Richard Wurmbrand, also known as Nicolai Ionescu (March 24, 1909 – February 17, 2001) was a Romanian Evangelical Lutheran priest and professor of Jewish descent. In 1948, having become a Christian ten years before, he publicly said Communism and Christianity were incompatible. Wurmbrand preached at bomb shelters and rescued Jews during World War II. As a result, he experienced imprisonment and torture by the then Communist régime of Romania, which maintained a policy of state atheism. 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, emigrated 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.
Penalties and Imprisonments
Wurmbrand, who passed through the penal facilities of Craiova, Gherla, the Danube–Black Sea Canal, Văcăreşti prison, Malmaison, Cluj and ultimately Jilava, spent three years in solitary confinement. This confinement was in a cell twelve feet underground, with no lights or windows. There was no sound because even the guards wore felt on the soles of their shoes. He later recounted that he maintained his sanity by sleeping during the day, staying awake at night, and exercising his mind and soul by composing and then delivering a sermon each night. Due to his extraordinary memory, he was able to recall more than 350 of those, a selection of which he included in his book With God in Solitary Confinement, which was first published in 1969. During part of this time, he communicated with other inmates by tapping out Morse code on the wall. In this way he continued to "be sunlight" to fellow inmates rather than dwell on the lack of physical light.
Wurmbrand was released from his first imprisonment in 1956, after eight and a half years. Although he was warned not to preach, he resumed his work in the underground church. He was arrested again in 1959 and sentenced to 25 years. During his imprisonment, he was beaten and tortured. Physical torture included mutilation, burning and being locked in a large frozen icebox. His body bore the scars of physical torture for the rest of his life. For example, he later recounted having the soles of his feet beaten until the flesh was torn off, then the next day beaten again to the bone, claiming there were not words to describe that pain.
During his first imprisonment, Wurmbrand's supporters were unable to gain information about him; later they found out that a false name had been used in the prison records so that no one could trace his whereabouts. Members of the Secret police visited Sabina posing as released fellow prisoners. They claimed to have attended her husband's funeral.  During his second imprisonment, his wife Sabina was given official news of his death, which she did not believe. Sabina herself had been arrested in 1950 and spent three years in penal labour on the canal. Sabina's autobiographical account of this time is titled The Pastor's Wife. Their only son, Mihai, by then a young adult, was expelled from college-level studies at three institutions because his father was a political prisoner; an attempt to obtain permission to emigrate to Norway to avoid compulsory service in the Romanian army was unsuccessful.
Eventually, Wurmbrand was a recipient of an amnesty in 1964. Concerned with the possibility that Wurmbrand would be forced to undergo further imprisonment, the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance negotiated with Communist authorities for his release from Romania for $10,000 (though the going rate for political prisoners was $1,900). He was convinced by underground church leaders to leave and become a voice for the persecuted church. He devoted the rest of his life to this effort, despite warnings and death threats.
He was a friend of Costache Ioanid, the Romanian Christian poet.
Achievements, influence and deathWurmbrand travelled to Norway, England, and then the United States. In May, 1966, he testified in Washington, D.C., before the U.S. Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee. That testimony, in which he took off his shirt in front of TV cameras to show the scars of his torture, brought him to public attention. He became known as "The Voice of the Underground Church," doing much to publicise the persecution of Christians in Communist countries. He compiled circumstantial evidence that Marx was a satanist.
In April 1967, the Wurmbrands formed Jesus to the Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs), an interdenominational organisation working initially with and for persecuted Christians in Communist countries, but later expanding its activities to help persecuted believers in other places, especially in the Muslim world.
In 1990, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand returned to Romania for the first time in 25 years. The Voice of the Martyrs opened a printing facility and bookstore in Bucharest. The new mayor of Bucharest had offered a storage space for the books under former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu's palace – where Richard had spent years in confinement, praying for a ministry to his homeland. Wurmbrand engaged in preaching with local ministers of nearly all denominations.
Wurmbrand wrote 18 books in English and others in Romanian. His best-known book, titled Tortured for Christ, was published in 1967. In several of them he wrote very boldly and emphatically against Communism; yet he maintained a hope and compassion even for those who tortured him by "looking at men… not as they are, but as they will be… I could also see in our persecutors. a future Apostle Paul… (and) the jailer in Philippi who became a convert." Wurmbrand last lived in Palos Verdes, California.
He died at the age of 91 on February 17, 2001 in a hospital in Torrance, California. His wife, Sabina, had died six months earlier on August 11, 2000. In 2006, he was voted fifth among the greatest Romanians according to the Mari Români poll.
Imprisoned for Christ- Solitary Confinement in Romania-
Blessings from Suffering-Richard Wurmbrand- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV8PJ7WL6Tw
Preserve the Word by Richard Wurmbrand- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lGBSNjlNvE
Richard Wurmbrand - Communism & Religion- an interview with Fulton Sheen
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