A Shorter Way to Fall by Brendon Sylvester


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.


Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more on ministry from the online archives

32.4—July/August 2019

Pastor Prime

on a Steady Presence in an Unsteady World by Preston Jones

33.5—September/October 2020

Killing Homicide

on Missing Fathers & Redemption in Prison by Bob Perry

32.1—January/February 2019

Role Reversals

Sex, Women's Ordination & the Rejection of Hierarchy & Equality by James A. Altena

more from the online archives

18.2—March 2005

Long Shadows of Eden

On Conservatism as Vexation, Vanity & Near Impossibility by Graeme Hunter

22.5—June 2009

A Law for All Seasons

C. S. Lewis on Civilization & the Natural Order by Timothy L. Hall

28.3—May/June 2015

The Spy Who Turned Witness

Whittaker Chambers's Lonely War Against Godless Collectivism by Hunter Baker

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone