In the midst of increased restrictions on evangelical Christians in Russia, a Christian formerly imprisoned under Russian Communists reminds Russian President of the long history of Christian persecution at the hands of Communists
January 15. Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that Communism and Christianity are essentially similar. As reported by Newsweek, Putin said that both Communism and Christianity promote “freedom, brotherhood, equality,” and embolden countries going through difficult times. He then likened Lenin to a saint of communism.
Voice of the Martyrs founder, the Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, built a now-global ministry to express his strong disagreement with the opinion now being resurrected by Putin.
“Christianity and Communism are incompatible” was Wurmbrand’s central message for four decades. After serving fourteen years in a Communist prison in Romania for his Christian faith, Wurmbrand traveled around the world, sharing his experiences behind the iron curtain with all who would listen.
“I have seen Christians in Communist prisons, with 50 pound chains at their feet,” Wurmbrand says. “[I have seen Christians in Communist prisons] tortured with red-hot iron-pokers, put in cells with a huge number of rats, which did not give them any peace to sleep day and night, Christians in the throats of whom spoons of salt were shoved, being kept afterwards without water, obliged to stand uninterruptedly during a week, day and night, starving, whipped, suffering of cold.”
When met with disbelief, Wurmbrand would remove his shirt to reveal the scars he received from Communist torturers [link to Wurmbrand showing his scars video].
Despite his suffering, however, Wurmbrand had this to say about Communism:
“Tortures [that I] endured in Communist prisons have not made me hate the Communists. I am not a foe of the Communists. I have not the slightest bitterness or resentment against the Communists, their tortures and their tools.”
Wurmbrand proved these words by ministering to the men who had tortured him.
Merv Knight, Wurmbrand historian and archivist for Voice of the Martyrs, remembers a time when Wurmbrand saw another Romanian on the streets. Wurmbrand embraced this man like a brother and spoke excitedly with him in Romanian. Because the men seemed close, Knight assumed the other Romanian was a former fellow Christian prisoner. Wurmbrand revealed, however, that this man was actually one of his past torturers.
“The difference between Christianity and Communism is that Communism teaches that anyone who opposes the revolution must be imprisoned and exterminated,” The Rev. Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, President of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, explains. “Christianity, however, teaches that enemies must be loved and forgiven.”
Foley says that Putin’s misunderstanding about the compatibility of Communism and Christianity is a common one that recurs in each generation. “Putin—and many other people since Marx—mistake Christianity for a religion based around social progress. But Christianity has always been a religion based around a crucified God whose followers are taught to take up their crosses and follow him.”
At a time when evangelical Christians in Russia are facing increased persecution from their government, Dr. Foley stresses the importance of re-acquainting ourselves with the writings of those like Wurmbrand who suffered under Communism.
“It’s important for Christians today to read Wurmbrand’s biography, Tortured for Christ,” Dr. Foley adds. “Communism is not an ideology of the past. In the countries that surround us or are near to us—China, North Korea, Laos—Christians are still persecuted by Communist governments. But, in these countries, too, Christians are responding with love. They have the same scars and wear the same heavy chains as Rev. Wurmbrand did. Communism is alive and well—and may even be beginning to make a comeback in Russia.”
To order a copy of Tortured for Christ, the international best-selling biography of Rev. Wurmbrand, you can call Voice of the Martyrs Korea at 02-2065-0703.