Border police surveying the landscape
Border police surveying the landscape

Praying for Hiddenness

"When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,
but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day
and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and
let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket."
Acts 9:23-25 ESV

It may seem odd that one way we can intercede for persecuted believers is by praying for their ministry activities to remain undetected by authorities and those who wish them harm. Yet, in Matthew 5:16, Jesus teaches: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” So how can Christians let their lights shine and be hidden simultaneously?

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand wrote: “In Muslim nations, in Red China, and so on, many believers have become victims. Many have gone into prisons, and many have died in prison. We cannot be proud of this. The better thing would have been to be so well-instructed on how to do underground work and not to be captured…. I admire those who know how to work so well that they are not caught.”1

These are incredible words from someone who had been imprisoned for his underground missionary activities in Communist Romania. Pastor Wurmbrand was, in fact, arrested twice and suffered a total of 14 years in prison. With this experience in mind, Pastor Wurmbrand called church leaders, regardless of their geographical locations, to prepare their congregations for a martyr’s life. The martyr’s life demands that each Christian die to self and to the world for the glory of God to be revealed through their faithful witness.

However, such hiddenness is not so much about personal safety and security (although we can and should pray for these things) but rather the divine protection and preservation of the Gospel message – that there is one Lord, whose name is Jesus, “the Saviour of the world.” This truth must be proclaimed whether one is free or bound, for God's "Light” shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

In his autobiography, Tortured for Christ, Pastor Wurmbrand wrote: “Persecution has always produced a better Christian – a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.”2 At the same time, Christians in free lands struggle to comprehend how one can remain undetected and yet seek to lead every soul to Christ. The greater the risks one takes, the more significant the potential of detection. Would Pastor Wurmbrand consider those who have been caught witnessing for Christ a disappointment? Did he consider himself a failure because he was imprisoned and tortured for his faith? Was the only victorious Christian the one who evaded detention while leading souls to Christ?

Smugglers cross a stream
Photo: VOM International

Pastor Wurmbrand believed every disciple of Jesus should be so well-trained that they go unnoticed while engaging in the ministry of the underground church. While he believed a Christian’s ultimate safety was in the will of God, he also thought that Christians must be prepared to accept the risks of ministering in oppressive nations. Just as soldiers receive training in survival, evasion, resistance and escape, Pastor Wurmbrand desired Christians to be trained with these same techniques. His hope was not that Christians avoid imprisonment for as long as possible, but that they would remain undetected in order to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once in prison, their mission did not change, as many arrested believers remained dedicated followers of Christ and led fellow prisoners, as well as their persecutors, to faith in Him. However, Pastor Wurmbrand still believed the most significant potential to grow the church took place outside of prison.

One such example is Andrew van der Bijl, the founder of Open Doors, otherwise known as “Brother Andrew.” His story is written in the book, God’s Smuggler. Brother Andrew dedicated his life to the smuggling of Bibles into Communist countries by the carload; and time and time again, God blinded the eyes of border guards. God used Brother Andrew mightily to comfort and encourage persecuted Christians, protecting his work and activities from those who would have arrested him for his “illegal” ministry. This work equipped persecuted believers to share God’s Holy Word with others in their countries who needed Christ’s salvation. Brother Andrew said, “In the years of living this life of faith, I have never known God’s care to fail.”3

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand delivers me.”

Psalm 138:7 ESV

Our supplication, therefore, is that cross-bearing messengers, like Brother Andrew, advance undetected by authorities and those who wish to silence their proclamation of truth. Today, millions of Christians live in lands that are hostile to the Gospel. You may never know all of their names or stories here on earth. And while they might not be as famous as Brother Andrew, these men and women demonstrate the same courage and boldness to proclaim the Gospel faithfully. Please remember our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters daily in prayer as they seek to serve as Godly witnesses for Christ Jesus through their dedicated lives.

“In the shadow of the cross, blessed place!
Living only for the Lord, by His grace;
What He says I’ll gladly do,
Ever standing firm and true,
In the shadow of the cross, blessed place!

“In the shadow of the cross I will rest,
For with everlasting peace I am blest;
Here I dwell in love unknown,
Streaming down from heaven’s throne,
In the shadow of the cross I will rest.”4

Oh, Lord, hear our prayer.

Floyd (signature)
Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada Inc.

1 Richard Wurmbrand, Preparing for the Underground Church
2 Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ, pg. 116-117
3 Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler, Open Doors International
4 Hymn, In the Shadow of the Cross, by William J. Henry and Clara McAlister Brooks

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