A few weeks ago we thought about people who are at a crossroads in their lives. That will surely continue to be a theme for us, but I particularly wanted to focus this week on people who, through illness, exile or some other cause are cut off from all they had once hoped and laboured for – as well as for the people of Greece, who are increasingly isolated and fearful.
We often say how good it would be if we could have more time on our own with God – let’s pray for those who have no choice about the matter! God gave Richard Wurmbrand superhuman grace during more than ten years in a Romanian prison for his faith, three of which were spent in a dungeon thirty feet underground, loaded with heavy chains and manacles and being severely and frequently beaten. Richard had no pen, paper or Bible, nor even the slightest sound or colour to cheer his spirits. Even the guards crept up on him unannounced wearing felt slippers. How does God look and seem to a human soul when absolutely everything is taken away and unbearable pressure is piled on the body mind and spirit?
To keep himself sane during this extreme ordeal Richard composed three hundred and fifty sermons, which he committed to memory by a series of mnemonics and preached out loud day after day. The moment he was set free he poured them out on paper – he was able to recall no fewer than three hundred and forty-eight of these remarkable reflections. They are really worth reading!
I love hearing stories of how God communicates His truth to hungry souls. I recently came across a story I have not heard quite the like of before. Sitting in his cell, a man who had ended up in a Canadian prison prayed, “Lord, if somewhere in the world there is another lonely prisoner who knows You, please bring me his thoughts.” The Lord impressed on this man that He must sit quietly and listen. Miraculously, night after night, he began to hear sermons coming from a long way away, which caused him to repent and come back to the Lord. After his release he discovered Richard’s book Sermons in Solitary Confinement and recognised them as the very messages that he had heard!
The unseen angels to whom Richard Wurmbrand had preached his sermons night after night had transported them far and wide to others who were crying out to God. He received two other letters along identical lines to this.
Many of you will be familiar with his best known books Tortured for Christ and In God’s Underground, but you might wish to sample these remarkable sermons composed under such intense duress by tracking down Sermons from Solitary Confinement and Alone with God. We would also recommend Little Notes which like each other, a book that focused on Christ and helped to heal him of the traumas of Communism.
Going back to the remarkable ministry of angels . . . There are three references in Revelation to a powerful angel flying in mid air. One proclaims the judgements of God (Rev. 8:13), but another “had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people.” (Rev. 14:6) What a wonderful image to savour! God has entrusted to us to the sharing of the gospel, and yet the Host of Heaven are at work too. Someone has had a remarkable vision of a time coming when an angel will proclaim the gospel to the masses who crowd to Medina and Mecca. And how about the great Hindu feasts? We must play our part to the full, but here is hope that all on earth will one day hear the gospel of salvation.
Thank you, Lord, that You kept people like Richard Wurmbrand and Watchmen Nee and so so many others faithful to You in their intense aloneness.
We give You people today, Lord Jesus, who are seemingly cut off from all they hold most dear. Bless, reach and touch them, still more powerfully than in the day when they had full freedom of body and movement. Minister deeply to their spirits, and noise abroad the message they are uniquely qualified to share with others, just as You took the writings of Watchmen Nee during the twenty-five years he was in prison and used them to disciple the Church in China and far beyond. Keep us faithful too we pray. in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Finally, let’s pray for people in countries like Iran who deep down are looking, looking, looking . . . God has many ways to reach those who are feeling depressed and hopeless . . . see this story for instance.