A few days later on
The service reminded much of services I had been in, and even preached in,when in 1985 I visited several cities in Simion’s native
One Sunday, with the very able translation of Simion’s son, Doru Motz, I preached 3 times, and a number of times during the week. These times of joy and fellowship they had so often I am sure sustained these persecuted Christians during the hard times.
Also, I have worshiped in some Romanian congregations in
There were at least seven “sermons”, if you count the vigorous testimonies of a couple of his close brethren. There were some of those who had been in prison with Simion in
Yes, I was even recruited to testify and preach a little. I was reluctant to stand before a congregation just then, for I was having extensive dental work done, and several teeth were missing until I got an upper plate. But it did me no good to beg off! I was compelled by several of his relatives there, since I had been close to Simion, and traveled extensively with him when we were with Pastor Haralan Popov’s ministry ECL/Door of Hope. After that, I worked with him in the mission which Simion founded, Suffering Church Ministries.
Once I was at the podium, and began to read scripture, and reflect and preach again, I was caught up in the joy and would not have cared if I had no teeth at all! Maybe it was again the excellent translation of the able English scholar, Doru Motz, who is also an able preacher, and preached his own message there also.
Most everything was in Romanian, that beautiful Latin tongue. There were wonderful songs, familiar hymns, and though sung in Romanian, I could join in to some degree, and was very refreshed. As all this was going on, I remembered the wonderful times when Simion and I would be in a meeting, and he would sing. Often he sang How Great Thou Art in English and Romanian. I was also reflecting how much he must be enjoying this meeting. It had about everything he loved in a meeting; scriptures, songs, prayers, testimonies and preaching.
Of course, now I know he suffers no more, and he, Bro Haralan Popov, Bro.Richard Wurmbrand, Bro Georgi Vins, Bro Peter Dyneka, Bro Ivan Moiseyev, and many others including my son, Chuck Woodruff are rejoicing around the throne.
Simion always longed for that "city whose builder and maker is God." In travel together, living in close quarters in homes and hotel rooms, you can learn so much about a person. Simion is the genuine article, a real saint of God. We had so many good times of fellowship together which I would like to relate to you. Perhaps I will in future articles.
For now, suffice it to say that the service in the chapel was not the last of it! At the graveside there were at least two more songs, three short eulogies and several prayers! Yes, for a spoiled American such as I, it was a bit tiring, but even there with a total of four and ½ hours of service, I can say “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice” (
I do not remember what Simion’s favorite verse was, but one that will always remind me of him is “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
He was a man not afraid to share with his brethren. The mission he founded never got very large, but he made sacrifices, and did more than many with a lot more money have done. I will never forget him, and in future days may share with you some of our moments together, if you will let me. (This is the end of part one, originally published October 27, 2005 A.D..)
During Simion’s funeral in Buford, Georgia, one of the memories I reflected on was how I met him. I was working with ECL/Door of Hope as U.S. Field Director. In 1978 I was in the home office in Glendale, CA working on some projects including scheduling meetings in churches, as I often did. I had frequently met Christians from the USSR and Eastern Europe in my work with the mission. I organized a number of church meetings for Pastor Haralan Popov from Bulgaria, the founder and president of the mission. In my work, I also was involved preaching and sharing the Bible distribution work in numerous churches.
In the office at that time was
Doru was troubled about a matter which he shared with me. It seems his father and mother, Simion and Maria Motz, along with two sons, Daniel and Eugene, and daughter, Nicole, were allowed to leave Romania after much effort and were in a refugee camp in Rome, Italy attempting to get permission to immigrate to America as refugees. Red tape was delaying them in Italy, but at least they were out of Communist Romania. This would have never been possible a few years earlier, because Simion had been sentenced to 17 years in prison in Romania. It was because of the relaxing international situation that Simion only served around 1/3 of that terrible sentence, as he explained in his autobiography (On the Way of the Cross in the King’s Service).
Doru asked me if I knew any Christians in government, or someone who might be willing to help speed the process. I immediately thought of former Arizona congressman
Just after that, something marvelous, even miraculous, happened. Ron Hallornan, the producer that organized radio broadcasts for Pastor Haralan Popov, came into the office. He didn’t know anything about what we were doing. He picked up the phone and called somebody. He used our office phone. (Remember there weren’t cell phones in those days). We couldn’t help but overhear him; he wasn’t trying to be secretive about his call. I heard him tell someone in the office he was calling a person at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Washington, DC. I was utterly amazed when he asked for---- JOHN CONLAN! I nearly jumped out of my seat! I wanted to be patient while Ron talked to the congressman. I lasted about a minute! I was afraid Ron might hang up so I rudely interrupted him to say. “Ron, this is very important! I must talk to Mr. Conlan when you finish. Please, put me on with him before you hang up. I apologize for cutting in while you are trying to talk, but this is urgent! Thanks.” I know he must have thought “Charles has lost his mind!”
Well, he did put him on and I was able to explain the plight to
I don’t know how instrumental
Simion and family got an apartment in Glendale and he began doing accounting at the mission. I visited their home there, after meeting Simion at the ECL office that year, A little later he flew to Atlanta to begin a southern itinerary which I had arranged for him. It was a busy year for me. For example, in September 1978 I went to Russia.I could dig and get exact dates of exactly when I first met Simion, but I am not trying to write a book, just some remembrances! When I did meet him, I suppose because of the immigration miracle, I felt I had known him for a long time.
The thing I remember most is this; when I was asked to organize some meetings for him, I was told he spoke English. When I was first with him he told me he learned English by reading language books and listening to radio a little. He did not have the formal training of his son Doru. It turned out, though he spoke English pretty well; his pronunciations were sometimes off quite a bit. I was worried that Americans wouldn’t understand him. Most did, but his English got better with my help! For instance I noticed he said “blued” for our English word--blood. I helped him get that right along with correcting his pronouncing of soup as “soap” He never got angry about it. He even asked for my help. I would write down mispronounced words and go over them with him after each service. We got a good laugh when I told him “Simion, the only problem with me as your English teacher, you will speak with a southern accent!"
I need not have worried though about Christians receiving him. “They were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake” (Acts ). Mostly they loved him, because they realized he loved Jesus Christ and longed to see Him. One memorable example comes to mind. We were in a church in the mountains of northern Georgia. An elderly lady came to me after the service and spoke to me in words, that I, as a city boy from Atlanta, barely understood without getting her to repeat her words. Here’s what she said, “You know, I couldn’t understand hardly a word he said, but I know it was good because I felt the Holy Ghost so strong when he spoke”. So with God’s help he overcame language barriers all the time. That was my friend, Simion!
We got along well. As I said when you travel with someone and room with them many days, there are little things that may annoy. Romanians are Latin, often considered hot tempered. He had mostly a gentle temperament even if we disagreed on a point. Once or twice I wanted the room to have more A/C than he did. I would turn it down and he would scold me a little. He would say “I cannot suffer this 'wind' on my back each night that you enjoy so much.” He taught me a little Romanian too. I now know that a “machina” is a car. “lubinetza” is watermelon. “clititas” are pancakes. His English was much better than my Romanian!
Another incident was in Florida around 1980. I was driving a car that
Simion loved the word of God. I believe his most favorite teachings were “knowing, brethren, your election of God”
Also, He longed for the coming of Christ with all his heart. If he could speak to us all today, I believe he would say:
(The end of part two, originally published