Chapter 11 - The Burning Lamp

When the sun sets and it grows dark, people turn on lights. So does God, with His promises and His Word.

Though Egypt appeared a very dark place to Moses' parents and his little sister, God had planned the greatest deliverance in history with the Hebrew infant, which he had already announced to Abraham four hundred years before Moses' birth.

A similar promise of deliverance had come to Aurica and me. But a question arose. Were we crazy to believe that we would be set free from Communist Romania? Many had tried to escape and perished in the attempt.

I went to pray with some fellow Christians who knew nothing about God's promise to us. This particular group had never seen me before. Yet at the meeting I received the word from God: "Yes, you have to go, and I will send angels before you and after you, and they will protect you, and I will direct and guide you."

Yet another question arose. Why the Romanian-Yugoslavian border (which God had recently revealed to us)?

Though sharing a long border and partners in the communist system, Romania and Yugoslavia were sharply divided and suspicious neighbors at that time. Escapees from Romania received a frigid welcome in Yugoslavia: imprisonment and deportation to Romania. So why would God send us to certain doom? We were already captives in our own country. Why bring more suffering upon ourselves?

Yet God assured us, so much so, that we felt compelled to move to Timisoara near the Yugoslavian border. When my family, friends, and fellow believers heard of our decision, most were put off. Some could understand God's leading in our ives, but many did not want us to move away.

We sold the lttle white house where so much family and church life had taken place. Furniture and belongings were given away. The authorities allowed us to move, since Aurica had parents and family in Timisoara (in Romania there had to be a good reason for moving, or we would not have been allowed to leave Dornesti).

Aurica carried the baby, Veronica, in her arms as we boarded the train for the day-long trip to Timisoara. It was with bitersweet tears that we took leave of Dornesti, but with joy we reached our destination and fell into the arms of waiting relatives and friends.

At the government labor office, however, I was given another kind of reception. When I applied for work I was told to take a certain construction job. It was the only one available, they claimed. Reluctantly, I had to accept the assignment, though it took me away from m family for long periods--something I knew the authorities wanted. I had to work on government projects in distant cities, returning home sometimes only twice a month. The work of laying cement, plastering, and applying stucco, was hard even for young man, but the greatest hardship was the prolonged separation from family and the church in our home.

The grind of exhausting work, the separation from family and church, and the low pay and lack of advancement proved discouraging. I found a Christian as a work-partner, but I felt a growing sense that I was a stranger living in a hostile, godless society where there was no real chance to live a decent life. As I prayed for Aurica and the children, I also prayed for love, that I might love hard task-masters blinded by communism. They may have hated and despised Christians like me, but the Nail-Pierced One, Jesus, could love the communists who had pierced him, too.

God heard my desperate prayers for strength and love for our enemies, promising that I would be like Jonah. Though I would be taken away from my family for a time, God would protect and deliver me.

After two years, we prayed and fasted all the more for God's deliverance. On my own, I sought every possible way to escape from the country. I contacted people in foreign countries. It all came to nothing. I tried to get work nearer the border, but I was always sent in the opposite direction. I turned to my old supervisor at the factory in Dornesti. He said that he would try to put me on a work project in West Germany; but later he said he could not do it. Finally, God told me to stop "striving," that is, to quit trying to work out my own deliverance. It was not His way.

We had moved in July 1972; it was now 1974. Then, like lightning, a word came from God: "Six months from this day, I will set you free." He also said that two men would appear on the date of release and go with me to freedom. I rushed to the calendar. The date of deliverance was Wednesday, October 9. It was a glorious word, giving us much needed light and encouragement in a very dark time of our lives.

Again, Aurica and I prayed and fasted and sought God about the escape. I tried to find feasible ways to leave the country, but God again told me to stop and wait only on Him. During the difficult time of waiting, Aurica's faith faced a harder challenge than mine did. It would be easier for me to leave Romania than for her to remain waiting with the family. How would she provide for the family with me out of the country? How long would we be separated? What if I were killed or captured like so many other Christians who had tried to cross the border? What about the KGB when they would come to investigate my disappearance?

Yet God had given her His "burning lamp," the bright assurance of two dreams that promised God's absolute protection for me throughout the border crossing. Even after the dreams, the sacrifice she had to make in her own heart--to entrust me to God along with her children's welfare--was great, and born of much inner struggle and pain. Finally, when her faith had come through, she gained a wonderful peace about letting me go. Only then was our "faith-child" born just like Moses, long before, had been born, to face the test of a voyage in a "basket" of utter dependence upon God woven of struggles and covered with the "pitch" of our own tears.

The last six months of waiting on God were indeed difficult, but they were filled again and again with the light of God's burning lamp of His promises, which grew all the brighter as the day we had marked drew nearer. As with Miriam, the sister of Moses, a glorious deliverance was soon to dawn. We too would one day look in triumph on our foes. Our foes plotted our destruction, but they would be drowned in the sea of confusion and dismay when we escaped from their clutches!

"For Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. And Miriam, the prophetess the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances. And Miriam answered them, 'Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.'" (Exodus 15: 19-21)

A taste of the glory of that deliverance at the Red Sea was given to us even before the escape from Romania. Over thirty believers in Christ, mostly young people, gathered in our home for an underground church meeting. We were praying when I found myself declaring, "God is going to do a great miracle for us tonight!" Immediately, I was overcome by dismay. "O Lord!" I cried silently to Him. "Now I am in big trouble. They will all expect a great miracle now." God's response? "Those were My words, not yours," He said.

We went down to the nearby river to conduct baptisms. It was late at night and very dark, the best time for such illegal church work if we wanted to stay out of prison. The waters were dark and cold as we waved into the rushing water. The moment we lifted our hands to God in prayer, a light broke forth, brighter than the midday sun, shining just above our heads. It was no one person's solitary vision. Everyone could see it. The blazing circle of light poured forth singing voices, then lifted slowly and ascended, disappearing into the heavens...only to return at another time as the Light of Deliverance.

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