Courage That Speaks the Truth
About the Guest
Sometimes it takes courage to speak up. Barbara Rainey illustrates this truth by telling the true story of Sabina, wife of the missionary Richard Wurmbrand, who encouraged her husband to speak the truth of Christ, despite the hardship it would bring on herself and her family.
Sometimes it takes courage to speak up.
Courage That Speaks the Truth
Bob: Our children learn character qualities like courage from stories or from events in history, but Barbara Rainey says there is another, maybe even more important place where our children learn what real courage looks like.
Barbara: It can’t just be a second-hand story about somebody else who lived in another century or another time and another place. Our kids do need to see us living courageous lives because it will inspire them to want to be like Mom and Dad.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We are going to talk today about what we can do as parents to both teach and model courage for our children.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Since we’ve been talking about courage this week, I thought I’d just pull it up on Google, just type “courage” in and see what came up. So I found some quotes here. See if you like any of these.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
Barbara: Good one.
Dennis: That’s correct.
Bob: That is good, isn’t it? “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Barbara: That’s another very good one.
Bob: That was Winston Churchill who said that. That’s good.
Dennis: I’ll tell you what; he said a lot of things well.
Bob: Here’s a woman who said, “Courage doesn’t always roar; sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”
Barbara: One of my favorite quotes on courage says, “Sometimes the most courageous thing is to simply get out of bed in the morning.” I used to love that as a mom, because there were so many times I wanted to pull the covers over my head and say, “No, I’m not ready to get up and deal with this yet.”
Dennis: But then you looked across the bed and found I had already done that.
Barbara: What? Buried yourself in the covers? (Laughter)
Bob: Here is a quote from C.S. Lewis: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”
Barbara: Very good.
Bob: And Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority.” Of course, it made me think of a movie I saw years ago on the life of Stonewall Jackson, the movie Gods and Generals. This is apparently true of Jackson: He was always seen in the middle of battle on his horse, bullets whizzing past his head. Somebody asked him one time, “How do you keep your composure out there on the battlefield?” He stopped and he said, “Sir, my theology persuades me that if I am in the will of God, I am as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed. So I don’t worry about it.”
Bob: And I thought, “That’s pretty good theology that keeps you there.” The reason we are talking about courage is because, Barbara, you’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this subject. I guess we haven’t really introduced your wife here today.
Dennis: Most of our listeners know that Barbara Rainey is related to me.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: She has been for 38 years, and she’s written a devotional called Growing Together in Courage. It’s all about equipping families to read some stories about human beings who showed courage in the midst of obstacles, in the midst of fear, in the midst of a culture that was pushing back on them. In fact, I want you right off the bat to tell the story about Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina.
Barbara: Sabina. We want to say “Sabrina” but there’s no ‘r’.
Dennis: That’s what I almost said.
Barbara. Yes. It’s ‘Sabina’ without an ‘r’. This is a young couple who had a five-year-old son. He was their only child. They probably had not been married more than six or seven years. They found themselves in a very sticky situation. World War II was just over, so the reign of the Nazis had just ended. They all, they and everyone in their country, felt like “Well, maybe things are going to get better because this terrible regime is finally gone.”
But no sooner had they thought that when they realized that the next regime was not going to be much better. That was the communist government, which had taken over Romania. Stalin was ruling and he was an evil man as well. But Richard and Sabina were Christians. They had become Christians sometime in the years earlier. They had married and had this five-year-old son. Richard was a young pastor.
As the communists took over their country and began to rule, one day shortly thereafter they decided to have a big meeting in the capital city of all the pastors and bishops and ministers, everyone that had anything to do with any of the churches. They were going to extol the virtues of communism, how “communism will work with the churches,” and “we really all believe pretty much the same thing.” So they invited some of these pastors and ministers to begin to get up, take the stage, and talk about “How we can get along, we can cooperate, and we really all believe the same things.”
As Richard and Sabina sat in the audience listening to one after another of these men who led churches extol the virtues of communism and not talk about Christ, they began to get more and more uncomfortable the longer they sat there. Finally, Sabina leaned over to her husband Richard and whispered to him, “Richard, you must stand up and take away the reproach from the face of Christ. We cannot listen to this any longer.” He leaned over to her and whispered back to her, “If I speak, you will lose your husband.” She replied back to him, “I do not wish to have a coward for a husband.”
I have to tell you the first time I read that I literally went “Oh!” I guess I thought, “Oh my gosh, how could she do that?” Because she did know that there was a very real possibility that anyone who stood up against the communists would be taken to prison or shot, or who knows what. She knew the risks of encouraging her husband to stand up for the truth, and she did it anyway. I find that stunning, shocking, and remarkable.
Dennis: And it shows the power of a woman . . .
Barbara: in a husband’s life. Absolutely. Not that he would not have done it without her, because I think that he was probably already thinking about it, but her words gave her husband courage to stand up and do the right thing.
Bob: If he was thinking about it, like any husband he’d be thinking, “Okay, this is the right thing to do, but I have a responsibility. How do I balance my responsibility with what is the right thing to do?”
Barbara: “I have a wife and a son.” Exactly.
Bob: And she said, “Do the right thing and we’ll deal with the consequences.” Right?
Dennis: And there aren’t enough of those stories today of how women are speaking the right thing to their husbands, alongside them, encouraging them to do what’s right, and giving them the courage and stimulating them to faith in Christ and trusting God with the results. I promise you, if you find a good man today, more than likely there’s a great woman alongside of him, believing in him, saying the right words to him, encouraging him along the way.
Bob: I’m just trying to think of how kids learn courage. Is it by seeing it modeled by mom and dad? We can read stories to them, and there’s something in reading a story of courage that does kind of resonate in our moral conscience, in our chest. I guess that’s one way, is to share great stories of courage. But ultimately, they are going to keep their eyes on what we do, aren’t they?
Barbara: Absolutely. I mean, that’s why I want these stories to be more than just for children. They are not just children’s stories, because moms and dads need to be inspired to be courageous as well. They are the ones who will encourage their kids to be courageous and then will reward them, cheer them on when they make a courageous decision or take a courageous stand.
Our kids do need to see mom and dad exemplifying that character quality, because it can’t just be a second hand story about somebody else that lived in another century or another time and another place. Our kids do need to see us living courageous lives, because it will inspire them to want to be like mom and dad.
Bob: So if we called your kids and asked “How did you see your mom demonstrating courage as she was raising you?” do you have any idea what they’d say or what they would come up with? Do you think they would think of you as having been a courageous mom?
Barbara: You know, I don’t know what they would say. I remember doing some things that were courageous, like Dennis talked about – the dance thing—the other day. I remember calling the mother of a friend of one of our daughters. Our daughter had been invited to go over to a sleepover, I think, sometime in high school. I remember calling this mother; I didn’t know her, I’d never even met her before. But I wanted to know what they were going to be doing. I wanted to know who was going to be there, how many kids, who were the adults, what was the plan?
I remember being so nervous calling this woman whom I never had met before and grilling her (that’s what I felt like I was doing) about all the activities. But I was concerned about my child’s safety and welfare. I wasn’t going to not do it, but I remember the nervousness that I felt calling her. I don’t know that our daughter ever knew that I made the phone call. I don’t know if she knew that I made the phone call that she would describe it as courageous. She would probably roll her eyes and say “I can’t believe you had to do that.”
So I think there are things that parents do that are very courageous that our children don’t recognize as such. Maybe they will when they are adults.
Bob: There was a Thanksgiving at your house where you had to muster up some courage and demonstrate humility to your children, right?
Barbara: Yes, there was. A number of years ago when all of our kids were still at home – the oldest were probably in the 15, 16, 17 age range – I had come to a place where I really had come to some personal brokenness. I know that’s not a word we use a whole lot. But I had realized that some patterns that were sort of ingrained in me as a parent were not healthy.
Really the bottom line is that I had an anger issue that I struggled with because of the pressure of raising kids. Certain kids will always push your buttons. So some of mine pushed my buttons way more than others did. But in those situations for lots of different reasons, oftentimes I would get inappropriately angry with the particular child that was pushing my buttons. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t want to continue that. I came to a place in my life where I really saw it for what it was, and went through a time of confessing it to the Lord, repenting and really being broken.
So I decided that the way that I needed to deal with it, for right or for wrong, I decided that what I wanted to do was to write a letter to my kids in general, to all of them. So I read them the letter at Thanksgiving one year. I just told them that I realized that my actions as a mother were not good. I knew they weren’t good and I didn’t like them, and I wanted them to know that. I wanted them to know that I knew it was wrong and that I had confessed it to God and asked him to work in my life and heal me and help me to be a better mother. I asked them to forgive me.
Bob: Did that take courage on your part?
Barbara: Oh, yes. And part of it is that my memory of it is that the kids kind of were going, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on? What’s with Mom and Dad? Because I was nervous and they could tell I was nervous.
Dennis: You were nervous, but you were also emotional.
Barbara: I was. I was crying, because I just was so upset personally at the damage that I had caused my children in these incidences. It wasn’t an everyday thing, either, but it was enough that it was uncalled for. I wanted my kids to know that I really, really regretted it. So, yes – I’m not one to cry a whole lot, so anytime Mom cried, everybody kind of went “O-o-oh. What’s going on?”
So yes, that was a very courageous moment, but it was the right thing. I knew it was the right thing to do, so no matter how hard it was in anticipation as I kind of worked those days up ahead of time, I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it was going to be emotional, but I was committed to doing it.
Bob: Confession and repentance demand great courage, don’t they?
Dennis: They really do -- the ultimate humility, especially when we’ve taken our confession first to God and we’ve thanked him for his forgiveness on the cross of Christ, and we’ve experienced it vertically with him, but then going horizontally to your husband or your wife or your children and truly humbling yourself, as Barbara did. I remember being so impressed, just admiring Barbara at that moment, because again, the easiest thing to do is just what a lot of people do, sweep it. -- sweep it under the rug; kind of pretend it’s not there. Be sorry that it happened but don’t model what is some of the most courageous behavior a child could ever see, which is their mom or dad asking for forgiveness for something they did wrong.
Barbara: I want to add, too, that it’s not that I’d never asked my kids to forgive me, because every time I made a mistake, whether it was getting angry at them, or whatever it was, that was a real hallmark of our family – teaching our children to name their sin, to confess it to one another and say, “Will you forgive me for ____?” and then to put the name of whatever the action was in the blank. So Dennis and I had purposely modeled that with our children. I had done that repenting and “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” many, many, many times.
This was more of a cumulative kind of a thing where I wanted them to know that this behavior that I was prone to fall into that I didn’t like and was harmful – that I was really putting a stake in the ground and saying “I’m going to change. I want to be really different from this day forward.”
Dennis: I want to go back to the communist meeting with all the pastors and Christian leaders and finish at least a little bit of the story there. After Sabina Wurmbrand whispered to her husband, “I don’t want a coward for a husband,” let me just read what Barbara said at that point.
She says, “Sometimes it helps to understand a word or a concept by looking at its opposite. ‘Coward’ isn’t a word we hear very often today, but it describes someone who is easily frightened, who lacks courage, or who retreats to a place of personal safety. That’s exactly what the other church leaders were doing that day in Bucharest, Romania. They went with the flow, more interested in pleasing men than God.
But Richard Wurmbrand left no doubt as to where his allegiances lay. What he did next required incredible courage. Pastor Wurmbrand took the stage. To everyone’s surprise, he began to preach. Immediately a great silence fell on the hall. He said, ‘Delegates, it is our duty not to praise earthly powers that come and go, but to glorify God the Creator, and Christ the Savior who died for us on the cross.’”
“A communist official jumped to his feet. This would not do. The whole country was hearing the message of Christ proclaimed from the rostrum of the communist Parliament. ‘Your right to speak is withdrawn,’ he shouted. Wurmbrand ignored him and went on. The atmosphere began to change. The audience began to applaud. He was saying what they all wanted to say, but were afraid to.” She goes on and tells the rest of the story of what happened to him and to Sabina after this occurred.
You know, you just look at the culture today and how it is robbing families of biblical values, biblical convictions; how it’s attempting to cause us to water down our faith and, as Barbara said, to go with the flow. I really believe we need to read stories like this aloud with our children. If we don’t make it through the whole story and just stop and talk about that moment – “What would that have been like?” –
I remember one time – and I’m going to ask Barbara to tell the story – our oldest daughter, Ashley, came home from school and had really been tested in terms of her courage. Do you remember the story I’m talking about, how she said she was standing on a wall?
Barbara: Yes, I do remember that story. She came home and she said something to the effect of “I feel like I’m the only one standing on the wall, and everyone is pulling me, trying to pull me down. But I’m not going to let them win; I’m going to be” – isn’t this when she said, “I’m going to be strong like a . . .”
Dennis: “Like a pole in concrete.”
Barbara: Yes. “Like a pole in concrete.” It was something really descriptive that she used.
Dennis: But the others were like reeds bending in the wind. Bob, I don’t know if Ashley caught her mother’s courage from the Thanksgiving, perhaps. That might have been the Thanksgiving before. Who knows? But the point is, peer pressure is great among kids today. It used to start in junior high and high school. It starts much earlier today. We’ve got to give our kids the moral fortitude, the spiritual convictions, the things to believe in, to be able to stand on that concrete wall and have people pulling at them, but not come down.
Bob: I’m thinking of a mom or a dad reading the story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand to a five-year-old. If you were doing that, you’d probably stop as you read and kind of explain the story at each paragraph, wouldn’t you?
Barbara: Yes, I would. I would suggest to parents, if your children are that young, if you have a five- and a six-year-old, for instance, I would read it ahead of time and decide which portions you wanted to read to your child. Then just read those portions. Or maybe you might want to just tell the story and let them look at the pictures as you tell it. I was surprised a year ago when we released the one on gratitude, Growing Together in Gratitude. A young mom wrote who said that her only child was a four-year-old and she read all of the stories to the four-year-old. She was just so surprised at how much the four-year-old picked up. So I think sometimes we underestimate what our children can comprehend. But yes, a wise parent needs to look at it and pick out the portions that are appropriate.
Dennis: You know, I’m listening to Barbara here, and I’m thinking of something that is taking place all across the country right now in people’s lives. You and I, Bob, have been talking on FamilyLife Today about something that is happening on 2-11-11. February 11, 2011. You know what? This demands courage. It demands courage for couples to stand up and say, “You know what? I want to do something about what is happening to marriages and families in my community.”
What we have done is create a resource that they can bring to their community, to their church, to their neighborhood. They can host a video experience that can transform a couple’s life, maybe an entire family, maybe dozens of families. We are seeing all across the country –I got an email earlier from one couple in one state who have already made a list of 100 couples who they believe are courageous homebuilders in their area of the state. They are going to band together to make a difference in that area of the state on behalf of marriages and families.
So sometimes the act of courage may be a private one in a home; at other times it may be doing something like Richard Wurmbrand did, which is stand up and say, “I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a part of proclaiming Christ to a culture that desperately needs to know there are solutions to what is happening in the family today.”
Bob: Well, the resource you’re talking about is a video event that we’ve put together called The Art of Marriage. If our listeners want to go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, there is a link there that will take them to the Art of Marriage website where they can find out more about this video event – how a couple can host an event like this in their community, in their church, with a group of people in almost any setting.
As you said, February 11th of 2011, 2-11-11, is the premier date for this event. We already have a lot of couples all around the country who have already stepped up and said, “We’re going to host one of these in our community or in our church.” We’d like to encourage you to consider doing that as well. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and you can click on the link to The Art of Marriage to find out more. There are some video clips if you want to see some of what’s in The Art of Marriage – some of the different creative approaches that were taken in communicating biblical truth. You’ll see that on our website, and you can find out more about how to host an event in your community.
The Art of Marriage is just one of a number of new tools that we have designed to help men and women reach out like you’re talking about – to be courageous in the culture and to stand up for a biblical view of marriage and family, and to be a part of making every home a godly home. Again, more details are online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
We should not forget Barbara’s book, which is called Growing Together in Courage, which is also available in our FamilyLife Today resource center. You can order a copy of this seven-session devotional guide, which you can use every day for a week or sprinkle it out through the month. It focuses in on the subject of courage – great stories to read together as a family – and you can find more about it online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Or, call 1-800-FL TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.” When you contact us we’ll let you know how you can get Growing Together in Courage sent to you. Or if you have questions about The Art of Marriage, you can ask those when you call as well, 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about something else we can teach our children, and that is some of the great hymns of the faith. That will teach them some great theology at the same time. You know, they’re not learning a lot of these hymns in many of our churches today, so this is good to teach your kids at home. We’ll talk about that more tomorrow with Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wilgemuth. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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