[ABOVE—Sing Sing cell block, New York Public Library.]
How do moderns face prison compared to Christians of earlier periods? Imprisoned by the Communists, the Chinese Jesuit bishop, Francis Xavier Ts’ai, was forbidden to even move his lips in prayer. He used to repeat inwardly, “My good Jesus, glorify yourself, and the rest counts for little.”
Communism was a major antagonist of Christians in the twentieth century, although by no means the only one. The Nazis, for example, sent many Christians to prison and to death. Under Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism untold thousands suffered incarceration and death.
Here are a few records from our godless era, in which more Christians suffered persecution than at any other in history. They did so with no less courage than their predecessors. The stories are listed chronologically by year of death.
Edith Cavell (1865–1915) Reflects in Prison Before Meeting the Firing Squad
Tikhon (1865–1925) and the Bolsheviks
Sundar Singh (1889–c. 1929) Mysteriously Rescued from a Death Pit
A Toyohiko Kagawa (1888–1960) Prison Poem
Lin Zhao’s (1932–1968) Blood Letters
Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983) Survives a Nazi Death Camp
John Sung (1901–1944) Imprisoned in an Insane Asylum for His Faith
Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) Composes a Masterpiece in Nazi Concentration Camp
Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–1988) Blesses Prison
Richard Wurmbrand (1909–2001) Survives Torture for Christ
Noble Alexander (1934–2002) Faced Trumped up Charges
Tsehay Tolessa (d. 2014) Endured a Decade of Torture in Ethiopia