A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article from Voice of the Martyrs, and as it almost always does, the article tested my faith. Many of you reading this may be familiar with Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. Voice of the Martyrs stems from his work and devotion to spreading the gospel in hostile places. He spent his life discipling others to do the same. Much of his time was spent in Eastern Europe in what was known as the Soviet Block. Communism had taken the area by storm following the end of World War II and faith was starved by the new atheistic regimes. One evil, nazism, had been replaced with another. But faith outlasts fear and hatred. No manner of method used by the enemies of Christ has ever been successful in defeating the devoted. That is a lesson that Mr. Wurmbrand tried to teach his young patrons in this excerpt from the article I read.
The twelve students stood with their pastor along the fence. On the other side was a large ditch, beyond which was an opening to a manmade cave. A large lion paced back and forth in front of the cave’s opening. Their pastor said, “Your forefathers were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to suffer at the hands of men who would be much worse than these animals. Decide here and now whether you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ.” The students looked at each other. Before them stood their pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, a man who had spent fourteen years in prison for his work in the underground church. This was the pastor’s last week in Romania, for he and his family had been ransomed from their homeland and would be leaving within a few days. Richard didn’t know if his Sunday school students would suffer under the brutal hand of atheistic Communists, but he wanted to implant a faith that would survive the harshest trials. So he had brought the students to the local zoo to see the lions. Although young, the students fully understood what their pastor meant. With tears, they answered resolutely, “We pledge our allegiance to Christ.”
Decide here and now whether you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ. Wow. I have never been confronted with that proposal in such a way. When I was a child deciding to give my life to Jesus, it wasn’t a matter of life or death. No one ever explained to me that there was so much hate in the world and that people might actually want me in prison, tortured, or killed because of what I believe in. Those are realities I’ve had to learn as I’ve grown up and grown in the faith. I use to have dreams where I was tied up and threatened to renounce my faith or die. I always woke up before the dream played itself out. What I was left with was wondering about just how deep my loyalties are. My life matters less to me than my allegiance to Christ. But what about my wife’s life? Or my children? I have been so privileged to grow up in a nation that acknowledges the right of every human being to choose their beliefs. That is a God-given right of free will. But what if that wasn’t the case any longer? As the world grows more hostile towards Jesus and towards set truth, difficult choices will probably have to be made. For the follower of Jesus, nothing can take precedent over their allegiance to their Savior. It is best to do the hard reflecting now for we may all have to face the day of decision. We need to teach our children to do the same. Jesus over everything!
*This is dedicated to all our brothers and sisters around the world who wage the spiritual war every day. We stand with you in prayer and acknowledge your great courage. You inspire us all.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 ESV