December 15 is the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Romanian Revolution. It ignited in Timisoara, a border city, on the date set for the militia to force a Hungarian pastor, László Tökés, into exile. Believers of both Romanian and Hungarian descent made a human chain around his apartment block, stopping the eviction. Fighting soon erupted, raging on for days as believers secretly huddled together in darkened rooms, praying around the clock. Friends later told me that they were so weary of praying, they told each other they couldn’t continue. The day they said that was the very day the news broke in the West. The prayer baton had been passed. I picked up that baton, like so many others. Did you? Do you remember the thrill of hearing that news?
From the beginning, the people in Romania chanted, “Exista Dumnezeu!” as their rallying cry. God exists! I have video footage of a pastor climbing up on a balcony in the central square, Opera Square, where he led thousands of people in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, people who had never uttered the name of Jesus before, people whose basic human rights were cruelly denied. Their quest for freedom was always about God. It involved much more than a political exchange of power. The people were fighting a regime that had indoctrinated two generations of their people that there is no God. They were now joining their voices to let it be known that they didn’t believe the government’s lies.
God heard them and He moved. He set them free. He broke through the bars of iron holding them captive. The fighting continued for a week and moved to Bucharest. On December 22, 1989, the people were victorious. Freedom came at a great cost; many young lives were sacrificed. Let’s take a moment from making Christmas cookies and wrapping gifts this week to remember them and their loved ones left behind. Let’s also pick up the prayer baton on behalf of our own soldiers serving in harm’s way.