"CHRONICLE OF THE PILLAR OF LIGHT"
How Elijah Coroama and Two Companions Escaped Miraculously from Communist Romania
Chapter 1--The Lion's Mouth
My name is Elijah. My year of birth, 1940, in Vicovul de los, Romania (Vicoudejos on the map, and on the northern border of the country), witnessed the piecemeal destruction of a free and prosperous country by Soviet Russia, Hungary and Bulgaria, while Nazi Germany stood by encouraging Romania's foes. Heart-broken Romanians rose up everywhere in mass demonstrations, but they could do nothing. The king fled the country leaving a five-year-old boy as a figurehead ruler. There was a sort of government, a pathetic puppet whose strings were pulled by Nazis in Berlin. The government allowed massacres of Jews by the fanatical "Iron Guard" and the plundering of the entire nation by its Nazi overlord. The country was plunged into a hopeless war. The puppet government, without the people's consent, went to war against Soviet Russia in World War II to win back formerly lost territories. Losing the war, Romania also lost its freedom (and parts of Moldavia (Moldovia) and Bucovina and all of Bessarabia).
My father lost his life in World War II somewhere in Soviet territory. Since he was a wealthy man, my father was purposely sent to the front line to be killed. Even in the early years the communists were exerting control over Romania. Today foreign tourists flock to Moldavia, but when I was a baby it knew the regimented thunder of invaders' boots. I was still in my mother's arms when she gathered up her family and a few belongings to flee the approaching Soviet Army. After burying some precious things underground in a nearby forest, Mother fled from our large house with her five small children. She took a cow, a pillow, and a bag of flour. Everything else was left to the Soviets. Later in life I returned to see only the house's foundation. Mother might have saved her strength rather than bury valuables in the ground. Many people did this when armies invaded Romania. But the Soviets set explosives in the forests. Those who returned for their treasures were blown up. Many people died that way, including some of Mother's relatives. Hearing of their deaths Mother never went back. She moved to another village called Dornesti, into a small house with a little land attached. We had a garden, geese, a cow, chickens and a few sheep. All the children had to work since Father was dead. The family's lumber mills had been taken away.
Though Jewish, Mother believed in Jesus. This is how she came to believe in Him. In 1932 she was terminally ill. Father had taken her to doctors and spent large sums of money, but her condition deteriorated. Finally a doctor at the hospital told Father to take her home so she could die in her own bed. This was the custom in Romania, so that people could come and see the expiring person at home. As she lay dying in bed, Father came to a difficult decision. He could let her perish in misery before his eyes or seek out a man of God to pray for her healing. Though not believing in Jesus, he had heard of people who believed. Some experienced miraculous healings.
Learning of a man who prayed for the sick, Father implored him to come. A crowd gathered in the house to see Mother for the last time. No one had hope except for Father. God's man arrived and first spoke to the people. He told them of miracles God had performed. Then he went to Mother's bedside. She was in the worst stage. She could not swallow anything solid. She would take a sip of tea only now and then. The cancer had consumed her body, and appeared as a massive, red breast ulcer. Everyone considered her as good as dead.
As the man prayed, a light with the brightness of lightning began to shine on this cancer-stricken sufferer. When this powerful light shone on her, Mother sat straight up and began speaking in another language, worshipping God as her Healer and Deliverer.
Father was horrified, thinking she had lost her mind. The man continued to pray. She arose, getting out of bed without anyone's help. The moment Mother stood on her feet, the gathered mass of disease was supernaturally severed from her body and fell to the floor. There was utter chaos in the room. Screams! Shouts! People had seen the bright light, and now this! Some rushed to help Mother, while others ran out of the house in fear.
"Please leave her alone!" the man said. "God is healing her." Mother sank to her knees, still speaking in the heavenly tongue. A fresh dress was brought and put on her. Strength returned to her body. Her face was shining. She could eat food again. The news of this extraordinary healing and recovery exploded all over the community. Mother herself knew of twenty Jewish families who became believers in Jesus as Messiah, for they had come to the house to see her die and instead had seen the instant transformation with their own eyes. Father also believed in Jesus as his personal Savior.
Elsewhere, belief in Jesus swept Romania. "Crosses of Suffering" were given to those who believed in Moldavia where long-ago monasteries built churches set like jewels in the Carpathian Mountains. Church walls were covered with fresco paintings depicting Romanian folklore and Biblical stories that have kept their original colors for hundreds of years--which cannot be equalled by modern techniques. Amidst the art wonders great suffering for believers in Jesus erupted!
Persecution began in earnest when orthodox clergymen enlisted the powers of the State to smash the evangelical movement. Evangelical believers were thrown into filthy prison cells or slain outright. If they would recant and press their lips to an Orthodox icon, they were set free. Some people denied newfound faith. Many suffered imprisonment, torture, and death for Jesus.
My uncle later told us how he was plucked from a public execution of evangelicals, upon whom th death sentence had been decreed b the martial court in the regional capital, Cherno (later Chernovitz under Soviet occupation during World War II). He and a group of fellow believers were lined up waiting to be shot. The soldiers stood ready for the order to shoot. Given permission, the group sang in praise of the victorious Name of Jesus. As the condemned group gave honor to Jesus, awaiting their deaths, two soldiers fell on their faces under the power of God. During this disruption, while they were still singing, a messenger was rapidly galloping toward the prison on a lathered horse. Just before the soldiers fired at the people, he raced into the compound. "Don't shoot them!" he shouted. The law had been thrown out!
The cruel sword of persecution that began to swing in 1935-1936 formally cut down its last victim in 1940. Communists infiltrating the government had succeeded in sweeping old laws off the books, inadvertently saving the lives of thousands of evangelical believers. Yet Mother's faith was strengthened in the years of ecclesiastical persecution. She and fellow believers were prepared for later hardships and renewed persecution under a new communist regime in 1947. Deaths of a son (my twin), her husband and numerous relatives and friends never shook her faith. I cannot forget the life we lived in the mountain village of old Moldavia. Today (1989) at age 85, Mother, with an unwavering faith in her Lord, continues to live in Dornesti in much the same humble circumstances that I knew in childhood.
A Production of Butterfly Productions for Public Domain, 2004