A new faith-based movie, “Tortured for Christ,” is set to be released in just a few days. The film is a cinematic adaptation of a book by the same name, which recalls the harrowing testimony of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a man who faced horrific persecution for defending his Christian faith.
The new movie, which marks 50th anniversary of the book’s 1967 release, is a powerful portrayal of a life lived for Christ alone.
During the Second World War, Pastor Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina felt called to witness the gospel of Christ to the occupying German forces. They went about preaching in bomb shelters and risked their lives to rescue Jewish children out of the ghettos.
Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten by Nazi authorities. On at least one occasion, they were very nearly executed. Sabina lost all of her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.
As the war came to an end in 1945, Romania was overrun with communist fanatics, and over a million Russian soldiers poured into the European nation. Pastor Wurmbrand kept ministering to his fellow Romanians, as well as engaging the soldiers with the gospel, despite the intense risks.
Wurmbrand was later invited to the “Congress of Cults,” organized by the Romanian Communist government. While many other religious leaders pledged their allegiance to the communist ideology and the new regime, the pastor refused.
“Richard walked up to the podium and declared to the delegates, whose speeches were broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty was to glorify God and Christ alone,” the movie’s website states.
For the next few years, Wurmbrand worked covertly, distributing 1 million copies of the biblical gospels to Russian troops, often disguising the material as Communist propaganda. He also helped arrange the smuggling of gospels into Russia.
Eventually, he was tracked down and caught.
From the film’s website:
“He was locked in a solitary cell and labeled ‘Prisoner Number 1.’ In 1950, his wife, Sabina, was also imprisoned. She was forced to serve as a laborer on the Danube Canal project, leaving their 9-year-old son, Mihai, alone and homeless. He was then taken in by Christian friends, who risked imprisonment to care for the child of a political prisoner. Sabina was released after three years, and Richard was also later released, only to be re-arrested and then released in an amnesty in 1964.
In December 1965, two organizations paid a $10,000 ransom to allow the Wurmbrand family to leave Romania. Reluctant to leave his homeland, Richard was convinced by other underground church leaders to leave and become a “voice” to the world for the underground church. Richard, Sabina and their son, Mihai, left Romania for Norway and then traveled on to England.”
Filmed entirely in Romania, including in the very prison where Wurmbrand endured torture and solitary confinement for the sole crime of sharing the gospel,”Tortured for Christ” presents his story with live action rather than interviews. The dialogue is presented in English, Romanian and Russian (with English subtitles) to hold to the authenticity of this true story.
Wurmbrand eventually emigrated to the U.S., where he founded the missions organization, Jesus to the Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs). He passed away in 2001, but his organization’s work continues to impact lives in nations where Christians are being persecuted.
“Tortured for Christ” hits theaters March 5.