Today we visited an orphanage in Arad (pronounced “a rod”) and Freedom Square in Timiasora (Tim i shwora - I think). The orphanage was one of the most visionary facilities for special needs children I have ever seen. It would be a model for Americans to use in the same area of ministry. The facility houses over thirty children with needs that range from physical abnormalities to autism. Some of the children are highly functioning, some of them are barely functioning. Either way, each child gets what he or she needs. Each child receives the love of Christ, a family, an education, and a close to normal life. The director of the facility shared that when they receive the children most of them cannot communicate. He said we first learn to communicate with every child. Some speak. With some they use sign language. With others they use pictures. In any case they find a way to communicate with the child. You can read more about this program at They accept two international interns at a time. I had a great conversation with two ladies serving as interns. One was from Texas the other from Washington D.C. They highly recommended the internship program, which lasts 6 weeks. From what I saw, I would highly recommend it as well.

Timiasora was the fuse that ignited the revolution here in Romania in 1989. There is plenty of information about the story on the internet, so I will not take time to spell it out. Our day began with Pastor Doru and Dr. Paul Negrut, two men who participated in the revolution, sharing their stories. When you hear the stories of the persecuted it gives immediate perspective to the soul. Believing in Christ is a call to die, nothing less. Being here and hearing these stories has been a challenge to our faith, and Morgan’s. She has asked me several times about why people die and suffer for believing in Jesus. At the very least this trip has removed any ideas she may have had that salvation is something baked in the Sunday School oven, that you can chew on it from time to time throughout life when you need it. Jesus gave His life for us. In salvation we give our lives to Him.

Walking through the square our guide pointed to the buildings and told us to notice the bullet holes that remained in the architecture. The picture attached to this post shows some of the holes in an apartment complex. At ground level of the building was McDonald’s. On the third floor bullet holes; a place where someone probably died for freedom. A bullet hole and an American burger chain stand as an ironic yet symbiotic monument to revolution, freedom, and change. We moved to the steps of the Orthodox Cathedral at the end of the square. I stood there with my wife, my nine year old daughter, and my five year old daughter. On those steps one hundred children died trying to escape the fire from communist tanks. It was a surreal moment. Here we were, an American Christian family, gathered together in a place that was once a stronghold of darkness and an atheistic, communistic regime. Almost 20 years later we have entered Romania as missionaries, preached in the village churches, carried Bibles, prayed over meals, laughed, cried, and walked the streets in freedom. Because people died, I am able to be here.

As we descended the steps I noticed Shannon was weeping. We took pictures, but it was hard to smile in any of them knowing that children died on the stone beneath my feet. I was a sophomore in High School the moment all of this happened. I realize now that 20 years can seem like 20 minutes. 20 years does nothing to bullet holes. They remain a testimony to faith.

On a cold December night in Timiasora, Peter Dugulescu led the Lord’s prayer from the balcony of the opera house. 120,000 people gathered in what is now known as freedom square joined in. It was a fitting transition for a nation from darkness into light. Before we left the square today we all gathered together and prayed the Lord’s prayer. Freedom is incredible, but costly. We prayed without question, without fear, without reserve, without an eye open, and without fear of persecution. Yet in 1989 people prayed between bullets, in chaos, in revolution.

The last few days have inspired me to begin working on a sermon for Sunday. It is taken from Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the persecuted.” I have preached this text many times but I do not have a clue what it means. I have exegeted it from the original language. Today I exegeted it from original people. I asked pastor Doru, “What is the blessing of the persecuted?” His answer is a hammer to the soul. Lord willing I will share it with you on Sunday.

This has been an incredible journey. It has not been as much a mission to Romania as it has been a mission to my soul. I am tired and inspired at the same time. I am ready to return, but a part of me will ever be here. I will not forget this place, nor these people. Each of them are walking Scriptures. They have no understanding of faith without repentance, conversion, and an incredible commitment of life and devotion to God’s Word. I fear to think of how we have made the gospel something less. Romania is a testimony to the power of God, yet there is so much that remains for these people. Lord willing, next year, I will be back.

Gal. 2:20


Popular Posts