Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Merry Christmas, 2017

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).

Glory to God in the Highest and Peace and Goodwill Towards Men*

 

At this time of the year there is much anticipation in the air. Children can’t wait to be done with school for a while and have a nice break. Of course, the main object of their anxious waiting is Christmas!

Moms and Dads are filled with anticipation of the happy Christmas morning when they can see their children’s eyes light up when they come into the family room and see the beautiful tree and all of the presents.

These are wonderful traditions. I pray that at this Christmas everyone will take time out and remember that the One that they should be anticipating is the Lord Jesus Christ. The presents under the tree are fun, but the best gift ever is from our Heavenly Father.

Our best gift is the Savior Who can give us a better life and an eternal home with Him.

In Luke’s Gospel we encounter the story of the Savior’s birth along with many details surrounding it. Luke gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people who would be special in the life of the baby Jesus. Last Christmas, we talked about His mother Mary. This Christmas it seems appropriate to talk about a relative of Mary’s family, Elizabeth.

Who was this woman and why was she so special that the evangelist Luke should commemorate her story?

We don’t have many details, but what we know is important. Both Elizabeth and her husband, Zacharias, were descended from Aaron (Moses’ brother) and therefore they were both in the priestly line. Therefore, their child, John the Baptist, would be from the priestly line from both sides of his family. John the Baptist was the great prophet who was foretold in the Old Testament who would introduce Jesus at the beginning of the Savior’s ministry. Elizabeth had the privilege to be the mother of this great person.

Elizabeth understood that God had chosen her for a special task. Like some of the other women we have studied, such as Sarah and Hannah, Elizabeth was childless for a long time. In Jewish society barrenness was both embarrassing and humiliating. It was assumed that the woman had disobeyed God somehow and was being punished with childlessness. Elizabeth responded to God’s blessing by praising Him. “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men” (Luke 1:25). Of course we know that God has His own purposes for how He deals with us. The stories of these women are a great encouragement to those who are suffering misfortunes in their lives.

We are told specifically that sinfulness was NOT the reason for Elizabeth’s condition. Luke tells us that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of he Lord” (Luke 1:6). The Father was merely waiting until the time was right to bless Elizabeth with motherhood. God’s timing is perfect; He was also about to visit Mary the future mother of Jesus. These women were relatives.

After Mary became pregnant with Jesus she went to visit Elizabeth. A wonderful thing happened. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Even her unborn child recognized the nearness of the Savior of the world. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced saying to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:42-45).

Note especially the last verse, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Elizabeth believed and was blessed.
This year as we anticipate the wonderful Christmas season, my prayer is that all will believe and be blessed. Jesus is the Son of God the Most High Who will reign forever; His kingdom will have no end.
A blessed Christmas to you and your families.

  • I posted this story on Elizabeth 5 years ago. At this time in Advent I was meditating on the how we should be looking forward in anticipation to the Second Time that Christ will come to earth. I couldn’t think of a better way to think about the Lord Jesus than to rediscover the story of the two women who play a part in Jesus’s first coming. A post on Mary will follow in two weeks. God bless you all!

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we have been studying about the wives who supported the Reformers.

In Part 1 we found that Martin Luther claimed that he would not have done so many things without his Katy. John Calvin learned more graciousness and beauty from his wife Idelette.

In Part 2 we learned about wives who carried on the work of their husbands after they became widows. Kahtarina Schutz Zell wrote books and even preached. Wibrandis Rosenblatt, widowed four times, added to the ministry of her Reformation husbands by caring for the poor and the victims of the religious wars.

This week we turn to two other pious wives of the Reformation – Anna Reinhard Zwingli and Anna Adlischweiler Bullinger.

Anna Reinhard (1484 – 1538)

Anna Reinhard Zwingli was actually the first Reformation wife. Like Idelette de Bure, Anna was a young widow when she met Huldrych Zwingli. Her first marriage to John von Knonau ended tragically when he died from poor health leaving her with two children, a son and a daughter. It was her son, Gerold, who actually brought Anna and Huldrych together.

Zwingli, as a priest, came to Zurich in late 1518. Anna and her children would go to hear Zwingli preach. Zwingli noticed that Anna was one of his most attentive listeners. He also noticed that Gerold was a bright and gifted boy and Zwingli took him under his wing. He tutored Gerold until he was around 11 years old and then sent him to Basel where he continued his education. Gerold did well and rose to prominence when he moved to Zurich.

During this time Anna and Huldrych fell in love. They wanted to marry, but priests were not allowed to marry in those days. Anna and Huldrych married in secret in 1522.  When it was discovered it caused a great sensation.

Zwingli addressed Anna as his dearest wife. She was a model minister’s wife, refusing to wear jewelry so that she could feed the poor instead.

All through the hard years when Zwingli was translating the Bible into the Swiss German tongue, Anna stayed up late caring for her husband. He would often read to her from the translation and it became one of Anna’s favorite things. She never tired of hearing the stories from the Bible in her native tongue. When the Bible was completed in 1529 (several years before Luther’s translation appeared in 1534) Zwingli gave Anna a copy. It was her favorite book.

Along with her many hours of toil caring for her husband, Anna also entertained the visitors and friends who came by. Her home was always open to them. Even the town dignitaries praised Anna and Huldrych called her “an angel wife”.

In October, 1531 the Roman Catholic army approached Zurich. Hard as it seems to us today, the people were willing to fight a war for their religious beliefs. Zwingli was ordered to go along with the Reformer’s army as the chaplain. It was a tearful parting for Anna and Huldrych. They prayed together and embraced for what would be the last time. Anna said, “We shall see each other again if the Lord will. His will be done. And what will you bring back when your come?” Zwingli replied, “Blessing after dark night.” They were his last words to her.

The Roman Catholics won the battle and many Reformers died or had to flee. Anna lost Huldrych, her son Gerold, a brother, a cousin, and a fatally wounded son-in-law. Anna could not even give her husband a decent burial because his body had been quartered and burned and its ashes desecrated. Sorrow upon sorrow was heaped on her and yet she was seen at prayer soon after turning to God for comfort.  It was because of this that Anna has been called “the weeping mother of the Reformation.”

Several good friends cared for her and her remaining children. Martin Bucer (Remember him from the last post? He married Wibrandis Rosenblatt in 1542) offered help for her and her family. But it was the Bullingers (see post below) who took Anna in and gave her a new home. Zwingli had left no money for Anna. Heinrich Bullinger provided for Anna’s family, even seeing to the education of the children.

We don’t know much about Anna’s later years. Her oldest daughter, Regula grew into a beautiful and pious woman. Regula married Rudolph Gualther who later became the successor to Zwingli and Bullinger as the head of the Zurich church.

And so like mother, like daughter. Both women are still remembered today for their piety and many Christian graces. Anna was a great example for the many Christian wives to follow.

 

Anna Adlischweiler (1504 – 1564)

Anna Adlischweiler was a nun like Katherine von Bora.  Anna’s father had been killed in battle when she was eight years old. Her mother was poor and in bad health and so she put Anna in a convent. The convent at Oedenbach was also a hospital so Anna’s mother moved in with her.

Around 1522 the council at Zurich decided to send Zwingli into all of the convents to preach the Gospel to the Roman Catholics. Many of the nuns joyfully received the Gospel. Of course they left the convents to get married or find another living. In Oedenbach all but two left, Anna and her sister. Actually Anna became a believer but would not leave so that she could care for her mother.

One day the chaplain of the convent, Leo Juda, brought a young man by the name of Heinrich Bullinger with him when he visited Anna. Heinrich fell in love with the gracious and pious Anna. Heinrich proposed to Anna in a letter. It is actually the oldest existing love letter from a Reformer. It is very long but I will quote part of it from James I. Good’s book on Famous Women of the Reformed Church.

At length in his letter, Heinrich honestly tells all to Anna – he describes his physical and his financial conditions. He then makes his proposal:

But why are many words necessary! The sum of it all is, that the greatest, surest treasure that you will find in me, is fear of God, piety, fidelity and love, which with joy I will show you, and labor, earnestness and industry, which will not be wanting in temporal things. Concerning high nobility and many thousand gulden, I can say nothing to you. But I know that what is necessary to us, will not be wanting. For Paul says, “We brought nothing into the world, and we will take nothing out. Therefore, if we have clothing and food it is enough.”

Ten days later Heinrich received Anna’s reply of acceptance. Anna was very happy, but her mother was opposed to this marriage. Anna postponed the wedding so she could care for her mother until her mother died in 1529. Then in August, 1529, Anna and Heinrich were married.

Much had happened during the years that Anna was in the convent. As mentioned above, war had started. The defeat of Zurich left many Reformers dead. Others fled to safer places. During this war Zwingli, the pastor of the church at Zurich died leaving his wife Anna a widow with children. Heinrich and Anna Bullinger took the Zwingli’s in and gave them a home.

Anna not only cared for all of these others but she and Heinrich had babies almost every year. She eventually had six sons and five daughters. She also took care of her in-laws. Like Katherine von Bora Luther, Anna entertained some of Bullinger’s students.

On top of all of this, in 1556 as a result of the religious wars, 116 refugees fled to Zurich. Anna and Heinrich cared for eighty of them. Bullinger’s salary was not large and Anna often wondered where they would find the money to care for all of the refugees. Somehow she managed; the Lord always provided.

Like Anna Zwingli, Anna Bullinger received the reputation of a ministering angel. In addition to all of the refugees, other prominent foreigners came to her home – Calvin, Farel, Bucer, and Capito.

Anna distributed food, drink, medicine, and clothing to the huts of the poor. Like other Reformed wives, Anna earned the title of “Mother”.

Ever thoughtful of others, putting their needs before her own, Anna nursed her husband during the plague. He got better, but she succumbed. When she died in 1564 all of Zurich mourned for her.

Anna Adlischweiler Bullinger joins the list of the wonderful Wives and Mothers of the Reformation –

Katherine von Bora Luther

Idelette de Bure Calvin

Katharina Schutz Zell

Wibrandis Rosenblatt Bucer

Anna Reinhard Zwingli

We thank the Lord for their graciousness, faithfulness, and godly character.

 

 

 

Churches all over the world have been celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Last week we posted the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Katherine Von Bora Luther and Idelette de Bure Calvin. Luther and Calvin both praised their wives and thanked God for the blessings these remarkable women were to them in their lives.

Speaking of pastor’s wives, two other women made contributions to the Reformation as well. Katharina Schutz Zell was known as the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”. A really interesting woman was Wilibrandis Rosenblatt who was the wife of four men, three of which were pastor’s!!!!

Here are their fascinating stories:

Katharina Schutz Zell (1497 – 1562?)

Katharina Schutz, wife of Matthew Zell, is called the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”.

Katharina married as a young woman; she was 20 years younger than her husband.

When Katharina married Matthew in 1525 the Reformation had begun. The Zells ministered as a team to their congregation. Katharina was a brilliant woman. She had the ability to put Scriptural truths into words for the common people. Katharina became the Reformation’s leading female author. Martin Bucer said that Katharina was “a trifle imperious” but he also said that she was “God-fearing and courageous as a hero.”

In addition to her writing, Katharina enjoyed a happy family life. Her parents and siblings lived nearby. The family was overjoyed when Katharina gave birth to a child in 1526. But sadly the child died in a few months. Katharina struggled to cope with the loss. Matthew and good friends, like Bucer, tried to comfort her. Katharina gave birth again in 1531 but this child died within two years. Katharina began to worry that God was punishing her. She did come to realize that God gives challenges to his children for their spiritual growth. She could rely on her own experiences to sympathize with others. And there were plenty to sympathize with.

During the German Peasants’ War refugees poured into Strasbourg. Katharina helped to organize Strasburg to deal with 3,000 refugees for a period of 6 months. Katharina opened her own home to care for as many as eighty at one time. Katharina cared for these refugees and wrote to their wives, encouraging them to stand firm in their faith.

At various times, Katharina also hosted other Reformers at her home – John Calvin, Oecolampadius, and Zwingli. During a period of persecution for the Reformers, she hid Bucer and Fagius in her home for several weeks until they could escape to England. Like Bucer said, she was a very courageous woman!

Katharina traveled frequently with her husband, unusual in that day. She showed tolerance and concern for Anabaptists and made frequent visits to those who were imprisoned.

Katharina was widowed in 1548, and spoke at Matthew’s funeral. Bucer sent her to Basel to recover from her grief in the home of Myconius, and then to Zurich. When she felt better emotionally, she returned to Strasburg. Her physical health was failing, but not her zeal.

In 1558 she cared for a Magistrate stricken with leprosy, and a nephew with syphilis. She gave an address at a funeral of a wife of a follower of Schwenckfeld shortly before her own death in 1562. There were no other pastors at the funeral so she just did it herself.

Katharina was praised for developing women’s ministries. She also published a book of Psalms for women to sing. She was constantly entertaining and worshipping in her home.

Katharina produced many other works. Some samples of her writings are: On the Priesthood of Believers (1534) which contains an important, relevant truth – “Teach your household to know that they do not serve human beings but God when they faithfully keep house, obey, cook, wash dishes, wipe up and tend children, and such-like work which serves human life, and that they can also turn toward God with the voice of song. And teach them that in doing this, they please God much better than any priest, monk, or nun in the incomprehensible choir song.”

On Christ Alone and Grace Alone (1548 and 1553) – She wrote – “Christ has power to save us from sins, death, and hell, and to give us eternal life. In Him is all salvation, and in no other creature or work in heaven and earth, for no one comes to the Father, or dares to think of coming to Him except through this living Son of God, who should be honored as the Father is. The one who has Him has everything; He is the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, 5:23)

The date of Katharina’s death is uncertain. A letter survives dating to March, 1562. But sometime before she died she had written a letter to a friend summarizing her faith in Christ:

“That is my glory . . . in God and Christ, not in myself. I glory that God the Father gave me the gift of faith in His Son (which is not given to everyone), solely out of His gracious love, without any ability or merit on my part.” (Eph. 2:4-8, 19)

Many thousands came to thank the Lord for Katharina’s faithful service in caring for them. Today we can still be blessed by her writings.

 

Wibrandis Rosenblatt

One of the many women who had a significant impact on the Reformation was Wibrandis Rosenblatt (1504 – 1564). Wibrandis was such a gifted and compassionate woman that four men were ready to marry her in order to have someone who was so intelligent and diligent as a life companion.

Wibrandis lived in Basel, Switzerland. She was the daughter of a knight who was frequently off fighting the Emperor’s wars. She lived in the exciting and challenging times of the Reformation.

Because she had four husbands, all Reformers, she has sometimes been jokingly called “The Merry Widow of the Reformation”.

But, Wibrandis deserves much more respect as a woman who supported the goals of the Reformers. Obviously at least four men noticed her strength and godly character and considered her companionship to be very valuable to them in their lives and work. Each one of Wibrandis’s husbands are famous as Reformers. These great men of God knew that their life’s work would be blessed by having such a wife.

Here are the four husbands:
First, Wibrandis married Ludwig Keller around 1524.This marriage lasted about two years. Wibrandis was widowed in 1526 for the first time. During this marriage Wibrandis had one child.

Next, she married Johannes Oecolampadius. Oecolampadius was an older man, probably around 45 years old. He was sickly, but they had three children together before he died leaving her a widow again in 1531.

After this, Wibrandis came to the notice of Wolfgang Capito who had been widowed himself and was still grieving. He took comfort in such a godly woman as Wibrandis and they were married in 1532.  They had five children together before he succumbed to the plague and died in 1541.

Lastly, Wibrandis married the very famous Martin Bucer in 1542. During Reformation times life was often dangerous. Martin and Wibrandis Bucer had to flee to England at one time to save their lives. During this marriage Wibrandis had two more children and they also adopted a child. In 1549 Martin died leaving her a widow for the fourth time.

Wibrandis moved back to Strasbourg with her family. She then relocated to Basel where one of her sons was studying theology. The plague was still rampant and it claimed her as one of its victims in 1564. She was buried next to her second husband. Wibrandis is remembered not only for being such a fine and gifted wife and mother, but also for her years of hospitality. She was always willing to open her home to the less fortunate. In addition to caring for her large family she nursed her mother.

She is truly a model for Christian wives everywhere.

 

 

This week churches all over the world are celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Everywhere you look you can find materials with the story of Dr. Luther and many of the other Reformers. Most of these pioneering men were married to equally brave wives.

This week we will focus on the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Here are their stories:

Katharine Von Bora Luther

Katherine came from a noble family of Boras. We don’t know too much about her childhood, except that her mother died when she was 5 or 6. She was then sent to a Benedictine cloister. She received a good education there, and then at age 9 or 10 she went to a Cistercian convent in Nimbschen. When she was 16, she took the nun’s veil. During her 20 years at the convent she learned self-sufficiency, discipline, religious habits, singing, and the art of prayer and reading Scripture. She learned Latin. This would prove very important in her life where God was leading her.  She was an excellent reader and somehow obtained the writings of Luther which she read. She was convinced and converted.

On Easter Sunday night in 1523, in a plan masterminded by Luther, 12 nuns escaped from the cloister with the help of a city councilor named Leonard Koppe. Abducting nuns was a capital crime, so Mr. Koppe helped them escape secretly in a fish wagon. When they got to the town where they were going, they had to marry quickly or try to work on their own. Luther helped them all to find respectable jobs or husbands. All except Katherine.

Katherine had befriended a man whom she wished to marry, but his family would not accept an ex-nun. She was heartbroken. Luther tried to match her with someone else; she refused that man.

Finally, in 1525 he decided to please his parents and irritate the pope and the devil by “getting married with the last ex-nun available in town.” Some people rejoiced in the marriage; others were scandalized. This was not just because it was Luther, but because clergy were only just beginning to get married.

Katherine and Martin had six children of their own. Sadly, two died in childhood. Katherine also cared for six or seven nieces and nephews, and four orphans, along with many others who came under her roof.

Katherine’s home was a Pastor’s and professor’s home, and she set the standard for reformer’s wives. Her convent training enabled her to help Luther run a boarding school for theology students, a hostel for visitors and occasionally her house was turned into a hospital, receiving refugees, providing meals and beds for all, and finding money to cover all the costs. She also made tasty beer.

Katherine managed to finance all of this by raising vegetables and fruit. She raised animals, fished, baked bread, and brewed beer. She increased their wealth by buying land. As an aristocrat, she understood the value of land and talked Luther into buying

two farms and two orchards.

Katherine enjoyed participating in “table talks.” She knew enough Latin and Scripture to join in, much to the annoyance of some at the table who thought her behavior inappropriate for a woman. Apparently though, Luther made no effort to stop her.
     While Katherine was submissive to her husband, it is certain that she contributed much to his ministry.  She certainly helped with his understanding of marriage, love, gender roles, and family life. Martin Luther became a model father, teaching and playing with his children. Katherine remains a model of  the ideal Christian woman.

 

Idelette de Bure Calvin

Not a lot is known about Idelette. Her first marriage was to Jean Strodeur and she had 3 children with him. He died tragically leaving her a widow to raise the children on her own.

When John Calvin decided to marry, he put together a committee in Strasburg (where he had gone in exile from Geneva) to find him a wife. Their attempts failed several times. It seemed that John might remain single.

Then John noticed Idelette, a widow with 3 children. She had a godly character. John realized that she was the widow of the former Anabaptist that he had converted. She was strong in her faith and John knew that she would make a good wife.

 

Their marriage would last nine years, though they both were frequently ill. Further complications arose from family members of his that did not like her, producing periods of family strife.

Idelette and John had two children but one child of theirs died while an infant and she miscarried another. In the process, Calvin, who spoke little of his married life, was deeply touched.

Their relationship softened his heart as a pastor. When she died, he did not remarry, though he would return to Geneva for fifteen more years of reforming work. Idelette’s contribution to the Reformation should not be underestimated. As a wife she helped John Calvin to understand many things about ministering to people that he would have otherwise missed.

 

 

 

In the next few weeks we will talk about some other godly women who contributed to the Reformation through their work with their husbands.

 

 

 

 

This week I watched a beautiful production of the life of Lilias Trotter.

Video:
“Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter:

Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson

Original Music:  Sleeping at Last

This video was released in 2015 by Oxvision and is 70 minutes long.

Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

I am going to do a full post on the life of Lilias Trotter in the near future. In the meantime, her story is beautifully told in the video. Below is the description from the video, since I could not improve on their summary.

Description (from the DVD):

Could you give up a dream to pursue your true calling? That’s exactly what Lilias Trotter did.  The documentary Many Beautiful Things shares her life story, explaining the heart-wrenching decision she made to give up comfort and potential fame in Victorian England to serve women and children in Northern Africa.

Lilias was a gifted artist who found favor in the eyes of respected art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin mentored Lilias in her artistic endeavors, seeing such potential that he claimed her work could be “immortal.”  She wrestled mightily with the decision, but eventually moved to French Algeria to share God’s love with the people there—a choice that was almost unheard of for a single woman of that time.

This artistically produced documentary uses Lilias’s paintings and journal entries to share her story. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) provides the voice of Lilias Trotter and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) portrays John Ruskin in this 70-minute documentary. The DVD also includes special features, such as “behind the scenes” with Michelle Dockery and a theatrical trailer.

 

Commentary:

I was so entranced by Lilias Trotter’s life and vision that I researched where one could find more about her including some of her drawings on the Web.

You can get a Miriam Huffman Rockness’s biography, “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter” on Amazon.com. You can also get books containing reprints of her many inspirational drawings.

There are many places available where you can find prints of her inspirational drawings. I purchased a beautiful print on wood from:

FineArtAmerica.com

Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand: The Underground Pastor and His Wife

Produced by the Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs

Distributed by Vision Video
50 minutes

 

The story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand is very moving. While some say that it is “out of date” because the Soviet empire has come down, the story of Christian persecution is just as real today as it ever was.

 

Thousands of Christians are dying each year in Muslim countries and many other places. Please subscribe to “Voice of the Martyrs” newsletter and read the stories monthly of the brave Christians who will suffer torture and/or death rather than deny their Savior.[1] Give thanks to God for your freedom.

The video tells the story brilliantly. There is great narration, wonderful pictures, live interviews with their son, Mihai, and above all film footage of testimony from Richard and Sabina. The Wurmbrands relate the horror of their experiences at the same time as they praise God for seeing them through the torture. Their testimony is a wonderful inspiration to all. Both Richard and Sabina were able to show the love of Christ in the ultimate way – by forgiving their torturers.

Here is some background to the story:

Sabina Oster Wurmbrand was born on July 10, 1913 in Czernowitz in what was then called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today her country is known as Romania.

Sabina was born into a Jewish family. She was very intelligent. After graduating from high school in Czernowitz she attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she studied languages.

In 1936, at the age of 23, she met Richard Wurmbrand who was also born in a Jewish family. Richard and Sabina were soon married. In their early lives they sought to live the high life. They were virtually atheists. God was nowhere on their radar screens.

Then a miracle happened. While spending time in the mountains of Romania they came to Christ. They joined the Anglican church. Richard eventually was ordained as an Anglican minister. They were both on fire for Christ and began a successful ministry witnessing for Christ in Romania.

During WWII Sabina’s Jewish parents, two sisters, and one brother were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Richard and Sabina rescued many Jewish children from the ghettos where the Nazi’s were forcing the Jews to live. They also spent a lot of time in underground bomb shelters teaching the Bible.

They had a son, Mihai (Michael) during this time.

At the end of WWII the Russians poured into Eastern European countries. They forced everyone into communism. The communists took control of the churches and attempted to use them for propaganda purposes. They organized a “Congress of Cults.” Many religious leaders attended including Richard and Sabina. One by one the religious leaders began to swear loyalty to the communists. They praised the communists even though they knew that religion was really being repressed.

“Richard and Sabina were disgusted by the actions of their fellow leaders. Sabina said, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.’ Richard replied, ‘If I do, you’ll lose your husband.’ But Sabina said what Richard knew in his heart: ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’ Richard stood up in front of the four thousand delegates as so many had done before him. But instead of praising communism, he bravely declared that the church’s duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.”[2]

Then on February 29, 1948, Richard was arrested by the secret police and put into solitary confinement. He was tortured for many years in the prison, but he didn’t let his time go to waste. He found a way, using Morse code, to communicate the Gospel to other prisoners.

Sabina was also arrested and spent three years in prison, leaving Mihai, now nine years old, homeless. Sabina worked on the Danube Canal project doing slave labor. During this time she was also tortured by being made to stand continually in a small room. No bigger than a closet, the walls had spikes on them so Sabina could not even lean over for comfort.

Eventually Sabina was released. Authorities told her that Richard was dead. This wasn’t true. Richard was being moved around from prison to prison all the while suffering horrible torture.

During this time Sabina carried on the ministry. She shared the Gospel and gave away bibles whenever she could.

After about 8 years a Christian doctor contrived Richard’s release. Imagine how happy Sabina and Mihai were to see him! He was warned not to preach. This did not stop the Wurmbrands. They just went back to the underground church and continued their ministry.

In 1959 Richard was betrayed by an associate who accused him of preaching against communism. Richard was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. This time the captors used psychological torture as well as physical torture.

Sabina was told that Richard had died, but this time she didn’t believe it. Shae carried on their work believing that God was with them.

In 1964, hearing about his illegal treatment, Western countries began to put political pressure on the communists to release Richard. The Norwegian Mission to the Jews negotiated with the Romanian government to release Sabina and Richard for $10,000. The Wurmbrands left the country so that they could be a voice for the persecuted church in the West.

In 1967 Sabina and Richard formed an organization to help the persecuted church; they called it “Jesus to the Communist World”. Later it became a world wide organization and the named it “The Voice of the Martyrs.” It is still active today. My husband and I give financial support and I strongly recommend that every Christian should give something out of thanksgiving for our freedom in the United States. There are still many thousands of Christians being persecuted around the world. You can go to this site:

https://secure.persecution.com/projects_feature.aspx?categoryID=72&source=WEB

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Richard and Sabina were finally able to return to Romania. They were happy to be able to do more for the Christians there. The new mayor of Bucharest offered to let them use the basement of the palace of the former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, to store bibles. This was the same building where Richard had been housed in solitary confinement for three years. They continued to be a voice for the helpless for many years.

Sabina went to be with the Lord in 2000. Richard followed his beloved, wise, and strong companion in 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Go to their website and sign up: https://www.persecution.com

 

[2] From “Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand: Founders of Voice of the Martyrs”, http://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/witness/richard-and-sabina-wurmbrand

 

 

Amy Carmichael: Mother to the Motherless

Produced by Christian History Institute

Distributed by Vision Video

58 minutes in length, with a special 29-minute abridged version, Spanish language and English and Spanish subtitles.

 

 

This is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. Amy Carmichael’s life has always been an inspiration to me. In this production, the story is beautifully told with photographs and drawings. Narrators include:

– Jonathan Clarke, pastor of the Welcome Church, established by Amy in Belfast
– Margaret Holland of the Dohnavur Fellowship
– Dr. Nancy Robbins, who nursed Amy during her final years of illness
– Elisabeth Eliot, who considers Amy Carmichael as a chief influence in her life also adds commentary.

The story is told well and doesn’t need much background or introduction, but here are some notes to share with others. This video would be great for any Bible study or Sunday School class for adults and especially children!!

One of the truly great, faithful missionaries of recent times was Amy Carmichael. Amy was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland, December 16, 1867, to devout Presbyterian parents, David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the oldest of seven children. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for many weeks at a time. Her friends thought that she was foolish for wanting to go on the mission field. They didn’t think she would be able to take the strain for very long, but Amy was certain that God was calling her to go overseas.

Amy was a bright child, but a bit rambunctious. God would use this strong personality in His plans for Amy’s work on the mission field. She always went to God in prayer first, but then proceeded to do whatever it took to accomplish her task.

Influences in her life:
Her father died when she was young. She helped her mother care for her siblings.

Amy worked among the female millworkers sharing Christ with them.

Robert Wilson, founder of the Keswick Convention, cared for her during one of her bouts of neuralgia. He helped her to go to Japan as one of the first missionaries sponsored by the Keswick’s. She left there due to illness.

Amy searched for another missionary opportunity. With the help of the Zenana Missionary society she went to India.

Amy worked with the poor children. When she heard about the temple children she tried to find a way to get into the temples. She put on a sari and stained her skin brown so that she could pass as a Hindu. This was a bold move, but definitely in line with her stubborn and adventurous personality. God had made her this way, and she was up to the task.

 

 

Amy knew that the Lord was in charge of her life. She nearly went to prison for the rescue, considered a “kidnapping” in India, of one young girl. Amazingly, the case was dismissed. God was protecting and working through this faithful woman.

After thirty years of work among her beloved adopted people, she went on to found a place of safety for the young children in India. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. She rescued more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced an uncertain, but probably dismal future. She desired to build a hospital as well. The hospital she founded is still there today and works with the aged people in India. There is also a school for the mentally and physically disabled.

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Even when she became old and infirm, she would praise God for her circumstances, because it would give her a chance to pray and write books and poetry. Prayer was the center of her life, and she became a great spiritual witness for thousands of others.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83, after twenty years of being bedridden. Many people in such trials might complain to God about their illnesses. But Amy had learned to trust God in whatever circumstance He put in her life. Though she longed to be working among her people, she allowed God to use her where He put her. She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Many people were inspired by her cheerfulness and kind words. She used the time to write over thirty books, and now many people can be blessed by her work, thanks to her faithfulness and love for Christ.

“He hath never failed thee yet.Never will His love forget.O fret not thyself nor let Thy heart be troubled,Neither let it be afraid.”                                        Amy Carmichael