10 October 2008

Stories from Communism

We went to Romania for a Christian Visual Media conference along with about 90 people from around Europe. I knew that there was persecution under communism but we saw some videos and heard some first hand stories that were amazing.

Several of the media people shared documentaries about persecution under communism that were really severe. They took believers and intellectuals and tortured them in an experiment to turn them into the perfect communists. It was psychological as well as physical. Part way through the experiment they told people if they would administer the torture to fellow prisoners they would be released, so some turned on the others in desperation.

While the videos were shocking, touring a local Timisoara Revolution museum we discovered some information that I found a total surprise. They feel like they have had a 20 year revolution that is still continuing because in 1989 they over thru Chachesku, the brutal communist dictator, but they were not able to get rid of all his croneys and they are still in power in various parties today. In the chaos at the time, the Chacheskus were killed with a perfunctory trial. No one argues they weren't guilty but they weren't allowed to live and point out their cohorts. The corruption continues deeply and the people are hoping that the attempt to join the EU helps. They have more physical freedom but still feel they are taken advantage of by the government authorities. (In a way, aren't we all?)

The most interesting testimony I heard was from a woman who is now a Christian. She was not a believer before the revolution and had no idea of God. She said it was depressing because in the communist system your life was spelled out for you. Where you lived or were born dictated what school you went to. Your marks dictated whether you would go to a trade or to a university. Your job was given to you and that was it until you died. They weren't allowed to travel; they could have no aspirations of a different job or a business of their own. Food was rationed tightly and there was no variation. You had children and they did the same thing.

After the revolution, her husband met a missionary and was saved. For one year she resisted as her children accepted the Lord and her husband kept trying to convince her. She finally said in her heart not outloud, God if you are real and want me to believe all this send someone to me. That night two missionaries who did not know them stopped by because someone from another country had asked them to drop off a package. It was dark and the streets weren't marked and it was a miracle that the men had found their home. The one man spoke French which she knew from school and spoke to her. She just started crying because she knew God had sent this man and that God was real.

Today she and her husband are running a 24 hour television station reaching Romania and southeastern Europe for Christ and (!) using our videos!