The story of Voice of the Martyrs begins in Romania with a Lutheran pastor named Richard Wurmbrand. As an ethnic Jew, Wurmbrand faced persecution under the heavy hand of fascists during World War II. Then, as a Christian leader, he faced persecution at the hands of their Communist successors.
After boldly proclaiming that Christ would never be subservient to the Communist regime, Wurmbrand was captured and imprisoned without trial. Officials had Wurmbrand tortured in the hopes that he would reveal information about the underground church. Wurmbrand, however, refused to co-operate.
Wurmbrand was in prison for more than fourteen years before he was formally ransomed out of Romania for $10,000. Despite his newfound freedom, Wurmbrand never forgot his persecuted brothers and sisters and strongly believed he had been ransomed from prison to serve as a voice for the persecuted church. In 1967 he founded Jesus to the Communist world, the organization which would later become Voice of the Martyrs. Through this organization, he supported the underground church around the world in any way that he could.
Life in the “free world”, however, had its own challenges.
“I suffer in the West [the free world] more than I suffered in a communist jail, because now see with my own eyes the western civilization dying,” Wurmbrand explained.
Not only did the church in the free world overlook the suffering of its persecuted brothers and sisters, but it did not understand how to suffer in Christ’s name. Wurmbrand found several similarities in the free world to Romania in its honeymoon phase with Communism and felt responsible for preparing the church in the free world for inevitable persecution. He wrote the book Preparing for the Underground Church to this end.