1909 Richard Wurmbrand is born on 24 March in Bucharest, Romania, the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family.
1937-1938 In a village in Romania, a godly carpenter named Christian Wölfkes prays for years to lead a Jew to Christ. In 1938, the carpenter leads Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand to Jesus Christ after they arrive in his village.
1941 Romania supports Germany in the war against the USSR and hosts German forces. Richard, now a pastor, coordinates evangelism to the occupying soldiers. Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and were nearly executed at least once. Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.
1944 Communists seize power in Romania and Russian troops pour into the country. Richard ministers to his oppressed countrymen and engages in bold evangelism to the Russian soldiers.
1945 Richard and Sabina attend the “Congress of Cults.” As many religious leaders come forward to swear loyalty to the new Communist regime, Sabina asks Richard to “wipe the shame from the face of Jesus.” Richard, knowing the cost, steps forward and tells 4000 delegates that their duty as Christians is to glorify God and Christ alone. Between 1945 and 1947, Richard distributes one million Gospels to Russian troops, the books often disguised as Communist propaganda. Richard also smuggles Gospels into Russia.
1948 On 29 February, Richard is arrested by secret police and placed in a solitary cell.
1950 The Communists arrest Sabina and assign her to forced labour on the Danube Canal. The Wurmbrands’ 9-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. Later, a doctor masquerading as a Communist party member discovered Richard alive in prison.
1956 Richard is released after serving eight-and-a-half years in prison. He endured horrific tortures and was warned never to 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.
1964-1965 Richard is released from prison and resumes his work. The Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance pay $10,000 in ransom to the Communist government to allow the Wurmbrand family to leave Romania. They are reluctant to leave Romania, but other underground church leaders convince the Wurmbrands to leave and become a voice for the underground church to the world. Though Romanian officials warn Richard never to mention his prison experiences, he and Sabina speak internationally about the persecution.
1966 In May, Richard testifies in Washington DC, before the Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, where he reveals eighteen deep torture wounds on his body. His story spreads rapidly across the world.
1967 Richard launches a ministry to persecuted Christians, ‘Jesus to the Communist World,’ later named The Voice of the Martyrs, in the United States and publishes his book Tortured for Christ. After reading the book, many Christians leave secular careers to help start Voice of the Martyrs missions around the world.
1969 Richard arrives in Sydney in response to an invitation from Ambassadors for Christ and shares his story at meetings all over Australia. Australian Christians respond to his call to “remember the persecuted” and the visit leads to the establishment of Voice of the Martyrs in Australia. The first Australian newsletter is published in November 1969.
2000 Sabina dies on 11 August after years of supporting the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs.
2001 Richard retired in 1992, but continued as a consultant and member of the Board of Directors of The Voice of Martyrs USA, showing a keen interest in the work until his death in 2001. During his ministry, Richard wrote 18 books which have been translated into 38 languages.
Present Worldwide, 19 Voice of the Martyrs partner missions serve the persecuted church in more than 50 countries.