The Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, and the old Soviet bloc communist nations of eastern Europe soon became history. Most of them peacefully transitioned into western style free republics. Romania was an exception.

On December 15 the Romanian communists tried to deport Hungarian Reformed Church pastor Lazlo Tokes from his home in Timosoara. He had given an interview to Hungary a few days before, and spoke critically of the communist government of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The communists came to arrest him, but a human chain of parishioners surrounded his home. The members of the Hungarian Reformed Church were soon joined by Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, Pentecostals and Adventists. People of every faith had had enough of the tyranny of the communists and were determined to not let this pastor be persecuted.

The crowds became so immense that the police could not stop them from taking action and attacking the police and communist party headquarters, throwing documents out the windows. Over the next four days, pent up rage against the communists prompted Romanians all over the country to protest and attack police and communist party buildings. Ceausescu had been in Iran but flew back to the country to put down the rebellion. On December 21 he addressed a large crowd of tens of thousands in Bucharest. (Most had been forced to attend the rally.) You should watch this on YouTube because there is a telling moment when in the middle of his speech the crowds begin jeering and booing the dictator. He puts his hand up to tell the people to be silent, but their chants against him become louder. Then you see his face freeze with fear; he realizes he is on the losing side of a revolution he cannot control.

Ceaucescu and his wife Elena tried to escape by helicopter, but his pilot put them down in a field where the Romanian people captured them. On Christmas day, 1989, the bloodthirsty dictator who had terrorized the Romanians for 34 years, was put on “trial” by the military that had quickly turned against him. They found him guilty of genocide, and minutes later, shot him and his wife.

Since that day, Romania has not always enjoyed the best of economic times, and they still have a long way to go, but they have thrown off the yoke of communism and they are free.