In October 1967, Richard Wurmbrand wrote a book called Tortured for Christ, which marked the beginning of Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry which seeks to equip those who are persecuted to share Christ’s love with those around them.
Tortured for Christ is the account of Wurmbrand’s life in Communist Romania at the time of heavy persecution toward Christians. In it, he shares about how he courageously stood for Christ and was imprisoned for it. In one chapter of his story, he writes about the time when ministers and pastors were called together to praise the government. Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina, watched as pastor after pastor compromised their faith and hailed the government. Sabina encouraged him to not follow the ranks of those before him and instead speak up for Christ.
Wurmbrand recounts, “Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murders of Christians, but Christ and God and said that our loyalty is due first to Him. The speeches at this congress were broadcast and the whole country could hear proclaimed from the rostrum of the Communist Parliament the message of Christ!”
This led to Wurmbrand’s underground ministry and eventual arrest in 1948. He was put into solitary confinement for three years, seeing no one but the communist torturers. Meanwhile, his wife, Sabina, was also arrested and was put into a hard-labor camp to work on the Danube Canal for three years.
After his time in solitary confinement was up, Wurmbrand was released into a group cell for another five years of torture at the hands of the communists.
Once he was released, Wurmbrand continued his pastoral ministry in the underground church instead of joining the state-sponsored church. In 1959, he was again arrested for his work in the underground church and sentenced to 25 years in prison. There he underwent attempts of brainwashing and physical tortures. Yet Wurmbrand never stopped loving his persecutors and sharing the Gospel with them. He was even sent to the “death cell” with a bad case of tuberculosis, thinking he would die of the illness. Yet, the Lord preserved his life.
More than eight years later, Wurmbrand was bailed out of prison. He was later rescued from a third imprisonment through a ransom price of $10,000 and sent to America along with his family.
Wurmbrand founded a ministry in 1967, now known as Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). Fifty years later, VOM now works in 68 different countries. To celebrate 50 years of ministry, Voice of the Martyrs is coming out with a movie on March 5 based on the book that started the ministry: Tortured for Christ.