Thursday, October 11, 2012

Story from church history: Gheorge Calciu (1925-2006)

Gheorge Calciu spent 16 years in a Romanian prison for speaking against communism. During his imprisonment, he had met Christ, and it would not be his last time behind bars.

Having endured the most inhumane of tortures, he was released during a general amnesty and decided to become an Orthodox priest, even though the government had forbidden him to study theology. So he found a way to study for the ministry – in secret.

Calciu knew that priests were ordered to side with the communists, but he refused to give in. In 1978, he announced plans to give a series of seven sermons. Seminary students flocked to hear him preach with words that confronted the communist brutality that tried to silence the church.

After his third sermon, communists were so outraged that they locked the doors to the seminary. That didn’t stop him. With the doors locked, Calciu preached on the steps. Officials then locked the gates, but many still climbed the walls to hear him.

Considered a dissident priest, he was dismissed from his post and was later arrested and imprisoned.

Despite torture, Calciu could not be broken. Prison officials made a deal with two convicted murderers to end his witness. Their plans failed when weeks later the two murderers refused to kill him.

In 1983, secret police transferred Calciu to a prison where he was told he would die. In reality, he was released and spent the next two years under house arrest until he was exiled to the United States, where he died of cancer in 2006.

Calciu had a courage that demonstrated a power only God can give (1 Cor. 2:3-5). It is not our cleverness of speech that God wants, but our obedience to be His mouthpiece, even in the face of rejection, criticism, prison, and death.

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