The Words of the Marshall Family
In the theological atmosphere of the Western churches where the "death of God" is often mourned, and the power of spirit regarded as fantasy, the heroic example of the persecuted Christians of Russia, Eastern Europe, China and North Korea, comes as a breath of fresh air. It has been conveyed to us particularly through the experience of Pastor Wurmbrand who languished for fourteen years in a communist prison in Rumania, tortured, starved, and in solitary confinement for years at a stretch. Right from the beginning of his conversion to Christianity from the Jewish faith of his ancestors, the living power of God shows itself at work. A pious tailor in a Rumanian village had through his life one request above all others to make of God, that before he died he should bring a Jew to Christ. But this was impossible as no Jews lived in or near his village, and he, for his part, had never left it. Impossible that is, until Richard Wurmbrand was lead to that village....
And he exposes the communist regimes for what they are, the implacable enemies of this new-found life and power. The truth about these countries is now being revealed on a considerable scale. The works of the Russians Solzhenitsyn and Marchenko for example are now showing how labor camps for large numbers of political prisoners continue to exist, long after Khrushchev had convinced the West that they were no more. These writers tell of the trivial offences for which people are interned -- a legal assault on free expression; they tell of terrible physical conditions and the persistent efforts to degrade and break the human spirit.
However, it is form a Christian viewpoint, from a standpoint of spiritual values that the great danger threatening the world from this quarter can be most sharply perceived. For spiritual ideals are the very antithesis of the materialism which the communist regimes take as their watchword. Soviet torturers feel no scruple, since to their minds a victim is simply a lump of matter to be fashioned into a horrible new shape. Lenin avidly learnt all that Pavlov could teach him about dogs, so that he could apply it to men. And the Rumanians have refined the techniques still further at the notorious prison in Piteshti, applying them to large bodies of men. By torturing and conditioning they bring Christians to turn against, betray and finally torture their fellow Christians. They not only oppose what is often pigeon-holed conveniently as "religion" but they aim to destroy human comradeship and love, even separating Christian parents from their children.
The rising tide is not stopping there. It is already lapping at the feet of other nations and eroding their spiritual foundations. Laurent; Beria, Stalin's chief of the secret police, wrote that the way to talk over a country was to attack its youth through drugs, alcohol and pornography, undermining national pride and loyalty and pretending that this road leads to true freedom. The seed has taken root in the West. Jerry Rubin, the American Yippee leader boasts, "We've combined youth, music, sex, drugs and rebellion with treason -- and that's a combination hard to beat." What most disheartened, Wurmbrand, in the face of all this, was the equivocating response of Western Church leaders. The guardians of the values on which our freedom rests had of ten ceased to expose evil or to accuse Satan. They had become politicians and diplomats and were no more servants of God or man.
Their attitude has been reflected at every level. Enjoying the greatest freedom, Western Christians have often been lukewarm. No longer the light of the world, the churches have emptied. However, spiritual revival is already beginning in this country and in it we can take great inspiration and practical example from those Christians in the East who have really had to live out their faith completely or not at all, since they have never enjoyed the freedom of the West. For them doctrine and theology are not so important as the lived love of Christ. When under torture, Wurmbrand said that the trinity, justification by faith and all the other doctrines were rapidly swallowed by the mists of pain. The only light that remained was the personal experience he had had of Christ's love. Beliefs are only stepping-stones towards our knowledge of the heart of God.
If we have never taken those steps how can our love shine out under persecution? And if, at the last, we fall, what use will all the discussion and argument over belief have been? Religious unity will never come through pieces of paper produced by theologians around a table, however learned they may be. It will only come through a great desire of man to know and love the heart of God and to serve Him. This is what has happened in the communist countries where persecution has drawn all churches together. There are not enough Bibles to go round, let alone any works of theology, and when Satan is so aggressive there is no time to waste doing his work for him through arguing about beliefs.
Instead there exists a bond of heart based on the living witness of all Christians. Their zeal and sacrifice have been tremendous. Two Christians in Rumania pushed through a crowd at a public meeting to witness to Premier Gheorghiu Dej, knowing they faced certain imprisonment. A foolhardy waste you might think, but the logic of the spirit is different from that of the physical mind. A seed had been planted, and in his dying days Gheorghiu Dej was converted to Christianity. Even new converts, sometimes ex-communist party members, are ready to make the highest sacrifices for witnessing their faith. Because their faith is living, they long to feed it to those who are spiritually dead or starving. Among many Russians, Wurmbrand found a great longing for -- they knew not that -- until they learnt of God and Christ terms and concepts meant nothing to them; yet the desire to know God was present and the Christians ministered to it no matter what the cost.
In this country, indeed in every country of the Western world there is the same hunger -- where is the commitment and zeal that ministers to it? Yet this is the real battle, the world war being fought at present. There is a vacuum in the secret places of the souls of many, at the centers of nations. This vacuum must be filled either by God or by Satan. The battle is a spiritual one, but its results will be hard physical reality, as hard as the floor of a cell. This may seem strange for a nation where, for the most part, philosophy and religion are aired amid the coffee cups, when we have withdrawn from the "real" world. However, it is true. •The freedom and justice we enjoy stand on spiritual values. Much of it was gained by men in the seventeenth century who actually did fight for spiritual ideals, and it is what is at stake at present.
In a battle, you will not receive much thanks for criticizing the plans of your generals without producing constructive alternatives. So we cannot go far just by criticizing the weakness of the Western churches. As the whole of the Christian experience is centered on the resurrected Christ, we should look to the spiritual re-awakening of the West. Before Wurmbrand crossed the Iron Curtain, hardly anyone thought of this problem. Now, consciences have been stirred, but what can we do? We need to advance a positive, Godly ideal, which is higher and sturdier then any ideology of atheistic materialism.
Over fifteen years ago in Korea a great religious leader, Mr. Sun Myung Moon, showed such a way of answering communism, after invasion, war, and enemy occupation of half the land had scarred the nation. He has propagated spiritual truth in a most dynamic fashion bringing a practical knowledge of God as our Father, and a most immediate experience of His love, many thousands who were lost before. In this way, Korea, a meeting-place of almost all the world's great religions, has, over the past few years, quietly become a focus of religious unity in its profound and true sense. A lesson to teach those who realize they are a under attack and are looking for weapons with which to fight. Where there is such a true love for God, and so for His creation, great physical changes can take place. Mr. Moon has revolutionized the extent of fulfilment and purpose to be found in the family unit, in village life, in an industrial factory and even in the Korean army, all on the basis of our individual personal and collective relationship with God. Those who have been inspired by him show a new understanding of the ideals behind a life used for God, and a high example of true Christianity in practical expression.
Where this happens there is no room for the insidious subversion of a Beria. As Mr. Moon himself says,
"We don't have to preach against Communism; we just preach God. If God becomes a reality in one's life, there is no room for Communism."