by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson
Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death … the world was not worthy of them. Hebrews 11:36-38 NIV
Have you ever met someone whose presence changed you?
My husband and I once had the privilege to eat lunch with the late Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina. Mrs. Wurmbrand’s radiant smile still lights up my mind. I believe her countenance would have glowed in the dark like a full moon at midnight. This is amazing when you consider what they’d suffered for Jesus.
When the Communists took over Romania, they held a special meeting for pastors, filled with brainwashing and propaganda. Wurmbrand said: “My wife and I were present at this congress. Sabina told me, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in his face.’
I said to her, ‘If I do so, you will lose your husband.’ She replied, ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’”
Pastor and Mrs. Wurmbrand were Messianic Jews. They suffered under the Nazis and the Communists. Pastor Wurmbrand spent fourteen years in Communist imprisonment—three of those in solitary confinement, where he saw only his Communist torturers. His body never fully recovered from the abuse.
His persecutors drugged his food. They regularly beat him for preaching to fellow prisoners. In his drugged state, the only Scripture he could recall at one point was, “Our Father.”
He shrugged, “It was enough. I knew I had a Father.”
Sabina suffered greatly too. The Nazi Party murdered her parents, four siblings, and five children, yet she showed no bitterness or resentment. She continued to show God’s love to all. She nurtured the underground church her husband had started and spent three years working in slave labor after being arrested for subversive evangelism.
One of her greatest burdens must have been having her nine-year-old son Mihai, left to fend for himself while both of his parents were in prison. Because it was against the law to help families of the imprisoned, the women who did try to help him were beaten so badly they were left crippled.
Our language barrier kept me from talking with Mrs. Wurmbrand, but her countenance communicated more than words. How could she smile after suffering such loss? How could she forgive the years spent in poverty—starving and not knowing if her husband was alive? Her youngest son was a boy when the Communists took his father. He was a man when Richard was finally released.
How did she hold such composure among tragedy? She knew Jesus was worthy of any sacrifice. She “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10 NIV).
None of us knows what trials we’ll face. But we know we will be tested (James 1). Someone once said we are either coming out of a trial, in the middle of one, or headed into to one. Faith in Jesus prepares us and leads us triumphantly through any challenge. The Scriptures build our faith and equip us for life because they testify about Jesus (John 5:39).
The purpose of Bible study isn’t primarily to expand our knowledge (1 Cor. 8:1). The purpose is to open our eyes to our glorious Savior. Jesus is the object of biblical faith. Knowing him kindles a hope that won’t disappoint. The better we know him, the more radiant our faith and witness for Christ will shine in a dark world. Just look at the Wurmbrands.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV)
Adapted from Little Faith, Big God Copyright © 2020 by Debbie W. Wilson
About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.
Join the conversation: Are there people in your life that have had a big impact on your faith?