Tortured for Christ is often described as the life story of Rev. Richard Wurmbrand. In fact, however, Rev. Wurmbrand is not the main character of the movie or the book. The main character is a woman, but she is not Sabina, his wife. The main character is not listed in the movie credits or on the book cover, nor is she mentioned by name in any of the promotional materials. In fact, you can only see her in the movie and book at all if Christ reveals her to you, and that may only occur after you have read or seen the story several times.
The chance to catch even a glimpse of this woman is the only real reason to watch and read Tortured for Christ. If you do not see this woman, you will simply think of Tortured for Christ as a kind of a heavy and slightly dated story about a pastor who paid a high price for following Jesus, and you will wonder why the movie opens with Rev. Wurmbrand being tortured and closes with him still in prison. What kind of a movie opens with a torture scene and closes with a prison scene? Definitely no movie that anyone wants to see.
This movie, this book, is made to reveal her. Who is she?
She is the Underground Church.
As Rev. Wurmbrand wrote in Tortured for Christ, “Before entering prison, I loved Christ very much. Now, after having seen the Bride of Christ (his spiritual Body) in prison, I would say that I love the Underground Church almost as much as I love Christ Himself. I have seen her beauty, her spirit of sacrifice.”
This is the reason why Tortured for Christ takes place in prison: To see her, you must look in prisons and the most closed countries. The Underground Church does not appear in wealthy, free places where people have rights and dignity and good food and running water. But Rev. Wurmbrand would say that South Korean Christians are deprived because Sarang Church on Easter morning, Myungsung Church in early morning prayer, and Yoido Full Gospel Church’s Prayer Mountain—all wither in comparison to the beauty of the Underground Church, in North Korea and in the other darkest places of the world.
Rev. Wurmbrand wrote in Tortured for Christ, “Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches.” Presumably the thought applies to South Korean churches as well.
That is why Tortured for Christ is not about torture, not about Rev. Wurmbrand, not simply about standing up for Jesus no matter the cost.
It is about her, the Underground Church.
Watch the movie. Read the book. Perhaps like Christ, the Apostle Paul, and Rev. Wurmbrand, you will be transfixed by her as well.