Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Eastern Europe 1990: A Rally in Arad

The Turkish fort in Timisoara was built in 1588, when
southeastern Europe was under the dominance of Islam.

Sunday morning Gelu and his sister Carmen took us on another walk around Timisoara, where we saw, among other things, the old Turkish fort built in 1588. The city was under Turkish rule from 1552 until 1716, as Islam extended its territory into southeastern Europe.

Around 10 a.m. we were taken to a service at Timisoara First Church of God. After a delicious lunch at the church, cooked and served by an immense, red-faced young woman named Kati, we were packed into a Toyota minivan and taken 40 miles through the rolling, northwest Romanian countryside to the city of Arad, where a mass city-wide rally was to be held at the municipal sports arena.

The splendid Roman Catholic church towers above
the peasant's homes in the village of Vinga.
Along our way we passed through rural villages such as Vinga, where a Roman Catholic church towers high above the homes of peasants.

A elderly peasant woman at her home in Vinga.

A major cultural and industrial center, Arad is the most important road and rail center in western Romania, connecting western Europe to south-eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Industrial smokestacks and a nuclear reactor at Arad.

The musical groupe "Message" sings to
3,500 people in a mass rally at Arad.

The sports arena was jammed with about 3500 worshipers, of whom about 1000 were standing, for a service that lasted three and a half hours! The featured singers were a group called "Message," and they were seriously good. Their driving, powerful, hauntingly beautiful rendition of the hymn O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus moved me so deeply that it became the recurring theme of the sound track of the audio-visual programs I produced from our trip.

Rapt listeners to the music and preaching at the Arad rally.
"Message" leads the crowd in "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

My ears still tingle at the memory of the finale -- the packed auditorium singing in Romanian "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

After the rally, we went to a pastor's home, where we were served a splendid supper of Eastern European specialties. At 10 p.m. we caught a train back to Bucharest. If we had made the trip by air, the connection for our flight to Moscow would have been so tight that if the plane were late we would have been stuck in Bucharest for two more days.

Apparently, some of the Christians at Arad had connections with the transportation officials, because we were able to get sleeping car berths when none were supposed to be available. This was our first experience in a sleeping car. I took the upper berth and slept well. Louse was in the lower berth, which was a good thing because she was up and down a bit, probably as a result of the supper we had eaten at Arad.

A communal (collective) farm near Bucharest.

Arriving in Bucharest at 8:20 a.m. we hired a taxi and an interpreter to take us out of the city to photograph a communal (collective) farm. Then it was a dash back to the Church of God offices and off to the airport, where we passed through security and customs with no difficulty and on the morning of March 19, 1990, were on a plane to Moscow.

(Photographs were made with Olympus OM and Leica M cameras and lenses, Fujichrome 100D and 400D films.)

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