The Voice of the Martyrs and Oklahoma Wesleyan University have launched an unprecedented partnership to offer the only academic program in North Americaor perhaps in the worlddedicated to the experience and theology of the persecuted Christian church in restricted nations.
In cooperation with VOM, Oklahoma Wesleyan University now offers a four-year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Christian Missions/Persecuted Church Ministry.
VOM founders Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand dreamed for years of a serious academic counterpart to their ministry on behalf of suffering Christians, said Tom White, Executive Director of VOM and OWU alumnus. Now their dream is becoming a reality.
According to OWU, the program provides the intellectual breadth of a liberal arts degree and includes practicum experience directed by VOM staff at VOM's ministry center in Bartlesville. Students learn the history of anti-Christian persecution from the first century to the present, and explore the theological significance of Christian suffering rooted in the text of the Bible.
They are challenged to understand the sufferings of Christ's Body, the church, as an extension of the sufferings of Jesus Himself and therefore as a source of grace and wisdom, OWU reported. They examine the political and social context of persecution, and acquire practical communication and advocacy skills to marshal on behalf of contemporary Christian martyrs.
In conjunction with these education programs, VOM and OWU also announced plans for an eventual Institute for the Persecuted Churchwhich through conferences and scholarly publications will serve as a center for academic and spiritual preparation on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. Visiting students at the Institute will earn transferable college credit from OWU while engaging in instructional, research and practicum experiences, before returning to their home universities.
According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, the late Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, had challenged Christian educational institutions for years to develop programs of serious study of the persecuted church.
Wurmbrand spent 14 years in Romanian prisons, enduring hardship, torture and persecution during the Communist era for his refusal to deny Christ. A book and video detail his experiences, entitled Tortured for Christ.