“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:44 NIV)
Released from his Communist prison in 1965, and urged to leave his beloved country, Richard Wurmbrand did so reluctantly. He and his wife Sabina eventually emigrated to the U.S. In May of 1966, the Romanian pastor was invited to testify before a joint Congressional committee.
Before the TV cameras, Richard Wurmbrand spoke of his experience as a prisoner under Communism’s rule. He concluded his testimony by removing his shirt to reveal the deep scars covering his back. More eloquent than words were Wurmbrand’s wounds.
I conclude that it is unlikely that Dr. John Walvoord, then President of Dallas Seminary (DTS), viewed his Christian brother’s testimony. If he and his fellow theologians had watched and listened, they would have surely realized their error and altered their “escape the tribulation” position. How could anyone maintain Christians will avoid great distress when scars from fourteen years of torture and pain revealed otherwise?
What if Richard Wurmbrand was invited to sit among Dr. Walvoord’s DTS students as he lectured on his Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine? Would the Doctor’s presentation convince Rev. Wurmbrand that the horrors of Communist prison were not tribulation or persecution? What about Watchman Nee’s response to Dr. Walvoord’s lecture–that is had the great Christian mind survived Chairman Mao’s Communist persecution and then been invited?
Throughout the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Dr. Walvoord continued writing and lecturing. He spoke to theologically-friendly congregations on the Church’s imminent escape from tribulation. Meanwhile, as “the voice of the underground church”, Richard Wurmbrand was authoring and speaking to a range of believers as well.
The two men’s audience represents disparate parts of Christianity. Walvoord’s segment of Protestantism repeats the mantra that they will avoid tribulation in the rapture, that the Antichrist will be revealed after they leave this earth. Wurmbrand’s listeners are under no such illusion.
The Wurmbrand’s made a promise to fellow-believers at home: They would come to the West in order to tell of the sacrifices for the Gospel being made behind the Iron Curtain. Their newsletter, now known as “The Voice of the Martyrs”, was a result of that promise. Richard Wurmbrand’s ministry has had great impact on awakening the Church to support those willing to serve the Lord in difficult and dangerous places. The martyrs say, “Give us the Bibles and Christian materials; we will take the risks.” As a result of Rev. Wurmbrand’s legacy, many are receiving Jesus in areas hostile to Christian evangelism.
Dr. Walvoord’s message has had much influence on Christian radio, books, magazines and movies, as well as Christian TV. For Walvoord’s and his disciple’s efforts, American denominations and churches of all sizes have adopted a Dispensational “any moment rapture” statement of faith.
If only those who make up this segment of popular Christianity would honor this Sunday, November 1’s “National Persecuted Christian Day.” Maybe the voice of one brave, scarred martyr would change their opinion. Perhaps then the Church in America would unite then prepare to join our persecuted brothers and sisters.