Mr. Christian Wolfkes was an old carpenter who lived in a mountain village in the country of Romania. Mr. Wolfkes was a Christian. He loved Jews, because Jesus was a Jew. So for years he prayed, “Dear God, I long to bring a Jew to Christ before I die…But I am poor and old and sick. I cannot go out looking for a Jew myself and there are no Jews in our village. Please, God, bring a Jew here to our village and I will do my best to bring him to Christ.”
Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian Jew. He wanted to go to a quiet village to recover from a long illness. Romania has over 10,000 villages, but he chose the village in which Mr.Wolfkes lived. Mr. Wolfkes gave Mr. Wurmbrand a Bible and talked with him. Mr. Wolfkes and his wife prayed for many hours for Mr. and Mrs. Wurmbrand (Sabina) to come to Jesus. His prayers were answered! First Mr. Wurmbrand, then later Mrs. Wurmbrand, became Christians.
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand
From the first day he became a Christian, Mr. Wurmbrand wanted very much to witness to Russians, just as Mr. Wolfkes had wanted to witness to a Jew. And just as God had brought a Jew to Mr. Wolfkes, he brought Russians to the Wurmbrands.
Russian soldiers invaded Romania. Mr. and Mrs. Wurmbrand and their little son, Mihai, found many ways to visit with Russians and to give Bibles to them.
Mr. Wurmbrand became a pastor. Romania then became Communist. Communists do not believe in God. The Communist leaders tried to stop Christians from telling others about Jesus. Christians in “the underground church” carried on their work for God secretly. It was dangerous work, because they could go to prison if they were caught.
Prisoner Richard Wurmbrand
One Sunday in 1948, Mrs. Wurmbrand went to church expecting to meet her husband there. He had left their home earlier in order to prepare for the service. But Pastor Wurmbrand was not at church. No one knew where he had gone. Mrs. Wurmbrand checked the hospitals and even the jails, but her husband had disappeared.
Pastor Wurmbrand had been kidnapped by the Communist police. They gave him a different name and hid him away in a prison where they hoped to change his mind about being a Christian by torturing and brainwashing him. The police also tried to get him to tell them the names of other Christians so they could kidnap them, too.
Pastor Wurmbrand spent a total of 14 years in Romanian prisons. During three of those years, he was kept in “solitary confinement,” alone in a small cell. He was sick in a prison hospital, expected to die, for two more of the 14 years. Mrs. Wurmbrand was also in prison for three years, forced to do hard physical work for the Communists. While both of his parents were in prison, Mihai was cared for by Christian friends.
Knowing that he would most likely be caught by the Communists for spreading the gospel, Pastor Wurmbrand had prepared himself for prison and torture. He had also studied the lives of persecuted Christians who had stayed joyously faithful to Jesus. Still, his brutal treatment by the prison guards was more than any man could bear without God’s help.
God kept Pastor and Mrs. Wurmbrand faithful to Him through their trials. They and Mihai were stronger Christians, more devoted to Jesus than ever, after their imprisonments. While in prison, the Wurmbrands brought other prisoners to Christ, and met other joyful suffering Christians who encouraged them.
After Pastor Wurmbrand was released from prison, Christians from other countries paid the Romanian government to let the Wurmbrands leave. The Wurmbrands then began telling everyone about the conditions of Christians in Communist countries. They wrote several books, including Tortured for Christ which has been translated into many languages and read by people all over the world. (Tortured for Christ is available from The Voice of the Martyrs for $3.00.) In 1967, the Wurmbrands founded The Voice of the Martyrs to serve Christians who suffer for their faith in countries where the government does not allow them to serve Jesus freely.
After Romania was freed from communism, the Wurmbrands returned after 25 years. They preached about love and forgiveness, and had a joyful reunion with friends.