At the time of the Revolution, Alin was six years old, but he still recalls a vivid image from that week in 1989, when the people of Timisoara were the first in Romania to speak out against communism, against the immoral and inhuman rule of Nicolae Ceausescu.
“It was the 18th of December,” Alin says, “and my father took us, his five kids, to the city’s main square, now called Victory Square. It was full; it was crowded. A preacher name Petru reached a microphone and he said, ‘Everyone, let’s turn our faces to God and start a new beginning with God.’
“And all the people turned their faces from the opera house [at one end of the square] toward the cathedral [at the opposite end] and kneeled and prayed, ‘Our Father which art in heaven …’ This is a moment, I think it never happens again in Romania, where a square full of people were praying and asking God to help them have a new start and a new beginning.”
For days, people remained in the square protesting against the government. Protests broke out in other cities around the country, and soon it was clear: the people of Romania would be free.
Up to this point, countless Romanians had been forced to live in apartments in cities, lining up for rations and attending government-issued jobs.
“Before this everybody was [lining up] for everything from salami to toilet paper,” Alin says, “from furniture to cars. For everything you had to line up. You had to wait your turn, and it was awful. Former president Nicolae Ceausescu wanted to get rid of all debt that Romania had. They were turning the electricity off, the water off.”
Even though the transition has taken years, Romania is growing in its newfound freedom.
Alin says, “Everything changed. We turned our faces toward Western Europe and toward civilization.”
But in that change there have still been many challenges, and people have forgotten that their faith in God inspired them to revolt against inhuman practices, and that the only lasting freedom can be found in Jesus Christ.
Alin is a volunteer with the Festival of Hope this weekend, and as he serves, his prayer is that many in Romania will experience a new beginning as they turn their eyes toward Christ once more.