Mihail and Emanuela Geabou lived as children the kind of religious persecution those in the U.S. only read about. Perhaps that’s why they’re so enthusiastic as adults about their partnership with Love Worth Finding in sharing the Gospel with spiritually hungry Romanians.
Now a pastor himself, Mihail was one of eight children of Pastor Pascu Geabou in Alexandria, Romania, who led a church for four decades, 30 of those years during the dark days when being a Christian could mean property seizure, loss of wages, and even long periods of imprisonment.
Many are familiar with the story of Lutheran Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a contemporary and friend of Pascu Geabou’s who famously escaped to the West in the 1960s and gave this account of Christian persecution in Romania:
“Those who have not passed through brain-washing can’t understand what torture is. For 17 hours a day, we had to sit just like this (ramrod straight, looking forward). We were not allowed to lean. For nothing in the world could we rest a little bit our head. To close your eyes was a crime. From 5 in the morning until 10 in the evening we had to sit and hear: ‘Communism is good. Communism is good. Communism is good. Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid! Nobody more believes in Christ. Nobody more believes in Christ. Nobody more believes in Christ. Give up! Give up! Give up! For days, weeks, years, we had to listen.”
Brainwashing was one of the key tactics in the Romania Anti-Religious Campaign adopted after the Marxist-Leninist People’s Republic of Romania seized control in December of 1947. The ultimate goal: an atheistic society.
This was the hostile environment in which Mihail and Emanuela grew up, but it only served to fuel their passion for serving Jesus Christ.
Mihail remembers well “the times when police came and looked for books.” His father was threatened at gunpoint while the house was ransacked, but God protected the bibles and Christian literature hid inside the walls of the family home.
Persecution made the Bible that much more precious to Milhail: “Even as a youth of 8 or 9, I began to read the Bible. I was baptized at 16, and at 18 I go to seminary and then to the mission field, the poor part of our country; it was a very hard time for me. I remember (the prophet) Jeremiah saying you need to be alone and want (to know) God.”
Emanuela tells a similar story. Her missionary family shared the Gospel in the villages near Alexandria. “I met the Lord when I was 9,” she says. “At age 17, I dedicated my life and really started living for my Lord.”
As religious persecution abated, the two young people met and were drawn together by their love for Jesus Christ—that, and Mihail says with a smile, “I appreciate her intelligence. That’s why she accepted to marry me.” Emanuela is an English teacher which, as we’ll see, is key to the Geabou’s partnership with LWF.
As pastor of the Calea Domnului Christian Baptist Church in Alexandria, Romania, Mihail is always looking for good resources for sermon preparation. “We had this American Facebook friend who often distributed short video messages from the sermons of Pastor Adrian Rogers. I was quickly attracted by (his preaching): short, concise, and at the same time biblical and Christ-centered.” I was so blessed as I could discover more and more of the wonderful truths of God’s Word. But at the same time, I was so sad because we couldn’t access this kind of teaching in our language, in Romanian.”
Milhail began praying about a way to share Pastor Rogers’ sermons in what is today a Romanian culture open to religious expression. He contacted the LWF Foreign Language Department ([email protected]) which oversees ministry activities in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and now Romanian languages. There he discovered that, with highly skilled translators, sermons could be made available for PDF digital download.
It is easy to see that God was leading in the process: Emanuela had the educational credentials and experience to provide excellence in language translation and Milhail had the training and practice to ensure doctrinal integrity. Even better, this dovetailed perfectly with Emanuela’s recent decision to stay at home. Now the Geabou’s three children have a mom at home and Romanians speakers have an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the profound truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply stated in their own language.
The translated materials have the potential to bless multitudes. As many as 30 million people worldwide speak Romanian as a native language, including those in Romania and Moldova where it is the official national language and large immigrant populations in Italy, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
Recently the Geabous met with the Love Worth Finding staff online via Zoom. Emanuela’s humble message encouraged one and all: “We are aware of the little part of your work that touches our lives and the lives of our Romanian followers. We want to encourage you to continue the good work. There are greater people (than we) in our country, but we wanted to share how the Lord is working through you.”