Tortured for Christ (2018) - full transcript

A cinematic retelling of the testimony of 'Voice of the Martyrs' founder, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, as written in his international bestseller "Tortured for Christ".

My name is Richard Wurmbrand.

I was brought up in a family with no
religion. My childhood was bitter.

When I was fourteen, I was as much an
atheist as the communists are today.

But I had the grace to be one of
the chosen of God for reasons

that I do not understand. These reasons
have nothing to do with my character,

because my character was very bad.
But I longed from the first day

of my conversion to be able
to witness to the Russians.

The Russians are raised
from childhood in atheism.

I promised God that I would
dedicate my life to these people,

to give them back their personalities
and to give them faith in Christ.

Beginning August 23, 1944, one million
Russian troops entered my country.

The communists took power
and then began a nightmare.

Atheism became the official state religion.
To proclaim Christ publicly

became reason enough for
arrest and torture.

Spies were everywhere. Church leaders
had a choice: either we enlisted

in the service of the
Soviets or go to jail.

The communists skillfully seduced
the church and the church leaders

were easily deceived. They convened a
Congress of Cults for all ministers,

pastors, and rabbis. Joseph Stalin
was appointed as honorary patron.

(in Romanian)

The Congress was broadcast across the
nation. The idea was to persuade

the public of the communists’ intent
to cooperate fully with the churches.

My wife, Sabina, and I watched as
religious leaders, one after another,

took the podium and spoke
words assuring the communists

of the loyalty of the church.

It is happening here just
as it did in Russia.

And our glorious new Romanian government
is in favor of faith – any faith.

They are even going to increase
the pay of the clergy.

Lenin defended the church
until he came to power.

And then tens of thousands of
Christians died in concentration camps.

This is madness.

They are spitting in the face of Christ.

Will – will you not wash away this shame?

You do know that if I speak
now, you will have no husband.

I don’t need a coward for a husband.

(in Romanian)

Our churches had to deal with a new
reality: The Russians were here,

and they weren’t going away.

The registered churches were no longer
safe. But we still wanted to share

Christ’s love with our fellow Romanians
and to the occupying Russian soldiers.

Even my son Mihai and his friends
got involved. They managed to learn

a small handful of Russian words.

God bless you.

You got gum from the officers again?

Did you give them a blessing?

And a flower.

As time went on, the communists
tightened their grip even more.

Bibles were banned. Churches were
monitored. And everyone was watching.

The communists knew that faith in God
was the only effective resistance left.

As members of the body of Christ,
we were committed to helping

even the communists come
to the light of Christ.

(in Romanian)

God will not judge us according
to how much we have endured,

but how much we could love.

We loved the Russians so much
that we risked everything

to bring them the gospel.

I spoke Russian fluently and for
me to preach to the Russian people

was heaven on earth.

The Russians were very fond of watches.
They stole them from everyone.

They never had them before and now
they could not get enough of them.

A Romanian who wished to have a watch

had to go to the barracks of
the Soviet army to buy them.

They were often buying
their own watches back!

But we saw this as an opportunity
to share the Gospel.

(in Russian)

Once the soldiers realized that we were
there to speak about God and the Bible,

they would close the doors
and gather in close.

It was extremely dangerous, but
they were so eager to learn more.

(in Russian)

Many came to Christ
and we were able to

distribute thousands of
Gospels in this way.

Of course, the joy of winning one to
Christ is always mixed with a feeling that

there is a price to be paid.

(in Romanian)

Sadly, a number of our brothers and
sisters were caught and severely beaten.

But they did not betray our work.

We were meeting an entirely
new type of Christian:

the Christian of the underground church.

(singing in Romanian)

They carried on the work of Christ
just as in the days of the apostles

and we met in our homes.

We were always wary of spying
eyes that came from everywhere.

Our ministry to the
Russians was bearing fruit.

There was one young soldier named Petr.
He had come with the Russian army.

It was not enough for Petr to accept
Christ. He wanted to be baptized.

Baptisms were very risky.

There were so many informers among
us and only the most trusted

could be invited. But Petr insisted, and
we had complied. Our underground church

was modest in size, but it was
growing – in numbers and in courage.

After being baptized, Petr risked his
life smuggling Bibles to other Russians.

He was an example to many
of the new believers.

(in Russian)

The last I heard of Petr, he had
been arrested and sent to prison.

Whether he is already in Heaven or
continuing the good fight on earth,

I do not know.

But Petr had courageously served,
and we had learned a new lesson.

Every soul won for Christ must also be
made a soul winner. No matter the cost.

You look very handsome.

You know what? I think you
should perform the wedding,

and I’ll just play on the
streets all day. Hmm?


No? No? Okay.

I’ll see you at the
church in one hour. Okay?

Just one?

If I go now, I might be there before you.

Don’t make us wait for you.

Am I ever late, dear?

No. The rest of us are just always early.


Sabina worried about me being late for the
wedding - and not without some merit.

I was easily distracted, especially
by those most innocent among us.

On that day, Sabina was right to worry.
I would be late.

I knew where I was going. This type
of kidnapping had become common.

(in Romanian)

I had discovered 366 verses in the
Bible that instruct us not to fear.

One for each day of the year –
and even one for leap year.

It was a leap year. February 29th, 1948.
I remembered a verse for this day.

Psalm 56, verse 3. “What time I
am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

(in Romanian)

We were forced to stand in wooden boxes
only slightly larger than we were.

Sharp nails were driven
into every side of the box.

We stood for endless hours,
sometimes even days.

I don’t like to speak much
about our horrific suffering.

When I speak of it, I don’t sleep at night.

(in Romanian)

I remember one pastor named Florescu.

The communists wanted the
names of his congregation.

But he refused to betray
his brothers and sisters.

(in Romanian)

The walls were covered with the boy’s
blood. But he died with the name

of Jesus on his lips. Our dear brother
Florescu was never the same after

witnessing his son’s death. Who could be?

For three years, I was
in solitary confinement.

I had only my thoughts for company.
But I had God.

I remembered what the martyr
Savonarola wrote. He said,

"There are two kinds of Christians;
those who sincerely believe in God,"

"and those who just as sincerely believe
that they believe." Did I believe in God?

Now the test had come.

Every night when the 10 P.M.
bell signaled time to sleep,

I began my nightly routine,
beginning with prayer.

Prayer, of course, was forbidden.

(in Romanian)

Sabina was also arrested. The secret
police came in the middle of the night,

accusing her of hiding
weapons in our apartment.

(in Romanian)

Our dear Father, You have said that
we are persecuted but not abandoned,

so please do not abandon us now.
May our suffering glorify You,

and through it all might we
shine forth Your love. Amen.

Mihai, look at me. You have to stay strong!

(in Romanian)




Sabina, along with
thousands of other

political prisoners, was
put to work digging

a canal that was supposed to connect
the Black Sea to the Danube River.

The canal was considered to be a
symbol of great communist achievement.

Some communist engineers tried to warn
the party leaders that the canal,

as designed, wouldn’t work.

Those engineers were shot.

The day’s quota was to move 8 cubic yards
of dirt per woman, in any condition.

Every day, Sabina would repeat a scripture

and often it would wind its
way through the whole camp.

(in Romanian)

Prayer was my only escape.

The beatings would not prevent
me from talking with God.

My wife and my son were always in my
prayers. It is how I held them close.

(in Romanian)

Sabina broke two ribs when she hit the
rocks in the Danube river that day.

The women suffered greatly, and
many died in the labor camps.

Whenever they moved me from cell to cell,
I would always find other believers.

Naturally, preaching in prison was strictly
forbidden. It was never an issue of

if you would be caught.

It was only a matter of how bad the
beatings would be when you were.

I have witnessed many times where a
brother was dragged from our cell

to the beating room
because he was preaching.

He would be kicked, cut, beaten with
sticks and all kinds of tortures.

(in Romanian)

We didn’t stop preaching.

We’d made a deal with the guards.

We would preach, they would beat.
Everyone was happy.

My feet were beaten so
often and so brutally,

I would never walk
normally again.

(in Romanian)

I am sorry if a crocodile eats a man.
But I cannot reproach the crocodile.

I had learned the same can
be said of my torturers.

Communism had stripped them of any
form of humanity and they sank into

unthinkable depths of cruelty.
Darkness ruled their every action,

and only God’s love could restore them.

(in Romanian)

While in prison, I contracted a severe case
of tuberculosis. In those days, TB was

often a death sentence, and I was moved
to a prison in the Carpathian Mountains.

If a prisoner took a turn for the
worse here, he was sent to Room 4.

Nobody had ever returned from Room 4 alive.

(in Romanian)

Some who preached in the prisons had
been pastors, but most were lay people

who were simply inspired
by the Holy Spirit.

One such man was named Matchevici.

He was extremely sick. Somehow his
family found out how sick he was,

and sent medicine that could save his life.

(in Romanian)

The officer wanted the same thing
they always wanted – names.

He told Matchevici others were talking –

and their reports even led
to his many beatings.

Matchevici died in my presence. I watched
him enter eternity while praising God.

I saw many men die in that room, and
here is a remarkable fact: not one

died an atheist. None of them died without
making his peace with God and man.

Many entered Room 4 as firmly convinced
unbelievers. But I saw their unbelief

collapse always in the face of death. Just
as many men think themselves religious

and are not, so some think they
are atheists without being so.

After her release, Sabina had no idea
if I was alive or dead - until one day,

a friend found me in Room 4.

Dr. Luigi was underground – and undercover.
He had become a Christian

and wanted to renounce the Communist Party.
But we begged him to stay in

and find a way to serve Christ. His
sacrifice was the greatest of all of us,

for even his family and friends
believed he had betrayed God

and gone back to the Party.

Wurmbrand, is that you?
I heard you had died.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sabina will be relieved, then,
at least for another day.

Can you get a message to her?

I can.

Tell her I’m alive.

Tell her I love her.

Tell her, God is here.

Ask her if she might deliver
some pork ribs with polenta.

The kitchen here is dreadful.

You don’t look well, Richard.

My soul sings. My body, not so much.

TB is no joke. You need medicines.
I will try to get you some.

Then try and get some for all of us.

Without medicines, you will die.

They told me I had two
weeks many months ago.

I have lost the count of the days.

(in Romanian)

The communist ideology is “nothing other
than the religion of Satan on Earth,”

as one who passed through communist
prisons called it. It claimed hundreds

of thousands of victims among us.
It did not

succeed, however, in
breaking those who,

not wanting to lose their souls, held
steadfast with all their being to Christ,

enduring horrible suffering, and finally
dying at the hands of the communists.

They acquired the crown of glory.

I had the privilege to be in the same
cell with great saints, heroes of faith

who equaled the Christians
of the first century.

They tithed their tiny rations, giving
it to the weakest prisoner. They shared

communion with the little they had. They
faithfully witnessed to their torturers.

They would gladly die for Christ. Even
our chains became musical instruments

and we worshipped the Lord together.

(humming in unison)

The supernatural became the natural.

I have seen such beautiful things.

In all, I spent fourteen
years in prison, for

many of which I could
not see the stars,

birds or even a butterfly. And I still
love the Russians - even the communists,

with all my heart. They can kill
Christians, but they cannot kill our love.

I hate the Communist system, but I love
the men. We had experienced a new form

of Christianity - the kind where
Christ’s love conquers all.

Jesus Lord, oh help me always to remember

How Your miracle delivered me from pain

How Your love has freed
my captive heart forever

By Your grace, You’ve
always been my one defender

I was dead and then You gave me life again

Yes, You gave me life again.

And I won’t forget the
torment and the sadness

I was helpless so I called upon Your name

And You answered me with
mercy’s tender kindness

Shone Your hope to take
away my sorrow’s darkness

And the light upon Your
face now shines on me

Yes, forever shines on me.

Now my soul will sing of
Your eternal springtime

No more clouds and no
more shadows in my heart

With a sacrifice of
praise I kneel before You

With a prayer of thankfulness
I will adore You

Jesus Lord, You are the treasure of my life

Yes, the treasure of my life.

(audience applause)

Let’s gather all our
thoughts before the Lord.

Let’s stand together and
in our song, worship.

Seek His leading on how we should
respond to this film we have just seen.

"In Christ Alone"