Richard Wurmbrand pored over Christian’s Bible. Every day was spent on the sofa in his small cottage, buried in the stories of the New Testament. When he was younger, he had read the Bible casually, mainly out of curiosity. He read about Paul, who had been imprisoned for his faith but declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Richard wondered if that could be true. Jesus Christ offered salvation first for the Jew?
Each word of the New Testament awakened within him a desire to keep reading. Even the punctuation between the words seemed to glow with truth he had never noticed before. Christianity had intrigued him as a child, but now it ruined him for the pleasures of the past. Richard examined the parables of Jesus and pondered His astonishing words: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45). The Jews had been persecuted for centuries. Could he really forgive those who harmed and hated him? Richard continued reading as though his very life depended on it.
An answer came into his head, like a plea, interrupting his thoughts. Come My way! Don’t fear the cross! You’ll find that it’s the greatest joy possible.
Richard wept at the notion of finding joy. Lust he knew, but joy was a new and unfamiliar sensation. Could Jesus forgive his former life, so tarnished with sin and selfishness? Could Christ exchange Richard’s guilt for grace? The words of Jesus spoke to his heart: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Richard needed rest. That’s why he had fled to the sanatorium. But the rest Jesus promised was more than physical; it was spiritual.
Richard remembered the ancient Chinese story about the exhausted man trudging under the insufferable heat of the sun. He rested beneath the shade of a towering oak tree and said, “What a happy coincidence that I found you!”
The oak replied, “It’s not chance. I’ve been waiting for you for four hundred years.”
Suddenly Richard’s eyes were opened. The path to salvation was clear. Jesus Christ had been waiting for him—waiting to teach Richard how to rest in His love. Perhaps even tuberculosis was part of God’s plan to pull him out of the heat of the world and cover him with the shade of the cross.
Right there in a quaint cottage nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, Richard embraced the love of Jesus Christ, a love that refused to let him go.
“God,” Richard prayed, “I was an atheist. Now let me go to Russia to work as a missionary among atheists, and I won’t complain if, afterward, I have to spend all the rest of my life in prison.”