'God Exists!' Spelled End to Communist Romania

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ROMANIA - On December 16, 1989, Romanians began a weeklong revolt that became one of the bloodiest rebellions against communism in eastern Europe.  

The protests ended with the death of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife. Ceausescu had ruled Romania for more than 20 years.

"I remember the feeling of terror. I remember not having food," Romania resident Marain Zaharia recalled.

"He liked to be called 'our provider,' or 'our father.' A god almost," Dan Iancu said of Ceausescu's personality.

Today, Romanians remember the revolution as more than just a battle to overcome communism. For many, it was spiritual warfare.

Life During Communism

Titus Pop was a child when Ceausescu ruled Romania. As the son of Christian parents, he endured the pain of the dictator's regime. Teachers punished him at school for his family's faith.   

"They tried to tell us that there is no God. That those things are for old people and not for us," Pop said. "I had a professor and in each history class they put me to stand. Sometimes they beat me. But just a few times, and they put all of the class to laugh about me."

Teachers told Pop he would not be allowed to attend high school, and his education would end at eighth grade.

"(But) God worked in such a manner that when I finished my eighth grade, the revolution came just when I was in the eighth grade," he said.

The Revolution: 'God Exists!'

Romanian citizens packed the central square in Timisoara, December 16, 1989 crying, "God exists, God exists!"

The protests continued, despite military attacks.    

Traian Orban was a 45-year-old veterinarian when he joined the thousands who filled the square. He stayed to protect innocent children and was shot twice in the leg.

"And I am not angry," Orban told CBN News. "I'm happy. I am happy because we came to do something. We demonstrated something."

Orban's memories eventually led to development of The Timisoara Revolution Museum. He said his life began after the revolution, because it led him to accept Christ as his personal Savior.

Today in Freedom Square

Bullet marks still line the buildings in Freedom Square, but residents have moved on. There's a fountain, fast food restaurants, and people walk and worship without fear.

Tudor Petan is on a mission to reach his country and all of eastern Europe with the freedom found in the Christian faith. 

The trained computer engineer launched the "Alfa Omega" ministry in 1994.  It's now a 24-hour Christian television network.

Petan was also in Freedom Square for the revolution.

"During that week in December of 1989 there was a saying -- a cry -- among the people. (They said), 'Today in Timisoara, tomorrow in the whole country,'" he recalled.

"The revolution against the communist system in Romania started in this city, in Timisoara," Petan continued. "Timisoara is considered by many to be the spiritual capital of the country. It is a symbol of the revolution (and) it is a symbol of freedom."

And freedom is spreading. 

The revolution allowed Titus Pop to finish high school and college. He is now a pastor, reaching out to Romania's once forgotten Gypsy population.

Because of Pop, and others, God's word is spreading through Romania, despite the country's dark past.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.