On March 14th, Lighthouse Trails received an e-mail from Michael Wurmbrand, the son of the late Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice of the Martyrs. In order to verify the authenticity of the letter we received, we contacted VOM first. A man answering the phone and listening to our question transferred us to a message machine. We left our question but did not receive a call back as of the writing of this article. We then searched on the Internet and found a phone number for Michael Wurmbrand. We called and had a ten-minute conversation with him. We also have had e-mail correspondence with him since. After our phone call with him, we were convinced that this letter below is indeed from Richard Wurmbrand’s son. We have also been able to verify many of the statements he has made below. We also believe Michael is not making these statements out of any vindictive motive.
Some may be asking why we are posting this, given the fact that VOM works to help persecuted Christians worldwide. A few comments on that:
First, as Lighthouse Trails has always maintained, the power of sin lies in its secrecy; and this is especially true in cases of child sexual abuse. According to Michael Wurmbrand’s letter, after VOM director Tom White committed suicide on the same day a police investigation was opened on allegations that White had molested a 10-year-old girl,1 Michael Wurmbrand requested that an independent investigation be conducted, especially given the fact that the Chief of Police in Bartlesville (the city where VOM exists) is also on the board of VOM, and the Bartlesville police closed the case shortly after White’s death. Michael explains below what happened after he made that request.
Second, if indeed Michael’s statements are true (and we have no reason or evidence to doubt they are), then in all fairness, the body of Christ needs to know these things.There have been other concerns about VOM (ecumenism, Catholic sympathies, contemplative, etc.), and to ignore these important issues is wrong, especially in view of the acceleration of worldwide spiritual deception happening today.
Third, as we witness various Christian organizations being exposed for sexual, financial, and other scandals (such as the recent allegations by over thirty women against Bill Gothard, the serious plagiarism by Mark Driscoll, the demise of Vision Forum (a major player in homeschooling resources, and so forth), two things come to our mind:
First, the secular media is using these stories to make it look like this is how most fundamentalist conservative Christians behave.
Second, we think of the Scripture that talks tells us “judgment beginning in the house of the God” (1 Peter 4:17). The evangelical/Protestant church is in big trouble. It needs to be shaken in order to return to its “first love.” Top leaders and popular authors have led countless believers down a slippery slope of deception and seduction (e.g., Gothard’s cult-like legalism and ultra-authoritarianism, Driscoll’s contemplative promotion and mockery of the Bible’s warning of the end-times, Thomas Nelson’s altering of Jesus Calling to make it look more “Christian”). The church is filled with mega-corporation-style organizations that act as if they can do anything they want while they toy with the emotional and spiritual lives of millions and play catch-me-if-you-can. Add to this the utter catastrophe of contemplative mysticism (i.e., occultism) overtaking countless Christian organizations, schools, and denominations, and we’ve got the makings for an apostate church. But many of these Christian “leaders” are beginning to be exposed. While we know that the liberal secular media and the emerging church will use these stories for political gain and actually to cause confused Christians to come over to their side, we also know that God can use these situations to bring about genuine conversion and repentance among many. Already Lighthouse Trails has heard from many believers who have repented after being deceived by the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling.
And this is why we are compelled to post articles like this letter below by Michael Wurmbrand—to bring light to areas of darkness but also to defend true Christianity, to say to the world that there are believers in Christ all over the world who day after day, year after year serve the Lord faithfully, who do not molest children, do not plagiarize, do not practice the contemplative “stillness” in order to know God, and do not steal money or grow monstrous corporations that knock down everything in their path. While we know that 1 John tells us we are liars if we say we do not sin (1 John 1:8-10) (for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God), it also says if we continue in sin, we do not have God in our lives (1 John 3:6-10).
While it is not the intention of Lighthouse Trails to destroy any ministry, we cannot in good conscience push under the rug situations that come to our attention when they affect so many. Our hope for these ministries is that they would walk in repentance and godliness just as God has called all Christians to do so.
We do have a concern in the midst of these “kingdoms” crumbling and that is for the Christians who have been followers of these organizations. Many of them are sincere conservative Bible-believing Christians, and they are the ones who are going to be most hurt by what their leaders have done. For example, millions of homeschool families have sought out the teachings of Bill Gothard. As they learn that their leader has been sexually assaulting young girls for the past number of decades, will these dear families swing to the opposite of the pendulum and enter the emerging/new spirituality? We have heard rumors that this is already happening to some of them. They now realize that Gothard’s teachings were wrong; sadly, rather than finding what true biblical Christianity is, many will merely turn to another extreme and perhaps even away from God all together, blaming Him for what man has done.
This situation with homeschoolers is serious. Even Michael Wurmbrand told us that VOM has been targeting American homeschoolers with campaign literature. And it was just recently that a major homeschool curriculum CEO (from Vision Forum) stepped down after admitting to an extra-marital affair. The entire organization shut down, leaving a vacuum within the homeschool world. What is going to happen to these homeschoolers? Who or what is going to fill the void? Sadly, it may not be true Christianity.
We have carefully and prayerfully considered the ramifications of posting this letter from Michael. We are not the only ones doing so in a spirit of deep concern. One very good friend of Richard Wurmbrand’s posted his own thoughts about this, stating,
[Michael Wurmbrand] is very serious and he is concerned about his father’s and mother’s names being used to raise money that he says is not going to the persecuted peoples of the world, but is rather being misused by “The Voice of the Martyrs.”
There is one more issue we want to address and that is the allegations of sexual abuse that were brought against Tom White by the parents of a 10-year-old girl. When we first posted the story about White’s suicide last year, someone commented to us that it was unlikely that Tom White molested a child and that perhaps this was a conspiracy of murder against White by Muslims angry at VOM for their work in Middle-eastern countries. As we have examined the facts that we have been able to obtain (including the testimony by Michael Wurmbrand to us by phone where he told us he knew the family, as well as a pastor who spoke with the father of the girl and posted the account online and who stated: “there is no doubt the abuse occurred”), we have no reason to doubt that the allegations are legitimate. Thus, it is more than reasonable for Voice of the Martyrs to be willing to allow an independent investigation into these allegations and also any other possible sexual abuses against children that may have occurred within their organization. It is a proven fact that most child predators do not molest just one child during the course of their lifetimes.
And now, the letter we received from Michael Wurmbrand:
Dear sisters and brethren in Christ:
This sad letter you are reading comes from Michael Wurmbrand, the son of the late Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, who spent fourteen years in the communist prisons of Romania, author of the book Tortured For Christ, a book of valiant Christian testimony under communist persecution that has been translated in over 85 languages. My parents died in 2000-2001, and I am now 74 years old.
Against my express request NOT TO DO SO, the mission Voice of the Martyrs of Bartlesville (VOM), Oklahoma, USA and its international affiliates, continue to use Richard Wurmbrand, Sabina Wurmbrand, my parents’ persona, pictures, writings and books, my persona also to obtain your donations!
Tom White, the past Voice of the Martyrs Chairman for more than 20-years, committed suicide in April, 2012, only two to three hours after an accusation of child molestation (pedophilia) of a 10-years old girl was formally filed by her parents with the local police, and while the Bartlesville, OK. police were searching to arrest him. This terrible event made world news. At the time of his committing suicide, Tom White had a $140,000+, plus perks, yearly salary and very substantial travel and expense accounts used in his extensive and frequent international travel year after year. Since the suspected perpetrator was dead, the police closed any further investigation of the molestation. The police chief and the former mayor of the town of Bartlesville, OK. were personally serving on the Board of Directors of Voice of the Martyrs. Some directors are related or get income from the organization.
I asked in writing of the Voice of the Martyrs Board of Directors for an independent investigation, to be undertaken from outside of VOM. The investigation in the famous legal action in England of Jimmy Saville, the BBC children program head while alive, started with only 2 cases BUT there were more than 600 pedophilia complaints after Saville died. In the last 4 years, the state of Arizona, for instance, failed to investigate 6,000 cases of children molestation. Being the son of Richard Wurmbrand, a person of my background and position could have more inside information than I can discuss publicly. I asked therefore for an independent investigation!
The main question in the letter I wrote to the entire Voice of the Martyrs Board of Directors was worded as follows: “In a Christian spirit of love and faith, if you want to continue using the names, persona and copyrights of my parents, I ask first that you do not try to accomplish this in an adversarial way through lawyers, etc. but rather in an amiable way by fulfilling only one request for the board to decide and approve: Please allow and pay for an independent “blue ribbon” commission … to investigate within the next two months, back at least two years, all Tom White’s travel points, contacts and especially financial expenditures to establish and put to rest any suspicions re. child molestation. Sorry, whether you like it or not, this unpleasant event that happened to VOM with its Chairman during twenty years cannot be dispensed with as just ‘a family affair’ or an unfortunate sudden decision. If you do not intend to accept the above request, the other decision I ask you to take is not to use the name Wurmbrand any more.”
Only 4 days after I addressed this letter to the Board of Directors, I received a curt letter of termination of employment. No “sorry” and no “thank you” for my founding the organization or the many years of service! My letter now for more than a year, has not been answered!
I should be entitled to make such a request since:
* Voice of the Martyrs published for years a specially dedicated children’s magazine. This was done by sharing mailing lists with organizations focusing on families and children;
* My person, my life, and our family Wurmbrand story was used in this magazine;
* Without my knowledge, without my permission, a very laudatory biography of mine was written, printed and distributed to tens of thousands of American children;
* In order to obtain donations from the parents, the organization tried to gain credibility and goodwill with tens of thousands of Christian children in home-schooling families.
Donors should be aware that:
* Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) spent $28 million dollars — not on the mission field but to build its own headquarter thus in economic times difficult for us all, encouraging construction in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA, a town of only about 32,000. To my knowledge, the previous headquarters of VOM in the same town cost in the neighborhood of about $90,000! To read more, [click here]. The present chairman of VOM is a former mayor of Bartlesville and was part of the city leadership.
* This was done in secret, until the buildings were erected. Neither I nor the donors were told of such grandiose projects. It is hard to believe this could be done, but correspondence I display on the web (see link below), should convince you. I worked with VOM from Los Angeles, California, USA and never was part of the VOM board of directors. The donors only saw money spent for projects, and they trusted that the word “projects” referred to missionary work, like helping widows of Christians killed in Nigeria!
* A repeated offender 3rd degree felon, who as of 2013 was STILL UNDER A-10-YEARS CONVICTION SENTENCE AS AN EMBEZZLER was named the Voice of the Martyrs Vice President. Tens of thousands of dollars out of contributions for supposed missionary work were extended as a loan to him to pay back some of what he stole and escape parole supervision. To read more on this convicted felon, [click here or here].
*All of the above occurred while, at the same time, without any reasons proffered, they sent a termination of employment letter to me, Richard Wurmbrand’s son, who founded the mission, four days only after I asked for an independent investigation of the expenses and travels of the suicidal and suspected pedophile past chairman of VOM, USA.
* Voice of the Martyrs had agreed reluctantly in 2001 to help about 100 believers who were imprisoned 5-10 years for their faith in communist prisons in Romania, currently destitute in their 80s and 90s, with less than $1 (yes, one dollar) a month. As outrageous as it sounds, considering tens of millions of dollars solicited from you, it is documented. It was raised in the following year to the value of about 2 tanks of gas/month worth of help only because I wrote feet of email messages and renounced a total of over $100,000 of my salary over four years (I accepted being paid only $500/month!) just so these Christian martyrs would be helped. To read more on the “VOM claims of pretended lack of money,” [click here].
*A fundraiser for VOM was promised to be paid a percentage or cut of the funds he raised! We are far indeed from charitable actions through which one sacrifices for the interests of others.
After I brought all of these facts to light, I was asked also to keep quiet, not to rock the boat. Before being laid off I was offered substantial contractual financial incentives not to “badmouth” VOM. Some of the organizations endorsing Voice of the Martyrs have interrelated employees and interests. When I approached them, they were shy and sore afraid for their own interests to insist my letter be answered. Some pathetic answers like: “Do not cast the first stone,” “king Solomon made mistakes,” “we might also sin,” or “promise to keep correspondence private only” displayed the hypocrisy to protect the flow of donations rather than any interest in protecting possible children victims! Some answers were outright sarcastic, as if my requesting a proper investigation regarding suspected pedophilia among “Christian missionaries” would be some joke.
In the past, Voice of the Martyrs had written a dedication about myself sent to tens of thousands stating: “To the Rev. Michael Wurmbrand, who has lived his life in a fishbowl among both friends and enemies, and has done so with dignity to the glory of God. We are grateful for the numerous personal interviews in which he shared his memories with patience and enthusiasm.” As soon as I asked for this independent investigation, the VOM attitude of respect towards myself I enjoyed for years turned into one of incredible vindictiveness. Christians who were in the know could not believe how it was possible. The false answers given to those who inquired were that this is a personal (?!?) conflict with Michael Wurmbrand we try to solve with prayer and mediation! In reality, VOM employees were expressly forbidden to have contact with me, so as not to lose some income and employment positions from [one of the] largest employers in Bartlesville, OK. Same employees had before vied to be photographed with me and get my autograph.
The worst vindictive act towards myself though was the refusal on the part of VOM of my simple request to dump or allow myself even pay to withdraw immediately from the VOM circulation advertising, about 2,000 copies of Tortured For Christ, my father’s book, published by VOM with a preface by, and having right in the middle, a portrait of Tom White, the past chairman who had committed suicide after the police-filed accusation of suspected pedophilia. I was answered IN WRITING (by the convicted felon-embezzler who had meantime become Vice President of VOM, see above) that my request is morally wrong. I was written: “Tom White was VOM,” and according to VOM, I have no right to ask that my father’s name not be associated with this past chairman — even if he committed suicide under a strong suspicion of pedophilia. VOM even claimed to know apparently better than the parents of the victim, if there was or not substance to the police complaint. To spite me, the book showing Tom’s picture continued to be widely advertised and even offered for free for 6 more months following Tom’s suicide. VOM knew that during the first month my family arrived to the United States in the end of 1966, I had personally typed on a clunky typewriter four manuscript versions of this book. How could my request be refused?
How could I have foreseen that in a case of blatant suspected child-molestation some Christian VOM leaders I approached, imitated the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, trying their best re. suspected pedophilia, to “pass by on the other side,” so as to maintain their perks! John the Baptist was not beheaded because he sermonized in general asking people to repent. Against his own personal interest, he put his life at risk to denounce the sin of Herod, the ruler of the day. What about “missionary outreach” to poor “persecuted Christians?” Voice of the Martyrs, with its opulent ($28 million) headquarter built out of your sacrificial contributions, makes a mockery of the sacrifice of persecuted Christians like my parents. Imagine a surgeon insisting to operate, having no time to clean his hands after searching in garbage. What patient has any use for such a surgeon? The betrayer of [our] Lord Jesus, Judas, in his apparently most “unselfish” enunciation of a project to help the poor, was but a thief. (Indeed the Gospel of John 12:6 writes: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, BUT BECAUSE HE WAS A THIEF!”)
VOM published even how within months of our arrival in the United States, from 1967 on, I worked together with my parents Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, to start what is now Voice of the Martyrs. Recently released documents from the archives of the Romanian secret police prove the communists had issued an order to kill our entire family.
We started what is now Voice of the Martyrs under a communist sentence of death. When I was only a child, the communists forcefully took away my parents to communist prisons. I suffered plenty. My parents died with a good name. I do not want to allow VOM to use my parents’ good name, to raise money under false pretenses. I wrote the VOM directors: “If you enjoy, for motivations of your own, to wallow in the mire of suspected pedophilia go ahead. If you do not want to accept an independent investigation and complete transparency of your dealings, I begged you do not use my father’s long years of suffering in communist prisons and the intense suffering of his whole family to raise money from naive donors.” I was written by VOM, when asking help for formerly persecuted Christians under communism, now in their 90s, “we are technically out of money!…there will be NO check requests approved for anything other than absolutely essential” only to find out later that $9.5 million were available not for mission work, but for construction work in Oklahoma (see above link).
Christian parents please protect your children! Consider how grave it is to allow your children to trust and be reached by a missionary organization having had a case of suspected pedophilia and a suicide because of it in its midst, and then terminating me, its founder so as not to have to respond to a request for an independent investigation of possible child molestation. After all the laudatory words published of me, they also tried to badmouth me. If you are a minister, I can only beg you to share this letter with your congregation.
I tried to document the facts recited above, but think on your own: How can “Christian missionaries” in a good Christian conscience even indulge to build themselves an opulent $28,000,000 headquarter from your donations, while withholding help to persecuted Christians in far away lands badly in need of your donations? Love of money is the root of all evil. A way to stop evil is to stop financing it. If you were inspired by the Wurmbrand family story of suffering to donate to Voice of the Martyrs or its international affiliates in the ICA, as the only son of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, I humbly ask you not to. My parents’ Christian life-vision has been misused by Voice of the Martyrs.
Tortured for Christ circulated throughout the world with more than 10,000,000 copies. Inside the $28 million Voice of the Martyrs headquarter prominently named as the Richard Wurmbrand Center, there is a Wurmbrand museum. My own mother’s Bible to be displayed there was obtained from me under false pretenses. I have both moral and legal rights to the persona of my parents, even regarding the unauthorized use of my own name, pictures, etc. It would take a very long time and a lot of money to try to stop such use through courts. VOM would employ the millions of dollars of donations to fight me in court while my income is very limited. If you still want to help projects started by my parents, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, now hanging in the air, please help me reclaim my parents and my family name. Like the first Christians please ask: “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Book of Acts 2:37) You may write to me at the address below.
PO Box 5161
Torrance, Ca. 90510, USA,
LTRP Note: We urge readers of this article to contact Voice of the Martyrs and beseech them to allow an independent investigation in order that other children connected to VOM may be protected.
Contact Information for VOM:
Phone: (877) 337-0302
P.O. Box 443
Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443