In considering the Wilberforce Weekend themes of “promoting good, resisting evil and restoring brokenness,” one big thing comes to mind that’s essential to accomplishing all three: giving up anger.
It’s no coincidence the word “mad” can mean both angry and insane — since becoming very angry can amount to a sort of temporary insanity, wherein we think, speak and act very differently than when we’re calm and centered.
Our anger hurts our children, breaks up families, poisons relationships, undermines businesses and wrecks our health. Truly, a great deal of evil enters this world through the portal of angry minds.
Let me share a true story about someone who embraced the opposite of anger.
Meet Richard Wurmbrand. He is the heroic Romanian evangelical pastor who spent 14 years in prison, including three in solitary confinement, and suffered starvation and torture for the crime of boldly preaching the Christian Gospel in what was then a brutally repressive, communist nation.
In 1966, two years after his final release from captivity, Wurmbrand testified before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee. He stripped to the waist to reveal 18 deep wounds covering his torso, the result of years of unspeakable abuse.
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And yet, as Wurmbrand explains in his classic book, “Tortured for Christ,” he and his fellow Christian prisoners understood that the communists were themselves prisoners.
So genuine was Wurmbrand’s concern for the souls of his tormentors that, over the years of his incarceration, he converted many to the Christian faith; some actually ended up in prison with him — and were glad for it!
Contemplate, if you can, Wurmbrand’s last act before leaving Romania after years of living 30 feet underground in a communist prison — no sunshine or fresh air, always hungry, treated brutally and sadistically day after day, year after year.
“In December 1965,” writes Wurmbrand, “my family and I were allowed to leave Romania”:
“My last deed before leaving was to go to the grave of the colonel who had given the order for my arrest and who had ordered my years of torture. I placed a flower on his grave. By doing this, I dedicated myself to bringing the joys of Christ that I have to the communists who are so empty spiritually.
“I hate the communist system but I love the men. I hate the sin but I love the sinner. I love the communists with all of my heart. Communists can kill Christians but they cannot kill their love toward even those who killed them. I have not the slightest bitterness or resentment against the communists or my torturers.”
How is such an attitude possible? Explains Wurmbrand:
“I have seen Christians in communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold — and praying with fervor for the communists. This is humanly inexplicable! It is the love of Christ, which was poured out in our hearts.”
Wurmbrand shares with the reader the presence of God he experienced in his prison cell:
“God is ‘the Truth.’ The Bible is the ‘truth about the Truth.’ Theology is the ‘truth about the truth about the Truth.’ Christian people live in these many truths about the Truth, and, because of them, have not ‘the Truth.’ Hungry, beaten, and drugged, we had forgotten theology and the Bible. We had forgotten the ‘truths about the Truth,’ therefore we lived in ‘the Truth.’
“It is written, ‘The Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him’ (Matthew 24:44). We could not think anymore. In our darkest hours of torture, the Son of Man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light. Somewhere, far away, were the torturers below us in the sphere of the body. But the spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces.”
Richard Wurmbrand refused to hate, choosing instead to forgive and therefore to love his tormentors. In resisting evil, he promoted goodness and helped restore the lives and souls of many broken people.
• David Kupelian is a veteran journalist, vice president and managing editor of online news giant WND, and the bestselling author of several influential books, including “The Marketing of Evil,” “How Evil Works,” and most recently, “The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture.”