Saturday, September 27, 2008

Darkness, and then Dancing, After 24 years

Today something remarkable dawned upon me.

More than 24 years ago this summer, I spent time in Eastern Europe, on a mission to serve the persecuted church, prior to the downfall of the Iron Curtain. During that time, and for many years prior, from 1967 to the end of communist rule, religious practices were banned, and Albania was proudly and officially proclaimed atheist, marking an event that happened for the first time in world history.

Just think of it. For almost 30 years, God was seemingly gone in Albania.
No churches, no Christmas celebrations, no Easter.

Nothing. Silence. Darkness. A form of hell on Earth.

Enver Hoxha reigned over perhaps the most repressive communist state in history. In order to enforce his radical program, however, Hoxha resorted to brutal Stalinist tactics. His government imprisoned, executed, or exiled thousands of landowners, rural clan leaders, Muslim and Christian clerics, peasants who resisted collectivization, and disloyal party officials. Private property was confiscated by the state; all churches, mosques, and other religious institutions were closed; and all cultural and intellectual endeavours were put at the service of socialism and the state.

control. Complete isolation from the world. And Life, and Freedom.

There is a happy ending to this story. As we now know, in the 1980s and 1990s, freedom broke out across Eastern Europe. God was up to something. And then, in 1998, Albania established a democratic system of government based upon the rule of law and guaranteeing the protection of fundamental human rights.

Several weeks, ago, I mentioned here that our daughter Kelly had an amazing
summer mission trip experience in Albania. We now have a video review of the trip.

As I watched this video, something remarkable and other-worldly dawned upon me. I was watching Psalm 30 come to life. Where nearly absolute spiritual death and darkness once reigned for more than 30 years, my own daughter, nearly oblivious to history, was laughing, and playing, and loving, singing in church, and even.......dancing.

And people say there is no God.

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