Title: Tortured for Christ (2018; PG-13)
Director: John Grooters
Major Themes: Christian Faith, Persecution
Synopsis: When Richard Wurmbrand had to stand up to defend Christ, he knew he would suffer the consequences—would he be able to keep his faith during long years in prison?
Several years ago, I finally plucked up the courage to read Tortured for Christ (the book), something I wasn’t sure I’d ever do. We got it in audio form, and I listened to it—and though it wasn’t an easy read, it was very, very good. Several years later, I heard about the movie they made based on the book, and heard how some of it was shot on-location where the original events took place. It sounded interesting, but I didn’t have a chance to see it until recently, when RevelationMedia had it available to watch for free. What a good movie! Very different and somewhat difficult to watch because of the content, but encouraging, too.
When Richard Wurmbrand attended a meeting of pastors in Romania, and saw one after another standing up to praise the Communist government, he knew he had to say something. With the encouragement of his wife Sabina, he stood up and proclaimed that Jesus—and Jesus alone—was the only hope for Romania. This, along with his denouncement of Communist actions, angered the authorities, and not too long after that, he was captured and taken to prison. Once there, he served for fourteen years, suffering numerous beatings, solitary confinement, and almost every torture imaginable. But he still clung to his faith, through everything.
I feel like Wurmbrand’s story is well known, but to see it in movie form was very challenging. I don’t feel like I handle the torture side of things well, but thankfully that wasn’t quite as big a part of Tortured for Christ as I thought. There were some pretty bad scenes, but those served to make me thankful for the strength the Lord gives His children when they are suffering for Him. Some things that happened don’t make sense to me, but mostly because it’s not the kind of setting I’ve ever found myself in or needed the grace to get through. One quote that stood out to me, here as well as from the book, was—“We made a deal with our guards. We preach, they beat us.” As a western Christian, that seems inconceivable to me. But watching the transformation of other people in that prison, I could understand a little better why they did that.
Films like Tortured for Christ are important because they help us understand what our Christian family around the world—the Bride of Christ—are going through. Seeing that both makes me want to remember to pray specifically for God’s strength for them, and that He will work in the lives of those the Christians are serving. And it also made me want to praise the Lord for the work He has done and is doing in His church! Recommended.
WARNING: This isn’t a movie for children. Since I didn’t watch it from a DVD, I don’t have any specific times for you, but throughout the movie, there is some violence. Several times, you see men being brutally beaten and there are references to other tortures. At one point, a man watches as his son is beaten to death in front of him. A woman is also mistreated here—she’s thrown in a river and almost drowns.
Ages 15 and Above, Adults