hudson to deny his faith. Hudson had never denied Christ and refused to do so even when he was standing in the place of execution with many onlookers who were curious if the unfaltering Christian would give up his faith to save himself.

Just before the chain tighened around his neck, he stooped, slipped out from the chain, and stood to one side. The Christians who were witnessing this event began to pray that God would do something miraculous there.

Hudson knelt down because he had suddenly been attacked with doubts and felt his faith growing weak. Not wanting to die like that, he prayed for God to give him comfort, and He did. Then Hudson stood up with renewed strength and joy. With boldness he said, "Now, thank God, I am strong. I don't care what man can do to me!"

Thomas Hudson went back to the stake and put the chain around him, and he died a Christian martyr. His boldness and love for Christ strengthened the faith of the Christians who witnessed this, which caused the Protestant movement to grown even more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001)

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (A.K.A. "Voice of the Underground Church") was in Communist prisons for fourteen years, enduring tortures that most people wouldn't think was possible for people to commit. He was imprisoned in his homeland, Romania, and is one of the most recognized Christian leaders there.

Communists took control of Romania in 1945, trying to control the churches to serve their own purposes, and this prompted Wurmbrand to begin an underground ministry. Unfortunately, Wurmbrand was arrested in 1948 with his wife, Sabina, who became a laborer on the Danube Canal. Richard spent three very grueling years in solitary confinement, and the only people he saw were his torturers. This was where he kept his mind and soul sane by composing sermons and preaching them to the prison walls, and he has been able to remember most of his sermons from that prison cell! He was then transferred to a group cell, where he was tortured for five for years.

Foreign embassies began asking the Communist government what they had done with Richard Wurmbrand since he was internationally known for his work. The Communists and the Secret Police told the embassies as well as Wurmbrand's wife that he had died. Wurmbrand was in prison for eight and a half years, then he was released. Without hesitating, he resumed his work with the Underground Church, only to be arrested two years later. This time he was sentenced to twenty five years in prison. He was released in 1964 and resumed his work again. Since he had a high risk of being imprisoned a third time, Christians in other countries negotiated with the Communist authorities for Wurmbrand's release, since they were "selling prisoners". Most prisoners were sold at $1900, but Wurmbrand, was worth $10000!

In May 1966, he testified before the U.S. Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee and revealed his entire deep-scar ridden body. This story was carried all over the world. In 1967, Wurmbrand and his wife started Jesus to the Communist World, now known as The Voice of the Martyrs. They established thirty offices around the world that provided relief to persecuted Christians. His message was, "Hate the evil systems, but love your persecutors. Love their soul, and try to win them for Christ."

Wurmbrand authored many books which have been translated into sixty languages. He died as a prayer warrior for the international persecuted church.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus

James was the half-brother of Jesus and the writer of the book of James found in the New Testament. He was called James the Just because of his righteousness and devotion. This James is not the James mentioned in an earlier blog, who was one of Jesus's closest followers. Nevertheless, this James had great authority and leadership, and his blood is part of the seed of the church.

One of the greatest statements by James was this. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." James 4:8-10.

Based on Acts 12:17, Acts 15:13-29,  and Acts 21: 18-24, it seems he was leader of the Church at Jerusalem, but this fact is not completely proven. According to the Jewish historian named Flavius, Ananus the high priest ordered James to be killed by stonings. However, an early Christian writer named Hegesippus says James was cast down from the Temple tower. He was not killed by the fall, so a club was used to smash his head in. It is unknown as to what type of club it was, whether it was a hammer for blacksmiths or a club to beat clothing. This most likely occured in the year A.D. 66.

James, may your past service for Christ continue to bear fruit in this present age.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Martyrdom of Probius

Probius was martyred for his faith during the reign of Emperor Maximian in the Roman Empire around 250 A.D. He was whipped until blowed flowed out of him, and then we was thrown in prison chained to an area. Just a few days later, he was brought out of the cell because he was commanded to sacrifice to the Roman gods. He knew the price he would pay if he refused: he'd be tortured and killed. He said this:

"I come better prepared than before, for what I have suffered has only strengthened me in my resolution. Employ your whole power upon me, and you shall find that neither you, nor the Emperor, nor the gods you serve, nor even your father the devil, shall compel me to worship idols."

Probius paid the expected price. He was sent back to get tortured some more and eventually died by the sword.

Rest In Peace, Probius

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Martyrdom of Rachel Scott

As many of us know, the Columbine High School Massacre in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999 was the deadliest shooting in an American high school. The two perpetrators were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and together they murdered 13 and injured 24.

This post honors Rachel Scott, the first victim of the massacre, and her faith. Rachel was described as a devout Christian by her mother, she was active as a youth group leader, and was known for her friendliness and compassion. Rachel left behind six diaries and several essays about her belief in God and how she wanted to change the world through small acts of kindness. Rachel wrote an essay for school in which was included, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” May the discipleship of Rachel Scott be remembered.

She was the first victim in the massacre that took place. She was eating lunch with a friend when she was killed due to shots fired at her head, torso, and leg. Early reports said that one of the gunmen, after having first shot Rachel in her leg, asked her if she still believed in God, and that she had simply answered "You know I do". Her response provoked a second, fatal shot to her head. The FBI later concluded that this verbal exchange did not take place. However, it is quite clear that Rachel Scott died as a martyr for being Christian, even if the verbal exchange didn't take place. This conclusion is based on videotapes made by the murderers in which they are said to mock Rachel for her beliefs.

Rest In Peace, Rachel Scott.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Martyrdom of James, the son of Zebedee

The martyrdom of James was recorded in Acts 12:2. He was the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred. His death was an order by King Harrod Agrippa I of Judea. Jesus's prophecy of James' death for Christ was in Mark 10:35-45. Clemens Alexandrinus wrote that when James was being lead to his execution, his incredible courage caused one of his captors to actually fall on his knees before James, asked for his forgiveness, and admitted that he himself was a Christian too. The man actually had the courage to say that James should not die alone, so they were both beheaded.

Around this time, the deacons Timon and Parmenas were executed in another location. All executions were performed in the year A.D. 44

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stephen the Martyr

The first person to die for Christ was Stephen, whose name means “crown”. Chapters 6 and 7 in the book of Acts record this man’s story of persecution, around A.D. 35. This was not too long after the Apostle Peter gave his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost, the day the church officially started. One day Stephen, the great evangelist, was performing incredible wonders and signs in view of many people. Men from the synagogue were unable to cope with the great wisdom coming from Stephen’s words, so they exclaimed that Stephen spoke blasphemous words against God and the words of Moses. The men dragged Stephen away and brought him before the Council to testify for his actions and words.

He spoke about the privileges of the nation of Israel, as well as their rejection of God’s messengers. Then, in his boldness, he blamed the listeners for the crucifixion of Jesus. Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just what your fathers did.” The next verses described the fury of the people who were listening. Suddenly, Stephen, being full of grace, gazed in Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus at God’s right hand. Stephen described with such joy what he was seeing. This crossed the line for the hard-hearted listeners, and in a loud voice, they cried out and rushed at him.

As was the custom in their day when it came to stoning, one person pushed the victim off a 9 foot scaffold, and then another person dropped a large stone on the victim. Usually others would pelt the victim with small stones at the same time as well. Stephen, being filled with the unlimited love of Christ, cried out “Lord, receive my Spirit! Do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he died a martyr, and his act of sincere love toward Christ is still being shown today.