Tortured For His Faith
That is the title of a book by Haralan Popov, first published in 1970. Haralan was born in the small Bulgarian village of Krasno Gradishte. In 1929 he became a pastor of the largest Protestant church in the nation. He attended Bible School in London, and later married Ruth, a Swedish woman, before returning to Bulgaria. After the communist occupation of Bulgaria, in the capital city of Sofia, he was arrested on false charges of espionage against the state. He was brainwashed and tortured for 8 months along with other ministers, finally pleading guilty under duress. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was tortured in 16 different prisons and concentration camps for over 13 years, finally being released in September of 1961, and joined his family in Sweden one year later. From there he sought to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians and their needs.
The Bulgarian government has since apologized for his wrongful sentence. Haralan Popov went on to tell his story in the book Tortured For His Faith. After publishing his book, he spent years preaching in churches and telling his story in many different places. My father and I met him at our church in New Jersey. Our men’s group took him out to a steak house for a meal and a time of fellowship. We were surprised when he finished his steak dinner in just a few minutes. He explained that during those years in concentration camps, he learned to eat VERY quickly – if you didn’t finish quickly, someone else would take your food.
Haralan Popov went on to found the Door of Hope International mission. He influenced many individuals over the course of decades before he died in 1988. My son recently found his book and read it, reminding me of Haralan’s story of courage and determination through great trial. The mission is now headed by his son Paul.