A Shorter Way to Fall by Brendon Sylvester

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A Shorter Way to Fall

Brendon Sylvester on a Romanian Cautionary Tale for Fallible Pastors

In the 1980s, at the height of Nicolae Ceaușescu's communist dictatorship, the underground church in Romania operated clandestine youth camps deep in the Carpathian Mountains. Missionaries, pastors, church members, and youth sought solace in the wilderness, to pray and worship outside the government--sanctioned church—away from Ceaușescu's crushing grip on religious practice. My father attended these camps as an American missionary. There, one summer, he met a young man named Petr Cseboli and formed a fast friendship. Cseboli was one of only seven students enrolled in the tiny Hungarian Reformed Seminary, which was only allowed to exist so Romania could present a facade of religious freedom to the West.

My father spoke no Romanian; Cseboli spoke no English. But over the four years they worked together, their love—for the camp's young people, for Christ, and for each other—bonded them in spiritual kinship. My father describes how the two of them once clasped hands in prayerful friendship as they hiked up the mountain to worship God.

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