Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured for 14 long years in a Communist Romanian prison. After his release to the United States, he was the voice of persecuted Christians around the world.
Richard was born in 1909 to a Jewish background family. Richard was a militant atheist who opposed all religions. Despite this, he was attracted to churches. Richard was not sure why. One day, he walked to a village and old men greeted him with enthusiasm. According to Tortured for Christ, “Seeing I was a Jew, the carpenter courted me as never a beautiful girl had been courted. He saw in me the answer to his prayer and gave me a Bible to read.” As he read the Bible, he could tell the carpenter and his wife had been praying for the Bible. It came to life like never before. Richard did not come to Jesus until he was married, at which point both of them started to follow Jesus. After this, he became a Lutheran Pastor.
Rev. Richard and his wife Sabina, started passing out tracts to those in Jewish ghettos during World War II. The Wurmbrands were arrested for their work among the Jews. After WWII, Communist Russia took over Romania and Rev. Richard continued his ministry to the Romanians. He refused to swear loyalty to the Communist Party, instead he denounced Communism, “Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murderers of Christians, but Jesus Christ, stating that our loyalty is due first to Him.” Rev. Richard was arrested for this act of disloyalty and sentenced to prison.
Imprisonment and Torture
Rev. Richard was imprisoned for 13 years total in Romanian prisons. The first time, he was in prison for 5 years and the second time eight years. Richard underwent crude punishments including being lashed on the back and being refrigerated until half dead and then thawed out (repetitively). Not only did Richard undergo physical torture, but also brainwashing. According to Richard the brainwashing went like this, “Communism is good! Communism is good! Communism is good! Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid! Give up! Give up! Give up!” For 17 hours a day, Rev. Richard went through this brainwashing with his faith intact. He also spent time in isolation. Rev. Richard did not hear a sound, not even the guards outside, walking around. When he was not in isolation, he would preach the Good News to both his torturers and fellow prisoners. Many Communists came to Jesus through his witness. His wife Sabina also suffered much because of her relationship to Rev. Richard. She was informed twice that Rev. Richard was dead by different Communist guards dressed as prisoners. Sabina was also sentenced to years at a labor camp to build a dyke.
Release from Prison
In 1959, Rev. Richard was sentenced to prison, this time for 25 years. After 5 years, Rev. Richard was released on a $10,000 bail from some Christian groups in America. The Communists told him to go to America but not to preach against them. Richard was reluctant about going to America, not wanting to leave his flock in Romania. The church insisted he go to America though telling him “I should leave the country if the possibility were given, and inform Christians in the West about what is happening.” So he went to America and started speaking out on behalf of the Underground Church. Rev. Richard went before the Senate and stripped down to the waist to show them the scars from the atrocities the Communists imposed on him for being a Christian. For this act, Romania contacted him and threatened to kill him. Rev. Richard started Voice of the Martyrs in order to raise awareness about those who are persecuted around the world.
Rev. Richard died on February 17, 2001 of natural causes. He continued his ministry until his death.
The life of Rev. Richard shows that God can use anyone to do His will. He was dedicated to reaching the Communists with the Good News. The Voice of the Martyrs continues Rev. Richard’s work in 52 hostile and restricted nations. It is important to keep on praying for and supplying the needs of the Underground Church.
- Wurmbrand, Richard. Tortured for Christ. Copyright 2013 by Voice of the Martyrs.
- “Heroes of the Faith: Richard Wurmbrand.”
- Voice of the Martyrs. “40 Years of Ministry.”