Change was in the wind in 1989 when the Cold War ended, the Berlin Wall came down, and Romania was liberated. As Romania’s Communist leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and his wife fled for their lives, they were captured, tried, and executed.
Ilie Radu and his wife, Lidia, felt free for the first time in their lives. Ilie began to search for answers to the questions that had been burning in his heart about God and about what happens when you die.
Soon, Ilie and Lidia found an Evangelical church and learned more about Jesus. It was a thrill to study from their own newly-acquired Bible and to discover God’s plan for their lives.
After a few years, while studying the Bible, they discovered that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, and not sprinkled. Ilie immediately requested that his new church family baptize him like Jesus. He was informed that he had been sprinkled as a baby and that was good enough.
Feeling devastated, Ilie began again to search for truth. He made friends with a group of Pentecostals, who were more than happy to baptize him and his wife by immersion. Ilie became very involved in his newfound faith. He was the leader in the construction of a new church building and became one of their evangelists.
Then four years ago, Ilie was working as a switcher for the railroad. His job was to switch the tracks as the trains rolled through the railroad yard. One day he noticed that a fellow worker had a radio app on his cell phone, and when they had some downtime waiting on the trains, he would listen to the radio on his phone. That gave Ilie the idea to do the same, so he began listening to a Christian station while at work. The station he liked most was the very popular Radio Vocea Sperantei, an affiliate of Adventist World Radio!
Ilie became very interested in some of the programs, especially those that talked about prophecy and end-time events. He began to study his Bible like never before and discovered – horror of horrors – that he was actually going to church on the wrong day! He told his Pentecostal friends about what he had discovered and even showed them in the Bible, but they only became angry and told him he was nuts and that they did not want anything to do with this Sabbath stuff!
Ilie was puzzled, because at this point he had never heard of a Seventh-day Adventist and thought he was alone in his search. But he searched and searched, and finally found a Sabbath-keeping church not too far from his home. Two years ago, for the first time, he visited the Adventist Church in Pitesti. His wife cried and cried and refused to go. She loved her friends in their Pentecostal church and refused to leave. But Ilie was firm and took his two teenage daughters every Sabbath.
The pastor of the Pitesti SDA Church, Ovidiu Baluta, was very surprised at how much Ilie knew. Ilie told him he was ready to become a Seventh-day Adventist, but the pastor said, “You must study first so you understand clearly what Seventh-day Adventists believe.” Ilie said, “Ask me.” So, Pastor Baluta did. “Ilie knew it all!” the pastor said.
After a few weeks, Lidia agreed to study the Bible, too, and was soon very excited about what they were discovering together as a family. Actually, it was the same thing that Ilie had been telling her for the last two years as he listened daily at work to AWR.
In a few weeks, Ilie, Lidia, and their oldest daughter were all baptized. The younger daughter, Christine, continued attending church with them and had a harder time making a decision to be baptized, but during our recent Romania for Christ meetings, she too accepted God’s end-time message and was baptized! These meetings were coordinated by Total Member Involvement (TMI), a program of the world church to get every member involved in outreach and evangelism.
Ilie says the wonderful thing about the town of Pitesti – like many Romanian cities, including Bucharest – is that AWR is aired daily on buses, in taxis, and in many stores, so no matter where he goes, he can listen to AWR. He is excited to tell others about Jesus and encourage them to listen to AWR. My wife, Kathy, asked Lidia if that was true, and she just rolled her eyes and said “Oh yes! He can’t keep his mouth shut.”
Pastor Baluta says that most Sabbaths, 10 to15 people visit their church who are listening to AWR and have heard about Seventh-day Adventists, or about the Sabbath, or about Jesus, on AWR. Isn’t that exciting!
One conference president told me a few days ago, “We never thought it could happen again like in the ‘90s after the fall of Communism, but it is. Romania is having a revival!”
Pastors all over Romania told me before the TMI Romania for Christ meetings that church members and guests would never come to meetings during the week but only on weekends. However, they underestimated the power of the Holy Spirit! All over the country the attendance increased during the week – not decreased. This is the result of Total Member Involvement! Praying church members and pastors worked hard with all kinds of projects from prayer groups, community services, Glow tracts, children’s ministries, women’s ministries, ADRA projects, Hope Channel, AWR, Bible study groups, and health ministries. We were all inspired by our General Conference president, Elder Ted Wilson, and his wife, Nancy, who took two weeks out of their very busy schedule to lead in this wonderful project.
This is the strength of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. We look our best as we team up in a well-planned, organized event. This is what connecting the dots and completing the circle is all about!
With that approach in mind, we have developed an expanded focus for AWR, which we call “AWR360.” It encompasses the entire journey of listeners, from “Broadcast to Baptism.” It covers “High Tech to High Touch!” AWR360 is about working together with other ministries to finish the Lord’s work, to complete the Great Commission so Jesus can come. This is TMI! This is the work of AWR360.
We should not be surprised at what happened in Romania, because Ellen White told us many years ago that “The work of God on this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, 117; Gospel Workers, 351).
This is what the AWR team is all about! This is how AWR360 can team with TMI! I don’t know about you, but I expect that you feel as I do. I am tired of this old “ball of mud.” I want Jesus to come! Pray with and for our AWR team as we plan to reach the world for Jesus! “No Walls, No Borders, No Limits” – this is AWR360!
by Duane McKey, AWR President