Just a short time ago, few people would have believed that communism would fall so suddenly and drastically without the intervention of U.S. military forces. Yet the Iron Curtain, which for so long seemed to be a permanent fixture, has miraculously begun to dismantle itself. By July, free local or national elections are scheduled to be held by all six of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact allies. A return to Stalinist dictatorships is unlikely. As a result of a waning Soviet threat, the United States is expected to make swift cuts in the military force stationed in Europe.
Most people are yet unaware of the role of the Christian Church in bringing change to the Eastern Bloc. A yearning for religious freedom, a right taken for granted in the West, has been at the heart of the cry for freedom in these nations for many years. Christian dissidents have been the most outspoken opponents of communism in Eastern Europe and some are now being exalted as leaders in newly liberated nations.
Our national press has not reported the role of the Eastern European Church in toppling communist governments; we have missed one of the most exciting stories of the past decade. In every nation, Christians have performed acts of heroism and, in some instances, have directly brought the downfall of communist governments. As the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit has been sweeping through Europe, God’s servants have been used mightily to vindicate the oppressed people of the Communist Bloc.
Romania holds the best example a revolution that was sparked through the direct influence of the Church. According to a Time magazine report, “A Revolution’s Unlikely Spark” (Jan. 1, 1990), the Rev. Laszlo Tokes, of the Reformed Church, drew the wrath of the communist authorities after his repeated denunciations of Ceausescu’s regime.
In November, Tokes was beaten and stabbed by government thugs, yet refused to give into church officials who ordered him to transfer to a less volatile part of Romania. When a court order was obtained for his conviction, hundreds of supporters formed a human chain around Toke’s building to protect him.
This triggered the crackdown that helped to inspire the nationwide demonstrations that toppled Ceausescu. Tokes, a once obscure minister, has joined the ranks of Eastern Europe’s foremost fighters for freedom.
Many remaining communist governments are presently viewing the growing democracy movement with shock and amazement. China’s Li Peng regime has been reportedly stunned by the news of the Romanian dictator Ceausescu’s trial and execution. The similarity between Ceausescu’s brutal use of force against the Romanian people and the Chinese government’s massacre of students in Tiananmen Square ends only with the demise of the Romanian leader. Political analysts speculate that the Chinese government has only one or two years before a fall from power occurs.
Other nations, long dedicated to the ideals of communism, are seemingly destined to be shaken by the emergence of pro-democracy forces. Other European nations, long dominated by the Soviet Union such as the Ukraine, Moldavia, Yugoslavia, and Albania have also experienced a movement toward democratic reforms. In addition to these European nations, observers of world politics are looking to the nations of Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua and Libya to experience political transformations in the early 1990s.