The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
One of my favorite examples in church history of uncompromise is Richard Wurmbrand who wrote the book entitled Tortured for Christ. He was an evangelical pastor from Romania who spent 14 years in communist prison – 3 of those years being in solitary confinement. He was released in 1964 and appeared before the Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, where he was stripped of his clothes to show his 18 deep torture wounds that covered his body.
The following is a portion of the transcript from that Committee hearing:
Senator Dodd. Could you describe for us the cell in which you were kept in solitary confinement?
Reverend Wurmbrand. There are no windows in the cells. Air enters through a tube. And there were a few desks with a mattress, with a straw mattress. You had but three steps for to walk. Never were we taken out from these cells except for interrogations when prisoners were beaten and tortured. For years I have never seen sun, moon, flowers, snow, stars, no man except the interrogator who beat. the treatment was very bad. The purpose was to make us mad. You didn’t hear a noise. A whisper you didn’t hear in this cell. The guard had felt shoes. For years, not to hear anything. In all these years of prison we never had a book, we never had a but of paper, we never had a newspaper, nothing to distract our mind except that from time to time tape recorders were put on the corridor. We didn’t know what has happened with the Communists that they make us enjoy, and after 10 or 15 minutes at once you heard, “Ha, ha, ha don’t beat,” the torturing of a woman. This lasted for half an hour the torturing of a woman. And of 100 prisoners who had been in that cell, in that corridor, everybody recognized that it is his wife or that it is his girl. I myself thought also that it is my wife. Never will a Westerner understand, if I would not have the mark on my body, which are my credentials.
Senator Dodd. …Were the Christians treated any differently or mistreated any differently?
Reverend Wurmbrand. Everybody in prison was very badly treated. And I cannot be contradicted on this question, because I have been with physicians, I have much more broken bones than anybody, so either I broke my bones or somebody else broke them… I will describe you about torturing and mocking Christians, and believe me I would renounce to eternal life to paradise after which I long, if I tell you one word of exaggeration… One Sunday morning in the prison of Pitesti a young Christian was already the fourth day, day and night, tied to the cross. Twice a day the cross was put on the floor and 100 other cell inmates by beating, by tortures, were obliged to fulfill their necessities upon his face and upon his body. Then the cross was erected again and the Communists swearing and mocking “Look your Christ, look your Christ, how beautiful he is, adore him, kneel before him, how fine he smells, your Christ.” And then the Sunday morning came and a Catholic priest, an acquaintance of mine, has been put to the belt, in the dirt of a cell with 100 prisoners, a plate with excrements, and one with urine was given to him and he was obliged to say the holy mass upon these elements, and he did it. And I asked him afterward, “Father, but how could you make this?” He was half mad. He answered to me: “Brother, I have suffered more than Christ. Don’t reproach to me what I have done.” And the other prisoners beaten to take holy communion in this form, and the Communists around, “Look, your sacraments, look, your church, what a holy church you have, what fine is your church, what holy ordinance God has given you.”
Senator Dodd. Now, did the Rumanian secret police employ brainwashing techniques?
Reverend Wurmbrand. The worst thing has been the brainwashing. All the tortures of times before were nothing in comparison with brainwashing… We were at the same time very much undernourished. We had times when we received 100 grams, one slice of bread, a week. It was told to us, “We give you as many calories as you need to be able to breathe only,” and so our power of will has been broken…Then came the brain washings. “Your wives are laying in bed with men,” obscene words, “Your children hate you. You have nobody to love in the world. You are the only fools. Give up faith. Nobody is more Christians. Christianity is dead.”… They tortured by all means. They beat until they broke the bones. They used red-hot irons, they used knives, they used everything. And what was the first thing is not that they beat, not what they did, but how they did it. They interrogated you very politely, and if you did not wish to say what they asked they said, “Well, we have the first. On the 15th you will be beaten and tortured at 10 o’clock in the evening.” Imagine what 14 days were after this. We have had prisoners who during this time, which has been given to them, knocked at the door, “I can’t bear it. I will say everything,” before they have been tortured.
Rev. Wurmbrand would continue explaining the interrogations and conditions of Romania at the time. At the very end of the committee meeting…
Senator Dodd. We don’t have any more questions. Do you have anything more you want to say, Pastor?
Reverend Wurmbrand. The love to God, the love to Christ, the love to fatherland has never ceased. With this I finish.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them” (Prov 11:3). “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his way” (Prov 28:6). “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (II Cor 8:21).