Family relies on faith to find freedom

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 3, 2013

“Journey to Freedom,” by George Teo. Xulon Press. 2013. 221 pp. Ebook available.

By Deirdre Parker Smith
SALISBURY — “Journey to Freedom,” by George Teo (Gheorghe Teodorovici) is certainly more than the cover would suggest.
It shows a sailboat moving briskly through the ocean. But it tells of a brave family who repeatedly rejected communism and searched for freedom as it swept over and forever altered their native land, Romania.
Gheorghe and his family were among the first wave of Christian refugees to be sponsored by a church to escape to America. That church was Landmark Church and the year was 1985. America was the only hope for the Teodorovicis to practice their evangelical religion and live to share it with others.
Gheorghe tells the story beginning with his comfortable, happy childhood, one that fades into memories as communism spreads across his homeland, property is taken over by the state and people are made into the equivalent of slaves.
Already suffering for their evangelical views and rejection of the Orthodox — and state-sponsored — Church, the family is further persecuted because of their lack of political activity.
Gheorghe is taunted in school, called a “Repentant” for being Protestant; he is further alienated when he will not play rough or laugh at dirty jokes. But that’s the least of the family’s worries. As they lose their land and the ability to provide for themselves, others step in to help, unasked. The family prays, trusts in the Lord and reaps rewards from their faith. The Securitate, the communist police, don’t like the religion the family professes, their refusal to join the communist party or their attempt to leave the country — just to go next door to Yugoslavia.
Gheorghe’s father asks again and again and again for visas, and is laughed at, taunted and abused over and over and over. What really makes the Securitate mad is that no matter how many threats they make, or privileges they remove, the family survives and continues to be firm in their convictions. But they are under constant surveillance and suffering from the consequences of their resolve. No one in the family can find or keep work. Food gets scarcer and scarcer.
What readers will remember most about this book is the deep, sincere, mature faith exhibited by this family. Bible quotations are used on many pages to illustrate why the family was spared from one horror or another or to show why trusting in God brought them to freedom.
At one point, the entire family is taken in for interrogation, including the smallest children. There are eight children. The state, to punish the family and force them to confess who is helping them, declares four of the children “state property” and puts them in an orphanage. Gheorghe writes of the deep despair the family suffers, and of their further determination to get the children back and leave the country.
Gheorghe must do mandatory military service, ending up in labor camps that nearly break him, body and soul. He writes of all the troubles and trials his family must endure, his disappointments and questions to God, and he details their journey to the U.S., when, after six years of oppression, they are finally granted passports and visas.
Near the end of the book, Gheorghe writes, “By reading my story you have seen that for most of my life I tried to fight and run from every trial that God gave me and I demanded an explanation or reason. God had to teach me that I didn’t need one.”
George Teo writes from the heart and confirms the incomparable value of freedom.
His book is certainly worth reading and an excellent piece for discussion. He teaches and preaches with abundant examples of the power of faith.

George Teo will sign books at Literary Bookpost, 110 S. Main St., on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 1-3 p.m. He will have another signing at the Bible Book Store, 314 S. Main St., from 1 p.m.-until on Saturday, Feb. 23.