Born Jewish, Richard Wurmbrand was orphaned at an early age and raised by a family that did not recognize any religion. By the time he was 14, he had fully embraced atheism. However, although he had convinced himself that there was no God, he wished that his beliefs were not true. Ironically it was during the late 1930's that a German carpenter in a Romanian village introduced him to Jesus Christ.
When the Germany invaded Romania during WWII, Richard and his wife Sabina were not only targeted because they were Jews; they also suffered persecution because they were Christians. On more than one occasion they faced beatings and imprisonment because of who they were. However in his autobiography, "Tortured For Christ", Richard writes that what he and his family endured during WWII was merely in preparation of what was to come.
After World War II had ended, the Communist party in Romania held a conference in 1947 for 4,000 Christian priests and ministers representing all denominations in the country. Who did these men choose to be the honorary president of this congress? Joseph Stalin. This was the same Joseph Stalin who was currently the president of the World Movement of the Godless and was directing the mass murder of Christians!
One by one bishops and pastors rose and declared that communism and Christianity were fundamentally the same and they could co-exist. One by one these Church leaders pledged their allegiance to the new communist government and assured them of their loyalty and cooperation. Does any of this sound familiar in our day and age?
Richard Wumbrand writes that he and his wife were present at this conference and had the following conversation:
'Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.' I said to her, 'If I do so, you lose your husband.' She replied, 'I don't wish to have a coward for a husband'. The 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. 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! Afterward I had to pay for this, but it was worthwhile. February 29, 1948 was a beautiful Sunday morning. Richard headed off for church early. His wife would meet him there a bit later. He never arrived.
As he was walking to church, a van pulled up, four men jumped out and he was forced into the van. He was driven a prison where he was kept for eight and a half years. His family didn't know if he was dead or alive. Due to growing protests over his imprisonment, he was finally released in 1956.
He returned to his pastorate for one week and preached two sermons before being called again. His "public" ministry in Romania had ended. The years spent in prison had not done what his captors had hoped it would do. After a couple of years, he was once again imprisoned; this time for five and a half years.
Shortly after his release, two Christian organizations paid a ransom of $10,000.00 to get Richard and his family out of Romania. They didn't want to leave but the Romanian Christians insisted that they needed to go. The Persecuted Church needed voices to the world and they believed that Richard was one of those voices.
Eventually he founded an organization called The Voice of the Martyrs whose mission is to build awareness of the Suffering Church, provide spiritual and financial support to the families of those who have been imprisoned, provide the Word of God to people in closed countries and above all to pray for our brothers and sisters.
My heart weeps when I hear Christians preach/teach a "gospel" which claims that Christianity is about material blessings in this world. It weeps even more when other Christians say that the suffering of these precious saints is because they have sinned! Shame on them! Do we dare to spit on the faces of these precious men, women and children who have counted the cost of following Christ... and paid it? What has it cost us to follow Christ? If you were faced with a choice... refuse to deny Christ and face torture, imprisonment and perhaps even death or... deny him and go live in a nice mansion, have all the money you want and eventually die in your own bed at the end of a long life, which would you choose?
Wurmbrand, Richard,(1998) Tortured For CHRIST, Living Sacrifice Book Company, pp. 15-16.
This blog is part of a series entitled Those Who Counted The Cost... And Paid It