The following is a loose transcript of a video message posted by scholar, pastor, and prolific author Iosif Ton on April 11, 2020, titled ‘Isolation and Creativity’ (see here).
Richard Wurmbrand mentored me when I was younger. Wurmbrand was arrested in 1948, was imprisoned for 9 years, was set free for three years, and then was arrested again in 1964 before being given amnesty and before being “purchased” by a Hebrew-Norwegian organization.
After Wurmbrand was initially arrested, he was imprisoned underground by the Central Committee for Communism. He was in complete solitary confinement where he quickly realized that he would die in isolation–that loneliness itself would kill him. He asked himself what he should do so that he wouldn’t die due to the loneliness.
Wurmbrand had an idea. He would take a verse from the Bible that he knew by heart, and he would create a sermon from it. He would imagine that he was at the front of his church and give a sermon on that text. After he prepared it, he would imagine that he was at the pulpit and he would preach the sermon out loud. When he finished, he would keep preaching the sermon, until he would have the sermon memorized. After he finished memorizing, he would take another verse and would do the same with it (verse, sermon, repetition). Then he would move on to another sermon. He memorized dozens of sermons, and through this exercise, he was no longer alone because he was in fellowship with his church–he would preach to his congregation.
In 1957, when Wurmbrand was set free through a miracle of God, I met him in Cluj during his second day of freedom. I felt tied and bonded to him, and I became his student. When he arrived in Bucharest, he purchased a typewriter and began to type the sermons that he learned by himself in solitary confinement. He would type the sermons and I would devour them, one by one. In this way, I learned his extraordinary sermons.
His sermons became a book: Sermons in Solitary Confinement–you can find this book at the Stefanos Library (link to updated edition). Know that it is one of the best books written by Wurmbrand. Read it, savor it, and see what God does with a man in the worst conditions.
Wurmbrand’s situation was created to drive him insane, but Wurmbrand transformed the situation into something creative–into a creative situation. This applies today. I told this story because it applies greatly to today’s situation and time. There are thousands and millions of people that wake up and are lonely. They never thought hard or meditated before this, so being alone with their thoughts is a foreign thing. They are enclosed and imprisoned in their homes, and are required to stay there. Many of them don’t know what to do with the isolation and loneliness.
I’m giving you all a recipe: Wurmbrand’s recipe. You’re alone, but you’re not alone. You are with your child or children, with whom you haven’t had much time to talk to. You’re now alone with them. What I propose is this: what do you have that is the best in your heart? Give it to your child or children. All you have that is the best in you: thoughts, dreams, aspirations, give it to your child or children to enrich them. If you don’t have children or you have time, give it to your spouse. These thoughts are treasures. All that is the best in you, give to your loved ones. Even better: write it down. Write your thoughts down. Write your aspirations down. Because when you will come out of confinement, you will have them as priceless treasures.
Isolation is created and used by the devil to kill. God tells us to be creators in our isolation. Be a creator for your kids, your spouse, for your future, for your posterity. Gather all your inward treasures that you never had time to verbalize, and write them down. Transform isolation into a creative situation. Overcome bad with good. Overcome solitude by using it as an occasion to create all that is the best in your heart. May God bless this isolation to become the most creative thing in your history. Be blessed.
Translation and transcript by Linda Moldovan.