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.