Richard Wurmbrand

2 Jun

Words cannot even express how my heart was shattered in researching the life of Richard Wurmbrand. He is such an incredible hero of our faith, and I hope my words will do him some justice.

Richard Wurmbrand was born in 1909 in Bucharest, Romania to a Jewish family, and though he was Jewish by heritage, he was atheist by belief. Although his faith remained undiscovered Wurmbrand explained that “… something unreasonable always attracted me to churches. I found it difficult to pass a church without entering it.” He was created to be a valiant warrior in the Lord’s army, and God was tugging at his heart right from the beginning.

Meanwhile, in a village in Romania, a Godly old carpenter named Christian Wolfkes had prayed for years to win a Jew for Christ. When Richard and Sabina arrived in Wolfkes village in 1938, his prayers were answered when he led the two to Christ, unaware that he had just converted a man that would be one of the most influential men of faith in his day.

Amidst the Second World War in 1941, Romania supported Germany in the fight against the USSR, and German forces occupied Romania. Wurmbrand, now a pastor, faithfully preached the gospel to the occupying soldiers. During the Nazi terror, Richard and Sabina were repeatedly beaten and arrested for sharing their faith. Despite the persecution, the two continued to courageously preach the Gospel, and when the Communists seized power in Romania, Wurmbrand ministered to the Russian troops occupying the country. He even illegally printed one million Gospels of John in the Russian language to distribute to the soldiers, fully aware of the grave consequences he faced if he was caught.

In 1945, Richard and Sabina attended the Congress of Cults, where many religious leaders stepped forth to pledge loyalty to the new Communist regime. Richard, at the urging of his equally courageous wife, stood up and announced in front of 4,000 delegates that he would never pledge loyalty to the Communists and that his duty as a Christian was to glorify Christ alone. He had counted the cost, and stood for Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, even death, and though he escaped these horrors on this particular occasion, the Communists would not tolerate his rebellion for long.

On February 29th, 1948 the secret police kidnapped Richard and placed him in a solitary cell where he endured months of solitary confinement, years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, the anguish of brain-washing and mental cruelty. His only “crime” was his fervent belief in Jesus Christ and his public witness concerning his faith.

Wurmbrand was released in 1956 after serving eight and a half years in prison. Though he was warned never to preach again, he resumed his ministry with the underground church. Three years later, he was betrayed by one of his own associates, and again handed over to the secret police. This time, however, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He was further tortured, sliced with knives, burned with hot rods, beaten, and stabbed, leaving eighteen lasting scars on his body. According to Wurmbrand, however, the physical torture was not the worst thing he endured while in prison. He said, in his testimony before the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., that the worst torture he endured was the torture of his mind. The following is part of Wurmbrand’s testimony.

The worst thing has been the brainwashing. All the tortures of times before were nothing in comparison with brainwashing.

To describe very shortly brainwashing: First of all we were doped. The dope was put in our food. I did not know about this dope. But we saw only the results, a dope which gave two results. First of all, what the physician calls “aleulia” which means “lack of power of will.” The power of will was completely broken. If we were told, “Lift your hand,” I lifted it. If I was not told to let the hand down, I would never have let it down.

We were at the same time very much undernourished. We had times when we received only 100 grams, one slice of bread, a week. It was told to us, “We give you as many calories as you need to be able to breathe only,” and so our power of will was broken.

The second drug produced the delirium of self-accusation. I have seen prisoners knocking during the night on the door and saying, “Take me to the interrogator, I have new things to say against me.” Prisoners quarreled with their interrogators to say against themselves more than the interrogators asked from them.

And after we were doped like that the time of brainwashing came. For 17 hours a day, from 5 in the morning to 10 in the evening we had to sit up perfectly straight. We were not allowed to lean. We were not allowed to rest a little bit our weary heads upon our hands. To close your eyes was a crime. Seventeen hours a day we had to sit like that and hear from the morning to the evening: “Communism is good, communism is good, communism is good, communism is good,” until you heard a strong one who was already 20 years in prison under the Communists shouting, “Communism is good, communism is good, communism is good, I give my life for communism.”

There was further brainwashing, not only that “communism is good,” but “Christianity is dead, Christianity is dead, Christianity is dead. Nobody more believes in Christ, nobody more believes in Christ, you are the only fools.”
And so on. And I must tell you that you may know how far this brainwashing went. I do not like to pose here like a hero. I believed that Christianity was in fact dead under this influence. I believed n
obody goes more to church. Also, they gave us post cards. I had not seen my wife for 10 years. They gave me post cards, they gave to all of us post cards: “Write to your children and wife; they may come and on that day, see you, and bring your parcels.” So on that day we were shaved, we expected and expected until the evening and nobody came. They had not sent the post cards, but we did not know that. It was heartbreaking.

Then came more brainwashings. “Your wives are laying in bed with other men.” They used obscene words. “Your children hate you. You have nobody to love in the world. You are the only fools. Give up faith. Nobody is more Christians. Christianity is dead.”

I believed also that nobody was more a Christian. I had read in the Bible that there will be in the last time the great apostasy, that people will leave the faith and I believed that I lived now at this time. But I said to myself, “If Christianity is dead, I will sit at its tomb and will weep and pray until it arises again, just as Mary Magdalene sat at the tomb of Jesus and wept until Jesus showed Himself, for the one who is Christianity has already proved His great power of resurrection and I knew He would rise again.”


Greater faith I have never heard of. Christianity, in fact, was not dead at all. When Wurmbrand was ransomed from prison for $10,000, he emerged to find that despite the persecution of the Communist regime, Christianity had grown 300%. Wurmbrand had been given, yet again, another chance as a free man, and though he was threatened and demanded to remain silent about his experiences, he refused to have his powerful testimony muffled. His torturous time in prison did not crush his ministry. It, in fact, strengthened it. During his time in solitary confinement, he had powerful conversations with God. He heard the voice of the Lord, and he prepared and memorized messages as directed by Him.

In 1967 the Wurmbrands officially began a ministry committed to serving persecuted Christians around the world called Jesus to the Communist World, later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs. This incredible ministry has been responsible for such heroic acts as: launching balloons with Chinese Gospels into communist China and North Korea, rescuing Christians in Russia that were put into insane asylums for their faith, and providing aid to families of jailed believers.

His work was making such a profound impact that in 1972, the Romanian Communists publicly declared that “the duty of the government is to fight against Richard Wurmbrand.”

In in 1989, when Communism fell in Romania, Richard and Sabina returned to Romania after 25 years of exile to preach a powerful message of love and forgiveness, the message that dominated the entire life of Richard Wurmbrand.

On February 17, 2001, Richard Wurmbrand went to live with God, and I’m sure the Lord greeted him with one of the most triumphant homecomings heaven has ever seen. What a hero. The mental resolve and determination of Wurmbrand is inspiring. His faith made him an overcomer. Through his trials and persecution, he gifted the world with love.

“A flower, if you bruise it under your feet, rewards you by giving you its perfume.”  -Richard Wurmbrand

I, too, want to gift the world with love. Though I will never claim to be able to suffer what Wurmbrand suffered with such tremendous humility and faith, I have a new resolve to “suffer” through the normal annoyances of life, without uttering the smallest of complaints. What do I have to complain about? I am committed to taking on a new challenge… Every time I am annoyed, or inconvenienced, or struggling, I will pray for those truly suffering. I will pray for those in chains for their faith, those being tortured for their belief in Christ. I will pray for those who can’t gather together as a church because they risk arrest and persecution. I will pray for those who lose their jobs, their families, and their very lives for believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. I will pray for my brothers and sisters truly suffering for the Gospel. Will you?

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. -Hebrews 13:3

To find out more about the life of Richard Wurmbrand and his ministry, the Voice of the Martyrs, please check out the following websites:

Excerpts from the Testimony of Richard Wurmbrand before the U.S. Senate

The Voice of the Martyrs

Tortured for Christ

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2 Responses to “Richard Wurmbrand”

  1. Sheryl Boland January 23, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    This should be a wake up call for America, we have allowed the infiltration if not communism at the very least socialism at the very highest levels of Government When will this country wake up. thank God that there have always been the Wurmbrants the Bonhoeffers the Niemollers but these men and women are so few in number that we know their names,they should be the rule among the professing church not the exception

  2. Courtney Landers (@Behold_TheBelle) February 29, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Must Read!!!

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