Remember Romania! How God Opened a Country to Hear His Word

Remember Romania!

It's an image I'll never forget: a sweeping valley dotted with elderly people transferring 20-foot-high piles of corn, stalk by stalk, from the ground to flatbed trucks. The weathered faces of feeble babushkas framed delicately by scarves, their backs bent unnaturally as they labored . . . the arms of thin, frail gentlemen hoisting corn continuously . . . both juxtaposed with the bored, robust young men who smelled of cigarettes and arrogance as they patrolled the elderly. It was a scene that perfectly captured the heartless absurdity of Romanian communism.

In the 1980s, communism's topsy-turvy division of labor and resources and constant suspicion and intimidation had left most of Romania living in fear. Nicolae Ceaușescu, the cruel despot, had forced thousands to flee the capital city of Bucharest and those who remained to go hungry and cold. Ceaușescu literally starved his people to build his palace and repay international debts. Those people in the valley? They could not eat the corn they harvested under this cruel regime. Their spirits and their bodies were broken.

This was my first impression of Romania when I visited in 1981 with a pair of missionary-interpreters from Campus Crusade for Christ. At that time, Romania was a corner of the world where Christians met in secret, longing to hear God's Word. The government was so hostile toward the gospel that we had to "cleanse" ourselves of anything—a bookmark, card, necklace, anything—that might identify us as Christians before we crossed the border.

Yet, despite such oppression, the seed of the gospel had already begun to take root in Romania's broken soil due to courageous Christians who had endured persecution, labor camps, and even death. I witnessed this seed bearing fruit in Ava, one of the soft-eyed babushkas in the valley. We had stopped our car along the side of the road to take pictures. As we were leaving, Ava whispered, "Go in peace," to one of the missionary-interpreters. Later, I learned that no one would say "go in peace"—unless she knew Jesus.

All over Romania, believers gathered secretly, in 30-minute intervals, to hear someone teach the Bible. We taught one of these precious groups, who showered us with tokens of thanks. One token, a delicate apple cake, came from a woman named Anna. She must have stood in line for days to procure the ingredients to bake such a lovely dessert. I wanted a photograph of her, but we knew the authorities would harass anyone they recognized in our photographs. So I took only a picture of Anna's hands.

Upon my return to the United States, I couldn't stop thinking about Anna and about Ava in the corn field, the believers in Romania starving for spiritual nourishment, and so many others who had never heard of Jesus. Earlier that same year, Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll had invited me to join the board of Insight for Living Ministries—a ministry committed to teaching biblical truth around the world. I wondered if God might merge these two significant events in my life.

It took nearly a decade and a radical revolution, but God DID bring the two together!

In 1989, the wave of change that began with the fall of communism in East Germany washed over Romania. The revolution began in the city of Timisoara when word got out that persecuted pastor László Tőkés was going to be taken away by the communist authorities. As many as 10,000 people surrounded his church to protect him. The mayor told Pastor Tőkés to disperse the crowd; instead, he led the thousands in The Lord's Prayer.

Into the night, their unified voices cried out, "Deliver us from evil!" A few days later, God answered their prayer. Romania's evil dictator was killed, and they were delivered into freedom. One young man, a Romanian believer, told me shortly after the night in Timisoara, "We had no weapons. We won the war with only spiritual weapons."

Today, I'm overjoyed to tell you that God opened the doors for Insight for Living Ministries to establish an office in Romania in 2014. Ben and Anda Mogos, who serve as its pastor and executive director respectively, were growing up in Romania when I visited. Ben's father and grandfather were pastors who used resources that Campus Crusade for Christ smuggled into their country!

As we motored away from the corn field that day in Romania, Ava locked eyes with me and said: "Wherever you go in the world, greet the brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ for me." So today, I greet you for her. We must always remember the gift we have to worship, evangelize, and teach in Jesus' name . . . and the power of God to open closed doors. Remember Romania!

Copyright © 2019 by Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved worldwide.

About the author


Ney Bailey

Ney Bailey has been a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ for more than 46 years. She has spoken extensively on university campuses, at weekend conferences and retreats, civic groups, to Congressional wives and diplomats. Her ministry has taken her to Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Canada.

She helped initiate the Family Life Conferences, the Singles Conferences and the Alumni Ministry of Campus Crusade. In addition, she served on the Faculty of the Institute of Biblical Studies.

Ney serves on the Board of Directors of Chuck Swindoll’s radio ministry, Insight for Living and on the Advisory Board of Media Fellowship International. She has written a popular book entitled Faith Is Not a Feeling which has been in print for 30 years. The book is now published by Waterbrook Press with a new twelve-week Bible Study.

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