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Thankfulness Project: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:10

Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian Jewish professor in WWII who was an outspoken Christian and anti-Communist. He preached the gospel to those in bomb shelters during the war and even helped smuggle Jews out of the ghettos. He preached Christ’s hope to his fellow inhabitants of newly Communist-invaded Romania. When other pastors, one-by-one, began to cave to the pressures of the Communist government, taking up their messages and incorporating them into their sermons, he refused and spoke out against worshiping anyone but God, against adding to the Bible what they were commanded by the regime, or comparing Lenin to Jesus.

Because he was both Christian and anti-Communist, the atheistic Romanian Communist government imprisoned Richard and tortured him, for 14 years across two imprisonments. That’s 5110 days. 122,640 hours. Sometimes he was locked in solitary confinement in a freezer, removed before freezing to death, thawed, and replaced in it. Sometimes he was locked in a cell with no light, no sound. He stayed in solitary confinement for three years, in conditions that modern psychology would say could drive a person to madness. To keep from losing his sanity, He reflected on Bible passages he’d memorized and preached sermons to his empty cell. He pounded out encouraging messages to his fellow prisoners on the walls in Morse code. He was beaten and covered in scars, often having the flesh flailed from his feet, his back, as well as burned and mutilated. Handcuffs with nails were placed on his wrists that cut anytime he shivered in the cold.

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His wife Sabina was officially given news he had died; soldiers lied and said they’d attended his funeral. She also was imprisoned for three years, and worked in a labor camp, a slave-laborer. Yet, despite all this, Wurmbrand said of one of his imprisonments, in his book In God’s Underground “This arrest, and all that would follow, was the answer to a prayer I had made...I did not know what strange and wonderful discoveries lay in store for me.” In prison. In torture. In suffering. His freedom was purchased for 10,000 by some Norwegian Christians who’d heard of his suffering, his faith, his persistence in preaching the truth, and the danger to his life. Wurmbrand and his wife were later released and spoke out, including in Washington D.C., about his torture at the hands of Lenin’s Communist regime, and what was happening to Christians in Communist countries. The couple began a bookstore in Bucharest where he wrote, printed, and sold his stories and sermons and the forgiveness Jesus offers. The bookstore later expanded to include stories of persecution of others, to raise awareness and money to buy more people out of prison. Today this organization is known as the Voice of the Martyrs, and seeks to help persecuted Christians worldwide and as well as spread copies of the Bible.

Wurmbrand said that he hoped that maybe even his former jailers and torturers would come to know Christ, like Paul’s jailer. He said, “When a person has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil that is in human beings. The torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’...They boasted that they had no pity in their hearts. I learned from them. As they allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I would not leave the smallest place for Satan in mine.”

Wurmbrand was persecuted for speaking the truth, often the only one willing to do it, and yet his life was blessed with reaching thousands for the gospel, and beginning a foundation which continues his work far beyond what he could have imagined.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. -Psalm 34:8

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To me, one of the most unfathomable stories of enduring faith and persistence will always be the example of Elizabeth Elliot. Her husband Jim was murdered by the people she, her husband, and a few other couples went as missionaries to tell about Christ, in a completely different, primitive, Ecuadorian native tribal settlement. After Jim died, instead of permanently leaving the country, instead of being spiteful, angry, vengeful, or even discouraged, she went right back to them and tried even harder to show them love, kindness, and teach them about the God who offers greater forgiveness than anyone, dying to save them all. She wrote many books, newspaper articles, and inspiring quotes, including: “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” “There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.” “Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.” “You can never lose what you have offered to Christ.” “The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.” Not only did she help and witness to many a village who’d never heard of Christ before, but she also was blessed with an incredible testimony to share in numerous books, and her story is still taught as an example of unshakeable faith.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot didn’t go to a third world country of natives to teach about Jesus with their parents, or their siblings. They went with like-minded missionaries who were passionate about sharing the gospel with the lost. Not that these were, but sometimes we are persecuted, criticized, mocked, belittled, demeaned by even our own families—parents, siblings, cousins who were childhood friends, life-long friends from school or college, neighbors who just don’t get it. How could anyone give up the comforts of civilization to live in a dirt hut with people who hate you and don’t want to hear about Jesus? Persecution comes in many forms, especially when we obey the call of God on our lives. God doesn’t call us all to go to those countries, but He does call us to speak of and live for and obey Him. He does call us to out-of-the-box living and actions sometimes. The all-knowing Father asks strange things of us we never would have chosen ourselves, but always with good purpose. Will we obey when we hear His gentle whisper, even if it means persecution, standing out and being different, weird, unwelcomed, mocked, like in the following verse?

Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!' Yet they will be put to shame. -Isaiah 66:5

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The actions and faith of these two and all the persecuted are admirable and honorable, and God has a special reward for all of these, His persecuted church: the kingdom of heaven. All who have believed in the name of Jesus and sought to follow/obey Him will be saved. But not all will hear the Savior commend them with, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Not all will have jewels in crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus. Only those who were surrendered, obedient. Most definitely those who were persecuted for Christ’s sake will be rewarded by Him, though it may be in the next life, not this one.

Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. -Matthew 25:34

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken. But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you. ” -1 Peter 3:14-15

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© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

Comments

Naude Lorenzo on April 15, 2021:

Even when it may you cry, this articles are incredible smart and deeply get you feeling lucky to read them, awesome amazing talent, love it Amanda

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