Tortured for Christby Richard Wurmbrand
Length: Approximately 5 hours. To read (205 pages).
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During the time of the Cold War when the Western World faced strong opposition from the evil of communism, many Christians around the world were facing heavy persecution. As with the Nazis regime years earlier, many people around the world had no idea the horrors being faced every day by Christians all over Europe during the Cold War. In his moving and challenging book Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand opened the eyes of the world to the atrocities faced by Christians under communism. Many of the atrocities are his own personal physical and emotional scars. With grace and mercy he also shows forgiveness to those that have caused him much and gives a great Gospel message as his foundation throughout. This book may be fifty years old and talking about a different enemy, but it is for the church today, as we don’t abandon those that are being persecuted for their faith today. That is the author’s challenge for us here and now!
Who should read this?
This book has had such great impact on the past 50 years of Christian history. This book and the Voice of the Martyrs ministry has had an important impact on my personal walk with the Lord. I would highly recommend this book to any Christian as a great challenge to their faith. It would be best for a teen and up restriction for this book because of some of the graphic nature of what Mr. Wurmbrand faced in his time of incarceration.
The Gospel message of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Christian faith. For many in the history of the world and even today this can mean great sacrifice to believe and share in this message. Many people in the church today do not understand the dire issues faced and to be faced by the persecuted church all around the world.
In his book Tortured for Christ Richard Wurmbrand inspires and encourages, rebukes and challenges, striving to share with the world the plight of the persecuted church and how we can help. This being the 50th anniversary copy of the book, offers the reader even some more added benefits.
The added benefits of the 50th anniversary edition begin right from the start. Operation Mobilization founder George Verwer offers a great foreword, sharing with the reader the scope of the impact of this book. Verwer shares many personal stories of meetings with the Wurmbrand’s, looking deeply at a couple that had been through so much trauma.
One important section in the foreword is when George Verwer discusses the almost unbelievable forgiveness given by the Wurmbrand’s to those that had tortured them for so many years. Verwer adds here, “God is able to triumph in all circumstances, and you see it in real life through Christians like Richard Wurmbrand” (12).
The author begins the book by giving his personal testimony on how God changed his heart from being an atheist to a follower of Christ. Through life circumstances living in Romania he was exposed to the Gospel message and it changed everything for him and his wife. They were from almost the beginning facing persecution for their faith, only it began with the Nazis.
He shows his attitude from the beginning here, “But these Nazis had one great advantage. They taught us that physical beatings could be endured, and that the human spirit with God’s help can survive horrible tortures” (26). After some time he felt the call to share the love of Christ with the Russian people. He would be given many opportunities at great cost over the years.
The author here also offers commentary here on the Russian people and the willingness over time for the churches to capitulate to the Communist government. One of Wurmbrand’s commentaries in this opening testimony chapter leads to one of his most well known quotes. He says, “Every soul won for Christ must be made to be a soul-winner” (43).
One of the hardest to read sections is when he shares about the sometimes, unspeakable tortures he himself and many in the church in Romania had to face. They were treated worse than animals at times physically, mind games with played with the end goal of brainwashing at other times, and lastly many had family members taken away from them permanently.
He shares in this section also the reason for sharing some of this hardship, the end goal of exposure and calling to action those in the West. One of the highlights of these chapters is the response the author and many with him had to their captors.
They desired above all to resist the temptation to become bitter and not offer the Gospel message needed by their captors. Wurmbrand says, “It is a spiritual force (that drives them)- a force of evil- and can only be countered by a greater spiritual force, the Spirit of God” (57).
This attitude, which permeates this book, is the reason this book has stayed so relevant even today. The last part the author addresses in the testimony section is the release and being sent to the West. He offers reasons for leaving Romania for the cause of the persecuted church around the world.
Richard Wurmbrand spends the rest of his work offering encouragements, challenges, and exhortations to those in the Western Church with helping the persecuted church. He argues with the greatest way for change is bringing the love of Christ to those that persecute, preserving through the torture.
The author shares many examples and personal stories of Communists coming to know the Lord through the preserving love of the persecuted Christians. Both looking back and looking to the future we can take the examples learned from Scripture, history, and personal experience to direct us in loving those that hate Christ first, and us later.
The only answer to the souls of these men is the Gospel message. The author continues, “There is a void in the hearts of Communists. This void can be filled by Christ alone” (90).
One of the major issues Wurmbrand addresses in the 2nd half of the book is the apathy and lack of work being done to help the persecuted church. This is an issue that makes this book so relevant to the modern reader. He offers here challenge both to the official churches in these Communist countries, but also those in the West.
He expresses the difficulty of addressing the problem, while offering a strong charge for all of us to play a part the Lord calls us to in helping persecuted Christians around the world. The author shows great confidence of our victory in this challenge when he states, “We shall win the Communists.
First, because God is on our side. Second, because our message corresponds to the deepest need of the heart” (127). His answer to how to win this battle for souls is through prayer, giving of Bibles, financial donations to organizations helping those in these persecuted churches, and lastly going to hostile places to share the Gospel personally.
This 50th Anniversary Edition also helps at the end with an afterword that highlights some of what happened with the Wurmbrand’s after this book was published. Also, included is the impact the book has had over the years, and some pictures that help tell the story of the Wurmbrand’s life. Lastly, other works of Richard Wurmbrand and Voice of the Martyrs are given as further reading on the persecuted church. These added benefits from previous releases really are gems for the reader.
This book for has had a great impact on many lives since its release 50 years ago. It has had great impact on my life personally, alongside the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. For 50 years this book has offered challenges, encouragements, and opened so many eyes to the plight of the persecuted church around the world. There could be a book written on all of the impact, and change this work has had on Christians over the past half century.
One of the greatest parts of this book is the passion and direct language used by Richard Wurmbrand. This is a serious issue with serious consequences for not acting on the knowledge we have. You have to appreciate the author’s willingness to share tough and fresh suffering he faced.
Over and over again he shares stories of himself and fellow Christians and the constant torture they encountered. Many of those times would be traumatic to bring back up again, but the author’s willingness to do so for our benefit is humbling. He is also very direct in his challenge to us as fellow believers to engage in the problems of the persecuted church.
Many believers, including myself have been convicted and taken up the challenge to help in ways God has called us too. His famous quote from the book is one of those great, and direct challenges. Wurmbrand says, “A man believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for” (83). One of the author’s greatest strengths in writing is the freshness and passion driven by it to the reader.
The knowledge of the persecuted church given by the stories and words from the writer is an invaluable tool for all believers. Many if not most believers today do not know or understand the issues faced by the persecuted church. This book provides us with the understanding and tools we need to take action in helping the hurting church around the world.
Especially, during this time period having someone so fresh out of the torture was incredibly helpful in mobilizing the church to help. Not even just the knowledge but also the how to help section was so powerful. The mercy and grace show towards those that persecute is a lasting impact of this work. Even rereading this time around I was able to gain a fresher perspective and be challenged to mobilize our local church for working with the challenged churches around the globe.
Lastly, as I mentioned above I think that the lasting impact of fifty years allowing for this Anniversary Edition is a great strength of this book. It is as relevant today as it was when it first came out. You can’t overestimate how many people around the world that have read this book, and have been impacted by it. We owe a debt of gratitude towards the Wurmbrand’s and their work for the Gospel over so many years, despite the many sacrifices that had to be made a long the way.
There are only small things to critique about probably the most excellent work on the persecuted church. One area is the rawness of it being written days after his release from incarceration. It jumps around a little at times and lacks in cohesiveness because of the quickness in which it was written. It makes it hard to follow at times, but is understandable with the how and when it was written.
There was also not much time to edit some of the extreme scenes, that make it harder for younger people to be able to read sections of this work.
Though I understand where he is coming from when he wrote this book there are some theological differences I may have with Mr. Wurmbrand. He tends to downplay at times the need for true doctrine, which I think would hurt the persecuted church more then help it.
The major doctrinal area there would be differ on would be his calling for people to choose fully in starting a relationship with God. God initiates salvation, and we are not able to come knocking on God’s door without His initiation first. It appears that the author is right on with his Gospel message, but this would be the one area I would disagree with him on.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to be read by all Christians. It will give you a great perspective on the dangers faced by following Christ around the world. It will also give you challenge to take action and help the persecuted church.
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has faced persecution from the very beginning. It is major problem today, and it will continue until the Lord returns. We need to be aware of it and need to know how we can take action to help those that are hurting.
In Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand provides us with a powerful work on the persecuted church. He provides us with open eyes to the problem being faced, offers solutions of God’s Gospel message as solution, and charges us as fellow believers with the task at hand to providing help for the persecuted church. How will we respond today to this challenge?
“Christians who study the Word recognize the times in which we live and look forward to the return of Christ.” (21)
“Every soul won for Christ must be made into a soul-winner.” (43)
“Communists can kill Christians but they cannot kill their love toward even those who killed them.” (71)
“A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” (83)
“The distinctive feature of the Underground Church is its earnestness in faith.” (125)