Ligia Seman – „Funiile dragostei”

FuniileDragosteiCopertaIubirea între fericire şi nefericire, între dramă şi împlinire într-un roman de tip “clasic” 

În 1970, regizorul american Arthur Hiller câştiga Oscar-ul cu un film de mare succes, intitulat simplu, „Love story”. Ecranizarea sa după cartea lui Erich Segal, avându-i în rolurile principale pe Ali McGraw şi Ryan O’Nael, prezintă povestea de dragoste a doi tineri, studenţi, ce se căsătoresc şi au parte de o fericire de scurtă durată (tot încercând să aibă copii, vor descoperi că ea suferă de o boală incurabilă). Dramă, lacrimi, suferinţă, un tagline celebru – „love means never having to say you’re sorry” – şi o coloană sonoră de neuitat, aceasta ar fi în câteva cuvinte istoria filmului.

Un love story oarecum similar ne propune şi Ligia Seman în cea mai populară carte a ei, „Funiile dragostei”, tiparită la editura Cetate Deva, în anul 2008, care impresionează prin aceeaşi reluare a clasicei poveşti de iubire frântă înainte de termen, de data aceasta din cauza unui mediu social ostil. Continue reading

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Performance at Soccer World Cup 2006 – a Highlight of Young German Singer's Career

FlorenceFlorence Joy is a famous young German singer, writer and actress

She likes to travel and has visited several countries from Europe, Israel and the United States. Florence plays guitar and the piano, and she speaks her native German and very good English. Most of her songs from the album “Hope” are in English.

In 2006, Florence Joy was invited to perform in the (dome) church of Munich for the inauguration of the Soccer World Championship. One year after this astonishing performance, she started acting in the role of a sweet girl called “Jasmin” in a German daily soap “Ahornallee”. Also, Florence wrote a book called I want to live truthfully and real, which tells about her journey through the German casting show “Star Search 2” and mostly how she lives her life with Jesus Christ. Continue reading

The only Romanian in Quartzsite, Arizona!

pastor John Todor By Octavian CURPAŞ

Born and raised in Romania, married in the Philippines, presently living and serving God in the Arizonian Desert

How many of you who have traveled from Arizona towards California on Highway I-10 still remembers the last town you passed through prior to reaching the Californian border? – probably not many! Situated at about 125 miles from Phoenix, 129 miles from the tourist spot Palm Springs and about 20 miles away from Blythe (the first city from California ), is a town called QUARTZSITE. Continue reading

Beauty for Ashes

Camelia Micu

You and I are God’s beautiful creations: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”, Genesis 1:27, with no blemishes and free of sin, yet because the first man and woman did not obey God’s given commands, they fell into sin that caused a completely new movement in the universe. Remember, how God created man? Out of dust, yes, you and I were nothing but, dust! No one likes dust on their shoes, clothes…in fact some may even be allergic to dust. God was not allergic to it, nor did He get rid of it. Why? He had a better plan, a bigger picture! All of that changed when God created man out of that dust and breathed life into him…“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”, Genesis 2:7. God created something as beautiful as you and me out of nothing, but a handful of dust, “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”, Isaiah 61:3 …”With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”, Matthew 19:26… WOW, now I can’t resist not singing the chorus to this song: “You make beautiful things out of the dust,/ You make beautiful things,/ You make beautiful things out of us all around,/ You make me new,/ You are making me new”. Continue reading

Ziua Independentei SUA – Ziua Predarii in mâna lui Dumnezeu

Urmariti binele cetatii, in care v-am dus in robie, si rugati-va Domnului pentru ea, pentru ca fericirea voastra atârna de fericirea ei! (Ieremia 29:7)

[pullquote]And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace. (NKJV)[/pullquote]

[pullquote]When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (NKJV)[/pullquote]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Când voi inchide cerul, si nu va fi ploaie, când voi porunci lacustelor sa manânce tara, când voi trimite ciuma in poporul Meu: daca poporul Meu peste care este chemat Numele Meu se va smeri, se va ruga, si va cauta Fata Mea, si se va abate de la caile lui rele, il voi asculta din ceruri, ii voi ierta pacatul, si-i voi tamadui tara. ( 2 Cronici 7:13-14)

 


 

 

De la temnita, spre sinaxare – cateva consideratii si reflectii

By Drd. Stelian Gombos

Iata ca, de doua milenii incoace, adica de la intemeierea credintei crestine, ne straduim sa ne cinstim si sa ne omagiem eroii istoriei sau martirii credintei, precum si personalitatile marcante, universale si nationale, care au amprentat istoria, veacurile si locurile cu activitatea, cu viata si cu invataturile ori scrierile lor multfolositoare.
Am parcurs zilele acestea, ca intr-un itinerar si pelerinaj duhovnicesc, cartea recent aparuta si intitulata sugestiv: „Din temnite spre sinaxare” editata de Grupul Areopag, coordonata de teologul si marturisitorul Danion Vasile si publicata la Editura Egumenita din Galati, in anul 2008, cu binecuvantarea Episcopului duhovnicesc Iustinian Chira al Maramuresului si Satmarului. Am citit, cu multa luare-aminte, materialele semnate de catre Parintii: Iustin Parvu, Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, Ioan Negrutiu, Gheorghe Dragulin, Demian Tudor, Moise de la Oasa, Augustin de la Aiud, precum si cele semnate de catre Razvan Codrescu, Dan Puric si Danion Vasile.
Dupa cum citim, observam si constatam, volumul de fata este tiparit intru pomenirea sfintilor din inchisorile comuniste. Rostul sau este de a atrage atentia crestinilor romani asupra valorii jertfei inaintasilor lor. Textele sunt variate, de la conferinte si predici, pana la poezii si rugaciuni catre noii marturisitori. Nu toti cei care au trecut prin inchisori sunt sfinti, dar toti cei care au murit pentru Hristos in inchisorile comuniste pot fi canonizati. De asemenea, pot fi canonizati si cei care, dupa ani de grele patimiri in inchisoare, au murit in libertate, traindu-si insa aceasta libertate in nevointa si rugaciune.
In Biserica Ortodoxa, Biserica cea adevarata, canonizarea oficiala a unui sfant este precedata de asa-numita canonizare populara, de cinstire evlavioasa din partea poporului. Cinstire pe care Sfantul Sinod o pecetluieste prin slujba canonizarii.
Mare parte din textele adunate aici nu fac altceva decat sa marturiseasca faptul ca, deja, poporul isi cinsteste noii mucenici. Si asteapta canonizarea lor. Asteapta intrarea lor in Sinaxare.
Dintre toate relatarile despre inchisori si vremurile de prigoana traite de acesti oameni in secolul trecut, din toata investigatia psihologica a atator autori, toti inzestrati cu duhul marturisitor, cartea aceasta este una dintre cele mai duhovnicesti, una dintre cele mai patrunzatoare, „cea mai in masura sa inteleaga impreuna cu toti sfintii ce este latimea si lungimea, adancimea si inaltimea, sa cunoasca iubirea lui Hristos cea mai presus de cunoastere si sa se umple de toata plinatatea lui Dumnezeu (cf. 3, 18–19).” Asa incat, afirmatiile Parintelui Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, de pilda, facute in alte imprejurari, se potrivesc foarte bine si aici, caci, „daca ai indoieli asupra mantuirii, asupra jertfei sau asupra biruirii vrajmasului vazut si nevazut prin puterea credintei si a rugaciunii, daca te indoiesti de iubirea lui Hristos si de eficienta pocaintei” acest volum, acest document duhovnicesc, te va convinge, deoarece protagonistul lucrarii acesteia si toti eroii inchisorilor comuniste si politice, in general, au cautat in primul rand, sa-si puna in ordine propriile vieti, sa inteleaga si sa traiasca experienta comunitara din Biserica primara, sa-si slefuiasca incet dar sigur, caracterul pentru iubire, jertfa, bunatate si trairea dragostei comunitare, si, asta, pentru ca toti acesti mucenici contemporani ai veacului al XX-lea „locuind in aceeasi celula (ori la propriu, ori la figurat), au incercat sa faca din spatiul ei o biserica a lui Hristos, dincolo de toate ispitele, piedicile si poticnelile inerente convietuirii multora la un loc, intr-un spatiu impropriu, mizer si insalubru. Si pana la urma, lucrarea cu pricina dezvaluie cititorilor „treptele descoperite de Duhul lui Dumnezeu acestor tineri nestiutori (la inceput), dar dorind arzator dupa Dumnezeu: mai intai, ei constata ca omul este mereu atacat de duhurile rele, dar ca omul are puterea sa le primeasca ori sa le respinga dintru inceput sau mai tarziu, fiindca aceste duhuri rele il razboiesc pe om, dar cineva care are darul trezviei si al privegherii, poate cunoaste stadiile atacurilor si poate lupta impotriva lor, chiar daca lupta este complexa si de durata, insa nu imposibila. Daca cineva nu este determinat sa opreasca gandul rau de la inceput, acesta patrunde in mintea lui si-i argumenteaza ca nu este chiar atat de rau. Daca omul accepta si acest stadiu, gandul devine pofta si-i hraneste mintea, imaginatia si simturile. Pana aici fiind razboiul nevazut” – iata Scoala Filocaliei si a Spiritualitatii Rasaritene autentice, pe care acesti cultivatori ai Duhului si staruitori intr-ale Rugaciunii si Ascezei au invatat-o acolo unde te asteptai, probabil, cel mai putin, adica in temnitele „cruciadei rosii”. Altfel spus, deprinderea persoanei in lupta duhovniceasca, parcurgand toate treptele ascezei crestine, in cadrul razboiului nevazut si vazut in care au fost angrenati acesti slujitori ai lui Iisus Hristos si iubitori ai aproapelui, duce la o asemenea analiza ce „nu putea fi facuta de catre acesti tineri decat numai prin prezenta Duhului Sfant, Care i-a asistat pe toata durata vietii lor in inchisoare”.
Drept pentru care „cititorul care se va apleca asupra acestei carti nu o va sfarsi fara a fi macar cutremurat, daca nu intors spre credinta, caci viata acestor oameni deosebiti este un model moral si o scara de suire spre cele inalte, o chemare staruitoare de a iesi macar pentru o vreme din mlastina acestei vieti si de a urca spre Soarele Dreptatii, spre Rasaritul cel de Sus, Care este Domnul nostru Iisus Hristos. Oare nu este cutremurator ceea ce spune un teolog si un slujitor al altarului, care si-a asumat suferinta si moartea ca pe o curatire si o inviere (caci finalitatea vietii umane nu este moartea, ci invierea)? Si nu vreau ca cititorul de buna-credinta sa treaca fara atentie peste unele cuvinte ramase de la Parintii Iustin Parvu si Gheorghe Calciu, ce se arata a fi adevarate file de Filocalie si Patristica – si asta pentru ca amandoi vorbesc frumos si cu insufletire, oprindu-se cu precadere la tema lor preferata: aceea a apararii credintei stramosesti, curata, nealterata si autentica (potrivit Sfintei Scripturi si a Sfintei Traditii) si a sentimentelor curat nationale si patriotice, de cea mai buna calitate – pe care si le-au asumat in viata lor duhovniceasca la modul plenar, din convingere si din purtarea de grija a lui Dumnezeu, in pofida tuturor vicisitudinilor pe care le-au traversat din cauza sistemului si a regimului ticalosit, antihristic.
In alta ordine de idei, intr-o marturisire a sa consemnata intr-o alta carte de suflet, cuget si simtire autentica, Parintele Ieromonah Amfilohie Branza – Duhovnicul Manastirii Diaconesti, Bacau – recunoaste: „Am vorbit de acesti parinti mari ai Ortodoxiei noastre, pe care noi nu-i numim sfinti, caci ne temem de asta. Dar pentru noi au fost ca niste sfinti. Asa i-am simtit, asa i-am perceput. Fiindca i-am vazut implinind sub ochii nostri Evanghelia, pentru ca ne-au invatat crestinismul practic prin exemplul personal: au flamanzit ei ca sa sature pe cei flamanzi, au privegheat ei ca sa se odihneasca cei osteniti, au patimit ei ca sa ia mangaiere cei intristati, s-au sacrificat ei ca sa traiasca ceilalti. Bunul Dumnezeu sa-l odihneasca cu sfintii pe parintele Calciu si pentru rugaciunile lui sa ne miluiasca si sa ne mantuiasca pe noi, toti. Amin”.
Eu cred ca trebuie retinut si subliniat faptul ca interesul cartii nu sta atat in faptele relatate, cat in deschiderea duhovniceasca (de care am pomenit si mai sus): caci anecdotica se completeaza, se intregeste si se transcende prin adevarate pagini de Filocalie contemporana, relevand cu prisosinta ca in temnitele comuniste, in jurul unora ca: Valeriu Gafencu, Radu Gyr, Daniil Sandu Tudor, Mircea Vulcanescu, Nae Ionescu, Nichifor Crainic, Vasile Voiculescu, Ioan Gh. Savin, Dumitru Staniloae, Arsenie Papacioc, Iustin Parvu, Ioan Negrutiu, Nicolae Steinhardt, Mina Dobzeu, Sofian Boghiu, Constantin Voicescu ori Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, s-a constituit, mutatis mutandis, o miscare spirituala corespunzatoare celei promovate, dincoace de gratii, de gruparea „Rugului Aprins” de la Antim (cumplit lovita, la randul ei, de teroarea ateismului oficial al epocii staliniste, artizanii acesteia fiind aceleasi persoane, trecute de aici acolo)”.
Prin urmare, lucrarea in sine este un complex, un tot graitor, alcatuita dintr-un sir intreg de evenimente, fapte, momente cruciale, de-a dreptul existentiale si determinante pentru eroii cartii, care, desi s-a urmarit acest lucru, nu au fost niciodata victime, ci intotdeauna vor fi consemnati de catre posteritatea ce trebuie sa fie cat mai obiectiva, drept eroii credintei, purtatorii Duhului Celui Dumnezeiesc in iadul lumii acesteia pamantesti, din a doua jumatate a secolului al XX-lea.
Scriitorul si publicistul crestin Razvan Codrescu atentioneaza si subliniaza faptul ca „Viata lor merita cunoscuta, nu pentru slava lor pamanteasca, ci ca oamenii din zilele noastre innegurate de atatea rataciri, urmari ale indepartarii de Dumnezeu, sa stie ca au existat in veacul al XX-lea asemenea alesi care s-au ridicat la puterea de credinta si de jertfa a primilor martiri crestini”.
Stiind, din propria-mi experienta, ca fiecare intalnire cu Parintii Iustin Parvu, Arsenie Papacioc ori Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa au fost prilejuri de mare inaltare sufleteasca si de sarbatoare, asemeni intalnirilor invataceilor cu marii filosofi ai vremii antice, precum: Platon, Plotin, Socrate, Aristotel, fiindu-ne pilda demna de urmat, de intelepciune, abnegatie si daruire, si totodata ma gandesc ce repede ii uitam pe acesti oameni, pe aceste personalitati ale culturii si spiritualitatii noastre, fiindu-le prea putin recunoscatori pentru toate cate ne-au facut si ne-au daruit. De aceea, cartea de fata (si celelalte care sunt si vor mai aparea) este foarte bine venita, remarcandu-se ca un omagiu si un prinos de recunostinta adus acestor persoane pline de har si de curaj marturisitor, dorindu-se a fi un pas catre revenirea la realitatea normala a cinstirii inaintasilor nostri, asa cum se cuvine, aducandu-ne astfel aminte „de mai-marii nostri”.
Marturisesc sincer ca, cel putin eu, ma simt foarte implinit din punct de vedere spiritual-sufletesc datorita faptului ca am avut fericitul prilej si marea sansa de a-i intalni si de a-i cunoaste pe acesti oameni ai lui Dumnezeu – care inca mai sunt in viata aceasta, iar pe ceilalti doar cu ajutorul cartilor si a relatarilor celor care i-au apucat aici, pe acest pamant – mari personalitati ale culturii si spiritualitatii noastre romanesti si nu numai, avand convingerea si nadejdea ca vom sti cu totii, pe mai departe, sa ne cinstim inaintasii potrivit meritelor si vredniciilor fiecaruia, cu toate ca, in aceste vremuri, pretuim mai mult pe altii, de aiurea, caci ni se par a fi mai exotici, mai spectaculosi, mai senzationali. Insa ramanem convinsi ca ce este nobil ramane, iar ce este ieftin apune.
Asadar, cei alungati din turnurile babilonice pot bate la portile cetatii noului Ierusalim – cel bisericesc si ceresc ce „nu are trebuinta de soare, nici de luna, ca sa o lumineze, caci slava lui Dumnezeu a luminat-o, faclia ei fiind Mielul” (Apoc. 21, 23). Lucrarea aceasta, cu alte cuvinte, este una de referinta in domeniul istoriei si a spiritualitatii autentice, care ar trebui sa se afle la indemana tuturor celor ce cred ca „Biserica este cetatea pe care nici portile iadului nu o vor birui” si asta datorita si slujitorilor ei fideli care au aparat-o in vremuri in care altii au tradat-o si au pradat-o, facandu-se, in acest fel, vrednici de a ajunge, din temnitele comuniste, in sinaxarele acestei sfinte Biserici – ai carei fii nelasi si nefatarnici au fost, pana la sfarsitul vietii lor pamantesti.

Reflections on the Practice of Love

This was the first Christmas we celebrated without my father’s physical presence among us. His absence made the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth bittersweet. Though we all remarked on his physical absence, in spirit, we all felt that he was among us. We missed him most when the time came to say the prayer at the Christmas Eve dinner table. This had always been his task. Always eloquent in his prayers, he would enumerate our blessings and give thanks. Invariably, he would give praise for each family member and pray for togetherness. His prayers would always end with the same final words: “We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.” We decided to re-publish his 2007 Christmas article, “si Totusi Iubirea…” in part because we missed seeing his words printed in the newspaper, and in part because the article’s message uncovers new meanings in the present context. I have been having mental discussions with him lately, as we would often have when he was in life. You see, my father taught me the art of discourse, because he would always start with an interrogation of premises, followed by a Socratic method of questioning that would develop the exchange patiently.

Usually, we would come to a communicative understanding or an impasse, depending on how the argumentation process would unravel. Few people appreciate this kind of engagement, because it requires a collaborative process. Like a game of chess, each argumentative move matters, and one cannot move on to the next phase until the other discussant agrees to move that way.

You will note that in Cristian Ioanide’s article, “si Totusi Iubirea…,” he argues for Christianity’s uniqueness among the religions of the world using two principal arguments. The first, he says, is that Christ did not seek to prolong the time He lived among His disciples in order to perfect their understanding of His teachings. Rather, Christ came to spread His message and to suffer a premature death. (El a venit doar sa-si lanseze mesajul Sau si ca sa sufere o moarte prematura si napraznica.) This message is found most summarily in John 3:16 and was sublimated in Christ’s resurrection in order to prove the message’s veracity. The second argument has to do with the fact that Christianity, unlike other religions, does not give a strict code of laws to follow. The divine logic embedded in the message is therefore much more mystical and ephemeral, though certainly not relativist:

“Credinta crestina este singura religie care da frau liber discernamantului. Iar discernamantul este o pictura din maretia lui Dumnezeu.Iar Dumnezeu este nesfarsita Dragoste.Iar Dragostea este mai presus de reguli, si deci, de Lege.Apostolul Pavel, acel superb matematician al crestinismului, spune: Acum, deci, raman acestea trei: credinta, nadejdea si dragostea; dar cea mai mare dintre ele este dragostea… iar dragostea nu va pieri niciodata.”

To recap the divine logic’s movement: the Christian faith encourages the exercise of free will and discernment; good discernment corresponds with an incarnation of the greatness of God; God is limitless Love; Love is higher than rules, and therefore above the Law. In the final calculation, as St. Paul states, there remain faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Indeed, the absence of strict rules and regulations in the Christian faith has made the practice of love uniquely susceptible to interpretation. I am reminded of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, where Ivan undertakes a timeless philo-theological question: why would God, if He is a good God, allow the suffering of innocent children? This reality seemed particularly evil to Ivan because presumably children do not yet have the consciousness and intentionality of sinners. The most long-standing answer to this question has been as follows: for humans to truly possess free will entails that God cannot dictate or fully determine our actions. If this were the case, we would simply be automatons. Rather, we must choose to do good in the world and choose the practice of His commandments to love one another and to love God above all else. So, to answer Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, it is not so much that God allows the suffering of innocent children but that humans choose evil over the practice of love.

In abstraction, discerning the practice of love over evil appears to be relatively simple and straightforward. Placed in specific contexts, however, a number of complications may be raised. Take for example the current economic crisis prevalent throughout the world and in the United States. Clearly there are those who know that their actions have caused widespread suffering for others. Homelessness, displacement, the inability to sustain one’s family due to joblessness, hunger—these are not small evils to structurally instantiate at a political-economic level because of the exorbitant greed of a few. (Those who think that the culprits are not so clearly demarcated should read about the political corruption cases, pyramid schemes, people walking away with millions while claiming innocence, and a government that continues to provide bailouts without strict regulations to the banks and industries that got us here in the first place.) What does love look like vis-à-vis these purveyors of suffering? Should we forgive them? Should we recognize our own culpability in these structures? Should we accept the inevitability of greed’s consequences in the world and claim that nothing is new under the sun? Or would the practice of love actually require collective action whose aim is to establish conditions that are conducive to the proliferation of love, faith and hope?

My point is that a desperate socio-economic context creates deep paradoxes in the practice and instantiation of love. Put differently, some contexts encourage the practice of love while others perpetuate divisiveness, radical stratification and denigration. What, then, is our duty in the present moment? Is it primarily to our own families, to their well-being? Or, would the practice of love that Christ commands direct us to focus on saving the entire community? What if saving the community entails that our own family fares worse in some respects? To take another difficult socio-economic context, how might one instantiate the practice of love in the context of the present Israel-Palestinian war? What does the practice of love look like when radically unequal power relations structure a socio-political setting?

Often, people delimit the practical application of their love to a finite community. That community is defined in multiple ways: it might be as small as one’s immediate family or it might extend globally and transnationally. This raises another question: how should we define community? Do we define it as the Christian community? Do we define it locally? Do we define it as a group of people bound by a particular ideology and shared values?

In fact, Christ placed no limitation on the notion of community, insofar as He demanded that the practice of love be extended even toward one’s enemies. The elevation of Love above the Law eradicated the strict boundaries of community in place at the time of His coming. And as Cristian Ioanide mentions in his article, the apostles modeled the practice of love in a community as follows: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:42-47)

It is in times of difficulty, strife, scarcity and radical divisiveness that Christ calls upon us to practice love toward one another the most. It is in every day and in every act that He asks us to surpass our human tendencies and to choose the instantiation of love.
Paula Ioanide PhD
Portland, Oregon
http://www.romaniantimes.com

What is Christmas?

By Camelia Micu

Vancouver, Washington

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Now, you’re probably be asking yourself why did I choose Christmas as my favorite and not Easter, The Resurrection…Well, to be quite honest with you, I love Easter just as much for we remember the death of the greatest King bearing our sins and celebrate His victorious and glorious Resurrection.

Not only did our great King rose from the death, but it was that through his death and His precious shed blood that our sins have been washed away and He so graciously gave us His salvation…”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”.  What an amazing remembrance we have to know that our sins have been washed away through his death and received salvation and eternal life instead.  Who does that?  And, the chorus to this song came to mind…”How many kings step down from their thrones?  How many lords have abandoned their homes?  How many greats have become the least for me?  And how many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart?  How many fathers gave up their sons to die for you and me only to reward us with life instead?” No other King has ever done that for me!!!  So, that’s way I love Christmas for without the magnificent celebration and the birth of the greatest King on earth as in heavens, there will not have been death and a resurrection…GIVING…for it was foretold long ago: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)“ and only because, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”.

I will not be able to ever give back as much as God gave for me, but all I can do is give Him my whole heart and life.  By letting God be my Wonderful Counselor (and not someone I may visit an hour or two in exchange for money), by trusting in God’s faithfulness for only He is the Everlasting Father and by always being grateful and thankful when down in the valleys as well as when high on the mountain and not only for the material blessings (which again He gives to us), but for the ultimate gift of salvation and eternal life coming down from the Father of Lights…”Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. (James 1:17)”.

You see, Christmas is the gift itself and I’m not talking about the wonderful gifts we give and receive from one another.  Or is Christmas all about the gifts?  Is it all about the beautiful lighting displays?  Is it all about the tall and beautifully decorated Christmas tree?  Surely not, even as much as I love giving and receiving gifts, admiring the beautiful lighting displays and decorating my Christmas tree while singing along the beautiful Christmas songs, but, to me all this does is pre-setting our lives, hearts, minds and souls for the joyful celebration, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For, He is Peace!  He is Joy!  He is Love!  He is every good gift from God’s heart to ours for only Jesus is the Gift that perfectly fits every heart and it is with His love that all celebration starts.  We rejoice in Him as we remember His birth and thank God for sending His only Son to earth.  His life led from a manger to a cross on a hill where He faithfully followed His Father’s perfect will.  He freely laid down everything so that we could live and there is no greater treasure anyone could give.  Like a scarlet ribbon His love wrapped around the cross and He offered it to us all at the greatest cost.  So each time that we give we remember what He’s done and honor the perfect Gift – God’s one and only Son.  Together, let’s celebrate and share Jesus, the perfect gift in a way that brings “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)”.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Blessings for the New Year, from my home to yours!

Valuing People Over Property

By Paula Ioanide PhD
Portland, Oregon

When I was in my first year of college, I decided it might be wise to take an economics class. Understanding the operations of markets, supply and demand seemed like useful knowledge to have in an increasingly complex global economy. Besides, all the ‘successful’ types at the college seemed to be economics majors. I enrolled in the class and purchased the textbook. The professor had instructed us to read the first chapter of the textbook as our first assignment. Eager to be a good student, I opened the textbook and read the first sentence of the chapter. My stomach turned. I read it again to make sure that I had understood what I had read. I stared at that sentence for a long time, unable to move on to the next one. It said something like this: “This textbook presumes that the people are self-interested individuals seeking to gain the greatest advantages for themselves.”
I closed the textbook, returned it to the bookstore, and withdrew from the class. I could not go on studying a subject whose premise, in my view, was essentially faulty.
Probably most students were not disturbed by this fundamental premise in economics. But to me, the idea that we were merely ‘self-interested individuals’ stood in direct contradiction to my beliefs about humanity. I was not so naïve to think that people weren’t self-interested; the evidence was all around me. Yet, I wanted to believe that we were capable of something more than that; in fact, that God’s will for us was to surpass our own ‘self-interest’ and private gain so that we might serve others and God.
Much later in graduate school, I did end up studying economics. But instead of approaching the subject from the perspective on an economist—whose job is ultimately to figure out how to gain the largest profit rate for himself, his clients or his corporation—I studied economics in relation to cultural and political systems. I learned that ultimately economic policies are intricately related to people’s socio-political ideologies. And I learned that as ideologies change, so do economic policies.
Today’s economic scares—from rising oil prices and utility costs, to the chaotic stock market, to the recent near-meltdown of the two largest mortgage companies in the United States, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—is reminiscent of the United States in the 1920s. As most people know, the 1929 stock market crash led to the 1930s Great Depression. Many factors contributed to the crash, but the principal one was greed. Monopolies that had gained capital and wealth during the 1920s at unprecedented levels hit the ceiling and plummeted. Much like today, the housing market crashed due to people’s inability to pay mortgages. Several shifts in economic policies came about during the Great Depression, the most notable of which was Theodore Roosevelt’s 1932 New Deal.
Most people don’t know that the New Deal was established as a result of an organized movement led by inter-ethnic alliances between immigrants and other working class Americans. Historian George Lipsitz argues that the “culture of unity” that was created in the 1930s challenged the moral authority of dominant groups whose primary interests had been to gain excessive wealth at the expense of the working class majority. Some of the most important economic safety nets came out of the New Deal, among them Social Security, workers’ labor protections and rights, and the National Housing Act that established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). By federally insuring mortgages and restructuring the federal banking system, the FHA made it possible for working and middle class Americans to become home owners for the first time. These benefits were disproportionately allocated, however, with 98% of FHA loans granted only to white Americans from 1934 to1968. Owning property in America turned out to be the best economic investment a person could make. It has been well documented that home ownership leads to intergenerational wealth accumulation, accounting for the disparities in wealth and education among different groups.
Since America is once again facing a housing market crisis, it is useful to know how we got here. Since the 1970s, economic policies in the US have generally shifted to serve the interests of large corporations, whose ability to move globally posed a number of problems nationally. These economic shifts came about in relation to political ideologies that have come to be known as “neoliberalism.” Essentially, the ideology of neoliberalism argues that serving the needs of most powerful and wealthy by placing fewer restrictions on the movement of capital—“freeing markets”—would produce benefits that would eventually “trickle down” to the less advantaged. An example of this would be to give tax breaks to corporations in exchange for staying in America instead of moving overseas. This was the ideology most ardently defended by Ronald Reagan, who initiated the movement to increasingly cut down federal “safety nets” in the name of reducing “big government spending.” But it was also an ideology followed by Bill Clinton, who initiated policies like NAFTA and the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, and continued the trend of shrinking the social welfare state. (The social welfare state includes insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security, public education, public works projects like the interstate highway system as well as programs for the poor like Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
Well, the relationship between corporate exponential profit seeking and a state whose role is theoretically to regulate and redistribute wealth is sort of like that between a child and a parent. The child wants more and more chocolate; the parent warns that eating too much chocolate will make the child sick; the child doesn’t listen and keeps eating more chocolate; finally the child gets sick.
Recently, the federal government had to take a parental role and rescue sickly Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from going under by lending them $300 billion. The two companies hold or guarantee almost half of the nation’s mortgages, valued at $5 trillion. Corporate greed and the drive of ‘self-interest’ are some of the undisciplined children in this housing market meltdown. Wall Street, investors, companies in charge of regulating and overseeing mortgage loan approvals, and rating agencies all wanted to keep eating the chocolate produced by subprime mortgages and predatory loans (usually called fees). But the federal government hasn’t exactly been a good parent either, since it more often than not failed to enforce fair housing laws and regulations meant to stop unfair and predatory lending practices. The losers in this story are millions of people who have lost or will lose their homes. Particularly vulnerable were those who were working class, since they were the guinea pigs of the first wave of predatory loans. This is no small matter, since losing home ownership in America is virtually equated with losing opportunities intergenerationally.
Yet, as I mentioned at the beginning, economic policies don’t take place in a vacuum. Since the 1970s, the majority of Americans have participated and conceded to a culture that increasingly values private property over public goods. If one looks at changes in the taxation system, the annually shrinking budgets of public education from K2 to higher education, the falling infrastructure of public projects like bridges and roads, the closure of public parks and libraries, one thing is clear. For the past thirty years, Americans have disinvested from shared goods and have increasingly focused on their own private gain (and perhaps that of their families’). Additionally, a review of welfare policies indicates that any moral duty to help the poor has virtually disappeared. American attitudes toward the poor (the majority of who work full time but still cannot make ends meet) are defined more by contempt than empathy. The role of helping the disadvantaged has been left mostly to religious institutions and private charity organizations. As economic policies have produced an increasing gap between rich and poor, such religious institutions and charities cannot handle the numbers who need assistance.
It seems that the premise stated in my economics textbook—that people are essentially self-interested individuals striving for private gain at the expense of others—is truer today than at other times in American history. It remains to be seen whether this economic crisis, depending on how bad it gets, teaches us the consequences produced by a culture of valuing property over people. In the short term, participating in this culture yields the pleasures of eating chocolate, consumerism, and the status that comes with wealth. But in the long term, it produces consequences that inevitably lead to ethical emptiness. This is because valuing property over people—in its fundamental premise, if you will—requires that we serve ourselves before we serve others. It may even require (and it often does) that we exploit or denigrate someone so that we can serve our interests. Should we find ourselves reveling in the culture of valuing property over people, it may be wise to remember Christ’s warning: “One cannot serve both God and money.”

http://www.romaniantimes.com

Zbor

In gand am melodia
Necompusa inca
Si ma supun vantului
Si valului, fara bucuria
De a asculta clopotul
Din mine ce vesteste
Vocea peticita si franta.
Iubirea a ramas
In urma vorbelor,
Doar bunul Dumnezeu
Infloreste cuvantul !
Poezia e nedefinita,
Precum valul ce se
Sparge de mal, ca si
Vorbele nerostite inca.

Flight
In thought with a song
Unwritten yet
and I obey the wind
and the wave, without any joy
I listen the bell
from me that screams
A patched and tired voice
Love remained
behind the words,
only the good God
Flourishes the word!
the poem undefined,
as well as the wave break
into the shore, as the
unspoken words.

Adalbert GYURIS

Bisericile Emergente Vestice

Dupa epuizarea rapida a primului tiraj, pastorul Constantin Ghioanca, parte din echipa profesorala a Institutului Teologic Baptist din Bucuresti, prezinta cititorului o editie revizuita si adaugita a cartii de mare interes, Bisericile emergente vestice: din perspectiva baptista româneasca.

Grupuri-tinta:
-studenti la seminarii sau la alte institutii biblice;
-pastori, preoti sau alti slujitori ai bisericii;
-învatatori de scoala biblica;
-responsabili cu învatatura în biserica;
-lideri de închinare;
-toti crestinii interesati de tema bisericii în cultura postmoderna.

Caracteristici speciale:
-prima carte scrisa pe aceasta tema în România;
-contine adaugiri importante fata de prima editie;
-prezinta aparitia si dezvoltarea bisericilor emergente;
-discuta caracteristicile de baza ale bisericilor emergente;
-aloca un capitol pentru identitatea baptista în România;
-evalueaza în mod critic dogma si practica bisericilor emergnte;
-ofera o perspectiva baptista asupra acestor biserici;
-anticipeaza perspective noi în eclesiologia baptista româneasca;
-contine cinci anexe foarte utile.

Pentru detalii si comenzi accesati www.risoprint.ro
PRET: 25 Ron

In inchisoare din dragoste de Christos si de semeni

Apostolul de dincolo de Cortina de Fier, dupa gratii în SUA

de CLAUDIU PADUREAN

Pastorul Richard Wurmbrand, evreu convertit la crestinismul lutheran, a luptat deopotriva contra fascismului si comunismului. El a stat dupa gratii atât in România, cât si in SUA. La scurta vreme dupa arestarea sa, americanii au recunoscut eroismul clericului lutheran.

Unul dintre cele mai putin cunoscute episoade din viata pastorului lutheran Richard Wurmbrand este cel al detentiei sale americane. Este vorba despre o arestare scurta, pentru ca eroul, originar din România a „bruiat” o demonstratie procomunista din Philadelphia. Insa tocmai arestarea sa l-a adus, dintr-o data, in lumina reflectoarelor. Astfel, Richard Wurmbrand, care trecuse prin purgatoriul temnitelor bolsevice, a reusit sa devina unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti luptatori impotriva comunismului, iar cartile sale, in care dezvaluia adevarata fata a „orânduirii socialiste” au devenit volume cumparate de zeci si sute de mii de oameni din Occident, care incepeau sa intrezareasca adevarata fata a Terorii Rosii.

Calea Apostolului Paul

Pastorul Richard Wurmbrand este eroul unei adevarate saga a secolului XX. Nascut intr-o familie evreiasca, in tinerete, el a aderat la miscarea comunista. In timp, insa, a descoperit, cu ajutorul Misiunii Anglicane din Bucuresti, religia crestina, la care s-a convertit. Richard Wurmbrand a luptat apoi impotriva fascismului si a salvat numerosi tineri evrei de la deportare. Apoi, a inceput lupta impotriva comunismului, care i-a adus ani grei de temnita. In cele din urma, eliberat din inchisoare, el a emigrat in Statele Unite ale Americii, unde a fondat o organizatie care ii sustine pe crestinii persecutati de pe toata planeta.

Richard Wurmbrand a avut satisfactia sa vada prabusirea celor doua regimuri dictatoriale, fascismul si comunismul. Pastorul lutheran a murit in anul 2001. Inca din timpul vietii, el fusese supranumit „Apostolul de dupa cortina de fier”, iar cei care l-au cunoscut au facut o paralela intre viata Apostolului Paul, care a devenit din persecutor al crestinilor un martir, si cea a lui Richard Wurmbrand, care a devenit din adept al comunismului una dintre victimele care au suferit in temnita, unde fusese aruncat de bolsevici pentru credinta sa. Potrivit site-ului CristiaNet.fr, Richard Wurmbrand a patimit si in tara libertatii, Statele Unite ale Americii, unde a indraznit sa ridice glasul celor care luau, in timpul Razboiului din Vietnam, apararea comunismului.

Dupa gratii, in SUA

Intâmplarea s-a petrecut in anul 1966, in orasul american Philadelphia. Aici era organizata o mare adunare populara de sustinere a Vietnamului. Numerosi americani cereau retragerea trupelor SUA din Asia de Sud-Est, unde ele luptau impotriva comunismului. In piata unde erau stânsa o multime impresionanta, a fost inaltata o tribuna, de la care diferite personalitati luau cuvântul pentru a denunta razboiul. Printre cei care vorbeau se numara un pastor prezbiterian. Dintr-o data, un om zvelt, carunt, a luat microfonul si le-a spus celor prezenti: „Voi nu stiti nimic despre comunism! Eu sunt doctor in comunism. Voi ar trebui sa fiti de partea victimelor si nu de cea a tortionarilor!”. Barbatul cu pricina era Richard Wurmbrand.

Dar ce inseamna doctor in comunism?“, a intrebat pastorul prezbiterian care vorbise inainte. „Iata dovezile mele!”, a raspuns Richard Wurmbrand, care si-a ridicat camasa si le-a aratat manifestantilor urmele torturilor suferite in beciurile Securitatii. Politia a intervenit si Richard Wurmbrand a fost arestat pentru tulbu­rarea ordinii publice. Insa tocmai acest eveniment, intens mediatizat, l-a dus pe pastorul lutheran in fata unei comisii a Senatului american, unde a depus marturie despre grozaviile din spatele Cortinei de Fier. Marturia sa a fost publicata intr-o brosura, care a devenit, timp de trei ani, cea mai bine vânduta publicatie dintre toate documentele Guvernului american. Apoi, Richard Wurmbrand a devenit unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti clerici din Statele Unite ale Americii. El a fondat organizatia „Vocea Martirilor”, care ia apararea crestinilor persecutati din toata lumea.

Vocea martirilor

Richard Wurmbrand si-a asumat, in SUA, rolul de a fi o voce a martirilor care nu puteau sa vorbeasca ei insisi lumii libere. Clericul lutheran s-a nascut in anul 1909 la Bucuresti. In tinerete, a aderat la miscarea comunista, iar intre 1927 si 1929 a urmat cursurile unei scoli politice la Moscova. Pentru activitatea comunista, a fost inchis la Doftana. Insa s-a convertit la crestinism si a renuntat la ideologia bolsevica. Urmarit, impreuna cu sotia sa, Sabina, de autoritatile fasciste românesti, el a gasit resursele sa ii ajute pe zeci de evrei. Dupa anul 1945, Richard Wurmbrand a intrat in conflict cu autoritatile comuniste. In perioadele 1948 – 1956 si 1959 – 1964, a fost arestat de catre comunisti. In anul 1965, emigreaza din tara. In SUA, fondeaza organizatia Vocea Martirilor. Dupa anul 1989, s-a intors in România si a depus flori pe mormintele tortionarilor sai.

The Final Judgment, from Myth to Reality!

Now you will gain a new perspective regarding  The Final Judgment

Interview conducted by Mircea Alb – 1997

Lia Rusu

Graphics and Romanian text editing – Mircea Alb – 2010
E-mail : a.mircea@yahoo.com
Translated from Romanian
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

Introduction

My name is Lia Rusu and I was born in 1947 in Oradea, Romania. I am a professional artist and former visual arts instructor at the College of Fine Arts, University of Oradea. The following testimony describes an unusual experience that I had in the summer of 1993 regarding the Final Judgment mentioned in the Bible.

The Beginning of the Experience

I became a Christian around the age of 24. Early in my faith, while reading the Bible, I became very impressed by the passages that mentioned that we will be held accountable for how we live our lives. Specifically, after death, each individual will come face to face with God in order to be judged according to all of their deeds and actions while living on Earth.
I began wondering, how was it possible for God to know even the most insignificant details of our lives on Earth? And how could God record everything? Even though I was eager to know and learn more about this subject, I knew it would be difficult to understand it thoroughly, yet I was equally curious to find out how the final judgment from the Bible would take place.

The Angel’s Visit in My Room

I did not understand all these matters at that time, but eventually I stopped being preoccupied by this particular subject. Time had passed, and after many years, at a time when I was no longer thinking about it, I received a visit. During the summer of 1993, in one of the early mornings between 4 AM and 5 AM, I was suddenly awakened. I sensed that somebody had entered into my room, and when I looked closely at that person, I instantly understood that it was an angel. His presence did not make me feel uncomfortable, nor did it create a state of fear in me. The angel approached my bed and talked to me in a soft and resolute manner:
Lia, you have wished to see what the final judgment would be like and I have been sent to take you to see it, but for this to happen you must first die.
When the angel told me that I would have to die in order to be able to see what the final judgment would be like, I worriedly replied that I did not want to die because I had small children that needed me. Then the angel replied,
Just believe, because with God all things are possible.
Journalist – So, did you see someone enter your room?
Lia – Yes, I did see an angel.
Journalist – What did this angel look like? Could you describe the angel in more detail?
Lia – Certainly. The angel looked like a person, but he was taller than a human. He was very luminous and his body was entirely dressed in a coat of light. Very simply put, in his presence I felt immensely confident and totally safe.  That is why I was not afraid at all when I saw him in my room.
Journalist – What was the apparent age of that angel?
Lia – The angel looked like a young man, of age between 25 and 30 years old.

The Travel into Space

After the angel told me that all things are possible with God, he continued,
Come after me, but step only where I step, and do not turn to the side.
When the angel spoke and asked me to follow him, I was compelled to do so at that moment. Throughout my entire experience, I was unable to refuse anything he asked me to do.
Therefore, when the angel asked me to follow him, I felt that I was rising to my feet off the bed and that I had to go after him. We moved very quickly, riding on white horses for part of our  journey. At a certain moment, we stopped and dismounted in front of a very wide river. I knew that we had to cross, but there was no bridge anywhere to be seen. Then the angel told me again,
Step only onto the shape of my footprints and follow me!
He moved ahead and walked on water as easily as he would have walked on ground, and I followed right behind him stepping precisely onto the shape of his footprints as he had instructed.
To my amazement, I could feel that the water was hardening and becoming as dense as stone wherever I would step. We walked on water as if we had been walking on solid rock. We crossed that wide river very easily, without my feet getting wet at all. When we arrived on the other bank of the river, I noticed that my body had gone through a transformation. I immediately realized that my body was no longer composed of matter (flesh and blood) and it no longer had weight.
I now possessed an extremely light body, and found that it could penetrate effortlessly through everything. Moreover, I came to have an extra sense that I did not have before. I was able to understand absolutely anything and everything that was happening to me and around me. I was able to communicate with the angel without using my voice, through direct thoughts exchanged between us. I was effortlessly asking him something in my mind and he was answering the same way.

The Visit to Hades*

* N.T. – Hades (a Greek word) is the translation of “Sheol” (a Hebrew word, from the Hebrew Scriptures). It refers to the temporary abode of the dead (Revelation 20:13, Acts 2:31, etc.) who are awaiting their resurrection. It is separate and distinct from the final “Hell” (a translation of Greek word Geenna “??????”, equivalent to the Hebrew Ge Hinnom, or English “Gehenna”, the eternal Lake of Fire, – Revelation 20:14-15) which is the place of eternal punishment for the damned. (For more details, see any New Bible Dictionary).

Right away we started to descend together through the ground. From the very beginning I knew the angel would take me to Hades because he had previously told me,
Now we shall travel the distance that separates us from Hades.
We were able to pass through Earth’s matter without any difficulty. Suddenly, the foundation of the Earth appeared in front of us. I was deeply impressed by its great appearance and grandeur. I stopped for a few moments to admire it. It was so beautiful! As I stood in front of it, I immediately understood that God had settled the Earth on a foundation.
Journalist – In what shape or form did you see or perceive this foundation?
Lia – Even though in school we were not taught that the Earth has or is settled on a foundation, when I was in front of it that’s exactly what I saw. This foundation had the shape of huge pillars, extremely solid, that seemed to be fashioned from a kind of white, shiny marble. In fact, it is very difficult to me to describe the beauty of that foundation, not to mention everything else that I saw there. It appeared to be an enormous construction, very majestic, and firmly anchored in the Universe. Stopping to admire that beautiful piece of God-made architecture, the angel warned me that we needed to continue our journey and move farther on toward Hades.
As we continued beyond the foundation of the Earth and were travelling, I came to see some gigantic gates in the distance. I instantly understood that these were the gates of Hades. As we drew closer and closer to the gates, I began to feel a profound pain and a heavy spiritual weight within me. My suffering was becoming more pronounced and harder to bear with every step. Then, I started to moan like someone who is going through intense pain or suffering. I asked the angel why I was feeling pain as we were approaching the gates of Hades. The angel answered,
You feel exactly what a soul feels who comes here from Earth after his physical death and who must enter Hades. Therefore, you experience the same feelings.
As we continued our approach and were getting closer and closer to the gates, the spiritual pain and weight within me became almost unbearable. Many of you may have experienced great trials in life, troubles and despair, hopeless situations when you could find no encouragement or consolation from anyone or anywhere. That is how I felt then. I felt that once I entered through those gates, any hope of ever getting out of that place was lost.
After I entered Hades, I lost any previous desire to see any family there, or to find answers to questions like “Where were they?”, “What were they doing?” or “How they were doing?”
The moment I entered, I realized that all the souls in that place had a body identical to mine, with the same properties. Everyone was perfectly conscious and understood absolutely everything that was happening around them. Everybody knew where they were and why they were in that place.  All of whom I was passing by knew who I was, and I knew who they were.
Journalist – Did that spiritual body we are discussing have a shape?
Lia – Yes, it had the shape of the human body with the only difference being that it was not made from flesh and blood.
Journalist – Did it have a face or facial features?
Lia – Yes, certainly.  There the spiritual body had the same facial structure and appearance as that of the respective human while living on Earth, but it was, let’s say, rejuvenated. For instance I knew that a man who stood in front of me was in fact my former neighbor from across the street who had died some time before. I knew it was him and I even felt his pain because he was in that place. He also knew who I was. There, absolutely everything is known.
Journalist – Even though, let us say, that man died at 60, was his face looking like it was in his youth?
Lia – Yes, every one had the same facial appearance that he or she had while living on Earth, but evidently rejuvenated. There, even though I may not have known any particular person before, when I was in front of anyone, I instantly knew everything about that person.  I knew things such as: what kind of people or nation that person had belonged to, what had been their cause of death, even if the death might have occurred 2000 years ago. All that information was instantly available to me! I also knew that all the souls that were present there were waiting for the Final Judgment.
Then it was given to me to understand and feel the pain, spiritual burden and despair of those souls that were in that place. Furthermore, I knew that once one entered into that place, hope was lost of ever being able to get out again.
Hades is the very first great separation from God, and all the souls found there were fully conscious that once in that place, they could no longer reconnect to God in any way. They knew they would be summoned to face God at the final judgment for their deeds while living on Earth. They also knew they could not correct anything from their past. Once they had died and had been brought to that place, any hope of mediation or help from God was then gone forever.
That was the reason all those souls were living in a state of terrible agony and sorrow, of insecurity and uncertainty because they did not know the verdict they would receive at the Final Judgment. Would they be forgiven for the mistakes they made during their lives, and thus, be saved from that place? Would they be found guilty and be sent to Hell forever? Each of them was very familiar with the facts of their own life and was fully aware – more than ever – of the significance and gravity of sins. Each had a chance to turn onto the right path during their Earthly lives but they had disregarded it. Tortured and torn apart by all those thoughts, everyone was frantically analyzing the facts of their lives, trying to find something, anything that might come in their favor or could soften their circumstances at the Final Judgment. Therefore, each soul was intensely preoccupied by their own situation, no longer caring for anyone else around them.
Overwhelmed by the torturing atmosphere of that terrible place, I did not want to go any further or see anything else that existed there, as I had initially wanted when the journey began. I was intensely overcome with the deep sorrow and awful pain of being forever separated from God.
The separation from God that one feels in Hades cannot be compared to any pain felt on Earth! I wish that no single soul on Earth would ever end up in Hades. Words cannot describe what is felt when you are separated from God in that place.

The Journey onto the Mountain of God

Being afraid of staying there longer or to be forgotten by the angel in that place – where once arrived you cannot exit – I started to cry and groan like a child. Noticing the state I was in, the angel escorted me out from Hades and told me,
Now we are going to go farther and climb onto the Mountain of God.
As we departed from that terrible place, the pain and burden I was feeling started to fade away. Ahead of us laid a completely different perspective. The distances of the Universe are enormous, but we managed to move with an astonishing speed.
It seemed to me that only a few moments had passed and we already arrived at the foot of the Mountain of God. Suddenly I found myself in front of a very high and imposing mountain.  Then I understood that the mountain was the Mountain of God and we would have to climb that mountain the same way one would hike on a mountain on Earth. Everything was in an unimaginable display of splendor and holiness, almost impossible to be described in words.

The White Path

While looking at the mountain, I noticed that, starting from its base, there was an extremely white path, as wide as a human palm, unfolding up the entire mountain toward its summit. I had never seen such an intense white on Earth. Any footstep, had it been stained, would leave a trace on that path. It depended on whether your feet were dirty or not, if your life was clean or not.
The angel warned me not to step aside from the path because the mount is holy and if I hesitated from the path I would fall down from the mountain. Why was this so?  Because I would need to be able to understand certain aspects and scenes that I was about to see.
All those who were ascending on that path were dressed in white clothes. I understood they represent people still alive on Earth. At a certain moment, during the ascension, I noticed that some were walking more easily and some were having difficulty in their walk. Some were crawling on their elbows and knees and hence had many wounds. The angel explained to me that some were ascending much harder than others because they had endured humiliation and sufferings on Earth due to their faith in Jesus Christ, and some paid even with their own lives.
I saw an old little man that was climbing with very much difficulty; he was wounded all around his elbows. When I saw him, I instantly acknowledged everything about him – where he had been from, what church he had belonged to, and so on. Being anxious to find out the explanation, I asked the angel,
Why is that old man having such a hard time moving forward on the path?
The angel explained,
He is persecuted every day because of his faith in Jesus Christ, but he stands strong in his faith.
I noticed the difficulty with which this old man was climbing on the path. He was earnestly advancing despite of his sufferings and was ready to even give up his life for Jesus Christ.
As we were moving ahead onto the path, I saw that some were stepping outside of it. They were not able to return onto the path because in the meantime it was occupied by those who were going up. Therefore, instead of going up, these backsliders were going back down. Moreover, some of them were not able to simply walk down, but they were tumbling toward the base of the mountain. Then I asked the angel,
Who are those that are descending? Stop them, please, do not let them go down!
The angel replied,
I cannot stop them, I am not allowed to. I do strictly what I am told to do. If I am told to do something, I do it, or if I am told not to do something, then I do not do it.  I have no right to stop anyone. Everyone is free to do whatever they want with their life.  Each individual is free to decide either to climb the path of their life to God until the end, or turn away from the path, abandoning it, if they choose to do so.
Then I asked the angel,
What will happen to the souls of those that are descending?
And the angel answered,
They are now going where we have come from – Hades.
Being worried for the fate of those souls and knowing what their ending would be in that place, I insisted on asking the angel again,
Oh, but stop them, do not let them reach Hades!
The angel told me again,
I cannot do that. I only do what I am allowed to do. These souls go there because they no longer like the path that leads to God, but they will be held accountable for their decision.
Journalist – Who do you think these descending souls were? Coming back to our life on Earth, who might represent these souls?  They must have an equivalent in our world, right?
Lia – Yes, that is correct. Those souls as I understood represent the people still alive on Earth that had decided at a particular moment in life to come to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, adhering to His word.  They loved and revered Him for a while, but then they started disliking the pure life they were supposed to live, as Jesus asked them to live. Therefore some of them said to themselves,
“This path is too hard and too narrow for me. In fact I cannot do whatever I please, I cannot have a lover or an affair if I want, I cannot get rich and do dirty business, I cannot do this and that.”  These people no longer wanted to go with Jesus because Jesus Christ Himself is the path, the white path onto the Mountain of God. On that path one can only step with extreme care because any spot, no matter how faint it might be, is still visible and any soul will consequently be scrutinized for all the unclean spots and traces left behind on the path.
Those souls were going back to the life they had before coming to Christ, they were going back to the sinful lifestyle from their past. They were doing this consciously and not determined by anyone else. They began to dislike living a clean life. They abandoned their faith in God and His salvation and went back to their previous worldly sinful lifestyle.
They traded their salvation for worldly pleasures. This may seem very pleasurable at the time, and some may think this exchange will bring prosperity and freedom, but one cannot see how they reached this prosperity, whether or not there is an extramarital affair or some other sin behind their apparent success. These people may say: “Why not? It is not such a big sin.” According to their logic, nobody sees it, nobody knows about it. This type of reasoning leads to actions that are profitable or pleasurable for a short time for some, but in the end they will be asked to give an account for their deeds. Their judgment will be much more severe because they had heard the truth but chose to ignore it.
As I stood on the Mountain of God, I suddenly saw an immense fire on the top of the mountain. That fire was so great and imposing that you could not take your eyes off it. That fire was continually and relentlessly burning! It had a common base for three immense and distinct flames. When I looked at it, I instantly understood that this was God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It was the Divine Himself within the fire on top of the mountain!

In the Final Judgment Courtroom

After that we immediately turned to the left and the path suddenly changed direction. An enormous hall appeared in front of us. It was the courtroom where the final judgment would be held. Its dimensions were immense and seemed to be of cosmic magnitude. What was interesting about these heavenly dimensions was that the greater they were, the closer they appeared to be.
When we arrived at the doorsteps of this hall, above it there was the same immense three-flame fire that I had previously seen on the top of the Mountain of God. There I also saw a huge bright cloud, which I understood right away that it was formed of all the saints that had lived on Earth and had been subjected to the First Resurrection, which I had not witnessed.
Then the angel placed me exactly on the doorstep of the judgment courtroom. In front of me stood this huge courtroom, and deeper into the courtroom there was a very large and long table. At each of the two ends of the table there was an angel, both of which looked like the one that was escorting me. The two angels were assisting a third person that was sitting at the middle of the table. I immediately understood that the third person was the Lord Jesus Christ. On the sides of the courtroom were very many immense shelves having a multitude of books on them.
These books were in fact the book of life of each individual that ever lived on Earth, containing a record of their entire life with all their actions and deeds.
Suddenly, a very loud noise was heard, a roaring sound produced by large crowds of people in motion. This marked the resurrection and the beginning of the judgment of those in Hades!
They were marching toward the final judgment courtroom, coming aligned in huge columns. They had been resurrected by generations, starting with the first generation that inhabited Earth and ending with the last generation. Among them were teenagers, men and women, young and old, belonging to all the nations of the world. They were coming in huge waves, one wave after another, like the waves of an ocean. It was a terrifying and trembling noise that seemed to shake the whole Universe. One angel was sitting to the right and another to the left and they were arranging those coming in into two rows by the time they were entering the hall. Everything was being conducted and executed in a perfectly ordered fashion.
After the resurrection of the dead ended, a total silence settled in. The entire audience was waiting for the judgment to begin.

The Judgment of a Man

I personally witnessed the judgment of one man.  He was brought in front of Jesus by one of the usher angels. Then one of the two angels sitting at the table extracted that man’s life book from a shelf in the library and placed it on the table, in front of the Lord Jesus.
The next moment a screen of gigantic dimensions appeared in front of all of us, similar to a cinema screen. The kind of technology that I have witnessed over there is not known on Earth: when the Lord opened the book of life of that man, starting with the first page, the entire life of that man started rolling on the screen in front of us and in front of the whole Universe. The Lord Jesus was not in a hurry and while He was patiently turning each page of the book, images and sound showed everything that man had done during his life.
Everything could be seen to the finest detail, moment by moment, day by day, starting from birth, through childhood, youth, and adulthood up until death. At the Final Judgment, everything that man had done, whether good or evil, every thought, word and feeling from his entire lifetime was shown exactly like a film in front of us all. Nothing remained hidden! Everyone could see and hear even the most intimate thoughts and feelings that man had during his life, including the most discreet, known only to him, all of them resonated and were speaking loudly and clearly to all of us.
At this judgment, the Lord Jesus was the only judge.  Nobody intervened, not even the Father who was overseeing from the summit of the mountain. Jesus Christ was the only one that decided and gave the final verdict, after analyzing the whole life of the one who was on trial.  The analysis and judgment were made in front of everyone, so that all could see clearly that His judgment was righteous.
And thus we found that this man was a priest in a church while living on Earth, and hence the truth had been relatively available to him. After watching the life of that priest in fine detail, I felt full of shame. I fell down on my knees right there on the doorsteps of the courtroom. I bowed my head to the ground, feeling I was a tiny particle of dust in the presence of Lord Jesus.
After witnessing all those events, I became more conscious than ever and fully convinced that all we do on Earth is recorded and nothing can be hidden nor concealed from the face of God. In those moments I began thinking about my life and I boldly, but fearfully, said to myself, “Lord, only Your mercy and clemency can pardon us from Your righteous judgment!”
After that man’s entire life had rolled in front of everybody, the Lord asked him,
Do you have anything to say in your own defense?
The man bowed down his head in front of the Lord and was silent. He could say nothing in his defense, because he knew that nothing he did had remained hidden.
In those moments I understood – and this fact shocked me profoundly – that whenever necessary, the Lord could ask any of the saints from that shiny cloud above the courtroom to stand as witnesses for any relevant moment from that man’s life. Some of them had lived in close proximity of the judged person and could have confirmed any aspect or detail related to that man’s life.  Moreover, it did not matter what kind of religion the man had embraced during his life on Earth. The judgment was made according to the amount of knowledge and how much was fulfilled in accordance with the Ten Commandments from the Bible.
Furthermore, the Lord Jesus could also summon non-living things as witnesses, things that were around the person at certain times, such as the closet from his room, the crossbeam of his house roof, the road the man had walked on, the tree he had passed by every day or anything else. These objects could appear as living beings before the Lord, and testify, confirm or deny facts, events and details regarding that person. This is the majesty of the Lord Jesus. When I saw and understood all these things, I was in complete shock and tremble because I never would have thought that something like this is possible.

The Verdict and the Sentencing

In the moments that followed, a dense silence enveloped that judgment hall. All of us were waiting for the final verdict with great anxiety and tension. This man’s eternal destiny was being decided, and he would either, be forgiven and accepted into Heaven or he would be condemned and sent to Hell forever. The judgment of that man continued. Lord Jesus opened another book that was on the table, which I understood that it was the Book of Life. The Lord searched and found the man’s name written in it.  Then, the Lord addressed the man,
Because of the words you have told others about Me, that I am Life, that I am eternal Life, and that knowing Me by hearing My Word and choosing to follow Me means gaining eternal life, I pronounce you blessed, because others around you have benefitted from the words you have spoken.
The next moment, all those that were present including the angels, saints and all other celestial beings erupted in a loud cry of joy because one soul had been pardoned. The Lord Jesus then signaled to the Sun to come closer. The Sun, with all its great beauty, came in the form of a living being, bowing to the ground as it stood before the Lord. Then Lord Jesus addressed the Sun, saying,
Take off your garment, and go and dress him with it!
The Sun, just as a human would have done, took off his garment, and dressed the man who now received the shine and splendor of the Sun. Then the man was taken to join the group that was glowing just like him. Then I saw that there were different groups of individuals that had different intensities of brightness. There were some groups that shined so intensely that their brightness was almost merging with the images of their spiritual bodies.

The Return to Earth

This was all I was allowed to see from the Final Judgment, which continued. The angel took me out of the courtroom and told me,
We are returning to Earth now.
It was time for me to leave that wonderful place where for a brief period of time I was allowed to stay and witness these events. This time, my soul was in a completely different state compared to the initial one. At the beginning of the journey I had told the angel that I did not want to die just to be able to see the Final Judgment. Now I was so overwhelmed by everything I had seen, heard and felt on this journey, that I did not wish to return to Earth.
The contrast between the two worlds – the celestial and the earthly – seemed so huge to me, that I came to ask myself in wonder, “Why do we humans love our lives on Earth so much, lives that are so often imperfect, dirty, full of suffering and above all, lacking in the splendor of the presence of God?”
It was very difficult for me to accept the fact that I had to go back to Earth where I would have to live in my physical body again. I knew that it would be impossible not to make mistakes for as long as I would be in that material body. I asked the angel not to take me back to Earth but to leave me there, where I felt I was truly at home. Instead the angel wanted to remind me of something very important upon my departure and replied,
Those you saw descending onto the white path from the Mountain of God are those that had trampled the grace that had been offered to them. You all have a great, great gift! You have the grace! You are offered the Salvation freely, and you are forgiven by the grace made available through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for you all. The dirty garment of your soul was cleansed when you came to Him and through His blood you became clean. But whosoever tramples this Grace must come to the Judgment.
I then understood that it is easier for those who have known or have had a connection with a certain degree of truth, but did not have the chance to know the grace and receive it. Perhaps there are people of different faiths, Buddhists, Muslims and others who have a high moral standard, but did not have the chance to know about this grace. Their judgment will be lighter.
However for those who heard about this grace but despised it, in other words those who were offered this priceless gift and rejected it, will be condemned and lost for eternity. I do not wish that anyone would end up at the Final Judgment for something like this, in front of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Aftermath of the Journey to Heaven

Knowing that I would have to come back home, a strong feeling of shame encompassed me. I did not want to go back and live on Earth again. I was aware that I had a family, but I also knew that Lord Jesus could help them move on without me. Finally, I had to accept that I needed to return to Earth. I left the Mount of God and the Judgment Hall and I returned to the same place from where I had departed. I found myself in my room again, back in my physical body. In the next coming weeks, I felt extremely sick and very weak. I was so profoundly marked by this experience that I simply felt I did not want to live any longer.
Journalist – Are you referring to the fact that you were sick physically or spiritually?
Lia – I meant it both spiritually and physically because I started to suffer in my body. Everything around me now appeared to be ugly and dirty! I was seeing myself as being ugly as well. I was disgusted by my own person and by everything that surrounded me. It all seemed ugly in contrast to what I had seen during my visit to that marvelous realm of God. I did not want to eat anymore and I sensed that my body was rejecting the food, as well as refusing to live any longer.
Journalist – Why?
Lia – It became difficult to live on Earth because I was conscious that while I lived in my physical body it was impossible not to fall short of God’s commandments and not to sin. Right after the return to Earth, I became aware like never before, of what sin really means and what its consequences really are. At the same time I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s greatness and by what I had witnessed where I had been. I was overwhelmed by His righteousness and by the holiness I had seen there. If it were not for the freely available grace of God, we would be the most lamentable beings standing before the Lord Jesus Christ.
I had seen and felt the holiness of the Lord Jesus, of His divinity and that of His Mountain, which could not be walked on with disregard. Those who embraced the sin in their lives were forced to descend, being unable to continue climbing while clinging to their sin.  Everything was beaming with holiness in that place. The angel had added,
This holiness is granted to you by grace, through forgiveness!
Because Jesus Christ had paid the price for our sins which were washed away through His blood, we received a gift, a priceless grace, Salvation. Salvation is worth more than any treasure on the face of the Earth, it is worth more than all the billions of dollars the richest man in the world might ever have.
The most sorrowful man in eternity is the one that will not be saved, that would not know the Lord Jesus Christ and that would not change his life the way He asks everyone to!
I lost my desire to live because I loathed all things around me: wealth, food, and anything else that could separate me from the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation. I felt that living means either being totally committed to Jesus or to live with disregard towards God’s grace, trampling it with a despising attitude, way of thinking and emotions. I was shown how absolutely everything would be revealed at the judgment, every feeling, thought, look and deed. However it was of great comfort and relief for me when the angel said,
You all benefit from a great gift, the grace.  Anywhere you will travel on Earth, tell others what you have seen and how this grace surpasses everything. To be and to live by grace with the Lord Jesus, is everything. Salvation is everything!
If there was ever a time when you loved someone with all your heart and soul and at that moment you felt you could not live without that person, that feeling is like a moment of eternal bliss. Much more than that, anyone can live eternally within such complete love without lacking anything.

Conclusions

Then I told myself that I must share the message of hope with any person that I will meet, that Jesus Christ is our Savior.
Journalist – Finally, what would you like to communicate to those that will read this testimony?
Lia – I would like each individual to believe, and mostly to be convinced that beyond the reality of everyday life on Earth and beyond our physical death, there is another world just as real as this one, but nonetheless completely different. Our journey does not end at the grave, but we continue into another dimension, whether we believe it or not. We go further, our final destination being either Heaven or Hell. There isn’t a third choice. As long as we live on Earth, each of us is free to choose our final destination. If we want Heaven to be our final destination, then we have to come to Christ through faith, yield to Him as our Master and Savior, and consequently live our life by His commandments.
Moreover, I would like everyone to know and be convinced that there will be a final judgment, and we all will stand before God and be held accountable for our deeds, for the way we lived on Earth, regardless of religion and beliefs.
This Final Judgment is not a myth, it is a REALITY! Eternal punishment can be avoided. For further reading and details, I encourage everyone to study the Bible. In the Old Testament, God promises He will be found by all those who will seek Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).

The End

Editorial note – Relevant biblical references related to this testimony:

John 3:16
John 14:6,15
Romans 3:21-26
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Acts 17:30-31
Romans 2:11-13
2 Corinthians 5:10
1 John 1:9; 2:1-2
Revelation 20:11-15

“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 15 “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments.” John 14:6,15
“21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[h] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

“13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
“11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;“ Romans 2:11-13
”10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
“9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2
“11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.