Meet My Friend Gheorghe

Our Mission Trip to Romania was very rewarding, and the 17 people who went would no doubt tell you it was life-changing. One of the great opportunities I had was to make a new friend, Gheorghe Milian, pictured above.  He is a resident at an assisted living facility owned and operated by The Smiles Foundation in Tileagd, Romania. This facility is so excellent by Romanian standards that many of the residents think they already died and went to heaven.

Our team of 17 was divided into three teams for serving each of days we were in Romania. The team I was part of on Friday, June 14 was assigned to visit the Tileagd assisted living facility. It was my privilege to speak to the residents of that facility when they assembled in their activities room.  I noticed a gentleman who was pretty emotional while I was speaking.  When I was finished the gentleman whose name was Gheorghe spoke in Romanian to Maria Hava, Director of Romanian Operations for The Smiles Foundation.  Maria said to me, “He says he would like to have a private meeting with you.  Are you willing to do that?”  I said, “Of course.”

Maria translated our meeting. Gheorghe was imprisoned for his faith in Christ during the regime of Nicolae Caeusescu.  Nicolae Caeusescu was a brutal totalitarian dictator.  Cauesescu persecuted Christians for following Jesus, and this is what caused him to imprison Gheorghe. This was a time in Romania where being a Christian could earn you a visit from the Secret Police.  Studying your Bible, sharing your faith, and even worshiping privately in your own home could bring imprisonment. Family members, friends, neighbors, classmates would turn others in, convinced that this was part of their role as “good citizens.” The notoriously anti-church dictator had many believers “disappeared.”  Caeusescu bulldozed a church and confiscated the land for his palace.  He was happy to sentence Christians to imprisonment, physical torture, and death. Nicolae Caeusescu was swept from power in the fall of communism, and he and his wife Elena were executed by firing squad on December 25, 1989. (I remember vividly watching that on the news while at my mom and dad’s house for Christmas that year.)

Gheorghe has not had an easy life. He still bears the effects of his imprisonment. He lost his family. Tears rolled as he detailed some of these things that happened to him for me and Maria faithfully translated his words. He asked me if I would pray for him, which I was glad to do. He asked me if I would pray for him on an ongoing basis. You can be sure that he is now on my Prayer List.  I would invite all of you to join me in praying for Gheorghe.  In my estimation, and in the estimation of several in our group who also got to meet him, Gheorghe is a hero.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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