Some listed in this Hall of Faith were put on trial. They were condemned as criminals for their faith. They also saw their faith tried by these circumstances. They were mocked, tortured, beaten, chained up and thrown in jail. Can you imagine losing your freedom and being taken by force away from your family, thrown in a cell and mistreated just because you would not deny Jesus Christ? And yet many more than we can imagine have suffered this and more because of their faith.
Today I want to introduce you to a modern day member of this Hall of Faith. This verse reminds me of him. I was blessed to hear his testimony of faith in Christ while in high school and then later had him as a professor of missions at The Criswell Bible College in Dallas, TX. Though I have not spoken with him in years I count him a friend and brother in Christ – a shining example of what it means for God to be made strong in our weakness. I praise God for allowing me to know and be taught by Dr. John Moldovan.
Dr. Moldovan was born in Romania. His grandfather was converted to Christ in a Russian prison camp during WWI. After the war he was sentenced to death by drowning for his zeal in spreading the gospel, but he was able to escape. John’s father was a Baptist pastor who was regularly persecuted for his faith and ministry by the communist officials in Romania. In fact, his father was assassinated while leaving church one day.
John himself was marked as the son of a pastor and was mistreated throughout his schooling. He was saved at the age of 17 and began teaching and preaching the Word of God when he had opportunity.
During a time of revival in the early 1970’s John and many of his friends were imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and some even killed by the secret police for refusing to abandon their faith or stop preaching. To this day there is physical evidence of injuries John sustained at the hands of those who would punish him for his faith.
One of his closest friends, closer than a brother, and he were interrogated one day. They were tied to chairs in adjacent rooms. The authorities told each of them that if they did not agree to stop preaching then the other will continue to be tortured. He refused and was beaten severely. Several years later his friend, Nicolae Traian Bogdan, was found dead in Bucharest city, killed by the secret police.
John lived and was let go and then was confronted by the lost mother of his friend, who blamed him for her sons death. Why could they not have just agreed not to preach? Years after through the work of the gospel this dear woman was saved and she and John have truly been like a mother and son as she now knows why her son died and why John refused to compromise!
During his last imprisonment around 1980 John and several friends were put on trial and, since no defense lawyer wanted to take their case, forced to act as their own attorneys. They had their citizenship revoked and were put out of the country. John came to the United States where he and his family were accepted as refugees. He came to Fort Worth, Texas, to attend the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has served as a professor of missions at Criswell College and is now Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies and Associate Professor of Evangelism and Intercultural Studies, George W. Bottoms Chair of Missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
When he gives his testimony it is so much more moving to hear him tell of the torture and imprisonment first hand, fearing for his family and his own life. And yet through it all, as he says often, “I do not stand for a political party. I do not stand for a club. I do not stand for an association, but I stand as a representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the highest honor someone can have.”
Praise God for his willingness to bear the cross in ways we may never be able to imagine. Thank you, Dr. Moldovan, for your faith and your faithfulness. Generations in the church will be blessed and motivated as they hear your story and know that by faith we can endure anything for the sake of our Savior.