Richard Wurmbrand had a comfortable life as a pastor in Communist Romania. He had a salary that supported his family and a congregation that loved and trusted him. But as he watched other Christians suffer for their faith while a tyrannical dictatorship destroyed everything around them, Richard was not at peace. Why, he wondered, had God spared him from persecution and trial? Desiring to answer Christ’s call to take up his cross and follow him, Richard and his wife, Sabina, began to pray that God would give them a cross to bear. And on Feb. 29, 1948, their prayers were answered.

As Richard walked to church that winter morning in Bucharest, members of the secret police abducted him, taking away not only the comfortable life he had known but also his identity. “From now on,” they told him, “you are Vasile Georgescu,” labeling him with a generic Romanian name to conceal his true identity.

He disappeared without a trace, and Sabina had no information beyond the outrageous rumors she had heard: One said he had been taken to Russia, while another claimed he had died under interrogation. Though overwhelmed with worry from not knowing where Richard was or if he was even alive, she continued to minister to the spiritual and material needs of others and continued Richard’s work.

Like Richard and Sabina, many Christian couples today bear their cross together as they work to advance the kingdom in restricted nations and hostile areas around the world. While they may not specifically pray for a cross to bear, they know their work comes with a price. Couples willingly take up their cross, understanding that not doing God’s work is far more dangerous than doing his work, as Sabina once said.

After being ransomed out of Romania in 1965 and arriving in the West, Richard and Sabina discovered a new cross to bear, one they took up tirelessly: “The West sleeps and must be awakened to see the plight of captive nations,” Richard wrote.

Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand are pictured greeting a young girl with smiles.

As members of Christ’s body, we are all called to bear a cross together as we advance God’s kingdom. Our crosses may come in the form of an unbelieving family member, a spouse uninterested in the Great Commission, a medical diagnosis or loss of employment. But whatever it is, the testimonies of our brothers and sisters in Christ encourage us as we bear our cross.

Richard Wurmbrand Imprisoned by Communist Russians
Categories: Stories from the Field

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