tortured for christ richard wurmbrand som

The Beauty of Whole-Hearted Sacrifice

When picking up a paperback of Richard Wurmbrand’s classic signature work, Tortured for Christ, one must be forewarned that it is not for the faint of faith. The founder of Voice of the Martyrs, Wurmbrand states, “This book is written not so much with ink, as with the blood of bleeding hearts.”

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand of Romania suffered intensely in the 1950s and 1960s by Communists who jailed him for fourteen years and forced him to endure isolation, abuse, and intense pain. But that isn’t the story. This story is about the beauty of the underground church while suffering in Christ and the joy that follows them.

“If a poor man is a great lover of music,” Wurmbrand said, “he gives his last dollar to listen to a concert. He is then without money, but he does not feel frustrated. He has heard beautiful things, and I don’t feel frustrated to have lost many years in prison.”

Speaking of witnessing the sacrifices of many believers willing to die for their faith, Wurmbrand boldly declared, “I have seen beautiful things.”

Contrasting Circumstances

The life of Richard Wurmbrand was one of flagrant paradox. Cut with a knife or burned with a cigarette, Wurmbrand endured eighteen scars. Still, he unabashedly recounted the believers’ intense joy amid persecution because of their intimacy with Christ. With a life repeatedly on the death docket, he was finally ransomed from prison in 1965 and urged by Romanian pastors to go West and become a voice for the fallen. 

“Before entering prison, I loved Christ very much,” Wurmbrand said. “Now, after seeing the body of Christ (His spiritual body) in prison, I would say that I love the underground church almost as much as Christ himself. I have seen her beauty, her spirit of sacrifice.” 

This epic account contains story after story of believers who were willing to lay down their lives for Christ and witness for Him, despite costing them everything. Even when tempted by depraved guards to spare them from certain death by giving away names of people in the underground church, the afflicted believers remained strong and kept faithful to Christ and His family.

Though unabashedly opposing Communism and the emptiness of atheism, Wurmbrand was brave and committed to loving the officials, guards, and even his torturers without a slice of bitterness or hatred against them. Likewise, his vision of reaching out to the invading Russian army and discretely sharing the Gospel impacted many Russian soldiers and officials.

Heavy Topics, Heartfelt Message

Before you pick up this book—and this is a MUST read—brace yourself. Emotionally prepare yourself, that is. This book is intense and opens a window into the world that most Christians in the West have not experienced. On such a large scale, the brutal persecution of Christians is shocking, heartbreaking, and challenging to read, even for the resilient reader.

Nevertheless, the value of the message can hardly be overstated.

Through Wurmbrand’s leadership while alive (he passed away in 2001), the biblical foundation for ministry to the persecuted is built upon Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body” (ESV).

SOM International CEO David Witt spent considerable time with Richard Wurmbrand in the late 1990s before Wurmbrand’s passing. David attributes much of the foundation and influence of SOM International to Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. Listening to this tribute of the beautiful sacrifices of true believers is an unforgettable experience that deepens the understanding and changes the heart.

One will not walk away quite the same.

We invite you to read the story yourself.

Visit the link to the book Tortured for Christ in our online bookstore here.

Authored by By Jeremiah Philip