Why Are You Smiling?

Randy Alcorn | Dr. Stephen Phinney | Dr. Josef Tson



Phinney: I am always moved by stories of committed persecuted Saints. A few years ago, I was introduced to a Romanian teacher who suffered at the hands of the Romanian government. His faith was sustained under fire. Due to the constant sufferings of he and his family, he moved to the United States and became a citizen. Through the years, he developed a ministry that focused on the believer's identity in Christ. He now services droves of Romanians through his American based outreach. Today, he is not only a close personal friend, but is one of my heroes of faith.

Dr. Josef Tson is one of those pure examples of how persecution builds a better servant of Christ. The life and message of Dr. Tson demonstrates how to conquer fear. During the dictatorship of President Ceausescu in Romania, Dr. Tson wrote a paper on the principles of God’s way of life and gave the president a copy. Dr. Tson was immediately arrested and threatened with death if he did not rescind what he had written. His reply was a calm loving smile. The police demanded, “Why are you smiling?” He then revealed the secrets that overcame his fear and won the admiration of his captors. Dr. Tson is now over 80 years old, and although “retired,” he continues his ministry of writing, preaching, and evangelism. He was a visionary who preached the downfall of Communism in his country and was exiled by the Communist government for taking a stand in the defense of Christians abused by the regime. For years he spoke on the radio, known as “the pastor from Radio Free Europe.”

Dr. Tson is a hero of faith. We want to share a bit more about his life.


Alcorn: Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ influenced me profoundly as a young Christian. In Romania, guards tied prisoners to crosses and smeared them with human excrement. From our perspective, the perpetrators might have seemed beyond redemption; yet some of the guards who did these unspeakable acts saw the inexplicable love, devotion, and faith of the Christians they tortured.

Wurmbrand wrote, “I have seen Christians in Communist prisons with fifty pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward from water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold—and praying with fervor for the Communists.”</