Richard Wurmbrand


Richard Wurmbrand, also known as Nicolai Ionescu (March 24, 1909 – February 17, 2001) was a Romanian evangelical Christian minister of Jewish descent. In 1948, having become a Christian 10 years before, he publicly said Communism and Christianity were incompatible. As a result, he experienced imprisonment and torture by the then Communist regime of Romania, for his beliefs. After serving a total of fourteen years, he was ransomed for $10,000. His colleagues in Romania urged him to leave the country and work for religious freedom from a location less personally dangerous. After spending time in Norway and England, he and his wife Sabina, who had also been imprisoned, immigrated to America and dedicated the rest of their lives to publicizing and helping Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. He wrote more than 18 books, the most widely known being Tortured for Christ. Variations of his works have been translated into more than 65 languages. He founded the international organization Voice of the Martyrs, which continues to aid Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

would like to share my story. I have children like you, and one day I was kidnapped from the street by the communist and I did not see my children again for fourteen years.
Listen, wives. I have a wife; she was cooking a pre-meal when I was cooking a pre-meal too. And then for years, she never knew if I was alive or dead. She was told by the communist that I was dead, but she continued to wait for me because God gave her vision and she saw me.

My mother died while I was in prison. She was waiting in vain for her son to come back. What had been my crime? It was a crime that thousands of Christians in the Soviet Union and the Republic of Romania committed. My crime was that I confessed publicly Christ as Lord and Savior. I had been a Lutheran Pastor in Romania. For years, I led a secret missions to work among the people in Romania, and tell Russian soldiers about the love of God. We printed secretly thousands of Gospels and other Christian Literature for them. We were drawing them to Christ. On a Sunday, while I went to church, I was kidnapped by the communists. Four men pushed me into a van of the secret police. It was on the 29th of February 1948. The first thought which came to my mind when I was in the hands of the Communist torturers was a Bible verse: "Do not be afraid which is mentioned in the Bible of three hundred sixty-six times." One verse for every day of the year including leap year.
I knew that even in the van with the secret police, I am in the hands of the Almighty God. I was led to my prison which was seventy feet beneath the earth. For years, I was kept there in solitary confinement. Do not think that they speak about my sufferings. I speak to you about this suffering of my whole country and especially the church. I have been closer to the Lord while I was in prison. I speak about these great heroes of faith. In my case, you can see what happened to them. For years we were kept in a cell below the earth. I only saw the interrogators who beat and tortured me. We never really talked to people.

After many years, I had to learn how to write again. I did not remember how to write a capital B. We would recite scripture as we looked at the walls and ceiling. Never could we hear the other prisoners, not even the slightest sound. Now in this absolute solitude, we could experience Christianity and determine if it is true or not. I hadn’t read the Bible for ten years and I had forgotten scripture. I had forgotten my theology, but the Holy Spirit comforted me.

I had touched the robes of angels and experience the great trinity. We could recite the words of the apostles, and receive love and peace from the words of Saint John. What we saw with our eyes, what we had heard with our ears, and what we have touched with our own fingers, drew us closer to God.

The first time when we are put in solitary confinement, I was like dying. The angels of death had passed over me many times, but I experienced God’s love. It had been a horrible time for every one of us as we remembered our past sins and our neglect of repentance. We remember everything which we had done wrong. We were now under the eyes of God. As we prayed for the guards, we believed that God would draw them to Him. One of the inmates told us afterward how all those years of solitary confinement, he repented of all of his sins. He had once preached in a great meeting where four hundred souls surrender to Christ. When he left the meeting, a young man ran after him and said, "Pastor, I would like to speak to you." The pastor turned back and said to him, "I am very exhausted now, I cannot. Come another time." So this young man went away and he never saw him again. He escaped this life without receiving the power of Christ.

On a Sunday this pastor had preached thrice. He was very tired. In the night, the secret police came to him and submitted him to non-stop interrogatory for five days and nights, and now could face the fear of tortures. He could not endure this without the love of Christ, and he said to us, that he worked during the midweek’s asking himself, “When I stand before God with only leading four hundred to Christ when there could have been four hundred one.”

We all have an unimaginable pain in our hearts, thinking that we have not done our utmost for the Highest, for the One who has given his life for us on the cross. We were in the depths of this remorse and of this pain and at once the walls of the cell began to shine like diamonds. I have never heard Bach or Beethoven in my life, but I have seen California, and Minneapolis. I have seen many beautiful things in the dark cell beneath the earth. Never have I heard such beautiful music as on that day as the King of Kings, Jesus rose, and visited earth. We saw His understanding, His loving eyes as He wiped away every tear from our eyes. He sent to us lots of love and lots of forgiveness. We knew that everything which has been evil in our lives has passed away, has been forgotten by God.

We knew we were with Christ; we did not know that we were imprisoned. Sometimes, we were taken to interrogatories. We were beaten, we were tortured. Just as Saint Steven, while they threw stones at him he did not see his murderers, did not see his stones, but heaven opened and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. He did not see any more of his torturers. We did not see that we are in prison, we were surrounded by angels, and we were with God. We did not read Bible verses anymore, but experienced His presence.

After years of solitary confinement, the burst came. We were put together in great cells where there were two or three hundred inmates. Believe me, those who hear me, I am a pastor and my duty would be to tell you the whole truth. I will not do it because you could not bear to hear the whole truth. I speak in the presence of God. As a prisoner in Romania, Christian prisoners were tied four days and four nights and placed on crosses. From time to time we would be on the floor with hundreds of other prisoners that were tortured and beaten to death. The crosses were erected again as they were coming, standing, and all cheering, and mocking, "Look at your Christ, how beautiful He is. What fragrances he brings from heaven." I asked the Catholic priest afterward, "Sons, why have you not prepared to die than to participate in this devilish mockery." He said, "Brother, do not judge me, I have suffered more than Christ."

There were times of constant brainwashing and those didn’t understand what torture it is. From five in the morning until ten in the evening, seventeen hours a day, we have to sit just like this. We were not allowed to lean. For nothing in the earth could we rest a little bit our heads. To close your eyes was a crime. Seventeen hours a day, you have to sit like this and hear, "communism is good, communism is good, communism is good, communism is good, communism is good, Christianity is stupid, Christianity is stupid, Christianity is stupid, nobody believes in Christ, nobody believes in Christ, give up, give up, give up." These days, weeks, years, we have to listen to these things and know when the worst is yet to come.

I do not wish to tell you words because I know you have much communist propaganda in America and some do not believe words. I will show you my tortured body. I am a sinner and I do not dare to compare myself to Jesus. But He showed unbelieving Thomas, His wounds. That’s how the communists tortured Christians. Look at my back, and see how my bones are out of place. So the communists tortured those who believe in Christ. Christians are happy to suffer like this, but it is your duty to fight to stop these sufferings. Love the brethren who suffered behind the iron curtain. Before I left the country, I was called twice to the secret police which told me, "Preach Christ as much as you like in the West, but do not speak against us. Otherwise, for four thousand dollars we can find a gangster that will kill you. We can kidnap you and bring you back as so many have been kidnapped from the West. We can destroy you morally inventing some story about you.

I have shown you what communists do to Christians. The more they were mocked, the more we were tortured. We pity and we laughed at those who tortured us. It must be clearly understood, we hate communism from all our hearts. This devilish system of militant atheism, this must be defeated if the Christian church wishes to live. But we love the man. We asked ourselves how to win this man for Christ.

The whole time, during the prison life, we won fellow prisoners to Christ. Even in the years of solitary confinement. In the great silence, you could hear during the night very discreet noises by knocking on the wall using Morse code to communicate with other prisoners. We would preach the gospel and souls have been brought to Christ. But we made a great experiment, the same experiment as of the Acts of the Apostles' in chapter sixteen. We shall be prisoners. I had not washed three years. You can imagine how I looked. A communist officer stood before me as I preached about Christ and they were converted. The communist officer asked me, "Mr. Wurmbrand, how can you love me, I would never love somebody who puts me in prison and beats me." They told you about the new character, about the new heart which Christ gives to men and they become embodied with love and he became our brother. He received Holy Communion and his life changed.

Christianity will always be conquerors because we are on God’s side. We would experience the rebirth of Christ behind the iron curtain. There are existing churches which lack the power of the Holy Spirit, but in every communist country there exist an underground church. There exist simple people, simple workers, and simple men. Pastors who go to the marketplace are risking their lives, risking their liberties, risking their families. They work and preach and the communists have given the figure that in twenty years of communist dictatorship in Romania the number of practicing Christian has grown by three-hundred percent. Jesus said, "Go and preach to all nations make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Richard's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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