Heroes of the Faith: Richard Wurmbrand

One Christian hero who I am privileged to have met is Richard Wurmbrand. His story, told in Tortured for Christ, impacted me deeply as a young student.

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Wurmbrand was born in 1909 in Bucharest, Romania, to a poor, non-practising Jewish family. In his teens he became a convinced Marxist and his Communist Party sent him to study in Moscow. Wurmbrand soon returned as a communist agent where he found himself frequently in trouble with the Romanian authorities.

In 1936, now married, Wurmbrand found himself troubled by the way his atheism brought him no peace. He and his wife encountered a carpenter with a Christian faith who shared the gospel with them and gave them a Bible. After reading it, and meeting other Jewish Christians, they came to faith in Christ. Wurmbrand now transferred his zeal from communism to Christ and began evangelising Romanian Jews. When the Second World War broke out, the Wurmbrands continued their active Christian witness under a brutal Nazi occupation and were involved in smuggling Jewish children out to safety.

In 1944 Romania was liberated from the Nazis only to become occupied by the Soviet Union. Wurmbrand continued ministering in Romania, pastoring a church of a thousand people, mostly Jewish converts. However, as an ex-communist, he felt driven to reach out to Red Army soldiers, most of whom were atheists. Between 1945 and 1947 he had a million Russian gospels printed and distributed to the occupying army.

As the communist grip on Romania tightened, the churches