Standing Strong Through the Storm
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24
Until the fall of President Ceausescu in 1989, Romania was one of the most important countries for Open Doors Bible delivery ministry. We supplied countless Bibles and books—especially to Pastor Paul Negrut of the Baptist Church in Oradea. He later wrote to Brother Andrew and said, “In a divinely appointed network, we would receive a small number of Bibles to be distributed quietly and carefully among believers. Although the food supply was scarce, the Romanian believers treasured the Word of God more than anything in this world. When asked to choose between food parcels and Bibles, every Romanian that I know asked for Bibles.
“What Open Doors has done for us is better described in the words of a Christian lady who whispered to her husband, ‘The angels have arrived.’ Their little daughter heard those words and rushed into the next room to see the angels. To her surprise and disappointment, the ‘angels’ she saw were two bearded men casually dressed. The little girl had great difficulty reconciling her imagination about angels with the reality she saw. As strange as this looked for that little girl, this is the spiritual reality: for us you have been God’s angels that brought us the Bread of Life.”
Previously, Open Doors knew that the little Baptist Church of Oradea was likely to be knocked down at any moment as it was located in a slum clearance area. A new building was badly needed, because the little church was nowhere near big enough to accommodate all the believers anymore. However, the possibility of the church being granted planning permission for a new building was very slim.
At the beginning of 2005, we found that the little church still had not been pulled down, but it was no longer in use. A beautiful, big, new church had taken its place—a gigantic church, which seats 3,000. Every Sunday it is completely full, as it was in the past, right into the aisles. During the week, Bible studies are held for about 400 teenagers and young adults.
Dr. Paul Negrut’s church is heavily involved in evangelism and missionary work, reaching to Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East. They even have a theological university where pastors receive training. Students come not only from Romania but also from the missionary fields. One student is from Yakutsk (Siberia).
But not all believers in Romania are getting on well. Pastor Paul says, “In my experience, 95% of the believers who faced the test of external persecution passed it, while 95% of those who now face the test of prosperity fail it.”
But he also quickly analyzed the situation of persecution well: “It is not persecution itself but the lessons learned under persecution that make and keep the church and an individual believer strong in the Lord…what makes the difference is how we respond to persecution and how we respond to freedom.” Stand strong in the Lord!
RESPONSE: Today I will prepare myself for the hard assignments in responding biblically to challenges.
PRAYER: Pray for Romania that God will revive His church to stand strong in the face of prosperity.
1. Audrey Dorsch, “After the Persecution—What Then?” Faith Today (November/December 1992), p.60.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.