Greetings from southern Hungary!
I came here at the suggestion of a friend who is a pastor in Romania. I am here to help with a children’s summer camp program, so I was prepared to rough it, maybe sleep in a barracks with lots of giggling girls. Instead I’ve found myself welcomed into their home, and tucked into a very cozy room with my own private bathroom, and a door to the beautiful courtyard garden. And in the garden I saw three kittens. As many of you know, my kitty, Boo-Boo died in January, so the sight of kittens in the garden was especially welcoming.
The summer camp is sort of a vacation Bible school day camp at the church. There are probably about 75 children involved and about 30 adults and teens. I was asked to speak to the entire group about who I am and what I do (with translation). So I put together a slide show presentation of simple words and pictures to introduce myself and my ministry. I also brought Prayer Bear, my traveling companion/pillow, and let the children play with him while I spoke.
Just before leaving Milan, I had just finished the book I was reading, and wanted to bring something to read on the plane to Budapest. So I grabbed the book that was at the top of the box marked “books” that I had finally gotten out of storage after a year. It was a book I’ve been meaning to read for a couple of years, but simply never had the time. But, as I’ve noted before, God has a way of putting just the right book in your hand at just the right time. This book is “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand. He wrote it in 1967 about being imprisoned and tortured for 14 years because of his Christian belief—in Communist Romania.
I think I had avoided it before because I didn’t really want to read details about torture. But the book actually has very few details about torture because Pastor Wurmbrand wrote:
The tortures were sometimes horrible. I prefer not to speak too much about those through which I have passed; it is too painful. When I do, I cannot sleep at night.
So what is the book about, if not torture? It’s about the Underground Church behind the Iron Curtain, when atheism was forced upon the population. The Underground Church actually thrived on some of the very tactics used to quench the Christian faith, which makes this a very good read, indeed.
And as I spend these days with the precious Hungarian children, I find myself thanking God over and over again that they are allowed to learn about Jesus. Their grandparents were not allowed to “infect” their children with Christianity, though their own faith was sometimes tolerated. At age nine, Pastor Wurmbrand’s son was essentially “orphaned” by his parents’ imprisonment. He was homeless and alone. The people who dared to help him or take him in were eventually found out and thrown into prison, too.
I think the knowledge that his son was on his own in the world at such a young age probably was as bad as any physical torture he suffered at the time. His son eventually became the first director of Voice of the Martyrs. You can find out more about the organization, and how you can help persecuted Christians around the world at: www.persecution.com.
Talk about non-conformists!