For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Philippians 3:18

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Church in Bolshevik Russia suffered greatly. In the spring of 1917 the nations on the western border of Russia began to declare their independence. Finland led the way, but the Baltic states such as Latvia found breaking away too difficult, as they had been the scene of many Bolshevik battlefields.

Under Bolshevik control, an organised persecution of the Lutheran church began. During 1918 and 1919, eight Lutheran pastors were martyred in the city of Riga, capital of Latvia. Twenty-three more were killed in the countryside. Fortunately for the Church, the situation stabilised in May 1919 after the rebels and German volunteer forces drove out the Bolsheviks.

Who are these of dazzling brightness,
clothed in God’s own righteousness?
These, whose robes of purest whiteness,
shall their lustre still possess,
still untouched by time’s rude hand?
Whence came all this glorious band?
These are they who have contended
for their Saviour’s honour long,
wrestling on till life was ended,
following not the sinful throng;
these who well the fight sustained,
triumph through the Lamb have gained.
 Heinrich Theobald Schenk (1656-1727)
 Translated by Frances Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897) 
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.