Romanian Baptist hero thankful for Missouri Baptists
By Susan Mires
November 9, 2004
RAYTOWN — During the 45 years Romania was under communism, Christians were routinely subject to torture, imprisonment and death.
Like the Israelites who encountered giants in the Promised Land, the communist police seemed to defeat the people of God, said Paul Negrut, president of the Romanian Baptist Union.
“They were determined to destroy the church of Christ in their time,” he said in a sermon at the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting. Missouri is in the second year of a missions partnership with Romania.
Negrut, a Baptist pastor since 1981, described how Christians continued to pray and share their faith despite the persecution. In careful, slightly accented words, he told how his own family was targeted and police had wired 2,000 volts of electricity to a drainpipe in his home. Anyone, including his young daughters, who touched the pipe would have been electrocuted.
“When I saw what was happening, I thought somehow God was unfair. I thought about escaping from Romania,” Negrut said to the captivated audience.
But a fellow pastor showed Negrut a letter written by another Romanian in prison who was about to be executed. The man described how he longed for heaven, where he could spend all eternity praising Christ as His prisoner. At that moment, Negrut decided to remain in Romania, though the events of the next few years he could not have predicted.
Through the influence of Romania’s churches, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and eventually executed by his own army on Dec. 25, 1989. Negrut said the daily newspaper carried the headline “Christmas Day: Christ is born, the anti-Christ is dead.”
“Dear friends, we were 45 years under communism. The giants were dead overnight,” he said.
In the last 15 years, Romanian Baptists have helped to transform the godless society the communists tried to create. At a 1990 crusade in Bucharest, 60,000 people made professions of faith in one night. The number of churches has blossomed from 600 to 2,000. The Gospel is broadcast over the airwaves 24 hours a day. Emmanuel University in Oradea is the only theologically conservative university on the European continent and educates pastors and missionaries from throughout Europe and the Middle East. Negrut said the Romanian government even asked the university to train missionaries to become teachers in rural areas.
“Can you imagine such a request coming from Washington, D.C.?” he asked the messengers.
For years, Baptists had prayed that the Gospel would be preached from the presidential palace. Ceausescu’s luxurious palace, which now houses the Romanian parliament, had an office dedicated to promoting atheism.
“That office is a prayer room where Christian members of parliament meet every Wednesday to pray,” Negrut said. “Many are the miracles.”
Romania serves as a reminder of why Baptists need to be a salty influence in society, Negrut said in a sermon at the pastor’s conference just prior to the annual meeting. He said the world is trying to figure out what is inside believers.
“They throw us down with words, abuse us. If what they find inside is the aroma of Christ, heavenly music, Christ’s love, do you know what happens? They say there is something there worth finding,” Negrut said.
He also thanked Missourians for all they are doing to reach Romania for Christ.
In introducing Negrut, Missouri Baptist Convention President David Tolliver said when he visited Romania, he met people who had suffered many things for their faith.
“Everyone I’ve met in Romania who is a Baptist is a hero of the faith,” Tolliver said of Negrut. “This is one of those heroes.”