Tough Hope

The Communists said there is no God. The people of Biserica Baptista Speranta (Hope Baptist Church) thought differently no matter what the Communists said.


For months during the Communist era the people of Hope Baptist Church worked to renovate an unused building on a main street in downtown Arad, one of the major evangelical centers of Romania. They labored out of love for the Lord because the building they were in was old and small and the Repenters had outgrown it despite Communist opposition to their message. The label "Repenter" was given to Christians in mockery of their message. In an Orthodox culture where everyone is thought to be a Christian, those who trusted Christ emphasized the need to repent and trust Christ for eternal life. Derision for their faith did not stop the people of Speranta. The Communists watched them labor to renovate their building, and just as they finished, the Communists commandeered the building for themselves. The hope of Hope Baptist Church turned out to be futile, foolish, fruitless, an empty confidence in a godless world.


Amazingly, the people of Speranta were neither discouraged nor bitter. They stepped back, waited, and prayed about what to do next. They had some property just off of downtown Arad, so they decided to build a building there. Someone from America had sent $2,000 to help them, but they were afraid American money might be a problem, so they sent it back. Instead, they determined to pay for the building out of their own funds and build it by their own hands. Every day for a year 100 people labored on the site, some coming after working all day long, others coming before they worked the late shift. Gradually, the building rose: an auditorium to seat nearly 1,000, Sunday school and fellowship facilities, an office, all a statement that God is in a place where the authorities said God isn't. And the Communists let them have the building! Perhaps there was a God after all.

Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.