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Release International has reached a significant milestone – the 50th year of its ministry in serving persecuted Christians around the world.

‘Since 1968, the prayers and gifts of supporters throughout the UK and Ireland have helped thousands of Christians who are persecuted for their faith,’ says Release CEO Paul Robinson. ‘For this we are truly humbled – and deeply grateful to God.

‘This year many thousands of believers will continue to pay a high price for following their Lord and Saviour. That’s why our ministry – inspired by the life of Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand – is needed more than ever.’

Release is marking its 50th anniversary by making a fresh call for action on persecution, and using the opportunity to communicate its vision for transformational Christian discipleship.

‘This significant milestone enables us to open up a dynamic national conversation about persecution issues,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘We continue to be moved by the defiant and passionate ministry of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. His inspiration is as fresh as ever.’

Richard Wurmbrand, a Christian from a Jewish background, was imprisoned in Romania for 14 years and subjected to frequent torture. Yet he refused to renounce his faith.

He continued to preach after he was released and was sentenced again to a further 25 years. In 1965, Norwegian Christians ransomed him from jail and in 1968 his life and work inspired the founding of Christian Mission to the Communist World. This became Release International in 1992.

Pastor Wurmbrand is best known for his inspiring yet brutal autobiography, Tortured for Christ, in which he called on churches in the free world to intervene on behalf of persecuted Christians.

He urged believers to ‘take a message to the free Christians of the world’. That message was simple: ‘Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters in captive nations!’

‘This courageous pastor’s call to action is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘We are all members of one church. If that church is persecuted, then all are persecuted. We stand together, both locally and globally. We, who live in relative safety and protection, have a duty to help our persecuted brothers and sisters on the frontlines of faith.’

Richard Wurmbrand made eight clear pleas for believers to take action.

  1. Give us the tools we need.
  2. Christians can help by protesting publicly.
  3. Pray for persecutors that they may be saved.
  4. Bibles are urgently needed.
  5. Join hands with members of the underground church and give them the financial means to travel with the gospel.
  6. Broadcast the gospel.
  7. When a Christian goes to prison, and often to torture or death, the suffering only begins. The family suffers endlessly. We can and must help them.
  8. Ask your pastors and church leaders what is being done in your name to help your brothers and sisters.

In the words of Pastor Wurmbrand: ‘Our persecuted family, often alone and without help, are waging the greatest spiritual battle. Would you hear their message: “Remember us, help us, don’t abandon us!”‘

To mark its anniversary, Release has unveiled a new logo which makes prominent it’s calling to be the voice of persecuted Christians.

Details of how you can sign up for the anniversary pledge to stand by persecuted Christians in 2018 are on the Release International website.

Through its international network of missions UK-based Release International serves persecuted Christians by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners and their families, supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.