In the current episode of VOM Radio, our guest is Dale Rhoton, one of the co-founders, along with George Verwer, of Operation Mobilization. One of the stories Dale shared is about meeting VOM’s founder, Richard Wurmbrand, inside Romania shortly after Richard’s release from prison.
VOM Radio host, Todd Nettleton: Dale, along the way as you are traveling through those Communist countries you met a man who most of our listeners with be familiar with, Richard Wurmbrand, the man who founded The Voice of the Martyrs. Tell us about that first time you encountered Richard.
Dale Rhoton: This was 1964 and we were, 5 of us OMer’s. I was 26 years of age and I think the others were younger, except for one man named Ray. He, today, is in his 80’s. We said, “It is time for us to drive from the Middle East to Europe.” Then we heard that Richard Wurmbrand had been released from prison and we said it would not take us too much out of the way if we go by way of Bucharest. We went to Bucharest and told some believers there that we had known before. We said, “We understand this Pastor Richard Wurmbrand has just been released from prison and we would like to visit him.”
They said, “We don’t think that is a good idea. It might not be good for him, he is just out of prison and to receive visitors from the West may not be good.” We said, “We respect that, but could you just even ask him if he would.” He consented he wanted to meet us.
He came and there were five of us, total 10-15 people in the living room and I was looking around the room trying to figure out who has just been released from 14 years in prison. I didn’t see anybody who looked like they had been released from 14 years in prison. I asked the young man on my left. I said, “Tell me who is the person that is just released from prison for 14 years?” He pointed to a man over in the corner. I looked at him and he was shiny, his face was aglow and he seemed to have a happiness about him, a peace. I thought he doesn’t look like he has been 14 years in prison. Then I asked the young man, again, “How do you know that he was in prison 14 years?” He said, “That’s my father.” I thought, “Wow. I guess you know.”
Todd Nettleton: What was it about Richard that enabled him to come through 14 years in prison and still have that sense of joy, have that glow about him? Do you have any kind of hints of how he seemed to be so unscathed after so much suffering?
Dale Rhoton: Total commitment to Jesus Christ! More than counting all the pain and suffering he was counting his blessings; just an amazing person. Here he is, just out of prison after 14 years and what does he talk about, he talks about wanting to go to Paris and get up in the nightclubs and preach the gospel in nightclubs. He talks about going to Israel to the Knesset and he would like to stand before the Knesset and preach the gospel. He wanted to have somebody go with him who could hold the people off so he could preach the gospel.
I thought, “These are not the words of someone who is just released from those years in prison.” One of our group, an OM’er named Ray Lynch. Ray had worked in Israel and Pastor Wurmbrand said, “Is there someone in Israel who will help me with what I want to do? Ray said, “There are a number of real fine believers in Israel.” Pastor Wurmbrand said, “No, you don’t answer me until I tell you what I want to do.” Then he told him that he wanted to get up in the Knesset and preach the gospel. Then our man, Ray Lynch, said, “You know, they will put you in prison for that.” Without missing a beat Pastor Wurmbrand said, “Yes, I get two years."
So here is a man who is just released from 14 years in prison and what is he doing? [He's] thinking about how he can get back in prison. This is just a totally different breed!
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