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
4 thoughts on “The Depths of your Loyalty”
Interesting post. I faced a similar conundrum when I lived in the middle class. Not that I cared much for myself (that was the lie my ‘self’ told me) but what would happen if my wife and two daughters would suffer. At the time I said the noble thing and said I would do anything to keep them from harm. Turns out that was the wrong answer.
You see persecution is on our shores today. It isn’t in the form of destruction of life or limb but something far more sinister and insidious. It is the destruction of faith. It is the incessant unrelenting drumbeat that religion is the answer, once saved always saved and other lies. This cornucopia of untruths works against faith and destroys anyone that would throw their whole life onto God like Richard Wurmbrand.
When our family set out to follow God in faith, much like your pledge of allegiance we were terribly naive about what we would face. Like most people in religion we had swallowed too many lies but yet we still wanted to be closer to Jesus than anything.
He heard our prayers.
We sold our home and business to move across the country. Once there we lost everything we owned and became hungry and homeless. For 40 months God led us as we had to learn just what faith and trust meant. I had to watch all of us go hungry, be threatened with rape and injury, almost freeze sleeping on snowbanks and other perils. All my blustering came to nothing. Like all who traverse the wilderness with God I discovered I was nothing but a broken stick, like all men. I have no power or strength to fight anyone or anything. What we did discover was that God is our strength. He is our provider and nothing can compare to Him.
So if you ask us today about that pledge we have already taken it and paid with everything we have ever owned. True our lives were not taken as some have but that was His grace to us. He told me before the journey began that no harm would come to us and none did. The sacrifice of faith, however, has left a permanent mark on who we are. There is no place He can’t take us where we will be afraid to go. We have faced the worst assault you can face in North America, which is to be cast from society, and survived. And we did not do this under compulsion from anyone but just a genuine desire to know Him and to follow Him in faith. This is our testimony.
We often look at the big things of martyrdom as being the pinnacle of faith but let me add this. I would say that it is a greater act of faith to lay your will down to follow His will on a daily basis than to face physical death once. This daily ‘death’ is willing to face the jeers, hate and scorn of those around you as you are humbled before the King. It is willing to be hungry, cold and in pain and yet not break obedience. It is willing, always willing, to give when you have nothing knowing that the Lord is your only provision. When we can live like that daily here in North America then we will be able to share in the suffering our brothers and sisters face daily around the globe.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Where are at now? Where has your journey taken you?
I couldn’t agree more about laying down our wills each day as a struggle and a great sign of our devotion.
I’m sure your story has impacted many in the faith. It sure did me. Thank you for reading and please keep sharing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I really like what you said in this post. I have told myself many times what I would have to do, if I ever faced such a tough choice.
Have you ever heard of the story of the father on the boat that had to choose which boy to rescue? This son, a Christian, or the other boy, not yet a believer? I don’t know if it’s true, I hope so. It’s a great story. The father let his son go, so save the other. And the story was told my the boy that was saved, and did come to believe.
I hope if I’m ever faced with such a tough choice, that I make the right one. My faith is strong. I know I will. But I believe it is important to decide in advance, when your faith is tested or trials come, what choice you would make. Thank you 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have never heard that story. It sounds pretty powerful though. I don’t know if I could make that decision, to let my child drown. Jesus and His mission above everything right? I would want someone to save a non believer over myself if they were met with the choice. Hopefully our King returns soon so we can all be with Him.
Thanks for reading and sharing! God bless!
LikeLiked by 1 person