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A Prison Code

Pastor Wurmbrand’s prison

“Jail is no hindrance to a useful Christian life” — Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was arrested in the mid-20th century in Romania for his Christian witness and activities. The story below tells about something that happened when he was in prison. Read the story, then tell how your name would be tapped in the improved code used by the prisoners. (For example, if your name is John, the first letter of your name would be signaled by 2 taps, then 5 taps.)

The Code
Tap. Tap. Tap. One day Pastor Wurmbrand heard a faint tapping on the damp concrete wall of his solitary cell. “What could it mean?” he wondered.

Tap. Tap. Tap. The noise continued. Pastor Wurmbrand tapped back. Suddenly a burst of taps erupted by his bed. He realized that the prisoner in the next cell was trying to teach him a code.

A = 1 tap
B = 2 taps
C = 3 taps
And so on.

“Who are you?” was the first message Pastor Wurmbrand’s neighbor sent him. “A pastor,” Pastor Wurmbrand replied.

It took a long time to send a message. The prisoners improved the code so it wouldn’t take so long. In the new code, one tap stood for the first five letters of the alphabet, two taps for the second group of five, and so on. Another tap told whether the letter was the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth letter in its group. So “B” was a single tap, followed by a pause, then two more taps.

The Improved Code
A = 1 tap, pause, 1 tap
B = 1 tap, pause, 2 taps
C = 1 tap, pause, 3 taps
D = 1 tap, pause, 4 taps
E = 1 tap, pause, 5 taps
F = 2 taps, pause, 1 tap
G = 2 taps, pause, 2 taps
And so on.

Morse Code
Then his neighbor, who had been a radio engineer, used this code to teach Pastor Wurmbrand Morse code. After that, they used Morse code to tell jokes, spread news, and even share chess moves. (Pastor Wurmbrand sometimes played chess with himself using tiny bits of bread as chess pieces.) Pastor Wurmbrand also taught prisoners Bible verses and shared the gospel with unbelievers using the code.


Mamaliga

Food was scarce in Romania during Richard Wurmbrand’s time in prison. “Our staple diet was maize meal, of which we made a kind of porridge called ‘mamaliga,’” said a friend of the Wurmbrands. “So we had mamaliga for breakfast, dinner, and supper, if we were lucky enough to have three meals a day.”

Try this mamaliga recipe.
(Photo from The Torchlighters The Richard Wurmbrand Story Leaders Guide)

Instructions
1. Boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.
2. Gradually pour in ½ cup of yellow corn meal and ¼ tsp. salt, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.
3. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for about 3 to 5 minutes until thick.
4. Pour into a bowl or rectangular dish about 6 by 9 inches.
5. Cool. Cut into strips or squares.


Bookmarks for Prisoners

Stephen, a VOM newsletter reader, designed bookmarks for prisoners who are featured on The Voice of the Martyrs Prisoner Alert website. Follow the instructions below if you want to make similar bookmarks.

1. Click on a country at PrisonerAlert.com, then on the name of a prisoner, then on “Write a Letter.” Print a copy of a verse in the prisoner’s language shown under “Available Phrases.”

2. Click “Add Phrase” (even if you are going to mail a bookmark to a prisoner instead of printing a letter), then “Continue” to find the prisoner’s address.

3. Glue the verse on art paper then laminate the bookmark and add small tassels or other decorations.

4. Use the address to mail the bookmark, and if you wish, a message or letter. Find suggestions for writing letters here.

5. Take your message and bookmark in an addressed envelope to a post office to see how much postage to include.


Plantain Chips: Another Colombian Snack

A plantain is a banana-like fruit. Peel some green plantains, and cut them into slices. Ask an adult to help you fry them in hot vegetable oil in a frying pan until crisp. Place them on paper towels on a plate to absorb the oil. Add salt to taste.

Enter “Colombia” in the Search box to find stories about bold Christians in Colombia.

Find a Colombia Lesson Plan here.


Arepas: A Snack from Colombia

Mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of white corn meal. (Precooked corn meal is best.)
Add 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tsp. of salt.


With your hands, form thin, flat tortillas about 3 inches wide.

Cook on a lightly buttered grill or in a frying pan over medium high heat until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with shredded cheese, butter, jam, meat, or other toppings.

Enter “Colombia” in the Search box to find stories about bold Christians in Colombia.

Find a Colombia Lesson Plan here.


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