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Follow Richard’s Path Through Life

1909-1949 | 1950-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-2008

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

1937-1938
In a village in Romania, a godly old carpenter named Christian Wölfkes prays for years to win a Jew for Christ. A young Jewish man and his wife arrive in his village. In 1938, the carpenter leads the Jewish strangers, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, to Jesus Christ.

1941
Romania supports Germany in the war against the USSR and is host to German forces. Richard Wurmbrand, now a pastor, engages in evangelistic activities with the occupying soldiers. During the Nazi terror, Richard and Sabina are repeatedly beaten and arrested. Sabina’s family perishes in the mass extermination of Jews in concentration camps.

1944
Communists seize power in Romania, and Russian troops pour into the country. Pastor Wurmbrand ministers to his oppressed fellow countrymen and to the Russian soldiers, printing one million Russian Gospels of John.

1945
Richard and Sabina attend the “Congress of Cults”. As many religious leaders come forward to swear loyalty to the new communist regime, Sabina tells her husband to “wipe the shame from the face of Jesus”. Richard, knowing the cost, steps forward and tells 4,000 delegates that their duty as Christians is to glorify God and Christ alone.

1948
On Sunday morning, February 29, Pastor Wurmbrand leaves for church. Secret police kidnap Richard and place him in a solitary cell, designating him “Prisoner Number One”.

1950
The communists arrest Sabina and assign her to forced labor on the Danube Canal. The Wurmbrands’ 11-year-old son, Mihai, is left alone. Sabina is released in 1953 and continues to work with the underground church. She is told her husband died in prison.

1956
Richard is released after serving eight and a half years in prison. He endured horrific tortures and was warned to never preach again, but he resumes his ministry.

1959
Richard is turned in to the authorities by one of his own associates in the underground church. He is arrested again and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

1964
Richard is released from prison and resumes his work. Two Westerners cautiously make their way to the attic home of the Wurmbrands to see if the stories of Christians being imprisoned under communism are true. This is the first contact the Wurmbrands have with outside missionaries since their arrests.

1965-1966
The Wurmbrand family is ransomed from Romania for $10,000 and the secret police tell Richard to remain silent about his experiences. In May of 1966, he testifies in Washington, D.C., before the Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee. His story spreads rapidly across the U.S. and the world.

1967
The Communist Party in Albania declares all churches in the country closed. The Wurmbrands officially begin a ministry committed to serving persecuted Christians called Jesus to the Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs). Tortured for Christ, Pastor Wurmbrand’s testimony, is published and the first issue of a monthly newsletter is released. Pastor Wurmbrand preaches Christ at a pro-communist rally in the U.S. and shows his scars inflicted by communists.

1968-1969
VOM launches balloons with Chinese Gospels into China and begins Scripture balloon launches into North Korea.

1970
Communist guerrillas terrorize Christians in Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Guatemala. The Church continues to win young people to Christ, threatening the power base for communist authority. VOM equips Christians with Bibles and literature to share Christ with their enemies.

1971
Christians across Russia are jailed and put into insane asylums. Church buildings are closed, but Russia has the fastest-growing church in Europe.

1972
Russian songbooks are written by hand because of the lack of printed materials. VOM smuggles songbooks and literature into Russia. Romanian Communists publicly declare, “The duty of the church is to fight against Wurmbrand.” Most North Koreans do not have radios, so a powerful loudspeaker is set up on the border between North Korea and South Korea to broadcast the Gospel.

1973
Spanish tracts are dropped off boats and floated into Cuba. The Chinese Communist government orders all churches to close.

1974
Somalia, Ethiopia, South Yemen, Iraq, Angola and Mozambique pass into communist hands even as VOM sends 30,000 New Testament Bibles into Angola and Mozambique.

1976
VOM supplies Cambodian Christians with rice as many flee from attacks.

1977
Russian children are put into psychiatric asylums for refusing to deny Christ.

1978
Communists in Ethiopia commit mass murder of Christians. VOM responds by helping families of martyrs.

1980
VOM begins work in Afghanistan and Nicaragua.

1982
VOM prints Christian literature in more than 20 Indian languages. Literature is spread to Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Poland, Christians pack their churches even though many clergy are beaten and arrested. VOM sends Christian anti-communist literature. Believers pray in fields in Czechoslovakia. VOM helps their children with food, toys and books. Six underground printing presses are at work in China printing hymnals, Gospels and Christian books.

1983
VOM smuggles small booklets about Christ to Tibet. Thousands of evangelicals are murdered in Nicaragua by Sandinistas (communist guerrillas). VOM helps Nicaraguan Christians carry in literature to share Christ with their enemies.

1984
Three hundred pastors in Ethiopia have passed through prisons. The few churches left open are full, especially with youth. The “Sendero Luminoso” (Shining Path) communist guerrillas in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua terrorize poor villages and hunt down Christians who threaten their power.

1985
In the USSR, prisoners are drugged to elicit false confessions; children are forced to testify against their parents, and a majestic cathedral is converted into a Museum of Atheism. VOM encourages readers to write to prisoners.

1986
Christians in East Germany suffer behind the Wall. A church is dynamited to make more room for more construction of the Berlin Wall. VOM distributes literature in Arabic and Turkish in Sudan, Egypt, and Turkey.

1987
Starving Mozambican Christians ask for canoes to travel and to share the Gospel with their communist enemies. VOM provides the canoes along with food and clothing. VOM work is translated into Urdu in Pakistan. VOM provides raincoats, boots and tents to Christians who meet secretly outdoors in Russia. Christian broadcasting work is done in nine European languages, Chinese and several Asian languages.

1988
200 believers are hanged in Iran and 800 are jailed.

1989
An estimated 1,000 protesters are massacred at Tienanmen Square in Beijing, China. On November 9th, the Berlin Wall is torn down. A Romanian pastor prays in Timisoara. Soon afterward, thousands of Romanians protest the oppressive regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. Soldiers are overcome by the conviction of the people and turn on the secret police. Communism falls in Romania.

1990
Within days of Romania’s newly-opened borders, VOM workers bring trucks filled with aid and Christian material to the people of Romania and other liberated countries. Richard and Sabina return to Romania after 25 years of exile. Richard preaches a message of love and forgiveness.

1991
A VOM office is officially opened in Cherkassy, Ukraine. Ten tons of literature and aid are rushed to Siberia. On December 26, the Soviet Union officially breaks up, bringing an end to the one-party Communist rule for the first time since 1917. VOM increases work in Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Tibet and Vietnam.

1995
Agape Children’s Home opens in Romania. Bible distribution to China increases. VOM sends approximately 100,000 coats to Russia provided by Christian families in America. Tribal villagers in Vietnam receive Bibles in their own languages for the first time. Pakistani Christians begin receiving help from VOM.

1996
The Bibles to Captive Nations Fund is established, bringing a substantial increase of Bibles delivered into closed countries. VOM begins broadcasting Gospel programs into the Middle East. The first International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is observed.

1999
Hindu radicals expand Christian persecution in parts of India. The Sudan Blankets of Love program begins. VOM publishes the first Farsi/English parallel New Testament Bible for Iranians.

2000
Medical ministry to Pakistan begins. Sabina Wurmbrand dies on August 11.

2001
On February 17, Richard Wurmbrand dies. The Christmas Care Project for Egypt begins to help Christian Children.

2003
VOM expands the Action Pack program to include Iraq. At the request of Iraqi Christians, VOM floods Iraq with Christian literature. The Persecuted Church Academic Program—a dream of Pastor Wurmbrand—is launched in partnership with Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

2004 to Present
Christians still suffer for their faith in more than 38 restricted and 14 hostile nations (2009). Five of these countries—Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Ethiopia—have been on VOM’s list of restricted countries for more than 30 years.