The discouraging thing about Romania was not the breadlines. It was the utter lack of hope.
Even after communism fell, the leftover lifestyle was colorless — work, work, work.
Ovidiu Rusu, because he had read widely, dreamed of greater things and despaired of a life assigned by socialism of being just a part of the machine to support the state.
“When I was a child, I was not aware of how bad communism was. But as I became a teenager and then a young man, it was a struggle not seeing a future. There were no opportunities. All the doors were closed,” Ovidiu says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.” I told my friends, ‘If the end of the year catches me here, I’m going to kill myself. I don’t want to live this life.’”
Life in Brasov under communism, according to Ovidiu, was characterized by:
Fear of authority. “Anybody with any measure of authority wants you to feel that they are the boss. Authority is there to harm and humiliate you. You live walking on eggshells.”
Poverty and boring food. “You have just five options to eat and you cycle through them. I remember being tired of beans and rice. You have one pair of shoes, one pair of pants, one coat. You sew it to fix it.”
You as an individual don’t count.
Thinking is squelched. “Because people who think for themselves are dangerous.”
Even the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 did not immediately usher in a change of life. Though freedoms were introduced, life continued to appear pretty dull and opportunity-less.
The legacy of communism was atheism. His parents had never attended the Eastern Orthodox church much, but a lot of other Romanians did as a passive resistance to communism. Ovidiu didn’t believe in God because that’s what they had taught in school.
Thinking that if life were to change, he would need to do something himself, Ovidiu fled the country with some of his young adult friends. Their plan was to make their way to France and join the French Foreign Legion. They had heard that the pay was good, and you could apply for citizenship in France.
But they got caught and jailed. It was the first time Ovidiu flew in a plane, since before he could never afford plane travel, much less international tourism. He was flown because he was deported.
“I was very, very distraught,” he says.
He kept trying to escape Romania, but nothing worked. That’s when decided upon suicide to escape Romania.
During the last two weeks of 1992 he stayed in his room, pacing and smoking. He avoided his friends and his girlfriend. He was stewing.
Though he didn’t believe in God, he cried out to him. “If you exist you have to do something,” he said.
On Dec. 31, his mom sent him to the bread lines at 4:00 a.m. You had to get up early to get the special bread that is customary for New Year’s Eve. “It wasn’t a line, it was a mob, and I’m right in the middle of it,” he remembers. “I was standing there frustrated, angry, desperate, no hope.”
He noticed a young guy working his way through the crowd. “Excuse me, excuse me,” he pushed gently through, coming straight over to Ovidiu, whom he addressed.
“I know you from the neighborhood,” the young man said. He began witnessing to him about Jesus.
“I cried out to God three days earlier, and the first time I step out of my house, God sent this guy to talk to me,” Ovidiu marvels.
What hit him was the young man assured him… Read the rest: Revival in Romania