Based on the true story of Voice of the Martyrs’ founder, Tortured for Christ chronicles Richard Wurmbrand’s harrowing story of capture and torment by Communists while living in Romania during the Soviet invasion. When Soviet troops entered Romania in 1944, religious leaders were given the choice of promoting Communism or being imprisoned. Many religious leaders praised Communism to show their loyalty. To help persuade Romanians, their messages were broadcasted to the whole nation. But Richard, who served as a Lutheran pastor, wouldn’t stand for such blasphemy and courageously addressed the delegates by letting them know they needed to glorify the name of Christ, not the Communist Party. This courageous act put Richard in an unfavorable spotlight, causing the Communist secret police to begin watching him.
Richard could no longer preach in the church, so he led a small congregation in his apartment. When Bibles were banned, his congregation disguised The Gospel as Communist propaganda. Richard spoke fluent Russian so he could easily communicate to soldiers about Christ. He went to their barracks and told them about Jesus. He and others distributed thousands of disguised Gospel booklets and many came to Christ. They loved God so much that they risked everything to bring soldiers The Gospel. In 1948, Richard is grabbed by the secret police and taken to be interrogated. They offer to “cut a deal” if he tells them the names of other believers. The deal is that he won’t be tortured, but instead, he will be shot. Richard refuses to betray the others and is imprisoned and repeatedly tortured.
During his ordeal, he is put in a wooden box surrounded by sharp nails and forced to stand in it for days. He is also placed in solitary confinement for three years during which he is frequently beaten. Richard endured 14 years in prison, but never wavered in his faith or devotion to share Christ with his tormentors. Richard said of his tormentors, “Communism had stripped the guards of any form of humanity … and only God’s love could restore them.”
There are disturbing scenes throughout the film when Richard and others endure countless beatings. Another prisoner is prodded with a branding iron and bound next to his son while he is bludgeoned to death. Even Richard’s wife, Sabina, is arrested and forced to work hard labor as a political prisoner.
Despite the difficult-to-watch graphic violence, the unwavering faith of Richard and others is a must-see. Richard discovered 366 verses in the Bible that instruct us not to fear, one for each day of the year, including one for leap year. He reflected on these verses throughout his imprisonment. Anytime Richard prayed or preached to other prisoners, he would be tortured. Yet, he continued to remain steadfast in his devotion to God and sharing Christ with others. Even after contracting a severe case of tuberculous and being confined with other sick prisoners, Richard continued to share Christ and as a result witnessed former atheists trusting Jesus before their deaths.
Tortured for Christ reveals how despite tremendous suffering, one man remained strong in his faith and desire to share it with others. As a note, part of the film has Romanian and Russian dialogue which is subtitled in English. Due to disturbing scenes and intense subject matter, we are awarding our Dove Seal at 18+ for the film’s powerful message of sharing Christ–no matter the cost.
The Dove Take:
This inspiring story of one man’s steadfast faith is difficult to watch but well worth seeing, especially for mature audiences.