The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization. Their main purpose is to assist those around the world who are persecuted because they profess to be Christians. The ministry is based on Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body”.
The mission statement of VOM states, “We help Christians who are or have been, persecuted for their involvement in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We provide medical assistance, food, clothing, and other forms of aid”.
Voice of the Martyrs (originally called Jesus to the Communist World) was officially started by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand in 1967. He and his wife were imprisoned for fourteen years in Communist Romania because of their faith in Christ. After they and their son were ransomed out of Romania, they came to the United States in the 1960s.
Pastor Wurbrand distributed the first monthly issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter in the United States in October, 1967. The organization continues its monthly newsletter to this day. By the mid-1980s the work of VOM had been planted in eighty nations that restricted Christianity, and a network of VOM offices had been established around the world. All are for the sole purpose of assisting the persecuted church.
Wurbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ, was released for publication in 1967. During his years of ministry he wrote eighteen books, some in English, others in Romanian. Several of them were translated into thirty-eight other languages. He retired from VOM in 1992. He then continued his devotion to the organization’s work by serving as a consultant and member of the board of directors. Richard Wurbrand passed away in 2001.
Voice of the Martyrs is helping to spread the gospel message of Christ to the Marxist FARC Guerrillas in Columbia. Since the 1960s there has been a war of terrorism between drug lords and paramilitary groups in that country. It is estimated that FARC gains between $500 million and $600 million annually from the illegal drug trade. It also profits from kidnappings and extortion schemes. They levy an unofficial "tax" on people in the countryside for "protection" and social services. Caught in the middle are the people of Columbia, who have been terrorized by the kidnappings and murders. Christians are risking their lives to spread the Gospel there.
With the assistance of VOM, a pilot in Columbia bought an airplane. He flies over the FARC-controlled territories and drops packages that are attached to parachutes. These packages include a selection of Christian books and a radio that is solar-powered. The radio is turned on and pre-tuned to a Christian radio station before the parachute is dropped. Even if the parachute gets caught in a tree, someone will be inclined to climb the tree to get it.
VOM says that many more of the FARC guerrillas need to hear the Gospel. Churches around the world have helped by making more than 60,000 parachutes. A pattern showing how to make the parachutes can be downloaded from this website: http://www.persecution.com/uploads/media/downloads/57_ParachuteDownloadNew2.pdf.
Also see http://www.persecution.com/public/aboutVOM.aspx for additional information about VOM’s work in Columbia and other places around the world where Christians suffer persecution.
In their 27th “Status of Global Mission” report, the International Bulletin for Missionary Research defines a martyr as “believers in Christ who have lost their lives, prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.” The report estimates that during the past decade (2000-2010), there were two hundred seventy new Christian martyrs every twenty-four hours. This makes the total number of martyrs in that decade approximately one million. It has been estimated that there were forty-five million Christian martyrs during the twentieth century. The World Evangelical Alliance has stated that more than two hundred million Christians in at least sixty countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.
Even with this data, it is impossible to know with certainty the number of Christians who are killed for their faith each year. Only heaven knows for sure. Much of the persecution takes place in remote areas unreachable by modern communications. Since persecution is often the norm in persecuted people’s lives, they don’t even think to tell others about what has happened to them and others. Most often they are afraid to do so.
There are many organizations that attempt to determine the number of martyrs. Voice of the Martyrs is another voice that aims their focus on people who are persecuted, helping where they can, and telling their stories so that others will also be stirred to help.