Who was Richard Wurmbrand?

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Richard Wurmbrand
Romania Location Map


Born in Romania

Richard Wurmbrand was born the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family on March 24th, 1909, in Bucharest, Romania.

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Married to Sabina

Gifted intellectually and fluent in nine languages, Richard was active in leftist politics and worked as a stockbroker. On October 26th, 1936, Richard married Sabina Oster, who was also Jewish.


Both became Christians

Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand become Christians, after being given a Bible by a carpenter who had been praying for them. They join the Anglican Mission to the Jews in Bucharest. Richard would later be ordained a Lutheran.


Opportunities for evangelism

During World War II, Richard and Sabina saw opportunities for evangelism among the occupying German forces. They preached in bomb shelters and rescued Jewish children out of the ghettos. Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and, at least once, nearly executed. Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.

Auditorium Of The Palace Of The People Romania


'Congress of Cults'

After the Communists seize power in Romania, Richard and Sabina set up an underground church to minister to the Romanian people and to witness to Russian soldiers. They attend the ‘Congress of Cults’, an event staged by the authorities to invite religious leaders to swear loyalty to the Communist regime. Richard stands up and tells the 4,000 delegates that their duty as Christians is to glorify God and Christ alone.

(Picture: Auditorium of the ‘Palace Of The People’ in Romania)

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Richard arrested for the first time

On February 29th, on his way to a church meeting, Richard is arrested by Romanian secret police. While in prison he is tortured but refuses to renounce his faith.

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Sabina arrested

Sabina is arrested by the Communists and sent to do forced labour on the Danube Canal. She is released three years later and is told by the authorities that her husband has died in prison.

(Pic: Construction of Danube Canal, Courtesy: Ionut Cojocaru)


Richard released from prison

Richard is released after serving eight years in prison. He is warned never to preach again, but resumes his underground ministry.

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Richard arrested for second time

Richard is betrayed to the authorities by one of his own associates. He is re-arrested and sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.


Richard released and granted amnesty

Richard is released from prison, as part of a general amnesty in Romania, and resumes his gospel work. In Bucharest he meets the Rev. Stuart Harris and the Rev. John Moseley of the European Christian Mission and tells them of his experiences. This is the first contact the Wurmbrands have had with missionaries from outside Romania since their arrests.

Wurmbrand Senate Hearing


Move to USA. Richard testifies in Washington, DC, before the Senate’s Internal Security Sub-committee

The Wurmbrand family is ransomed out of Romania for $10,000. Reluctant to leave his homeland, Richard is 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, leave Romania for Norway and then travel on to England. Before leaving the Romanian secret police warn Richard not to speak about his experiences in prison. In England they again meet Stuart Harris and then continue to the United States. Richard testifies in Washington, DC, before the Senate’s Internal Security Sub-committee, famously stripping to his waist to reveal eighteen deep torture wounds on his body. His story spreads rapidly.

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Publication of 'Tortured for Christ'

Richard’s book, Tortured for Christ, is published. He would say of it, “This book is written not so much with ink, as with the blood of bleeding hearts.” It would go on to be a hugely influential book, translated into many languages (Available from our eStore here).

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Creation of CMCW

Richard’s meetings with Stuart Harris lead to the establishment in the UK of Christian Mission to the Communist World, which would become Release International in 1994. All around the world sister missions are established, all tracing their heritage to Richard’s life and witness.

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Sabina's book 'The Pastor's Wife' published

Sabina Wurmbrand’s book, The Pastor’s Wife, is published (Available from our eStore here).

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Return visit to Romania

After the fall of Communism, and the end of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania, Richard and Sabina visit Romania after 25 years of exile. He is widely received by many churches and even receives invitations to preach on television.

Agape Childrens Home Romania


Opening of Agape Children's Home in Romania

Richard and Sabina return to Romania to officiate at the opening of the Agape Children’s Home, a place for Romanian orphans and street children to receive love, care and to hear about Jesus Christ. At the opening ceremony Richard states the home was built with the “tears of the martyrs”.

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Richard retires and continues to live in California.

Sabina Wurmbrand Headstone


The end of an era - death of Sabina

Sabina Wurmbrand dies in August 2000, ages 87.

(Pic: Courtesy ‘Find A Grave‘)

Richard Wurmbrand Headstone


The end of an era - death of Richard

Six months after the death of Sabina, on February 17, 2001, Richard Wurmbrand dies after several years of illness.

(Pic: Courtesy ‘Find A Grave‘)