Thursday, April 23, 2015

Free Audiobook: Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

For a limited time Christian Audio is offering the free audiobook, Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. He is the founder of the ministry, Voice of the Martyrs, which provides relief and ministry materials to members of the persecuted church around the world. This is the story of his own experience of persecution under the communist regime in Romania. You can find it here.

About the book:
After years of imprisonment and solitary confinement, enduring inhumane torture, Richard Wurmbrand emerges with a powerful testimony of courageous faith. Even today, believers are suffering and dying for Christ, yet their faith will not falter under the most unthinkable persecutions. In this stirring account, Wurmbrand (founder of The Voice of the Martyrs) encourages us to remember those in chains and equips us to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
About the author:
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand is an evangelical minister who endured fourteen years of Communist imprisonment and torture in his homeland of Romania. Few names are better known in Romania, where he is one of the most widely recognized Christian leaders, authors, and educators. In 1945, when the Communists seized Romania and attempted to control the churches for their purposes, Richard Wurmbrand immediately began an effective vigourous "underground" ministry to his enslaved people as well as the invading Russian soldiers. He was arrested in 1948, along with his wife, Sabina. His wife was a slave-laborer for three years on the Danube Canal. Richard Wurmbrand spent three years in solitary confinement, seeing no one but his Communist torturers. He was then transferred to a group cell, where the torture continued for five more years. Due to his international stature as a Christian leader, diplomats of foreign embassies asked the Communist government about his safety and were informed that he had fled Romania. Secret police, posing as released fellow-prisoners, told his wife of attending his burial in the prison cemetery. His family in Romania and his friends abroad were told to forget him because he was dead. After eight-and-a-half years in prison, he was released and immediately resumed his work with the Underground Church. A couple of years later, in 1959, he was re-arrested and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Mr. Wurmbrand was released in a general amnesty in 1964, and again continued his underground ministry. Realizing the great danger of a third imprisonment, Christians in Norway negotiated with the Communist authorities for his release from Romania. The Communist government had begun "selling" their political prisoners. The "going price" for a prisoner was $1,900; there price for Wurmbrand was $10,000. In May 1966, he testified before the U.S. Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee and stripped to the waist to show the scars of eighteen deep torture wounds covering his torso. His story was carried across the world in newspapers throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Wurmbrand was warned in September 1966 that the Communist regime of Romania planned to assassinate him; yet he was not silent in the face of this death threat. Founder of the Christian mission, The Voice of the Martyrs, he and his wife traveled throughout the world establishing a network of over thirty offices that provide relief to the families of imprisoned Christians in Islamic nations, Communist Vietnam, China, and other countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. His message has been, "Hate the evil systems, but love your persecutors. Love their souls, and try to win them for Christ." Pastor Wurmbrand is the author of several books, translated into over sixty languages throughout the world. He has been called the "Voice of the Underground Church." Christian leaders have called him a living martyr and "the Iron Curtain Paul."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Christian Origin of Earth Day

"If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day--or at least I would not have initiated it."
-John McConnell, Jr., credited for the first governmental recognized Earth Day, March 21, 1970

You got it right. The founder of Earth Day was a Christian and he credits Christ as the inspiration for his humanitarian work. Today when I flipped open Vital Magazine I fell upon an article about John McConnell being the founder of Earth Day and his Pentecostal heritage. I remembered seeing the little Google note that Today is Earth Day. I admit that I am a bit ambivalent when it comes to environmentalism and politics. I do believe that we have a God given responsibility to take care of the earth and that we should take it quite seriously (Revelation 11:18). My problem is that I don't trust politicians (i.e. Al Gore promoted a tax on oxygen to preserve the Rain Forrest; when gasoline prices began to rise after 911, Democrats talked about raising the price high enough to greatly decrease consumption; etc.) and I don't think caring for the earth implies that we should go back to the horse and buggy days or line the coffers of political hacks. I think McConnell would agree.

As it turns out, McConnell's parents, John S. and Hattie McConnell, are listed as a founding members of the Assemblies of God according to Assemblies of God Heritage Magazine. His father was a traveling Pentecostal evangelist and his grandfather, Theodore Ward McConnell, was present at the Azusa Street Revival.

McConnell distinguishes his purpose for Earth Day as “a climate of peace and justice as a prerequisite for ecological preservation,” rather than the political protest against pollution by Senator Gaylord Nelson who hijacked his idea.

"John McConnell, Jr.’s interest in earth-care developed in part from his own lifelong study of Scripture. He explains his simple logic, stating, 'We love God ... [and therefore should] have an appreciation for his creation.' To clarify and define this logical 'appreciation,' McConnell, Jr. cites Psalm 115:16, 'The earth has been given to the children of men.' He connects this promise to the command in Genesis 1:28, that humanity is to 'subdue' the earth. 'We’re caretakers upon earth.... "Subdue the earth" — I think that meant to take care of it.... In other words, if you take care of it, it’s not going out of control.' McConnell’s call is not for earth worship, but for responsible stewardship of the earth that all people share."

"The cutting edge of freedom and order has often been people with a strong love for Jesus and what he taught." (McConnell, unpublished introduction to The New Covenant, cited in A/G Heritage)

Interview with John McConnell, Jr., Pentecostal founder of Earth Day, AGTV

The Unexpected Roots of Earth Day, Vital Magazine

John McConnell, Jr. and the Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day, Assemblies of God Heritage Magazine

Earth Day, Wikipedia entry

John McConnell, Wikipedia entry

Denver Post Obituaries, Vagabond youth led Earth Day founder John McConnell to life of peace

Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day