Archive for iulie 2008

Liviu Olah – Obituary

iulie 15, 2008

By Octavian Baban

Liviu Olah, 19th September 1982

With a certain sadness, one sees that there slowly goes away the generation of our fathers, of those who now are now in their seventies. Amongst them, the latest to have passed away is Liviu Olah (1934-2008), an exceptionally gifted evangelist and pastor, a man of God, through whom God spoke and worked great things in Romania during the 70s. If Joseph Ton was at that time the representative voice for the Romanian evangelical academia, with his theological studies at The King’s College (Oxford), if Marcu Nichifor was the charismatic voice of the Romanian evangelical spirituality, continuing to influence lives and people, since the years before the Second World War and beyond this, further deep into the years of the communist regime, Liviu Olah stood up for what one could call a new, courageous spirituality of the Romanian Baptists under the Communist regime.

Liviu has understood that in a time when information was severely censored, and limited anyway, effective evangelism could not rely so much on high level apologetics or scholarship, or be based on sophisticated exercises and methods of communication, yet rather on a specific and strong emphasis on personal holiness, on personal and enthusiastic obedience to God, on brotherly love and on a revitalized life of prayer in the Church. In this way he has been quite a remarkable evangelical minister, a Baptist – at that, in a world of Eastern Orthodox spirituality, where personal holiness is not one of the proeminent features of daily Christian living, at least not a mass phaenomenon, but rather a rare sight.

Secondly, he was a remarkable evangelist through the apparent modernity of his preaching. When he preached, and I heard him preaching so many times, one would perceive the surrounding world in a new, fresh Christian perspective: the spiritual world, the surrounding society, the planet, the continents; all were so vividly and so realistically presented through the eyes of faith, via an updated and revigorating language. Thus, God was the actual Creator of the world, the Father of Cosmos, as Liviu loved to emphasise, and at the same time He was the Dear Loving Father of the believers. Satan was presented as the schemeful Lord of Darkness, at the same time dangerous and defeated, an out-of-this world enemy that took different forms and acted in various, different ways in history. This was a new, powerful way of presenting the spiritual drama of our times, the history of redemption. Christians felt encouraged to look up to God with enthrusting heart, to live in the victory of Christ’ cross, to take a stand for God in an atheistic world, to feel that the God of Creation is here, with us.

Listening to the gospel as it was preached by Liviu Olah meant, at the same time, feeling better integrated into this world, in society at large, finding a place and a role for oneself here. Olah spoke with relative easiness on everything, on science, social news, biblical times, etc. One felt as biblical times had a special way of coming down into the present world, overlapping with our times, as we lived through the biblical times ourselves. One felt quite strongly that the foundations of the present world are sanctified and placed under God’s special control. This meant very much for the evangelical Christian, and for any Christian, to be sure, in a society where Communist leaders tried to convince everybody through a wide range of persuasing means (via mass media, schools, or via brutal invansions into one private’s life), that Christianity is doomed to disappear, to vanish away, that Christians have no role, no place in society (this does not mean that apostle Peter is not right, in 1 Peter 2, when saying that Christians are but a stranger and a pilgrim in this world). At the same time, Liviu Olah has stopped and dethroned – at least for himself, the slowly all-pervading wooden language of traditional preaching (as encouraged by pulpit routine or by seminary fossilized teaching, or by the Communist secret police restrictions in terms of subjects and references), in a clear cut way, and brought over the fresh wind of revigorated evangelism, adapted to needs of his new audience, reflecting the life bringing challenges of the God’s word. It would be so good, thus, if more contemporary preachers would get something of Liviu Olah’s freedom and imagination in preaching, of his joy in communicating the message of salvation through Christ.

Thirdly, Liviu Olah was a man of vision. He passed on his vision to many a believer in those times: behind the tight grip and dark shadows of the Iron Curtain he was praying in the 70s for a time when the Gospel of Christ would be heard over stadiums, broadcasted on the radio and tv stations, for a time when freedom would flood into Romania and all of the Eastern Europe. If J. Ton dreamt at that time of building Christian schools and of educating evangelicals, of enabling them to bring a learned testimony of a high academical standing and influence, Liviu Olah dreamt of freedom and success in preaching, of a wide Christian presence and influence in the media. Probably, this is the point where the present generation is being challenged by the seventies generation: on how to dream a vision of God for the land of the living, a vision of His Kingdom growing at home and in the world at large. This is the vision for which Liviu Olah will be best remembered, even if the second part of his ministry, the 90s and the first decade of the XXI century, when he served as a pastor in the USA, was not as glorious as the first one, and lacked in the power and wide impact he had while serving in Romania.

Without a world-wide vision, the Church is weak. By the power of God’s Spirit, however, with His maturity, love, the ministry of the Church could really make a difference, could change the world. Liviu Olah, we would like to thank you for your love and for your vision, for your preaching, for you holiness, for your prayer life, for your ministry – in glorious times and in times of anonymity, for all of your life. We thank God for you and pray that He may further bring forth new workers to his harvest, men of such a noble and dedicated heritage!

Festival of Hope Romania

iulie 6, 2008

A Movement of Faith in Romania

„Among the hundreds of activities held in preparation for the Festival have been a youth concert with thousands in attendance; a weekly Festival radio program to encourage local believers; sessions of the Billy Graham Christian Life and Witness course in 25 locations; youth meetings with more than 5,000 in attendance; women’s conferences that brought together nearly 2,000 women; and a Billy Graham International School of Evangelism that united more than 600 Romanian pastors for three days of teaching, prayer, worship, dialogue, and growth. One could argue that a movement is underway. The Festival will provide simultaneous translation into various languages, including Hungarian, Serbian, and sign language. And live satellite feeds will broadcast the Festival events to locations around the country so that more people can attend.”

Night One: Festival of Hope Romania

„Franklin Graham speaks to those who have come forward: „God has heard your prayer, and He’s forgiven you. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you. You can talk to God anyplace, anytime, but when you read the Bible, God speaks to you.” Every person that makes a decision for Christ receives a copy of the Gospel of John from the New Testament. They are encouraged to read the first three chapters. Right before the crowd disperses, the emcee prays. When people pray in Romania, they always stand. More than 670 people have made a decision for Christ tonight at the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Timisoara, Romania.”

Night Two: Festival of Hope Romania

„Franklin Graham asks everyone to stand. More than 22,600 people are here tonight. Now he’s inviting people to take a step of faith and come forward in front of the platform to make a public declaration, where they will pray to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. People are walking forward as everyone stands. More and more are walking down from their seats. Tonight in Romania, more than 700 people have decided to have a new life and a new beginning through Jesus Christ.”