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Telling the Story of a Man Tortured for Christ

Cheryl Wilcox - 700 Club Producer

In theaters April 12th - Buy Tickets

The film “Tortured for Christ” tells the life story of Romanian Pastor, and Voice of the Martyrs’ founder, Richard Wurmbrand. The movies’ release this March coincided with the 5oth anniversary of Wurmbrand’s classic autobiography by the same title. Directed by John Grooters, the movie is now available at Tortured for Christ.com. In the post WWII era of communist atheism, the film depicts Pastor Wurmbrand’s arrest, fourteen years of imprisonment and torture for his public faith in Christ.

Tom Buehring: “Were there specific, artistic, technical considerations you have to give for shooting the torture scene?”

John Grooters:  “If you read Richard’s books, Tortured for Christ and In God’s Underground, he described a lot more than is in this film. We didn't shoot it in a way that exploits goriness, but we also didn't just avoid it.  Because this is what the Communists did and do to people. They treat them like animals, and they have lost their humanity in this cruelty.”

Wurmbrand’s film story begins prior to his arrest as the communist convene the “congress of cults” so named to demean Romania’s religious leaders.

John Grooters:  “They (Partidul Comunist Roman, PCR) brought all the ministers and Rabi’s and preachers and they run the whole country together to sing the praises of Communism, to roll out the propaganda, and to rally conscript their collaboration and cooperation for the party.  And if you didn't do that they would throw you in prison. So there’s a scene in the movie and they're listening to these communist speeches, one after the other, and Sabina (Wurmbrand) whispers to Richard:”

Actress in the role of Sabina Wurmbrand: ‘They're spitting in the face of Christ.’

John Grooters: “and he (Richard Wurmbrand) stands up.”

Actor in the role of Richard Wurmbrand: ‘May I speak?’

John Grooters: “He (Richard Wurmbrand) comes down (to the podium) and he says,  ‘We're here, not to praise our political party, but to praise Christ,’ and it was being broadcast on the radio. This was a terrible moment for the Communists (PCR). They cut his microphone, they ended the (radio) broadcast, and he was a marked man and he knew it. “

Tom Buehring:  “John, overseeing the narrative of his life.” JG:  “Yes.” TB: “Looking at it now, what about Richard Wurmbrand most impacted you?

John Grooters: “Richard grew up an Atheistic Jew. He was off and running in a pretty successful career; he was going to be wealthy. But, when he met Christ, I mean, all of that talent got reassigned to the Kingdom. He just had this passionate desire to reach, well, two-two groups, Nazi Germans and Communist Russians. Richard Wurmbrand thought about offense. ‘How do we reach these people for Christ?  They know nothing about Jesus.’ He looked at these Russians and he saw emptiness.  And he didn't feel empty and he wanted to give them life. And Richard, who, you know, ultimately survives or we wouldn't have these stories, he gets to the freedom of the American church.  And at times he said, ‘I so miss the fellowship we once had in those days, in the underground church.’ “

Tom Buehring:  “John, the tortured persecuted church, is happening all over the world.  In our free world is America ready for it?”

John Grooters:  “If we're going to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, don't just wait until you feel like it. I will never feel like it.  I never will. So I gotta ask God to give me a heart for these people uh whom I know are my enemies right now.  And then through that maybe some of them will no longer be enemies.  Maybe we can win some of them through our love. Richard and Sabina modeled that.”

Tom Buehring:  “Its interesting, John, isn't it, after founding Voice of Martyrs (1967), Richard passes in 2001. He outlasted that atheism (dissolution of the Soviet Union December 26th 1991).”

John: (Slight Laugh)

Tom: “Is that fitting?”

John Grooters:  “All this will pass, but My Word (The Holy Scriptures) will never pass away. And, here we 70 years later, and he's speaking to us through his faithfulness.  And you're right, no one's listening to Ceausescu (notorious Romanian Communist leader) anymore, we're listening to Wurmbrand.  That's awesome.”     

Tom Buerhing: “What do you hope audiences will take away?”

John Grooters: “It's not information, it's not even that we take away, ‘Oh, these poor people suffered.’  I hope audiences take away worship of God.  Because now we recognize the power of God then and now, and recognize how exciting it is to be a part of the Kingdom that's advancing.”

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