In response to my post last week on greeting reports of increased Christian persecution with leaps of joy, my esteemed friend Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia and noted historian of the Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, recounted a story for me that Rev. Wurmbrand would often share in his preaching about the tangible rewards of leaping for joy amidst persecution:
Richard explained how he preached a sermon every day in solitary confinement. He said there was nobody there to listen to him, but he knew the Angels liked a good sermon so he preached to them.
He would sing, he would preach, he would pray and meditate. Then, he said, one day he remembered what is written in the Gospels: “Rejoice and leap for joy!” So he thought to himself, that is something I have not done. So he began to leap up and down around his cell and rejoice. A guard looked through the peephole in the door, saw Richard leaping and jumping and concluded he had gone mad. The guard did not want trouble, so he came in to try to calm Richard down, and told him to be quiet and to be calm and he would bring him something. So Richard sat quietly, and a few minutes later the guard came in and gave him half a loaf of bread. Richard said that at that time their prison ration was one slice of bread a week. This was like Christmas!