Sunday, July 02, 2006

I love you with all my heart (Abbot Iscu)

Richard Wumbrand was an Evangelical pastor in Romania. He suffered years in Communist prisons for preaching the gospel. In his book about his experiences in prison, he wrote about Abbot Iscu, his former prisonmate. This is what he wrote:
“At my right hand was an Orthodox priest by the name of Iscu. He was an Abbot of a monastery. This man, perhaps in his 40’s, had been so tortured he was near to death. But his face was serene. He spoke about his hope of heaven, about his love of Christ, about his faith. He radiated joy.
“On my left side was the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest almost to death. He had been arrested by his own comrades.
“And so it happened that the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest nearly to death had been tortured nearly to death by his comrades. And he was dying near me. His soul was in agony.
“During the night he would awaken me saying, "Pastor, please pray for me. I can’t die, I have committed such terrible crimes."
“Then I saw a miracle. I saw the agonizing priest calling two other prisoners. And leaning on their shoulders, slowly, slowly he walked past my bed, sat on the bedside of his murderer, and caressed his head – I will never forget this gesture. I watched a murdered man caressing his murderer! That is love – he found a caress for him.
“The priest said to the man, ‘You are young; you did not know what you were doing. I love you with all my heart.’ But he did not just say the words. You can say ‘love,’ and it’s just a word of four letters. But he really loved. ‘I love you with all my heart.’
“Then he went on, ‘If I who am a sinner can love you so much, imagine Christ, Who is Love incarnate, how much He loves you! And all the Christians whom you have tortured, know that they forgive you, they love you, and Christ loves you. He wishes you to be saved much more than you wish to be saved. You wonder if your sins can be forgiven. He wishes to forgive your sins more than you wish your sins to be forgiven. He desires for you to be with Him in heaven. He is Love. You only need to turn to Him and repent.’ In this prison cell in which there was no possibility of privacy, I overheard the confession of the murderer to the murdered. Life is more thrilling than a novel – no novelist has ever written such a thing. The murdered – near to death – received the confession of the murderer. The murdered gave absolution to this murderer.
“They prayed together, embraced each other and the priest went back to his bed. Both men died that same night. It was Christmas Eve. But it was not a Christmas Eve in which we simply remembered that 2000 years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It was a Christmas Eve during which Jesus was born in the heart of a Communist murderer.”


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