Who might you be and what would you have become if you were born in another country and in a different culture and time? Reading biographies can give us glimpses into the many possibilities. I’d like to quote today from the life story of one of the last century’s most breath-taking individuals.
Born in 1909 into poverty in eastern Europe and soon orphaned, he was nurtured on the food of atheism — be it food or poison. He did not believe in God. He did not believe in Christ. He did not believe in religion. To this young man, all such beliefs were “harmful for the human mind.”
While bitter atheism consumed him, his heart longed for something he was certain did not exist: “a loving heart…somewhere in the center of this universe” and that this “loving heart [was] beating for me, too.”
High in the mountains in a village of his home country lived an old man — Christian Wolfkes, a carpenter, who knew this “Loving Heart.” He prayed like this:
“My God, I have served you on earth and I wish to have my reward on earth as well as in heaven. And my reward should be that I should not die before I bring a Jew to Christ, because Jesus was from the Jewish people. But I am poor, old, and sick. I cannot go around and seek a Jew. In my village there are none. Bring a Jew into my village and I will do my best to bring him to Christ.”
You know what happened. In time this young man, then 29 years old and married, “chanced” to travel to that village in the mountains, for no particular reason. There, he met the aged Christian, and as he described, “the carpenter courted me as never a beautiful girl had been courted.” (I wish this autobiography gave more details concerning the development of their friendship! Much could be learned from it.)
Christian Wolfkes gave him a Bible. Now, the young man had read the Bible, as he had read other literature. He liked to read and read widely what he could get his hands on, mostly Marxist and atheistic material, but also many of the world’s classics. Yes, he had read from the Bible.
“But the Bible he gave me was another kind of Bible. As he told me some time later, he and his wife prayed together for hours for my conversion and that of my wife. The Bible he gave me was written not so much in words, but in flames of love fired by his prayers. I could barely read it. I could only weep over it, comparing my bad life with the life of Jesus; my impurity with His righteousness; my hatred with His love — and He accepted me as one of His own.”
I can hardly read those words without crying. “The Bible he gave me was written not so much in words, but in flames of love fired by his prayers….” Sigh. . . . There’s a dynamic apologetic — wooing me, Karen, as well as any Spirit-drawn “pagan.”
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
We Americans swim in Bibles and Bible quoting materials, ubiquitous copies easily discarded. We bury them under dust. They are always available when we want them. Many seldom want them.
But then, we’ve not been reared on the nutrients of atheism — anti-nutrients, killing the soul. Richard’s heart, longing for the existence of a truly Loving Heart, which he was certain did not exist, discovered the existence of the nonexistent one who is the I AM — the Eternally Existent One.
The Loving Heart = God is love (I John 4:8); God is light (I John 1:5) ;God is spirit (John 4:24); God is life (John 14:6).
This is the true story of Richard Wurmbrand (1909 – 2001), taken from his now classic autobiography, Tortured for Christ, first published in 1967. Richard and his wife, Sabina, lived in war torn Romania during World War II and were beaten and arrested for their faith and for sharing it. Between imprisonments during Nazi control and then communist control, Richard was imprisoned for 14 years. Sabina’s entire family perished in Nazi concentration camps. For several years (between 1950 -1953), their son was left orphaned, as it were, when both parents were imprisoned. For years, Sabina thought Richard had died in prison, but in 1964 Richard was released, and in 1965, Richard was ransomed from Romania for $10,000 and the family was brought to the United States. Richard testified before the U. S. Senate in 1966. Tortured for Christ was released in 1967.
Voice of the Martrys is the ministry that emerged because of their calling to support those who are persecuted around the world. Google “Voice of the Martrys.” Check out http://www.be-a-voice.net and http://www.persecution.com . Ask for your free copy of Tortured for Christ. Read it and pass it on. Then collect Richard’s other books and VOM’s other publications. Subscribe to their magazine. Pray. . . .
Do you sense a longing, a restlessness in your heart? It is a part of your soul’s DNA. You were made to long for the most real thing — God’s Loving Heart beating for you and for me.
“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.”
Confessions, by Augustine of Hippo (354–430)