Amintiri cu sfinti – Nicolaie Moldoveanu – Marele compozitor crestin

Nicolaie Moldoveanu – Nascut Februarie 3, 1922 in satul Movileni, judetul Galati, a compus cintari cu Traian Dorz, a fost inchis cu Richard Wurmbrand, si in ultimul an al vietii sale inca compunea cintari pentru Domnul!

Un interview cu compozitorul Nicolaie Moldoveanu din 2006, pentru care a compus inca o poezie si a pus-o pe note! In anul 2007 a plecat la Domnul.

(sursa) Viata Vesnica Site din Romania.

Dacă Vasile Alecsandri a fost considerat „Bardul de la Mirceşti”, iar Mihai Eminescu „Luceafărul poeziei româneşti”, pentru că au constituit o solidă temelie a literaturii române în versuri, mă întreb cum ar trebui calificat Nicolae Moldoveanu a cărui creaţie a făcut să pulseze mai rapid şi mai puternic întreaga spiritualitate crestină, indiferent de denominaţiune. Cu cât mai mult, cu cât prestatia artistică a acestui mare om a lui Dumnezeu s-a confirmat într-o perioadă istorică extrem de potrivnică, perioada comunistă, datorită careia Nicolae Moldoveanu a făcut ani grei de închisoare. Dacă ar fi să aleg o metaforă reprezentativă vieţii şi creaţiei sale, eu i-aş spune „David al spiritualitătii româneşti”. Să fie integrat într-o denominatiune numai pentru că aşa ar fi corect din perspectiva actelor de stare civilă, este foarte dificil pentru că, omul Nicoale Moldoveanu, s-a dovedit frate nedisimulat al tuturor creştinilor.
Crescut în biserica ortodoxă, format în iuresul mişcării „Oastea Domnului”, pentru care a devenit un mare reprezentant, încheind, mai apoi din fermă convingere, legamantul cu Domnul prin botezul în apă, şi prieten al oricărui creştin, Nicolae Moldoveanu şi-a deschis casa ca o biserică pentru prietenii din toate confesiunile creştine. El şi-a făcut din muzică, aripi de har, care să poarte solia Evangheliei Domnului Isus.

„Muzica evanghelică, este de fapt, Cântarea de laudă şi Cântarea duhovnicească, despre care vorbeşte limpede Cartea Sfantă: Efeseni 5:19; Coloseni 3:16, o muzică a liniştei şi a odihnei, căci în linişte şi în odihnă este mantuirea noastră.”( Isaia 30:15 )- Nicolae Moldoveanu, Un cuvant de început din Cantările Domnului, vol(1).

Fie că a trebuit cântată tăria credinţei, puterile harului sau slava lui Dumnezeu, frumuseţea şi orânduirile Sale şi a gloriei viitoare, „în arta fratelui Niculită se distinge accentul de măiestrie al creaţiei populare româneşti, care prin el, emană o mireasmă christică unică”.

Aprecierea omului de cultură Nicolae Moldoveanu este foarte complexă şi aproape imposibil de departajat, încat lucrarea lui, deşi este un tot unitar, se împarte în trei mari domenii de creaţie: compozitie, poezie, proză. Toate trei însa, au ca temelie cercetarea Cuvantului lui Dumnezeu, ceea ce pentru fratele Nicolae Moldoveanu a devenit o patimă. Din cercetarea Sfantului Cuvant s-au născut cântările, şi tot din acest Sfant Izvor s-au născut meditaţiile. Toate acestea sunt străbătute de firul roşu al gândului lui Dumnezeu, gând al unităţii în dragoste al tuturor copiilor Săi ( Ioan 11:51 – 52). Şi textele cantărilor şi a cugetărilor reflectă aceeasi lumină: a unităţii, a rugăciunii şi a revenirii Domnului, iar melodia compusă de fratele Niculită este inconfundabilă: „nu miscă picioarele ci inima, căci Domnul Isus, inima ne-o cere, ca să facă să curgă din ea râuri de apă vie”. În toată lucrarea aceasta, Nicolae Moldoveanu, smerit, fără nici o umbră de slavă deşartă, nu a înteles să aibă vreun merit. Căci cine işi are izvorul în Domnul Isus, nu poate gandi altfel. Din ziua naşterii, 3 februarie 1922 şi pană în ziua trecerii în Slava lui Hristos, în 12 iulie 2007, Nicolae Moldoveanu şi-a construit o punte spre veşnicie, asteptând momentul intalnirii cu Isus, asa cum reiese din cântarea compusă în temnită:

Cer frumos, cer frumos
Loc al Domnului Hristos
Voi fi dus, voi fi dus,
În curând în tine Sus!

-„Cer senin”. Cantarile Harului –
Cantari din temnita, vol 1, nr12

Aceasta este nădejdea care nu înseala şi pe ea se bizuiesc sora Lena, Daniela, Cristina, Natanael şi toti fraţii care l-au iubit şi care l-au condus pe ultimul drum, pe cel al cărui nume va rămâne puternic imprimat în conştiinţa credincioşilor români de pretutindeni, compozitorul creştin, Nicolae Moldoveanu.

Fratele Niculiţă a fost un om iubit, de toţi, deşi cu siguranţă au existat şi unii care au încercat să îl împroaşte cu noroi, prin afirmaţii, şi trist că unii chiar oameni mari, au ajuns să scrie versuri împotriva lui. Totuşi, cum de casa fratelui Niculiţă a fost aşa de plină, cum fraţii continuă să viziteze familia Moldoveanu, cum de a fost aşa de solicitat, şi chiar dacă îi era greu, nu voia ca să ştie că fraţii sunt în oraş şi nu trec în vizită pe la el.

Aş dori să răspund la acesteste întrebări prin nişte observaţi, cred eu obiective, deşi s-ar putea să scap unele lucruri din vedere(pentru asta nădăjduiesc în ajutorul celor care l-au cunoscut pe fratele Niculiţă mai bine decât mine)

1. Fratele Niculiţă a semănat cu Domnul Isus.

În viaţa fratelui, Domnul Isus a luat chip, şi El s-a văzut prin ceea ce fratele făcea. Îmi aduc aminte de a doua întâlnire cu fratele Niculiţă. Strălucirea de pe faţa lui se vedea că venea din transcendent. El era în comuniuni cu Cel de dincolo, şi i s-a imprimat pe chip frumuseţea aceasta. Când am intrat la ei în casă, un prieten mi-a dat un cot şi mi-a zis:

– Aici e prezent Domnul.

– De unde ştii?

– Uite orga, Domnul spune că locuieşte în mijlocul laudelor, crede-mă, e prezent Domnul.

Şi aşa a fost. Domnul Isus a guvernat viaţa fratelui Niculiţă, deşi recunoştea că este slab, recunoştea că nu de la el este ceea ce are, şi că Cel care i-a dat toate astea este din lumea de dincolo, despre care a cântat CER SENIN. Când Îl iubeşti pe Domnul, nu se poate să nu-i iubeşti şi pe cei care seamănă cu Domnul, de aceea fratele a fost aşa iubit. Dincolo de cuvinte, venea o autoritate care se ştia că nu este a lui Nicolae Moldoveanu, ci e din transcendent.

Odată a spus celor care erau lângă el:

– Apostolul Pavel a spus “Călcaţi pe urmele mele căci şi eu calc pe urmele lui Cristos”… Eu pot să spun lucrul acesta, dar voi puteţi să spuneţi?

… au plecat capul cu toţii întristaţi şi ruşinaţi.

“Doamne, lasa-ţi chipul în noi”

Cât despre mine, l-am iubit pe fratele, şi încă îl iubesc, chiar dacă a plecat Acasă – într-un fel mi-e dor de dumnealui, de vocea lui blândă, de cel care mi-a vorbit şi m-a zidit, de cel prin care Domnul mi S-a descoperit. Da, mi-e dor… şi nu numai mie ci şi tuturor care l-au iubit şi s-au simţit iubiţi de fratele Niculiţă.

Un alt articol de interes poate fi citit pe blogul lui Petrica Moisuc.

Un al doilea scurt documentar:

Nicolae Moldoveanu – biography –

(English) 05/10/2005  (via)

Nicolae Moldoveanu went to be with the Lord in 2007. This article was written by a European missionary.

I told you about meeting family members of a famous Romanian hymn writer, Nicolae Moldoveanu.  He was imprisoned during the Ceausescu regime for his music, which they said was spreading propaganda.  During his 5 year imprisonment, he wrote 360 hymns.  He was not allowed any writing materials, so he composed and maintained all these song in his memory until his release.

Below is his personal autobiography.  It blessed me and I believe it will bless you.

Name:  Nicolae Moldoveanu

Birthdate:  February 3, 1922 (death: 2007)

Place of birth:  Movileni, jud. Galati

Nationality: Romanian

Sentence:  12 years of hard labor

The righteousness of the Lord Jesus is perfect.  I am completely convinced, through the light of the Holy Spirit that all that He’s done in my life was by His eternal righteousness.  From the time that I was a child, I realized – and today I witness this truth with certainty – that I didn’t seek Him, but that He sought me.  And He found me!  He put in my heart from the time I was a small boy, the idea that my life would be unique in this world.  I remember a very weak beginning in my life and that being according to the scripture that says,  „Who despises the day of small things?”  (Zechariah 4:10)

I grew up in a family with many problems.  My father died with a lung disease when he was only 24 years old.  Mama was a widow with two children and she remarried after a year and a half.  The man she married was fundamentally very different than my father, who had been a very religious man – Orthodox, of course – and who had believed deeply in the teachings of the Orthodox church.  My father went to the lectern near the cantor and he would sing along with the songs of the church.  Even though he lived in a village, he had a small library of books.  The books were about the lives of different saints, psalters, books about prayer as well as other topics.

Around this time (1923), the movement, “Lord’s Army”[1] began.  They published a magazine called The Light of the Villages.  My father subscribed to this magazine and he received it weekly.  Since I was just a child, I enjoyed turning the pages of his books and magazines so that I could look at the pictures.  I loved to look at pictures.

But, my father died and in those days many people came to our house, especially relatives.  One of my uncles, Mitruca Bejan, took me on his knee to comfort me and that’s when I learned the Lord’s Prayer.  This was the first period of my life and it ended with the death of my father.

After my Mom remarried, a new stage in my life began.  Into our house came more children, new babies.  My stepfather was like a stepfather.  He wasn’t the kind of man to take an interest in spiritual things.

The situation in our family became more and more difficult.  When I was twelve years old, one of my mother’s brothers (who was in the military), had me move to the town Sfantul Gheorghe with the idea that I would enroll in high school there.  This is when my life began to take its shape.  I had wanted all of my life to learn to sing and to play instruments as well as to learn music theory.  I liked music very much and I was always singing.  In my hometown there were several different bands that played at celebrations and at weddings.  I would stand nearby playing a piece of pipe as if it were a flute, just as I heard them playing.

It wasn’t possible for me to enroll in high school for many reasons, the principle reason being that we didn’t have the money to pay expensive fees for high school.  So, I went to another school instead.  My uncle enrolled me as a “military child” in his military unit.  There I became acquainted with a new world with which I was greatly impressed.  When I first entered the music classroom at the military base, there were many students who were practicing different instruments.  I was amazed by the sounds.  This began a new season in my life.  Today, with the eye of a new man, one born again, I see clearly God’s hand that always guided me in life preparing me for His work.

A year after I became a “military child” my uncle retired from the army and moved away.  I was left alone and I lived in the barracks.  I went to sleep and woke up at the bugle’s call.  I took care of myself.  In this way, I learned order and discipline.  The Word of God says:  It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.  Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. (Lamentations 3:27-28).  It was the work and guidance of the Lord in my life.

We played more than military marches, we also learned difficult pieces: overtures symphonies, etc.  I was so captivated by it all that I learned all the pieces by heart through sight-singing.  I entered this music school on the very first day.  My first music professor was Ioan Pop.  In the beginning, I learned music theory:  the staff, notes, and time signatures.  Then I learned rhythm by practicing with wooden hammers, beating the rhythm on special chairs.  After two weeks, they gave me a little drum.  An older student taught me to play the piccolo.  But I loved the trumpet.  The sergeant taught me to play the trumpet.  After two or three months, I played well and had the right breathing technique.  The leader of the military band, seeing how hard I worked to write notes, took me to his office to copy different pieces.  This is the way I entered in the mysteries of music.

When it was time for my first summer vacation, I went home to something new in my village: the Lord’s Army had begun a congregation.  My mother was religious and attended this congregation.  She asked me if I would also like to attend.  Of course, I went with her and liked it very much.  I heard many things about the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.  I also learned two songs:  He Will Come in the Middle of the Night and The Good Shepherd. The people in the congregation were simple village folks.  They didn’t have much education, but they read the books of Brother Trifa[2] from Sibiu.  From then on, whenever I went home, I went to this small congregation and wrote down the music of the songs they sang.

In February 1938 I decided to follow Jesus and as was the custom in the Lord’s Army in my village, this decision was made public through enrolling in the congregation with one’s signature.  I was very interested in spiritual things.  I read about the lives of the saints in a magazine published by the Lord’s Army.

I didn’t have a Bible.  During that time it was rare to have a Bible and those that had Bibles, didn’t give them away.  I decided that I would save my money and buy one.  Every day I sold a part of my milk and my bread so that I could save the money I needed for a Bible.  I put the money in a box in a cabinet in the director’s office.  In August 1939 I bought my first Bible from Budapest (for 100 lei).  I still have that Bible today.  I’ve had it rebound twice.  I’ll never forget that day – it was such a happy day for me.

In December 1939 I read an announcement in the Lord’s Army magazine that was another turning point in my service to the Lord, and for which I know He had prepared my thoughts and steps.  The announcement said this:  We would like to publish a songbook with music.  We ask that those who have new songs send them to our editorial office.

I had some songs written and about 10 – 15 that I had composed myself.  I sent these to the editors in Cluj.  After a few days I received a post card that said:  We have received your songs and we ask that you come to Cluj.  I didn’t think twice about the letter.  I was in the Army.  I would have liked to have gone, but I didn’t have the money.  I put it off and after a week, I received a telegram that said only this:  Come immediately!  Brother Ioan Marini was the editor – a man full of faith and a talented writer as well.  Ioan Marini himself signed this telegram.

I took the telegram to my superior officer who knew that I was a Christian.  I asked him to let me go for 8 – 10 days.  He told me that he didn’t mind, but that it depended on the permission of the unit commander.  He said, “Look, I have to go to the commander’s office today to sign some papers.  I’ll take your telegram with me.”  He came back happy, saying, “Moldoveanu, he approved!”  Today I still have the original letter, the telegram with the permission of the commander attached.  Before I left, I also asked for permission to take a trumpet with me and he let me!  I found money for the train since I only had to pay one quarter the price of the ticket.  This is how I began my activity for the Lord’s Army.

I arrived in Cluj.  It was a frosty morning in February.  I had to arrive at the editorial office on Razboieni Street in the neighborhood of Iris.  I arrived at the gate and I was shy to even enter.  I thought to myself, “This is where Ioan Marini walks – I saw those that worked at the editorial offices as spiritual giants.  I stood there hesitating for a while; I entered through the gates at nr. 12.  I knocked on the door of one of the corridors and said, “Good morning! Does Mr. Ioan Marini live here?”  “Yes” answered a lady, “in fact, you’ve passed his door.”  I knocked on the door she indicated as being his and my heart was beating so fast.  “Good morning!  Is this where Mr. Ioan Marini lives?”  Standing at the table in peasant clothes was a man who answered, “Here!  Do you happen to be Brother Moldoveanu?”  “Yes, I am.”  He answered, “I am Brother Traian Dorz, but here in the bed is Brother Marini.”  A thin man with a mustache and the face of a saint got up from the bed.  When I saw him, I began to cry.  They both started to talk to me so that the nervousness finally passed.  After a few minutes of making our acquaintance, they told me of their plan to go to the northern part of Transylvania where there was to be a large meeting and where we would hear many songs for which I could write the music.

We left on a train to Dej and from there we took a bus to Pustuta (jud. Somes).  There was a lot of snow and everything was frozen.  We had to walk from here.  When we got to the top of a hill, Marini and Dorz said “Take out your trumpet and play a song for us.”  I played He Will Come in the Middle of the Night. Dorz was carrying a suitcase of books.  On the top of the hill, he let it go on the ice and it slid down with such speed that we barely were able to catch it.  When we arrived in the village, we went into a house with several rooms, each full of brothers.  What joy that was! Brother Marini introduced me and I played several songs for them.

The following day was Sunday.  While the others went to church, Dorz and I stayed behind at the village school together with some of the brothers who knew songs so that I could write out the scores.  That afternoon the congregation met at the school.  Brother Marini spoke with great power.  I wrote out about 100 songs and within a week wrote arrangements so that these songs would be ready for the new hymnbook entitled, Let’s Sing to the Lord. This book was printed in Oradea and after a few months, I received five copies of the book.  I entered in the Lord’s work with this book.  Having taken these first important steps, I continued to write poems that were published in the magazines:  The Christian Life and The Missionary of the Christian Life as well as for calendars and youth calendars.

Now when I look back at my life, I see God’s hand, which guided me from when I was a young child for this work.  This is a gift that God has given me, but not just for me, but rather it was so that I could serve to His glory, for the awakening of men to the grace of salvation, for the Lord Jesus, for faith in Him and for the building up of His church.

After this time, there were historic events happening in Romania:  the secession of Transylvania in August 1940[3].  The military unit I was assigned to was moved to Fagaras.  At the same time, the Lord’s Army publishing house was moved to Beius.  This began a new phase with the magazine being printed under the name The Christian Family. I continued to write poems and songs for the magazine.  I composed songs for the book Sing to the Lord but the book was printed with only words and no music.  Traian Dorz became the editor of the magazine until the end of 1947 when all publications of the Lord’s Army were forbidden.  In the beginning of 1948, Dorz was arrested.  In the fall of 1944, I met Richard Wurmbrand, who after the events of August 23, 1944[4], became the editor of The Friend magazine in which a few of my poems and songs were published.  Richard, having known both Brother Marini and Dorz, had given them a copy of his magazine, The Friend for those in the Lord’s Army.

This is how I began to write.  I wrote with the idea that there would come a day when these songs would be published.  Some of these songs are better than others, but I worked and I enjoyed doing so.  I didn’t do it out of obligation, nor for money.  No one paid me then or now.  I did it all from the love of the Lord and for His glory.  It was truly a joy to compose songs.  I received from God melodies, texts and themes, collecting a large number of songs.

In 1946, Brother Richard Wurmbrand shared with me an idea of his regarding a book of meditations on The Song of Solomon for which he asked me to write some music.  I thought that his idea was interesting and very nice.  I accepted his proposal and I communicated his idea to Brother Dorz as well.  Dorz liked the idea, but during that time Richard Wurmbrand[5] was arrested and we were unable to begin the work.  However, I suggested to Dorz that we work together to transform the Psalms into songs.  He liked this idea and began to work on it.  This didn’t last for long, though because Dorz was arrested in December 1947 and then released in spring of 1948, near the time of Easter.  When we met at that time, he brought me the first Psalms versified and I began to write the music.  This work lasted about three years.  In 1950 all of the psalms were completed, then they were harmonized with four voices as you can find them now printed in our book.

Encouraged by this victory  – the Psalms book being published – we planned to begin putting another book of the Bible in song.  We considered Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. Dorz was of the opinion that we should put all of the songs, prayers and blessings in the Bible that are not a part of the Psalms to music.  And so, Songs of the Bible appeared, a book that contains over 140 songs in the style of the Psalms.

During this time, I got married, but trials still came my way.  My wife miscarried in her first pregnancy, then the second and a third, but the fourth pregnancy, with great risk and through the mercy of the Lord, our daughter Daniela came into this world (1954).  Because we participated in the Lord’s Army, we were always threatened by the secret police.  After the king left the country, we were persecuted more and more.  Also in 1954, in a military camp – because I was still active military – my right arm was broken.  I was hospitalized in Brasov, but the problem was not resolved and I was transferred to the Military Hospital in Cluj.  I underwent four surgeries, but the situation didn’t change.  I began a disability retirement at the age of 33.  I have a prosthesis that I had even during my imprisonment.  This is the way that I have worked my entire life, with the humerus bone broken.  This is how I work even today.  Through the grace of God, it hasn’t stopped me.  I’ve continued to move forward.  Mountains of  resistance have been in my path, the storms of life were many, with winds that seemed to sweep away everything around me, which have hit with all of their force.  Through grace I was strengthened to lift even higher the only standard, Jesus.

Life continued on.  1959 was a year when my life was split in two – my life as well as the life of my family.

Daniela was five years old.  The work of the Lord needed men who were tested.  Gold and silver are purified through the fire of the furnace (Prov. 17:3, 27:21).  In July I was arrested.  Dorz was arrested earlier, in the month of March.  It was a Monday morning and I was sitting at the table with my morning tea.  Two officers of the secret police came to search the house.  They confiscated all of the books of music (a large suitcase and briefcase).  They took our first draft of Songs of the Bible. The investigation was five months long and took place with the secret police in Cluj.  I was charged with art. 209 from the penal code: Working against the social order.  The crime for which I was convicted was that I composed songs and psalms from which I’d made “propaganda”, this being “extremely grave”.  Those in power then had all things under control except for the power of faith.  They were unable to control the spirit of man.  This made it difficult to introduce communist ideology and atheism.

I was unable to eat breakfast the morning that they came to arrest me and so I left home hungry.  I asked that I be allowed to pray with my wife before I left.  They allowed me to do this, but the door was left ajar so that they could hear.  This is how we separated!  I didn’t have clothes with me.  My wife forgot, due to the shock she suffered, to put some food in a package for me.  I was taken and presented to the commander of the secret police; all of the police had been called to the office.  Before this time, the secret police had requested that I collaborate with them, that I serve them.  I refused to do this.  Now they said to me, “You didn’t want to help us, now you won’t find mercy, understanding or patience here!  Take him and put him in the cell.”  After I arrived in the cell, the sky covered in clouds and it started to rain torrentially.  I prayed to the Lord and I thanked Him for the grace that He had given me to suffer for Him.  After about an hour, another inmate asked me why I’d been arrested.  “For my faith” I answered.  “For your faith?!”  He was amazed.  “Oh, they’re going to let you go.”  I asked him why he’d been arrested.  “Because they found some gold coins at my house,” he said.  They let him go soon afterwards and I never saw him again.

I sat on the bed and I prayed to the Lord.  All of the sudden, a guard flew into the cell, furious, and grabbed me asking why I was sitting on the bed.  “Why haven’t you read the rules?” he asked.  He told me to stand.  I stood there until the evening crying for joy because I had the grace to suffer for His name’s sake.  I was hungry because I’d not eaten since the day before, but I wasn’t given food in prison on my first day because I had yet to be numbered among the prisoners.  The next day, I had been rushed and I didn’t have an opportunity to eat because a guard came and took me.  “Come with me! Take out your shoelaces!  Don’t say anything!” – he demanded.  Then he asked for my handkerchief with which he blindfolded me.  I got in the car in which there were already two men.  I was taken to Brasov.  I still hadn’t eaten anything.  We were each taken into different cells and I was at interrogated until the evening.  That evening I arrived in a cell where there were three men standing with their backs toward the entrance into the cell.  This was the rule when someone entered the cell.  After the door was closed, they turned around and asked why I was imprisoned.  I told them the reason.  One was a lawyer from an opposing political party, the second had been arrested for participating in a meeting of the Legionnaires, and the last – a young man – had tried to cross the border and leave the country.

Later they brought food to our cell.  I had not eaten in two days.  One of my cellmates gave me a little of his cornmeal mush and a few spoons of black soup.  I spent two weeks in interrogations with the secret police of Brasov.  I didn’t hide anything, but I never said the name of a person, either.  From Brasov, I was taken to Cluj where they continued the interrogations.  The transport from Brasov to Cluj went through my town, Sibiu.  On the trip to Cluj I wore a blindfold so that I couldn’t see.  In Sibiu we stopped at a service station and our guard gave each of us a bread roll.  In the afternoon we arrived in Cluj.  In the evening, I was sent to cell number 14.  Lieutenant Major Barany came to the cell.  He was a bad man who took everything from me and wanted to even take my prosthesis.  This was a difficult situation.  Along with the distress of being detained, of being interrogated, and the pressure they put on me mentally, there was also the fact that due to the shock of what I’d been suffering, I couldn’t remember one song – not one.   I wondered what I would do year after year in prison if I couldn’t remember anything.  But the Lord was watching over me.  From cell nr. 14, I was moved to cell nr. 9.  It was here that I received the first song given to me by the Lord:  The Joy of Peace. First came the melody, then the text.  The cell was three meters below ground in the secret police headquarters in Cluj.  This was in July 1959.

Among my cellmates were those who were “planted” there to provoke us or lull us into talking.  One of these men used to encourage us to write notes to our families at home that he would be sure got to the outside.  After a time, this man asked me about Richard Wurmbrand.  Since he referred to Wurmbrand using a nickname, I said that I didn’t know anyone by that name.  This informer was a pastor from the reformed church who had worked as a prison guard in the town of Aiud.  He’d been arrested for helping detainees.  Later, I was transferred to cell nr. 15 and here, in the August 1959 I received the song, Holy Furnace.

In October of that year we were taken to the penitentiary in Cluj.  There in a 2 by 3 meter cell, were five beds, two buckets – one for water and one for physical needs – and there were ten men from seven different religions in the cell:  two Jehovah’s Witnesses, two Lord’s Army, one Greek Catholic, one Roman Catholic, one Orthodox professor, one Reformed, one Jew and one Baptist.

We had an understanding between us to not make an issue of our differences of faith.  I suggested that we say a passage from the New Testament daily and then meditate on that passage.  The Orthodox professor said to me, “Father, you go first”.  I told him that I’m not a priest.  I began with the beatitudes from the gospel of Matthew.  Along with the meditations and discussions we had about the Word of God, we sang quietly.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses liked these songs and one of them even learned a few of the songs.

On November 4, 1959, we were moved to the prison in Gherla.  When we arrived there with Commander Baranyi, we were four detainees who were received by two guards.  One stout guard said, “Do you know where you are?  In the Gherla prison, in the Gherla graveyard.  That’s how it is.”  We were sent through a tunnel and then we arrived on the second floor, in cell nr. 67.  We were four men from the Lord’s Army and after three or four hours, four Jehovah’s Witnesses came into the cell.  The Lord impressed on me to do as we’d done in the last cell and so I proposed that we not make an issue of the differences in our faith.  There was a young man in the cell who was interested in learning about music and I began to teach him, but this didn’t last for long.

On November 18, 1959 our cases came before the judge.  One of the Jehovah’s Witnesses gave me a shoulder bag because I had not brought one with me to prison.  Our families were able to come to the court proceedings.  My wife was there.  There were many prisoners in court that day and the proceedings lasting until 11.00pm.  The judge was Major Valeanu who mocked and insulted us in every way possible.  After it ended, we returned to the Gherla prison.

A short time later, we were moved to the second floor in cell nr. 13.  A few days later Richard Wurmbrand was also moved to this cell.  But, he only stayed there two or three weeks.  Since he was very sick, he was moved to the prison hospital.  Here in cell nr. 13 in Gherla Prison, in the Gherla graveyard, I received from the Lord a prayer song.  It was in December 1959.  One day a guard ordered us to lie on our stomachs under our beds as a punishment.  I was beside Richard Wurmbrand since we didn’t really fit under the beds, the guard starting kicking us.  I was inspired with this song there on my stomach under the bed and it was called, “O Lord, My Lord!”  After two days, we were ordered again to get under the beds and to lie on our stomachs.  Then, I received the song, Only to Speak of You. After a good long while, the guard ordered us to get up.  I sang this song to Wurmbrand and he said, “Nicu, may they keep putting us on our stomachs if you’ll continue to compose such songs.”  They brought Brother Visky into our cell.  He learned six songs and even translated some of them into Hungarian.

On January 30, 1960, it was a frosty day.  We were very cold when they took us out in the air.  We were in short pants.  When we were taken back into the cell, I was looking through the bars at the clear sky and I thought about how my family at home was looking at the same sky and that maybe even our gazes are meeting up there in the sky.  On this day, God gave me the song, Peaceful Sky.

On February 3, 1960 a few of us Christians were taken from our cell so that we could find out our sentences: twelve years of hard labor, confiscation of all our personal belongings and ten years of “civic degradation”.  This was my birthday.  As a birthday present from the Lord, I received the song: Lord, Before All Things. In the cell, more came:  an Adventist, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, and one Jewish-Roman Catholic.  I proposed that we take a book of the Bible, the gospel of John.  We studied many chapters.  The Adventist listened, but the Jehovah’s Witness wouldn’t.  Every day after we were awakened until the time that the guards changed, Richard Wurmbrand spoke from the Word of God.  But a while later, he was taken to the prison hospital.  We saw each other again only after two and a half years.

Prison life was extremely difficult since the thoughts of those who had put us in prison were of our extermination.  But, their thoughts were not God’s thoughts.  He strengthened me to continue on.  Along with all of the difficulties of prison, there was one that was greater than the rest.  The most noxious venom on arrows of hatred did not come from the hands of strangers, but from the hands of Christian brothers.  I wanted, and I asked the Lord to help me to love deeply and with my whole heart those who had wounded me with those arrows.

We were taken from cell nr. 13 to cell nr. 66 where I stayed until May 24 when I was sent to some large rooms.  This is where I came to know Nicolae Todor, to whom Dorz had introduced me.  Brother Visky was also in that cell.  There were over one hundred men in that cell.  One day they took us out and asked us to identify our baggage.  They were preparing for our departure to the Danube Delta.  Visky and Wurmbrand were not taken to the Delta.  In the few days that I stayed in the cell with Dorz and Todor, I sang to them several songs, including, O, May Love Grow in Me.

We were taken from Gherla by train to the Danube Delta.  We were put into cattle cars for the trip to Braila.  When we got on the train, they told us not to eat all of our bread at one time because they were going to close the door to the cattle car and they weren’t going to open it again until we arrived at our destination.  I took their advice, others didn’t.  From Braila, we were taken by ferry to Periprava.  There were six hundred of us detainees.  The soldiers who guarded us had guns and dogs.  They yelled and cursed at us.  It was raining.  We were soaking wet.  It was the month of May and it wasn’t very warm yet and since we were in the area of the Danube, there were cold winds.  We traveled very slowly.  The distance from where we got off the train to our destination, Colonia Grind, was five kilometers.  We were hungry and wet.  After arriving here, we were cold and hungry.  At this labor camp, I met Traian Ban, a colleague of Vasilica Moisescu from Arad.  He gave us kernels of raw corn and some marmalade.  We also found a kind of wild spinach.

In the labor camp, we were assigned to barracks.  I was assigned to the barracks with Dorz.  The winter of 1960, there we were in the Danube Delta, at Colonia Grind.  I had found a piece of glass around Christmas and with a stick, I wrote a Christmas carol on this piece of glass, wet with soap.  Dorz wrote the text.  One of the detainees reported us to the commander who called us into his office.  With the piece of glass in my hand, we were threatened with new charges.  But, since I’d been carrying the piece of glass, the song had wiped off and so he didn’t have evidence of the crime.  In any case, I was put in isolation for five days in a little humid room in which I received food after three days.  Here I composed another melody while Dorz, in isolation, wrote another text.  I scratched my melody in the dirt.  The song was Wonderful is the Holy Night.

Of course, one can’t describe life in this environment in just a few words.  But I want to underline the fact that the Lord gave me the grace to believe in Him and to pass through the furnace of suffering for His name’s sake.  He is the only one who knows what is best for us and it’s equal to the measure of His mercy.  He molds us for His use so that we can serve to His glory.  Today, many people ask me how I view the trials I’ve suffered and how I feel about those who caused so many bitter things to happen in my life.  My response is always the same:  to complain about the things I’ve lived through would be to mock the grace of God.  As I always say, life in prison can’t be put into words.  If you want to know the taste of bread, you have to eat it!

The moments flew and became years.  The time came for us to leave the Delta.  But before we arrived back at the prison in Gherla, we stayed some time at a prison in Galati.  From there, we came back to Gherla on a train.  At the prison, I was assigned to cell nr. 11.  In this cell there was a Jewish man named Goldstein to whom I talked often about the Lord Jesus Christ, but he was not receptive.  Everyone hated Goldstein and he often came near me because I was nice to him.  At my request, he sang a Jewish song for me.  After he was freed from prison, he moved to Israel and later came to know Christ as his Savior.  Years later, when he came to visit in Romania, he came to me and said, “I am that Pharisee…What you have sown back in that cell has grown and born fruit.  I received Jesus as my Savior.”

I also suffered in prison because I told others about the Lord Jesus.  There was one man named Vantu who was arrested to saying something that was not permissible.  He learned the song Holy Furnace of Suffering while lying on his stomach.  The next day he was taken from the cell and I never saw him again.

In prison, together with Richard Wurmbrand we took the Lord’s Supper twice.  A little water together with some marmalade was the wine.  We were in cell nr. 56.  There were other brothers, but there were also Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They took Richard Wurmbrand from cell nr. 56 and after a time, they brought eight crazy men.  Herciu, the one who was in the worst state, slept in a bed near mine.  How he cursed!  I sang a song to him and he liked it very much.  He would say that he was going to kill the head inmate of our cell.  One evening he began to ram the door of the cell with a bench.  He asked the guard to give him an onion and when he received one, he divided it among all of the cellmates.  He took off his clothes, he got on the highest of the bunk beds and he wanted to jump from there to commit suicide.  Finally he was convinced not to do it.  He was bound and then taken to isolation.

At Gherla prison I stayed in different cells.  I was constantly composing songs.  In prison I composed 360 songs without paper, without a pencil, only in my memory.  I sang a number of songs every day.  I did this over five years time.  In the beginning it was easy, but as time passed the burden was greater in such a way that I just didn’t have enough time to rehearse all of the songs and compose as well.

In Gherla cell number 56, there was an Adventist, who converted after I talked to him.  He was from the town of Razboieni.  When we were released from prison, we headed home together.  He got off of the train in Razboieni and found out that his wife had died.  Oh how he cried.  I wondered what I would find when I got home!?

In the month of April they called me and told me to pack my bags.  It was raining.  I was taken into another cellblock.  In the first room, there was a light on and two civilians at a desk.  I told them who I was.  They asked what sentence I’d received.   I told them twelve years.  “What for?” they said.  “For faith.”  “For faith?!  Here we don’t sentence people for their faith.  How many years of your sentence have you served?”  “Five.”  “Look, the party and the government acquit you of the rest of your sentence, but don’t continue to do what you’ve done in the past or we’ll bring you right back here.”  I said, “Well you know, I’m just as I was five years ago.  I haven’t changed.  Rather than me having to come back and start all over again with interrogations, it’s better for me just to stay here and not leave.”  “Forget it.  Take your bags and leave.”  My clothes were very wrinkled.  I met Brother Chisu from Cluj in the waiting room for those who were leaving the prison.  He ironed my clothes and the brim of my hat and I left for home.  We were talking about how we would get home because we didn’t have any money to get from the train station to our homes.  A baron with whom I’d been a cellmate gave me some money.  I changed it and called my neighbor to see how everyone was doing at my house.  Everyone was waiting for me.  It was a wonderful homecoming!

Francis Chan: Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love

Many thanks to Gabi Bogdan for alerting me to this video as soon as it was available and also for providing the link.

To read Francis Chan’s newest update on his ministry click here.

Notes taken during the session.

Being Amazed at Answered Prayer

Pastor John gave me the topic of prayer as a personal journey. In my life, prayer has even rivaled the Scriptures in stirring my affections towards God. I know that Jesus loves me because the Bible so—God, you love me that much! But I know he loves me because of the way he answers my prayers. Just five minutes ago backstage, pleading with God, “How do I share what you and I have been through all of the years!? How do I communicate that? Do you love everyone this much? I see it so much in how you answer my prayers.”

Whenever I have money in the bank, I want to give it to people in need. But this one time I wanted to take my family on vacation and I pleaded with God and made it known. And I prayed and waited. A few days later my wife called me at work and said we got a cashier’s check in the mail for $2,000. All it had on it was a Post-It note that said, “Spend it on your family.” Wow! God is so good in answering my prayers.

Another time, my wife and I were talking. She was saying how she just loves our life and loves how simply we live. But she said, “You know, I just want to be more generous.” We have always wanted to be the kind of people who just write checks to people. We just are not those people though, so we prayed for wealthy people to be raised up in the church who just don’t care about their stuff. We also prayed that God would make us wealthy to give it away. And just last year, we made about $2M off of sales from Crazy Love. None of it comes to us but to a fund and we get to write checks to people.

Prayer is a way of walking in love. I love God so much because of how God has answered my prayers. Sometimes even we pray the wrong thing and we are so grateful and amazed that God did not grant those prayers. But when you look at Scripture, don’t we see that prayer is what sets us apart from other religions? The story of Elijah, God is the one who answers prayer. He is not a block of wood. He answers the prayers of his people.

One thing I have done is writing in prayer journals. I write my prayers on one side and then go back and write on the other side of the page when God has answered that prayer. It is so good to go back and remember how God has answered prayer. We so easily forget what God has done. This is a serious power that we have here in prayer.

Another time I was cleaning out my garage. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do something that would last for eternity. So I prayed that God would help to do something eternal in it. So I was cleaning out my garage and my neighbor stopped by. He said he had been wanting to talk with me and asked that I pray for him. It was great!

Believing in the God of Power

Every time I experience answered pray, I am just in awe of God. Why do I do anything but pray? The only thing that ever differentiates between me and some other religion is that God is my God who answers prayer. When I talk to someone on a plane or somewhere, I pray that God would show up in power, otherwise I will just sound like one of these other religions. He has to work and do something.

When an unbeliever walks into your church, don’t you want him to walk away saying, “Man, that guy, those people, are connected to God!” Is that what they see? Is that what comes across in your church? Isn’t that what we want? We want to show how great God is through our connection with him.

Yes, God is sovereign and he could use an unbeliever to preach the gospel with authority. But don’t you want to be connected to God so people are pointed to God? Remember Sunday School as a kid? You would walk out thinking and believing that your God can do anything! You would read and hear about all these great things God has done and would believe it. But now that we’re older, we are no longer amazed by the miracles that God does. Instead, we’re amazed by a communication style and by knowledge.

Maybe we need to get back to preaching those great stories of God’s greatness in the Old Testament. We need to remind our people that our God can do anything. Do you still believe it? Do you still believe that God is able to do anything? We have lifted up Moses and Elijah as super heroes but they were just men like us. They have nothing on us. If they were here today, we may be in awe of them. But they are no big deal! We have a nature just like them. They prayed fervently. We could pray that we could do that.

Cry Out, He’ll Answer

I am now getting so used to God answering my prayers that I have to pause think about it more when he doesn’t. I have to think harder about why he doesn’t heal that person. I have to think if I’m praying with wrong motives or if I’m not treating my wife well or what is going on. I want to point you to Isaiah 58:5-9.

There were people who were pleading with God for certain things, but because of their disregard for his commands, of course he was not going to listen to them. But as soon as they start doing them, he says, “Here I am.” There are times when I marvel at the Lord because I don’t pray as hard and long as some people. I feel spoiled because of how he answers when I just pray quickly or just think about it. This passage says he will answer. Just cry out.

If you abide in Jesus, he will abide in you. This is probably my biggest failure. It is so easy to get busy in the ministry and my prayer life just turns into, “Do this. Do that.” It lacks abiding in Jesus. It takes faith though to sit and abide in God. I neglect the most important thing, which is prayer as a way to walk in love. I fail to just commune and talk with God.

I fear that many of you focus so much on the work of God that you neglect the person of God. If you abide in him, there is much fruit. Think about it. The great things that have happened in your ministry—were they a result of your great planning or strategy or did something just fall in your lap? It is always the grace of God. Just abide in God.

The One Thing

I have camping out on this verse for the past several weeks, Psalm 27:4. What is the one thing you keep asking of the Lord? If I read a transcript of your prayers, what would I see is the one thing you keep asking for? Would it be, “Let me dwell in your house all the days of my life and gaze upon your beauty”? Is that what I would read? Joel said last night, “If you want to humble a man, ask him about his prayer life.” What would it be?

The context of this passage is danger and crazy things happening in the life of the psalmist. The Enemy wants us looking at all the things that are going around us and anxious about the future and all the chaos. If he can get us fearful and worried about the things around us, no one will be amazed by God. But the psalmist says that God is the stronghold of his life.

Other things become our stronghold. We rest on our great staff who can pull off anything. Or we look forward to a day off or vacation or a great conference like this as our stronghold. Maybe you come here not desiring God but you are desiring Desiring God. Or maybe you are desiring Piper. We begin to find our stronghold in other things beside God. But when you are alone with God and baring your soul to him, there should be sweet fellowship and abiding.

When you face the stressful and terrible things of life, you should be able to have a “Go ahead, make my day attitude.” You should have a confidence. Why? Because of the one thing you have asked of the Lord. Because you are in God’s presence, communing with him. Who will attack you as you commune with Lord? That’s ridiculous! Just dwelling with the Lord and things will be fine.

Think about it. If there is only one sovereign Being who is over all things in the universe, then if I just abide him all things will be taken care of. Right? We would say that we believe in the sovereignty of God, but the question is how is that fleshed out in your life. Does it result in a peace that surpasses all understanding? Even when it seems like there is nothing else going for you, you have the sovereign God who is your refuge.

Do you get to the point where you just want to stay with God and stay in his presence? That’s what this verse is about—just gazing upon his beauty and spending those sweet moments with him. It doesn’t have to be somewhere special. I spent two hours at an IHOP eating pancakes, communing with God. Sometimes in the middle of the night I will just count my breaths and be amazed that God has given me another breath. It should stun us that the God of the universe will listen to us in prayer. What is better than that?! He listens and hears and loves. Let this be the one thing you ask.

The Pitfall of Assumption

Everyone has been talking about me leaving my church in Simi Valley. I moved to San Francisco three weeks ago and everyone’s asking what I’m going to be doing there. But not one person has asked, “How is your prayer life?” It’s because everyone assumes that you’re doing that. I think people assume that I am doing that. Maybe they think it is silly to ask me if I’m praying. I wish more people would say, “I hope you haven’t started anything without praying first.”

We’ve all done that, right? We’ve made assumptions about staff people or congregation members. And then we find out later what they have been dealing with and wrestling with. So I don’t want to assume anything this morning. I don’t want to assume that you are walking closely with God right now. My prayer is that your boast is in God and that you are about God and that people see that in you.

It takes so much faith to abide in Christ and to dwell in the house of the Lord. I pray that you get there. That is what people want to see when they come to your church. They want to see a man of God who is connected. Elijah was a man just like you, just like me. He was connected to God. I want you to be connected to God like that.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Meet Francis Chan – the Pastor who stepped down to serve like Christ

An update from this extraordinary Pastor who stepped down (even the secular media followed this story) from his the Church he founded- Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley to serve the poor and the lost in the Inner Cities of California. He lives a simple life, gave away all $2 million from the last book he wrote and his actions have been an inspiration to thousands of Pastors  and millions of Christians around the world. You can follow his ministry at

his site here FrancisChan.org

Beyond Expectations (Update #5)

It has been an amazing couple of months as you probably saw from Lisa’s updates.  I don’t even know where to start.  Once again, God far exceeded my expectations.  He has a way of doing that…

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…   Ephesians 3:20

There is far too much to say.  I won’t even attempt to write down all of my thoughts, as that would take too long to read.  I prefer you spend that time in scripture.  So let me just throw out a few thoughts.

GOD is the love of my life.  While I enjoyed experiencing different cultures and meeting new people, I most enjoyed my time communing with God.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing.  Nothing beats conversing with the living God and watching Him answer prayer.

My family was able to experience exactly what I had hoped and more.  One of my goals as a parent is to show my kids how to live for eternity (Matt. 6:18-20).  I don’t want them to live for the things of this earth.  This was the first time they were able to enjoy not having a home and finding security in Christ.  While I tried to teach that our house was not our home, it is much easier to grasp that concept while homeless.

We have always been a pretty happy family, but we have never been this happy.  Our time at a children’s home in Thailand was probably our family favorite.  The typical day was wake up, have breakfast, serve and play with the kids during the day, and then worship with them in the evening.  Most nights Lisa and I would then stay up late with our oldest two talking, laughing, and praying.  I doubt they will ever forget this trip.

The church overseas was pretty much what I expected:  devoted and passionate.  Leaders in India explained that it makes no sense for a person to make a casual commitment to Jesus in a place where there is persecution.  Only a person who genuinely believes would endure the suffering that goes into being a Christian.  I was blessed for the chance to talk to people who were beaten for their faith.  Especially memorable were a couple women I met who were kicked out of their villages for following Christ.  Pregnant at the time, they gave birth in the jungle with only their husbands by their sides.  As they shared about the struggle to find food for their children, I realized I had nothing to ever complain about.

Speaking to underground church leaders in China was equally enlightening.  Most surprising to me was their response when I told them about “church” in America.  I did not expect the response I got when I explained how common it is for people to switch churches if they find another with better child-care, better music, or a more gifted speaker.  They laughed really hard.  It was weird.  It was like they thought I was joking.  It opened my eyes to the uniqueness of our situation.  Remember that India and China combined represent almost 40% of the world’s population.  The U.S. represents about 4%.  Too often I have looked at other cultures as being strange.  I forget that we are the minority.

Don’t get me wrong, not every “Christian” I met overseas was committed.  There were pockets of people who casually called themselves “Christian” in places where Jesus had become more socially acceptable.  For the most part, however, I loved the fellowship with believers who had experienced and endured far more than I have.

The future is still unclear at this point, but I am at total peace.  I am looking into a couple possible places to plant my family for the next few months.  While I am unsure of where I will be located, I am fairly certain of what God has called me to work on over the next few months.  It is both overwhelming and excitihttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBhqrtMqrv8&feature=player_embeddedng.  I will wait for the next update to explain all of that.

Thank you to those who prayed for my family.  I believe we are all closer to Jesus and more like Him as a result of the past few months.  I hope the same is true for you.

Here are 2 sermons given by Francis Chan:

Lukewarm and loving it

When sin looks more enjoyable than God

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