Ron Strom is commentary editor of WND, a post he took after serving as a news editor since 2000. Prior to coming on board with WND, Strom worked in politics in California. Married and the father of two homeschool graduates, he has served in leadership positions in his church, local nonprofit boards and in county government.More ↓Less ↑
Damare, a young slave boy was nailed to a board and left for dead as “punishment” for attending a church service. Miraculously, Damare survived the torture and says he has forgiven his tormenter – because Jesus was nailed to a cross and forgave him.
It’s Christians like Damare The Voice of the Martyrs is committed to helping as it tells his story and countless others to Western believers who can scarcely imagine being tortured for their faith.
While solid numbers are difficult to ascertain, it has been estimated that as many as 160,000 Christians are martyred each year worldwide.
Begun in 1967 by a heroic Romanian pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, who endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of Communists, VOM strives to fulfill three main goals as it works in 40 countries worldwide: aiding Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith, fulfilling the Great Commission to spread the Gospel, and educating the world about the ongoing persecution of Christians. [Note: Subscriptions to VOM's newsletter are free.]
In 1990, after the Iron Curtain came down, VOM began working feverishly to spread the Gospel in Romania, Ukraine, Russia and other previously closed nations. The organization also stepped up its involvement in Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Tibet and Vietnam.
In the last several years, VOM has been involved in Bible distribution in several nations, broadcasting the Gospel in the Middle East, a “Coats for Russia” campaign and a mission to provide necessities to needy Sudanese.
The ongoing religious oppression by Communist states and Muslim nations has been a major focus of its work since Wurmbrand died in 2001. Wurmbrand’s son, Michael, works with the ministry in Romania and other former Soviet countries.
“There are considerable challenges ahead in the 21st century,” states the VOM website. “The countries newly liberated from communist oppression remain devastated from decades of terror. China, as well as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba are caught in the mouth of a communist dragon. There are Muslim strongholds like Bangladesh, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Nigeria.”
Todd Nettleton is The Voice of the Martyrs’ director of news services.
“We have big operations in China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea,” he told WND. “When you talk about the worst offenders, Saudi Arabia and North Korea are the most closed nations for Christians to practice their faith.”
Three years ago, VOM opened a new distribution center in Bartlesville, Okla., named after Wurmbrand, from which Bibles and Christian materials, as well as humanitarian aid, are shipped to the countries where VOM has a presence.
Among the programs VOM sustains is the Families of Martyrs Fund, which aids the family members of Christians, many times pastors, who are arrested for their faith. The loss of the main breadwinner often puts the families into financial hardship, and VOM steps in to help until alternative support can be secured.
Another program that provides direct aid to persecuted Christians involves supporters filling “Action Packs” with clothing and other essentials, which then are sent to families in affected countries. An Action Pack campaign is now under way to benefit Christians in Iraq, who make up just 3 percent of the population there.
Nettleton says Action Packs have also gone to believers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they have been used by Christians to minister to Muslims.
Said Nettleton: “In Pakistan, Christians are giving the Action Packs to Muslims, saying, ‘Look, Christians in America have sent these and we want to bless you with them.’ They’ve used them to open some doors to the Gospel.”
Once the vacuum-packed bags are delivered to the destination country, a Gospel book is added to each one. Nettleton says over 40,000 Action Packs have been distributed to date.
Yet another task VOM has taken up is encouraging its supporters to write to prisoners being held for their faith via the website prisoneralert.com.
Since VOM is active on every continent, it maintains offices in 14 cities around the globe, from Finland to Australia to Brazil. Its U.S. headquarters is in Bartlesville.
With staff and volunteers all over the world, VOM is able to hear stories of Christian persecution and publicize them. Oftentimes, the organization provides information on whom to contact in the country where the persecution is occurring to put pressure on government authorities, such as in an online story about the government raiding 60 house churches in China.
“Petitions, mailgrams and telegrams show officials that there are people who know and care about what happens to persecuted Christians,” states the organization’s site. “Some conditions may be improved as a result. If the authorities think no one cares, the Christians receive more harassment. Do not underestimate the power of your letter.”
One of VOM’s primary function is to keep Christians in the West updated about the latest incidents of persecution, which it does through its free award-winning newsletter. Featuring profiles of missionaries and Christians who have been victimized, the newsletter also serves as a prayer guide for believers who want to include their persecuted brothers and sisters in their prayers. In addition, the newsletter includes ways Christians can get involved in VOM’s mission around the world.
Says WorldNetDaily Editor and CEO Joseph Farah: “The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter brings you into the heart of today’s persecuted church with stories of courageous and inspiring faith in Jesus Christ.”