My Journey: How the Lord Worked for Me
By Danny Cioara
June 24, 2012
On Jan. 12, 1958, a snow-covered Bucharest publicly mourned the death of Petru Groza, the former Romanian premier who had maneuvered the communist takeover of Romania. That same day in the Bucharest airport, I tearfully prayed with my wife, Helen, then watched as she boarded an airliner to America with our two small children. She had inherited U.S. citizenship from her mother and thus was allowed to leave communist Romania.
While I had been able to obtain an American entrance visa, the communist government refused to issue me a passport. My wife and I decided it was better for our children to grow up free in America without me than to remain slaves of the communist state.
Over the next few months I continued my pleas for a passport while finishing my university training. I then moved to an apartment in the city of Petrosani, where I worked as a railroad engineer. Every morning I met for prayer with the Christian brother who owned my apartment, along with his wife and a Christian sister named Paulina.
I went to the American Embassy monthly to ask for their advice and help. Unfortunately, this aroused the suspicion of the communist government, so I often found myself being followed or even questioned.
During one interrogation I sadly told the police officer, “I just want to join my family, my wife and my two children.” He leaned forward, lowered his voice and replied, “God help you to go! But I must do my job.”
His words so lifted my spirits that I actually felt good for the first time in many months.
The more the government refused my passport requests, the more I told myself, “From now on, I must pray more and fast more.” In time, I was fasting at least two days every week and praying continually with tears.
Finally, after another refusal and during the morning prayer meeting, I declared, “I have a wish. Today pray only for me; I want an answer today from the Lord.”
At that moment the Slovenian wife of a railroad foreman, Sister Tomuta, knocked on the door. She had never been to our prayer meeting before. I told her about my problem. Then we knelt before the Lord and prayed.
After about half an hour, Sister Paulina — who spoke only Romanian — began to pray out loud in what I recognized as Russian. But I was unable to make out what she was saying.
However, Sister Tomuta did speak Russian, and interpreted the message over the next hour. The interpretation began, “Husband, a little bit more and you will go to your wife and to your children.” The message ended with the declaration, “I will work for you!”
Two weeks later I received a letter. “Come and pick up your passport.” Without warning or discussion, they had granted my request! I spent the next few days crying for joy. God had been so good to me.
After making preparations to leave Romania, I presented my Romanian passport at the American Embassy, saying, “Finally, I have my passport after three years and eight months!”
The secretary looked at my file and said, “Mr. Cioara, you can’t go to the United States because your entrance visa has expired. It was only good for three years.”
Shocked, I asked, “How long must I wait for this?” I knew that if I didn’t use my Romanian passport within three months, regulations wouldn’t allow me to leave Romania, and I couldn’t even apply for another passport for 10 years.
“We don’t know,” came the reply.
So I checked into the Bucharest Railroad Hotel. Every workday I sat in the embassy lobby from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., frequently asking the secretary, “Have I received anything from Washington yet?”
“No!” she would snap back. “You’ve received nothing!” I later learned that the secretary had never forwarded my paperwork to Washington.
By then I was getting worried because I only had two weeks before I would lose my passport. But the Lord knew all this, and He prompted me to call Helen in Allen Park, Mich.
I had been reluctant to put this burden on my wife. She was only 23 years old, had two small children and no husband in America, and could speak very little English. She had worked two low-paying jobs for the past four years to raise the children and pay the bills. Often she slept only three hours per night.
“Dear,” I said, “you know I received my passport 10 weeks ago. I have only two weeks left before I lose my passport and can never go to the United States. You must do what you can.”
“What can I do?” she cried.
I wondered the same thing, and it pained me to hear her cry.
My 6-year-old son overheard his weeping mother. Two days later his teacher, Mrs. Robinson, asked, “Dorel, why are you so sad today?”
“How can I not be sad,” the boy replied, “when all the children have fathers and I have no father.”
“Where’s your father?”
“In Germany.” (Dorel thought Romania was in Germany.)
Mrs. Robinson didn’t let the matter stop there. She met with my wife the next morning. After hearing Helen’s tearful story, the teacher was indignant that the husband of an American citizen with two small children couldn’t receive an entrance visa to the U.S. Mrs. Robinson ended the conference by saying, “Don’t worry, I will work for this.” Unknowingly, she repeated the phrase that had sealed the promise God gave me a few months earlier.
Mrs. Robinson called her brother, who was a lawyer in Detroit. In turn, her brother called a friend in Washington, D.C., a man by the name of Robert McNamara — the new U.S. secretary of defense. Then Mr. McNamara placed his own call.
On Friday, Nov. 3, 1961, the U.S. ambassador in Bucharest walked up to me in the lobby of the American Embassy, visibly shaken. He put a friendly hand on my left shoulder and, with obvious difficulty speaking, croaked that he had just received my entrance authorization by telephone. My papers would be ready by Monday or Tuesday.
With a loud voice, and in broken English, I immediately declared what I knew in my heart: “Praise God! This is His job!”
DANNY CIOARA lives in Gilbert, Ariz.
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