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  • Doru Radu

Studying theology in secret – Final Thoughts

Editor’s note: The following story is the last in a three-part series about the challenges of training pastors behind the Iron Curtain in Romania.

I am grateful to American churches and Christians for sponsoring international missions. I have met with Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), behind the iron curtain, as well as with the Navigators, Brother Andrew, and many others. Biblical Education by Extension (B.E.E.) was a seminary with the purpose of preparing pastors. While it was not the only one, it was the most widespread in Romania. As the mission grew, the risks grew also. We didn’t do anything illegal, but the Communists were xenophobic, and they told us each missionary is a CIA agent in disguise.

Even with the omnipresence of the Secret Police (“Securitate” in Romanian), they couldn’t stop us. We didn’t know the national leaders. We heard a search of one of the pastors found literature, and he was charged and awaiting trial, but we didn’t know at that time that he was one of the leaders. The good hand of the Lord was upon us (Ezra 8:22b.)!

After a couple of years, the teachers who came got used to the addresses, and no longer needed the first generation of students to wait for them at the train station. Only first time missionaries needed to be met at the train station when the meeting location was not predetermined.

Occasionally, we saw real miracles. My city, Arad, was only 30 miles from the border and usually the hotels were filled with foreign students. But during the cold winters with electric and heat restrictions few tourists would come, so the missionaries would be more conspicuous.

One February we were very concerned. There were few foreigners that winter and two Americans in the hotel would be suspicious. “Why didn't they move our class to April or, at least March?!” We were waiting nervously in a small apartment, and there was a heavy fog outside. How would the missionaries find us? The fog was so thick that I got lost twice, and I knew the area. The missionaries knew the address because they had been there before, but they could not ask anybody for directions or take a cab.

Two hours behind schedule, the doorbell rang. Someone joked, “Well, it’s either the Secret Police or the missionaries.” Relieved, the host greeted the missionaries and teachers. Only the angels could have led them to the meeting place!

Professor Thomas was afraid of a strip search at the border, and he ate the note with the address to Doru Popa’s house, our designated host. “Lord, please help me find Popa’s apartment,” he prayed. All he remembered was apartment number 5. Walking on the streets, during a hot summer, he was praying desperately. Suddenly, he saw a big door to an old Habsburg style building; it resembled the description his preceding teacher gave him.

He went into a court and saw the five stairs that led to apartment 5. We were there waiting for him. Thomas was relieved. What Thomas didn’t know, but the Holy Spirit knew, was that in my city of Arad there were probably hundreds of Habsburg style buildings with the same type of huge and heavy wooden door; there was nothing special about that building. Once again, the good hand of our precious Lord was with us again!

The Romanian communist regime fell in 1989 and the trials against two pastors involved in B.E.E. never took place. The B.E.E. became free to do its work and continues to this day. It also continues in other countries, freely or in secret.

The irony is that God’s plan was for Romanian Communism to fall around Christmas. It started with Christmas caroling at the house of a reformed pastor who was under house arrest (1). The Communists told us in the early sixties that by the year 2000, religion and the church would disappear. Guess what? The Communists disappeared 11 years before the scheduled funeral of Romanian Christianity. The Lord protected His church!

There was nothing dangerous or subversive in our studies. However, the young generation interested in socialism should know that the totalitarian regimes would find Christian ideas, and other ideas in general, more dangerous than stealing, carjacking, bank robbery or even murder. That’s why they invested so much into a supervision apparatus.

I hope that my modest memories would motivate us to remember and pray more fervently for the persecuted Christians (Hebrew 13:3) and for the missionaries.

Soli Deo gloria!

(1) The picture attached is from the Romanian Revolution in my city, Arad, on December 23, 1989.



Doru Radu is one of the elders at Golgotha Romanian Baptist Church in Warren, Michigan. Radu immigrated from the communist Romania and likes to write stories about the good hand of our Lord who protected us during the 45 years of communist persecution.



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