Seeing walls come down

We traveled the northern Italy city of Pordenone for church on La Festa della Momma. The worship was good. A guest preached, and the study was sound. But, it was our lunch afterward that totally ignited my faith again.

Our good friend, Adelina, who also has led in the Padova University Bible Study, invited us to lunch. At her home. With her mom and dad. Who speak no English.

The next three hours were amazing, and not just because of the pasta, baked swordfish, and roasted sweet potatoes (and dessert.)

Nello and Stela migrated to Italy in 1998, but not before being a part of the movement of Christian young people that led to the wall coming down between the East and the West. George recounted how thousands of Romanians protested along the tram lines. When the water cannons came, and the arrests were made, thousands more replaced them.

What led to the Romanian Revolution (the only violent one – since the soldiers fired into the crowds at will – as the walls came down in Europe in December 1989) started when the government tried to oust an evangelical pastor from his flat. To protect him, hundreds and then thousands, encircled the pastor’s home. They sang hymns of worship and prayed throughout the night and into the coming days.

The crowds grew and the spark of freedom in worship became a flame.

When the water cannons reappeared, the crowd dismantled them and threw the pieces into the river. By now, the protest was city-wide and, within a week, led to a full regime change.

Nello recalled that the Christian faith was prominent in his Romanian culture, instrumental leading up to the Revolution, and grew even more so afterwards. He said that, in the persecution and suppression, faith grew vibrantly. But, now that there isn’t the “pressure” faith tends to be less important.

Still, he said that there were likely 40-50% of the nation who professed Jesus as Lord. More than any other nation in Europe.

Years ago, I remember watching the Romanians as they protested and marched to gain freedom to live, speak, work, own property, and worship. It was peaceful for the most, until the soldiers came to stop this march toward freedom.

But, on Mother’s Day, I met a man who had lived it, knew those who went to prison, and saw the wall come down.

The amazing thing of the whole story? It was worship of the Living God and love for a pastor that took out the first of the cold concrete of the dividing walls.