Persecution of Christians began in the 1st century by the Romans and continues to this day by different countries and groups all over the world.
Born Again Christians have been notably presecuted by the Roman Catholic Organization during the 16th century Protestant Reformation.
Some of the most horrible and atrocious crimes committed against the Lord and His Church have been perpetuated directly and indirectly by the Roman Catholic Institution.
This is NOT to say that ALL Catholics are evil (I personally know people who call themselves Roman Catholics who are saved & filled with the Holy Ghost) but the Roman Catholic institution itself is a Religious Group that is NOT sanctioned by the Lord!
In the 20th century, Bible Believing Christians have been persecuted by radical Muslim and Hindu groups and by atheistic states such as the USSR and North Korea.
Currently (as of 2010), as estimated by Open Doors UK, an estimated 100 million Christians face persecution, particularly in the Muslim world, North Korea and the hands of Hindu extremism in India, with a rising tendency.
According to other sources an estimated 200 million Christians face persecution and a further 350 million Christians are oppressed and discriminated against.
In North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Laos, Eritrea and Uzbekistan are the most persecuted Christians, according to the Open Doors.
The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer – Oil on canvas (1883) by Jean-Léon Gérôme
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM)
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. It is the umbrella name of several related Christian organizations in such countries as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
These VOM missions aim to raise awareness about the many thousands of Christians annually who are killed, tortured, imprisoned or harassed for their beliefs.
These organizations also provide practical assistance to persecuted Christians throughout the world. They are funded through donations of supporting churches and individuals.
There is no world headquarters for The Voice of the Martyrs, as each organization is an independent, self-supporting entity.
All VOM missions are members of an international group of autonomous missions which voluntarily cooperate through the International Christian Association (ICA).
While each country’s mission has its own goals and performs actions on its own, they also cooperate through the ICA in sharing information and jointly funding international projects.
Reverend Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand, the youngest of four boys, was born in 1909 in Bucharest.
As an adolescent, he was sent to study Marxism in Moscow, but returned the following year pursued by the secret police. He was arrested and released a number of times.
Richard married Sabina Oster on October 26, 1936 and they became believers in Jesus as Messiah in 1938 through the witness of Christian Wolfkes, a Romanian Christian carpenter.
He was ordained twice – first as an Anglican, then as a Lutheran pastor.
Prison & Ministry
In 1944, when the Soviet Union occupied Romania Pastor Wurmbrand began a ministry to his Romanian countrymen and to Red Army soldiers. When the government attempted to control churches, he immediately began an “underground” ministry to his people.
He was arrested on February 29, 1948, while on his way to church service.
He spent three years in solitary confinement. His wife, Sabina, was arrested in 1950 and spent three years at penal labour on the Canal.
Pastor Wurmbrand was released in 1956, after eight and a half years, and, although warned not to preach, resumed his work in the underground church. He was arrested again in 1959, and sentenced to 25 years. During his imprisonment, he was severely beaten and tortured.
He eventually received amnesty in 1964.
Concerned with the possibility that he would be imprisoned again, the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance negotiated with Communist authorities for his release from Romania for $10,000. He was convinced by underground church leaders to leave and become a voice for the persecuted church.
Exile & Mission
Reverend Wurmbrand traveled to Norway, England, and then the United States. In May 1966, he testified in Washington, D.C. before the US Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee.
That testimony, in which he took off his shirt in front of TV cameras to show the scars of his torture, brought him to public attention.
He became known as the “The Voice of the Underground Church”, doing much to publicize the persecution of Christians in Communist countries. He compiled circumstantial evidence that Marx was a satanist.
In April 1967, the Wurmbrands formed Jesus To The Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs), an interdenominational organization working initially with and for persecuted Christians in Communist countries, but later expanding its activities to help persecuted believers in other places, especially in the Muslim world.
In 1990 Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand returned to Romania for the first time in 25 years.
The Voice of the Martyrs opened a printing facility and bookstore in Bucharest. He engaged in preaching with local ministers of nearly all denominations. The Wurmbrands had one son, Mihai, now 70.
Pastor Wurmbrand wrote 18 books in English and others in Romanian. His best-known book is “Tortured for Christ”, released in 1967.
Pastor Wurmbrand died on February 17, 2001 in a hospital in Torrance, California. His last address was in Palos Verdes, California.
In 2006, he was voted fifth among the greatest Romanians according to the Mari Romni poll. His wife, Sabina, died August 11, 2000.
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