In Richard Wurmbrand’s In God’s Underground, he describes one Christmas Eve he experienced along with other prisoners who were imprisoned during the brutal and long communistic regime of Romania.
“On Christmas Eve, prison talk became more serious. There were few quarrels, no swearing, little laughter. Every man thought of those he loved and there was a feeling of communion with the rest of mankind, which was usually so remote from our lives. I spoke of Christ, but all the time my feet and hands were cold as steel, my teeth chattered, and an icy lump of hunger in my stomach seemed to spread through my body until only the heart lived. When I stopped, a simple farming lad took up where I had left off. Aristar had never been to school. Yet he talked so naturally, describing the scene of the nativity as if it had happened in his own barn that week, that there were tears in the eyes of all who listened.
Someone began to sing in the prison that evening. At first his voice was quiet, and hardly came in among the thoughts that occupied my mind, of my wife and my son. But gradually the voice swelled wonderfully in the crisp, clear air until it echoed through the corridors and everybody stopped what they were doing. We were very quiet when he ceased. The guards, huddled in their quarters around a coke stove, did not stir all evening. We began to tell stories…”
Wurmbrand notes in this autobiography that stories and humor are what gave him and other prisoners purpose during their hellish and drawn-out sentences. He notes that stories were commodities and valued as bread itself.
January 2, 2021 at 2:20 am
The most dramatic moment of testimony occurred when the witness stripped bare to the waist. Pointing to 18 deep scars on his neck, chest and back, 56-year-old Romanian minister Richard Wurmbrand, his suspenders hanging loosely behind him, his face streaked with anguish, told Chairman Thomas J. Dodd of Connecticut and the other members of the Senate Internal Security subcommittee looking into religious persecution by Communists, “My body represents Romania, my country, which has been tortured to a point that it can no longer weep. These marks on my body are my credentials.” Rev. Wurmbrand wasn’t whistling Dixie. Two years earlier, in June 1964, he had emerged from more than 14 years captivity in the Romanian gulag, during which time Communist Party secret police tortured him insidiously: they wanted him to confess to the supposed political nature of his church-related activities, as well as to inform on men and women who had participated in clandestine religious ceremonies. He never cracked.