During the Lenten season, staff and church leaders will share a daily devotional. Please join us on the journey.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Hebrews 13:3 (KJV, faith verse of The Voice of the Martyrs)
What Christ Endured for Us
Isaiah 53 is believed to be a prophecy that the Messiah would suffer physical torture and bear wounds in our stead, as we know that Jesus Christ indeed did before He died and was resurrected at Easter. Disciples through the centuries have suffered beatings and imprisonment as well, from Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail in Acts 16 to Christians imprisoned for their faith today in dozens of countries unfriendly to the gospel.
A powerful documentary that is officially being released on March 5, “Tortured for Christ”, tells the story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, imprisoned in Communist Romania in the mid-20th century for refusing to submit to atheistic Russian government officials who tried to shut down their church. Filmed in painfully realistic reenactment at the very prison where this couple endured years of torment, the movie recognizes the 50th anniversary of the 1967 book by the same title written by the Wurmbrands after their miraculous release (due to an expensive ransom paid to free them). The two eventually ended up in the United States, even testifying before Congress about the persecution they endured, and founding the organization “The Voice of the Martyrs”. VOM not only ministers to those who have been persecuted and to their families, but also helps the former persecuted to minister to their persecutors, while bringing awareness to Christians everywhere of the plight of their persecuted brothers and sisters. The example of Paul and Silas singing hymns despite being beaten, eventually causing their jailer in Philippi to believe, along with his family, is foremost in the witness of VOM that continues even since the death of the founders in 2001. That the Wurmbrands were invited to return to Romania in the 1990’s, 25 years after their release, and welcomed to preach freely, is a testimony to the couple’s faithfulness being rewarded by the God they never failed to serve and to proclaim.
During Lent, as we remember the Passion of Jesus, let us be inspired by the example of the Wurmbrands and others through the centuries who, like Peter and John in Acts 4, when told to cease their preaching at the temple, replied, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Dear Father: You tell us often in Scripture that you came to set the prisoner free–in fact, your first sermon declaring your mission in Luke 4 quotes Isaiah 61 in proclaiming freedom for those imprisoned. But we know that prisons can come in many forms besides physical buildings. Help us to seek freedom that is only in You as we meditate during this Lenten season and prepare our hearts to receive Your gift of salvation through the suffering of Your Son at Calvary. Amen.