“Christianity has become dramatic with us,” wrote Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a leader of the underground church in Communist Romania.
When Christians in free countries win a soul for Christ, the new believer may become a member of a quietly living church. But when those in captive nations win someone, we know that he may have to go to prison and that his children may become orphans. The joy of having brought someone to Christ is always mixed with this feeling that there is a price that must be paid.
When I was still living behind the Iron Curtain, I met a Russian captain. He loved God, he longed after God, but he had never seen a Bible. He had never attended religious services. He had no religious education, but he loved God without the slightest knowledge of Him.
I read to him the Sermon on the Mount and the parables of Jesus. After hearing them, he danced around the room in rapturous joy, proclaiming, ‘What a wonderful beauty! How could I live without knowing this Christ?’ It was the first time that I saw someone jubilating in Christ.
Then I made a mistake. I read to him the passion and crucifixion of Christ, without having prepared him for this. He had not expected it. When he heard how Christ was beaten, how He was crucified, and that in the end He died, he fell in an armchair and began to weep bitterly. He had believed in a Savior and now his Savior was dead! I looked at him and was ashamed that I had called myself a Christian and a pastor, a teacher of others. I had never shared the sufferings of Christ as this Russian officer now shared them. Looking at him was, for me, like seeing Mary Magdalene weeping at the foot of the cross or at the empty tomb.
Then I read to him the story of the resurrection. When he heard this wonderful news, that the Savior arose from the tomb, he slapped his knees, and shouted for joy, ‘He is alive! He is alive!’ Again he danced around the room, overwhelmed with happiness!”
“I said to him, ‘Let us pray!’ He fell on his knees together with me. He did not know our holy phrases. His words of prayer were, ‘O God, what a fine chap You are! If I were You and You were me, I would never have forgiven You Your sins. But You are really a very nice chap! I love You with all my heart.’
“I think that all the angels in heaven stopped what they were doing to listen to this sublime prayer from this Russian officer. When this man received Christ, he knew he would immediately lose his position as an officer, that prison and perhaps death in jail would almost surely follow. He gladly paid the price. He was ready to lose everything.”
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter the Apostle Martyred in Rome, 65 AD
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)