Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a victim of persecution for his faith, once wrote: “When I was beaten on the bottom of my feet, my tongue cried. Why did my tongue cry? It was not beaten. It cried because the tongue and feet are both part of the same body.”

Wurmbrand’s graphic illustration draws from Apostle Paul’s description of the church as the body of Christ. If one member suffers, all suffer together,” wrote Paul (1 Corinthians 12:26a).

Once labelled the Voice of the Underground Church’, Wurmbrand was imprisoned by the then communist régime in Romania from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. His best-selling account, Tortured for Christ, was first published in the UK in 1967.

Today the internet age in which we live gives us far greater opportunity to know about the persecution Christians suffer around the world. Which begs the question: what are we doing in response? The persecution of Christians has many faces. In some places state repression leads to imprisonments and forces the church into an underground existence. In other places religious opposition to the gospel spawns ongoing violence.


In April 2020, when we here in the UK were adjusting to life in lockdown, a young pastor, Matthew Tagwi, was gunned down by Islamist militants in a Nigerian village. He had begun his ministry just three months earlier. Matthew was one more victim in a relentless tide of attacks, kidnappings, destruction and killing of Christians in Nigeria – a country whose constitution grants freedom of religion.

In a year when we here in the UK have got used to online services and prayer meetings, Christians in China have found themselves monitored – and even arrested – for engaging in Christian activity over the internet.

Release International is a UK Christian ministry that was established in response to, and inspired by, the experiences and testimony of Wurmbrand. Around the world we seek – prayerfully, pastorally and practically – to help the families of Christian martyrs, prisoners of faith and their families, Christians suffering oppression and violence, and
Christians forced to flee.

In the UK we raise the voice of persecuted Christians. We call Christians and congregations to express fellowship with those who suffer; to learn lessons of Christian discipleship with them; and, honouring them in Christian stewardship, to give them the tools’ they need to live for Jesus Christ. God’s word challenges us all to step in and get
involved. The writer to the Hebrews said, pointedly, Let brotherly love continue.” He then puts flesh on that thought, saying: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body”
(Hebrews 13:1,3).

So, in what ways can we speak out for persecuted Christians? We can speak out within
our congregations. As Wurmbrand put it: How much of your own Christian concern and giving is directed towards the relief of the martyr church? Ask your pastors and church leaders what is being done in your name to help your brothers and sisters in restricted nations around the world.”

We can speak out more widely, whether that means writing to politicians, signing petitions or sharing information on social media. We can follow ministries like Release International on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and share news with Christian friends.

Above all, we can speak out to God our Father. Release provides plenty of resources to enable you to pray, for real people in real places who are really suffering for Christ. This includes our free quarterly magazine, Voice, and regularly emailed prayer alerts. To sign up for either of these, have a look at our website.