Wednesday 30 December 2009

Richard Wurmbrandt - Centenary of his birth

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
The founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, loved people. He and his wife, Sabina, had a great passion to lead others to Christ. As this month marks the 100th anniversary of his birth (he passed to glory in 2001), I thought I would relate some unpublished moments of his life.
We have written about his courage as he stood alone among more than 1,000 leaders to denounce the control of Romanian communism. The communists had closed Sunday schools and oppressed the church. Pastor Wurmbrand resisted the communists’ control of the church and went underground. He held services for youth attending his church in front of the lion’s den at the Bucharest Zoo to prepare them for battle with the world. Pastor Wurmbrand led his little Lutheran congregation, composed of many Jewish converts, to the Bucharest train station to toss Russian Gospels into the windows of passing trains filled with invading Russian soldiers. The soldiers kept the Gospels. For many such acts of aggressive love, he and his wife both went to prison.
When Richard and Sabina began the work of VOM in October 1967 in America, some might think they would have been changed by living in an open, wealthy nation where everything could come easy for famous, gifted people. But their love, their burden — whether for helping those persecuted abroad or right next door — remained the same. I know. My wife, Ofelia, and I lived in a duplex with them for seven years.
Pastor Wurmbrand woke up early in the morning with long lists of names of people. One by one, he would pray for them. He and Sabina fasted one day a week.
One night through the wall of our duplex, we heard a great crash. Richard, now in his 70s, had fallen on the bathroom floor and fractured his skull. The next morning I was in his hospital room. He began to pull on his clothes to leave. The frantic nurses came in to tell him he could not get up. He said, “How can I sit in bed with only a little pain in my head when I am supposed to speak in Berlin where the people suffer much more than I do?” At the time, Berlin, Germany, was a walled-off city surrounded by the East German communist military. He flew to Germany.
After coming to America, Pastor Wurmbrand never owned a house or a car. Being older, he took driving lessons but was kindly told by the instructor that it would be better to save his money. On one of their trips flying overseas, he and Sabina would approach an airline counter with about 12 suitcases of clothes they had purchased at a used clothing store, clothes to be carried into communist Eastern Europe for persecuted Christians. The stunned airline agents crumbled under their heartfelt appeal and let them take the clothes.
When Richard and Sabina passed from earth, the house they lived in was sold and the funds used for international ministry. They had moved to an eternal house.
After Pastor Wurmbrand’s funeral, his son, Michael Wurmbrand, took us to a special dinner. I sat next to a young woman who told me her story. She had worked for a florist and delivered flowers to Richard and Sabina’s home in Southern California. Sabina graciously invited her inside. Richard told her an old story of the Emperor of Japan who visited a garden to see only one flower, a very special flower. Then Pastor Wurmbrand looked at her and said, “And you are God’s special flower. This is why you came today. God loves you. You are special to Him.” She came to Christ. Her life was changed forever.
Whether he was speaking to his torturer in a Romanian prison or to a flower delivery girl in America, Pastor Wurmbrand knew that our highest calling is to be witnesses of the love and grace of God. Happy birthday up there, Pastor.
—Tom White, Executive DirectorThe Voice of the Martyrs—USA
reproduced from (via Nancy Gilmore)

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