IN OUR FIFTIETH YEAR, PASTOR RICHARD WURMBRAND’S PASSIONATE PLEA CONTINUES TO INSPIRE OUR MINISTRY TO SERVE CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD.
DON’T ABANDON THEM!
This year supporters and friends of Release have a significant opportunity to remember the contribution that our partners have made to alleviate suffering from persecution – and to communicate our vision of hope and passionate transformational Christian discipleship for the future.
Fifty years is a significant milestone and an opportunity to offer praise and thanks to God. So we hope that you will join us this year in thanking God for His great mercy and faithfulness.
We are excited because our anniversary enables us and our supporters to open a dynamic, national conversation with Christians in the UK and Ireland about persecution issues worldwide
– inspired by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s passionate and defiant ministry (see below).
‘Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters’
In the past 50 years many thousands of Christians have been helped in numerous countries. Throughout this year we will revisit our past, share inspirational stories and relate them to the present to make the voice of our persecuted family ring out loudly.
After his release from prison in communist Romania, and subsequent escape to the West, Pastor Wurmbrand urged fellow believers to ‘take a message to the free Christians of the World’. That message was clear and simple:
‘Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters in captive nations!’
Christians stand together as the one body of Christ, both locally and globally. Christians in the UK and Ireland are therefore also members of the persecuted church. We who live in relative safety, protected by the law, in a generous, peaceful, inclusive society, have a duty in faith to help persecuted Christians, and to aid those who are oppressed, victimised, attacked, abused and imprisoned overseas.
Richard was imprisoned for 14 years, and today there are still thousands of Christians in prison for their faith in Jesus. So his call to action is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.
Throughout 2018 we will be marking our 50th anniversary by using our new logo.
A LIFE OF LOVE
RICHARD WURMBRAND (1909-2001)
1945: Communists seize power in Romania. Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand (pictured), both Christians from a Jewish background, set up an underground church to minister to the people and the invading Russian Red Army.
1948: Secret police abduct Richard and lock him in solitary confinement. He is to spend a total of 14 years in prison, where he is tortured regularly and given mind-altering drugs. He refuses to renounce his faith.
1956-59: Richard is released in 1956. He is warned never to preach again, but resumes his ministry. In 1959 he is re-arrested and sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.
1965: The Wurmbrands are ransomed for $10,000 by a group of Norwegian Christians. The family travels to the West, and Richard’s story spreads rapidly.
1966: The Wurmbrands come to England and start their ministry in the West. While testifying before a subcommittee of the US Senate, Richard strips to the waist to show 18 deep torture wounds.
His autobiography Tortured for Christ is published. Many thousands hear Richard preach on his speaking tours.
1968: The Rev W. Stuart Harris founds Christian Mission to the Communist World, the organisation which becomes Release International in 1992.
2000-01: Sabina Wurmbrand passes to glory in August 2000, followed by Richard in February 2001.
RICHARD WURMBRAND’S 8 PLEAS
In his autobiography Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand called on the Western Church (which he defined as churches not under threat of persecution) to intervene on behalf of persecuted Christians.
He made eight clear pleas to believers in ‘unrestricted’ countries to help, remember and take action.
‘GIVE US THE TOOLS WE NEED.’
Richard Wurmbrand was concerned about the growth of the church in persecuted environments. His overriding message was for Christians in the free world to give their persecuted family what they need to continue to flourish in hostile and restricted countries.
Such tools may include proper clothing, food, vehicles, printing, communication, duplication, office equipment, discipleship and evangelistic materials in written, audio, or video formats, training, and other such items relating to ministry.
‘CHRISTIANS CAN HELP BY PROTESTING PUBLICLY.’
Giving a voice to persecuted believers has been, and remains, a key part of our ministry. In response to the requests of partners, we regularly raise issues that are important to them, through petitions, letter-writing and meeting people of influence. Your help is invaluable.
In 2018 we will continue to pray for persecuted Christians – but also to pray for their persecutors. Richard Wurmbrand said that persecutors are ‘as much our neighbours as anyone else’.
This year we begin a special year of prayer, #PRAY50, to encourage you to pray for the persecutors every week, with regular information available from our website and via social media.
‘BIBLES ARE URGENTLY NEEDED.’
Many countries experience ‘Bible poverty’. Richard Wurmbrand was also concerned to produce engaging materials to help young people grow in the Lord. Release has a number of initiatives focused on getting the Bible in various formats into the hands of those with little access to the Scriptures
‘JOIN HANDS WITH MEMBERS OF THE UNDERGROUND CHURCH AND GIVE THEM THE FINANCIAL MEANS TO TRAVEL ABOUT WITH THE GOSPEL.’
We need to help persecuted Christians withstand persecution. To do that we need to fund pastors to strengthen their communities and provide much-needed pastoral care. We already support many Christian pastors in-country to preach and travel to spread the Gospel.
‘WE MUST BROADCAST THE GOSPEL.’
Richard Wurmbrand considered the use of radio to be the key to broadcasting the Gospel into restricted and hostile nations. It still is. Today we also support projects using satellite TV, and web-based and social media. We will continue to support broadcasting the Gospel into restricted and hostile communities throughout 2018, as Richard asked us to do.
‘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.’
Richard Wurmbrand was a prisoner for 14 years and was very aware that the families of prisoners suffer unbearable anguish, discrimination and continued persecution.
In 2018 we will launch a new Release Christian Martyrs’ Day and set up a relief fund to help families of Christian martyrs who live in poverty and need practical help and support.
‘ASK YOUR PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS WHAT IS BEING DONE IN YOUR NAME TO HELP YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.’
Our persecuted family, often alone and without help, are waging the greatest spiritual battle of the 21st century, equal to the heroism, courage and dedication of the early church. Will you hear their cry:
‘Remember us. Help us. Don’t abandon us!’
PLEASE SIGN OUR ANNIVERSARY PLEDGE CARD
Click here to download, print and sign our 50th Anniversary Pledge Card as part of your commitment to persecuted Christians, then send by FREEPOST to our Release office. You can also email your response to IWillNotAbandonThem@releaseinternational.org. Please print off as many cards as you like to share with all your Christian friends.
‘Remember us. Help us. Don’t abandon us!’
Visit the Pray for the Persecutors page here. New prayers will be added weekly. Thank you for praying for the persecutors