I have enjoyed meeting in the homes of men and women in Romania who knew first hand what it was to be blacklisted from jobs, prevented from getting an education, arrested and beaten for having bibles or even just meeting with other believers.
One man I met in the city of Cluj Napoca recently became a follower of Jesus at a church meeting held in the old Secret Police building. What is more amazing is that this man last saw his father when he was taken into that same building 40 years ago. His father was interrogated for being a Christian and never came out again. Now decades later this avowed atheist, a product of the former Communist regime, gave his life to Christ in the same building his father had given up his life in!
This story is not surprising when we read Brother Andrew's account of life in Romania at that time.I'm posting some more Brother Andrew escapades, realising that most of us have either forgotten these stories, or simply had no idea that such conditions existed in Europe in the recent past:
'Romania was known among Iron Curtain Christians as the 'Greenhouse of atheism'. It was Russia's laboratory in which she tried out anti-religious experiments. Rigid control of the church by the state, economic pressures against believers, sowing of suspicion amongst religious leaders, confiscation of property, restriction of worship services, a prohibition on evangelism. This, I was told, was what I could expect to find in Romania'
Such was the climate of fear and suspicion at the time, Brother Andrew was not even free to speak privately with church leaders. Even in this context, local leaders feared they were being set up or observed in some way. Andrew learned to communicate through the scriptures, pointing to phrases in the bible which expressed his greetings and God's heart for them. It was only once these preliminary exchanges had taken place that the conversation could relax into free and honest dialogue.
Even today, amongst the older believers that I have met out in the towns and villages north of Cluj, this attitude remains not far beneath the surface. A generation really has been so scarred, in the same way that a generation in the West needs to be stirred from complacency by these tales again.