In Arad, Romania, on June 5 of 1992, I was very uncomfortable with a six day constipation due to the poor Rumanian diet I had been eating–lots of meat and bread–not enough vegetables. So I went to see a Christian physician.
At the clinic, Dr Lydia Popa MD introduced me to her husband Doru Popa, who is a pastor and one of the living national heroes of Romania. Doru is an exuberantly jovial man of God, who has suffered greatly for Christ. He has even been imprisoned and tortured because of his faith. It never ceases to amaze me, that the most joyful, happiest Christians I meet, are those that have suffered the most for Christ! My befriending Doru resulted in an unexpected privilege to me, my joyfully preaching in his church, to a crowd of 500, all thanks to my temporary constipation! Only God causes all things to work together for good for them that love God, even constipation!
Doru shared with me his thrilling testimony. He told me that during the Ceaucescu regime, the Communist tyrant either closed or drastically curtailed the operation of all Rumanian seminaries. Only a minimal number of new pastors were able to graduate every year. Many persecuted ministers skipped the country or gave up their ministry in order to survive. This resulted in far more churches than pastors in Romania. It greatly burdened Doru Popa.
After much prayer, he was able to smuggle into Romania some excellent programs of Bible Education for ministerial students, with which he started training young pastoral candidates. He actually started an underground seminary! Amazingly, God blessed and protected him so that no less than four generations of pastors, a total of 400, were trained under his supervision. The first generation graduated and helped to train the second generation. Once the second generation of pastoral graduates began pastoring, they likewise helped to train the third generation of new pastors. When the third generation of pastors graduated, they not only began preaching themselves, but they also helped to train the fourth generation of ministers!
Finally, the covert activities of Doru Popa were discovered by Ceaucescu’s secret police. He was imprisoned, tortured and suffered severely for his faith.
When he was eventually released, he was a stronger and wiser anti-communist. He immediately returned to train young men for the ministry.
Towards the end of Ceaucescu’s communist rule, a restless crowd of 50,000 had gathered in the city of Arad public square. Doru Popa stood on a hastily-made platform and spoke into his microphone. No sould came through the loudspeakers. The city had suddenly suffered a power outage. At that moment, the believers prayed even more earnestly. God gave one of them a sudden inspiration. He hastily made hook-ups to the overhead trolley-tramway cables that still were in operation. In this way. their public address system was activated. As Doru Popa spoke, his congregation unfolded bed-sheets with slogans freshly painted that very morning in his home.
“I asked the crowd to bow their heads with me and recite the Lord’s prayer,” he said. “Instead they bowed their knees!”
People who had been sour-pickled in grim atheism for 40 years knelt together and said the Lord’s prayer in glad unison, then rose to joyfully shout the message their bed-sheet banners proclaimed:
“GOD IS WITH US!”
Two days later the Rumanian dictator and his wife were dead, executed by a firing squad. But the church the Community tyrant had tried to destroy, and the God he had denied, WERE VERY MUCH ALIVE! That day Christians celebrated by singing the Rumanian version of Michael Card’s song “IMMANUEL–God is with us!”
“If God is with us, who can stand against us?” Romans 8:31.
The reader may wish to pray with me as follows:
“Heavenly Father, when I realize how daring some have been in their faithfulness to preach Christ to the unsaved, even under most difficult circumstances, I am ashamed that sometimes I have been so shy and reticent to tell a fellow-passenger on a bus how Christ can save them from eternal hell. Yet You, my God, are with me. Nobody, not even Satan himself, can stand against me. I trust Your Word. You cannot lie. I believe You. With Your presence, my God, with me, nobody can stand against me! Thank you for reminding me also of Revelation 1:5,6a and 3:14 where You tell me that “Jesus Christ who is the…faithful and true witness…that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood. And has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.” Lord Jesus, You have washed me from my sins in Your own blood. You have made me a king to rule with Your authority over Satan, the demons and the evil spirits. You have made me a priest to pray for others. Now Lord Jesus, You live inside me as the Great Witness, to tell others about You, to speak through me and with me! You are the One of whom it was said, “No man spoke as this Man speaks!” Thank You Father for Your Son living in me and speaking through me and with me. You have freed me from my own carnal and futile efforts, when my words become the dead letter that kills. Instead, You have made it possible for me to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who gives life. You are life! In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
From Conversing With God – Chapter 14
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Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached over 2 million Cubans with hundreds of thousands of new believers added to the kingdom of God. The work is ongoing with plans to evangelize the entire island country. See below for recent news from the work in Cuba.
Updates from Cuba