A young, devoted communist named Lieutenant Grecu tortured Richard and forced him to write a confession of his crimes against the communist government. Richard confessed to tapping Bible verses in Morse code to the other prisoners, but he had never spoken a word against the Communists. Grecu picked up the confession, and as he read it, his jaw relaxed and his expression softened. He was extremely confused as to why Richard had written that he loved Grecu and the other communist official. He continued by saying that he could never love someone who would beat, starve, and torture him. Grecu knew that to love someone’s enemies was part of the “Christian commandment,” but he couldn’t understand how someone could keep it.
Wurmbrand responded that it wasn’t a matter of keeping a commandment but of being reborn with a new character of love. For the next two hours, Richard and Grecu discussed Christianity. Under the pretext of interrogation, Richard was summoned to Grecu’s office nearly every day for the next two weeks to hear about the love and forgiveness of Christ.
Despite these conversations, in the beginning, Grecu thought that he could only be an atheist. But Grecu listened attentively and began reading the Bible, and he soon became a new Christian. From that point forward, Grecu pretended to be a loyal Communist officer, but he secretly helped prisoners to the best of his ability. He was soon discovered and arrested. The imprisoner had become the prisoner.
Suddenly, after being in prison for eight and a half years, Richard was released under a general amnesty. As soon as he was out of the prison walls, he made his way to Bucharest, uncertain if his wife and son were dead, alive, free, or in jail. He opened the door and saw a tall man standing in the doorway. It was his son, Mihai, who was now eighteen. Sabina ran in from the kitchen, and they all embraced.
The next two years were a roller coaster ride for the Wurmbrands. Richard and Sabina threw themselves into the work of the underground church, although the authorities forbade them to do so. Mihai had decided to become a pastor like his father and began helping his parents with their ministry. The roller coaster continued for Richard when he was hauled back into prison in the middle of the night for five more years of torture. However, he was released again and the Wurmbrands, once again, threw themselves into the underground ministry. Richard desperately wanted to stay in Romania, but the underground church leaders could not let that happen. “Be the voice of persecuted Christians to the free world,” they told him.
Two church groups gathered $10,000 as a ransom to the communists in order to bring the Wurmbrands out of the country. It worked, and the secret police escorted them to the border. Before he left, Richard went to the Communist official who had first ordered his arrest and torture. He placed a flower on his grave. “I hate the communist system, but love the men,” he said. “Communists can kill Christians, but they cannot kill their love toward even those who kill them.”
Sabina and Richard came to America and founded The Voice of the Martyrs, or VOM, a ministry to persecuted Christians around the world. They sent Bibles, provided encouragement, and gave relief to the families of Christian martyrs. They also informed the world of the grievous acts committed against Christians. At the end of 1989, the communist government in Romania collapsed, and Richard, plus Sabina, returned to their homeland. They began a Christian bookstore and even a print shop. The new government offered them a space to store the books in temporarily. The space was a former cell that Wurmbrand had been a captive in for three years. “ God chose this very place to vindicate his cause,” Wurmbrand said with tears in his eyes when he saw the cell full of Christian books. “God could not have done it better.”
Hannula , Richard M. “Richard Wurmbrand: Tortured for Christ.” Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History, by Richard M. Hannula, Canon Press, 2006, pp. 283–288.
Wurmbrand, Richard, et al. Tortured for Christ. David C Cook, 2017.