Romania, Books, and Belief

My husband and I just returned from a 10-day publishing & speaking trip to Eastern Europe.

Out for a walk in Oradea, Romania

Women we greeted on our walk

Romanian and Hungarian currency in our pockets

A jug of drinking water we purchased from the local mini-mart

A man from the village just outside Oradea

Visiting a gypsy village in Rontau, where Dwight DeLong loves and serves the people

One of the sessions Jim and I did together

Saying ‘good-bye’ to one of our excellent interpreters – Elly

As representatives of Tyndale House, my husband, Jim, and I had been asked to speak on the topics of Company Vision, Branding/Marketing, Couples Working Together, and Time Management.  Jim spoke on the first two topics, and we addressed the last two topics together.  We’ve worked together in Christian publishing for many years, but this was the first time we had spoken together.

The opportunity to visit with Christian publishers from Romania was a rich experience for us.   We traveled there to encourage them, and came away encouraged ourselves.

Throughout our time in Oradea, Jim and I each had memorable conversations with the publishers there.  They are conversations we’re still talking about.  One, for me, was a connection I made with a young Romanian editor, Cornelia.  After dinner one evening, Cornelia and I sat in the hotel lobby and talked for over an hour.  As I listened to her story of coming to faith in Christ, I was reminded of why I feel so passionate about Christian publishing.

When Cornelia was about 13, she began reading books that had been loaned to her mother.  The books had been sent home to her mom by Cornelia’s brother’s teacher.  The school teacher, Iulia, was a Christian woman.  Although Cornelia’s mother had no interest in the books, Cornelia started reading them – and couldn’t put them down.

Cornelia had been going through a stage when her life seemed aimless – she wondered why she was on this earth and what the purpose of her life was.  At one point, someone had suggested to her that she go to a local cathedral and make a wish with a coin.  She decided to go, and found the cathedral to be a beautiful, quiet, and solemn place.  She wondered if perhaps that was what she was looking for.  But when she discovered that the people there were cold and stand-offish – not warm and welcoming – she realized that the cathedral wasn’t for her.

“It was about that time,” said Cornelia, “that I began reading the Christian books that had been loaned to my mother.  As I read the books, I believed.  I realized that God’s grace wasn’t just for a select group of people, but that it was for everyone, including me.”

Cornelia’s mom, who was not interested in the books, asked Cornelia to return the books to her brother’s school teacher.  When Cornelia went to Iulia’s (the teacher’s)  home to make the return, she ended up staying and talking about God with Iulia for several hours.  “My time with Iulia,” Cornelia said, “was catching.”

When Cornelia returned home, her mom was not happy.  But . . . as Cornelia put it, “It was too late.  I’d already believed!”

Cornelia began going to church.  Sadly, there were very few young believers Cornelia’s age.  So . . . she decided to invite her friend, Alina, to come to church with her.  Alina came, and ended up asking her friend Cristina to come as well.  Over time, Cornelia’s friends believed in Christ too, and some years later all three girls were baptized together.

As I sat and listened to Cornelia’s story of searching for the meaning of life and coming to faith in Christ, I realized again how books can be missionaries that take the gospel to places we might never go. 

That is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about Christian publishing!

Blessings,

Ellen

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