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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Laying Your Life On the Line for Christ (Part 1 of 2)

Laying Your Life On the Line for Christ (Part 1 of 2)

Virginia Prodan is an author, international human rights attorney, and public speaker. She shares her powerful story of courageously sharing God's love with a gun-wielding assassin in Communist Romania sent to execute her in her law office. For defending Christians behind the Iron Curtain, Virginia was kidnapped, beaten, and had her life threatened on several occasions. She shares about leading her would-be assassin to Christ and inspires listeners to fearlessly stand for the truth, no matter the cost. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: November 27, 2023

Preview:

Virginia Prodan: Jesus Christ said to me, “Virginia, I am the truth. You have been looking in the wrong places.” And Christ came alive to me. I realized He’s the truth. I accepted Him that day as my Lord and Savior.

End of Preview

John Fuller: Virginia Prodan was a human rights attorney behind the Iron Curtain in Romania when she discovered the truth she’d been searching for: Jesus Christ. You’re gonna hear her incredible, inspiring story on today’s episode of Focus on the Family, with Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I had a very enjoyable conversation with Virginia. Um, she is fearless when it comes to sharing her faith.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Which is one of the reasons I wanted to talk with her. She’s such a, uh, wonderful example of how to be bold. She was kidnapped, interrogated, and beaten, uh, when she was in Romania under Ceaușescu, the, uh, dictator at the time, and I know every one of us is going to be inspired and encouraged by her amazing story. I can’t wait to get to it.

John: And you’re gonna wanna read the entire story of Virginia’s life and her incredible account. The book is called, Saving my Assassin, and we have details for that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or give us a call. And Virginia is now in the US working as an allied attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom. She’s a writer, a speaker and a podcaster, and she has three adult children, and here’s the conversation Jim had with Virginia Prodan on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Virginia, it’s great to have you here on Focus on the Family.

Virginia: Jim, thank you so very much for the opportunity to be here, and share with others a wonderful story that God wrote in my life, and the fact that God wants to write their own story, if they will allowed God to write His story in their life, and their life will be changed forever.

Jim: Virginia, I’m really excited to talk to you because you’ve seen so much in your lifetime. It’s, it’s both a wonderful experience, but also a difficult one, and I think for the listeners, that’s where we’re gonna have to kinda start, is going back to you growing up in Romania, behind what was then known as the Iron Curtain, and uh, man, it hasn’t been an easy life, but it’s been a spirit-filled, Lord-directed life, and that’s why I’m so excited to talk to you. Most of us won’t be able to relate to some of your experiences, uh, but describe your environment as a little girl growing up in Romania.

Virginia: The earliest thing that I remember as a six years old child was the fact that my parents were politically correct outside of the home, but I heard them also inside of our home whispering how horrible the government was, and how the government will ask them to give more rights. As a young kid, I developed an insecurity watching my parents. I realized I don’t belong to anyone, nobody’s gonna protect me, but also, I noticed a fire building in my life, a fire of, and a desire to find out the truth and to find out why adults around me know the truth but they don’t wanna speak for the truth. And I was privileged to have in my family lots of lawyers, and when we-

Jim: That’s not normally said about lawyers, (laughs) that it was a privilege.

Virginia: Yes, yes. (laughs) Yes. Exactly. Exactly, you’re very-

Jim: But it’s true, though.

Virginia: Yes, because when we had family reunions, I noticed as a young kid that all relatives will group around them-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: And ask questions, and to me, it looks like they have answers, and all of a sudden, I put the dots together, and I thought, “They know the answer, but they don’t wanna speak, so I have to go to law school in order to know the truth, and somehow, I will speak up for the truth.”

Jim: Um, for you personally, in terms of your ability to worship or to read the Bible, how was it restricted, um, as you became more of a follower of Christ? I mean, how did they, how did they begin to notice, “Are you reading the Bible?” And, (laughs), and how was that received by your government?

Virginia: The way a socialist government works is, uh, oh, it’s on lies and presented half of the truth that will benefit them. Uh, that time, many people did not know that, uh, we receive from United States of America the most favored nation status, uh, that was couple, uh, the most favorite national status gave Romania lots of economical benefits, but also was coupled with respecting human and religious rights.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: The right of foreigners to come to Romania, and share the gospel, and give us the, the Bible, because the Bible was not published in Romania, so we had the right to have the Bible, but the government never published those law, and many times, when they found out a Bible in a home or people transporting the Bible, they will arrest people. So that’s when the Lord asked me to, I became a Christian, and um, I started to defend Christians, that’s what, what I did.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: And that’s the way the government works.

Jim: But, but the issue there, I mean, you’re highly restricted. You gotta be watching all the time if you’re reading the Bible or saying a prayer, if you’re saying that around other people, then you gotta really know the people around you that you’re not gonna be turned in, right?

Virginia: Yes, exactly. And even in our church we did not know if we were by, uh, Brother in Christ or a spy.

Jim: Right.

Virginia: But let me tell you something: I always said, “Okay, my life, it’s in God’s hands. If a spy is by me, God knows it’s there so he can hear the Gospel.”

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: So somehow, the Holy Spirit trains you and gives you the courage that you need, and you, uh, you also understand that there is a responsibility. You are there for God’s purpose, and God is, is whispering through the Holy Spirit what you need to do, encourages you, and you are doing. The last thing that I want your audience to know about me, or to think about me, is to think that I’m a hero. No. I am a tool in God’s hands. I’m under five feet tall.

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: I, there is a huge God inside of me. No, don’t, don’t worry about my size, because God is huge inside of me. In Romania, I was 82 pounds. Well, I live in America. I can’t be 82 now. And I was a woman. In socialist, a woman is nobody, no, nothing.

Jim: Huh.

Virginia: Oh.

Jim: Think about all those contradictions that you’re talking about, here.

Virginia: Think about, think about right now in America, in the sport.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: What the sport is doing. If you don’t believe me, think twice.

Jim: Well, we’re, I wanna, uh, do all the application to America after we really understand your story.

Virginia: Okay, okay.

Jim: And that, I think we can roll that into everything. There’s so many applications, uh, here in the US.

Virginia: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And in the book, you talked about the child, your childhood being rough with your parents.

Virginia: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And eventually, they-

Virginia: They were not, they were not even my parents. (laughs)

Jim: They weren’t your parents, and that’s where Aunt Cassandra comes in. Describe that story.

Virginia: Um, it’s a painful story because for years, I didn’t know who I was. I was told at the place where I live until I was maybe 17 and a half, and I went to law school, I was told that I don’t belong, that I was there to be a servant-

Jim: They treated you differently.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: And I was-

Jim: You thought they were your mom and dad, though, correct?

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: But, but they were telling me, uh, that if someone will come to look for a child, I will be, um, offered for adoption. I was never taken with them at vacation or other places.

Jim: They had two other children.

Virginia: Yes. Three other-

Jim: And they treated them differently.

Virginia: Exactly, exactly.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: Exactly. But somehow, it was painful to me, and I wanted to know who I was. And I had the opportunity to be with what they call my Aunt, uh, Cassandra, but the minute that I met her in Bucharest, at, um, train station, I was shocked. She had, uh, red hair like me. She had freckles, and she was my size.

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: But she never told me that she was my mother.

Jim: She was your real mother?

Virginia: She was my real mother. We went to take a picture, and even the, the professional photographer said, “Wow, you look alike. Mother and daughter.” I wanted so much, uh, to say to me, “I am your mother.” But-

Jim: That had to be a great feeling, though.

Virginia: Yes, yes.

Jim: Even though it hurt to say, “I’ve lived 17 and a half years without you.”

Virginia: Yes, yes. Yes, yeah.

Jim: And the people you were living were, with, that was your aunt.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: That was your mother’s sister.

Virginia: Exactly.

Jim: That had taken you in.

Virginia: It was an understanding between them-

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: And I believe my real mother was paying them to keep me, and also, to keep quiet.

Jim: Right.

Virginia: But they, um, uh, taught me a great lesson, even though for years, I thought I’m not, I’m not a child, I’m a problem to these people.

Jim: Huh.

Virginia: And it was a harmful feeling. So I made a deal with myself that no matter the mistakes that I will made in my life with my kids, I will humble myself. I will go to my kids and say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Would you forgive me?”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: Because it was more important to keep a relationship, to show your kids that you are not perfect, that only God helps you, so you help them, too.

Jim: Yeah, and you felt that pain.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: Because you and your, your biological mother didn’t have that kind of situation.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: I mean, she sent you off to be with her sister.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: So she could conceal you.

Virginia: Yes, yeah.

Jim: And then, uh, and then 17 and a half, you reunite. Just go back for a moment to that emotion that you must have felt. And then how did you and your mom connect at that point? Where, did you forgive her? Did you have a sense of abandonment that she had left you in this horrible situation with your aunt and uncle?

Virginia: I, I left Romania and I did not know the answer.

Jim: Ah.

Virginia: I came to America and years later, when I went back to Romania, one of the relatives, because both of them died, one of the relatives had the courage to tell me the truth. And that’s how I found the truth.

Jim: Ah.

Virginia: I’m a Christian, and God asked me to forgive, because when you don’t forgive, you just are tied to that resentment. You’re tied to that, that, uh, anger, and also, you are saying to your Lord, “Where were You?” You start to accuse God, “Where were You? Why did you do that?” And everything.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: And God wants you to forgive in order to see the plan that He had for you.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: There are so many lessons, and positive things that God can use out of our pain, and that’s-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: That’s all God.

Jim: No, and it’s so beautiful, and you finished law school, and you were living with your mom, I guess, through that experience.

Virginia: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You then get married. You have your own two children.

Virginia: Yes. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Describe that transition. Now, you’re married yourself, and you’re having two children. What’s that like?

Virginia: It was, first of all, I experience for the first time how hard is to wait for the Lord. When I realized that I was pregnant, I wanted to see my child. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: I had to wait nine months. Okay? So it was a beautiful experience that I’m holding my own child and I’m responsible, I’m responsive for the life of, and I’m a Christian, and I remember the minute that I notice, I started to pray for, for my child. When the child was born, underneath their crib, I put the Christian music. Um, when my oldest daughter was old enough, you know, to keep a book or something, I had to study for Bar Exam, so in order for her to, to be quiet, I gave her the books, and she was able to see me, you know, doing reading the books.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: I, later on, I trained my kids to memorize Bible verses, and to be trained in, in God’s word.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: Because it was my responsibility to do this. I would remember, um, one of my child in Romania, at that time, our hero was not yet come of age. Um, everybody, every child-

Jim: The Olympic star?

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: Everybody wants to be Nadia Comaneci, and my girls were doing outside all kind of things like her, and one of my daughters broke, uh, her arm. So we, we call the, the hospital. We didn’t know if we needed to go or not, but the nurse came inside, and I had Bible verses everywhere.

Jim: These are the secret police?

Virginia: That’s a secret police, exactly. People that would report. And she look at that like, “What in the world is going here?” I was aware that the government can take my kids away, but you have always a choice. God said, “I am the Truth, the Way and the Life.” You go God’s way and to support the consequences, or you go the government way and you go every single day, deeper and deeper.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: And farther and farther away from the Lord. So she looks at those Bible verses and I’m trying to share the Gospel with her, and she thinks, “You are crazy. I can report you.” And so forth. You know? So um, it was a great feeling, but also a great responsibility.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Virginia: Uh, you know, to train my kids in God’s word, and I did.

John: This is Focus on the Family, and we’re listening to Virginia Prodan share her story of her early life in Communist Romania. And the story is fully captured in her book, Saving my Assassin. You can get that from us. Check it out at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Virginia, let’s talk about that moment when you actually became a Christian. Uh, someone came to you. Describe that moment. Who came to you? What did he say?

Virginia: I remember, um, that day very vividly. As I mentioned before, even before I knew the Lord, I noticed that I was created as a person who looks at half of the cup full, so from a young age, I wanted to be a lawyer. Every single day, I will go to work thinking and saying, “Today, I’m gonna find the, the truth.” I read in the law books, I passed the test. Now I have to actually put in practice. So I practice and practice and practice, and one day, I’m coming to my law office so discouraged, and I put my briefcase on my secretary’s desk, and I look at her and said, “I don’t wanna be a lawyer anymore. I can’t find the truth.” And it was so painful to me.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: Because from the age I was six, I dream about this. And I’m not a quitter. So she look at me like, “Where have you been? What are you dreaming about?” And she gave me three files, and she said, “There are three clients that will come and see you, and one it’s in your office.” So I walk into my office, in my mind, “What is the truth? Why I cannot find the truth?” And I noticed the client that was in my office, I had been working with him for a year, and I am face to face with joy, confidence, and peace. And I heard myself say, “I wish I had in my life what you have in your life.” And he look back to me and say, “Do you go to church?” And I stared at him, thinking, I know you were crazy. I don’t know why I ask you this question. But he was writing something in, on a piece of paper, and give it to me, and said, “This is an, the address of our church. Would you come to our church next Sunday?” So I went to, to his church, he was there. We walk inside, and as I walk inside, I remember the, the church was totally different than Orthodox Church that I used to go, you know, at Easter and Christmas. It was totally different, and I heard the choir singing “Sinner, Come Home.” And as I walk inside, I was thinking, “The government can take my license away, the government can take my kids away, the government can arrest me,” but as I hear the song, Sinner, Come Home, I started to encourage myself, and say, “Oh, this is a safe place. These people have a celebration. A, a man must be behind me. His name must be Sinner, and he’s coming home today, and they have a celebration.” That’s what I knew about sin, that’s what I knew about God. And as we walk, um, the, my client told us where to sit, and everything, and the pastor came, opened the Bible, and read, “Jesus Christ said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.’” And in that big church and quiet church, imagine somebody saying, “What?” That was me.

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: Because finally somebody said, Jesus Christ said to me, “Virginia, I am the truth. You have been looking in the wrong places.” And I got glued to the pastor. And Christ came alive to me. I realized, he’s the truth. I accepted him that day as my Lord and Savior. And not only that, I accepted the fact that he put on my heart to find the truth, that he guided me all my life.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: And he guided me to him, and surely enough, he guided me and explained to me that he had the mission, that, to defend Christian in human rights cases. And then I didn’t have to look for clients, because they will come to me. And that was so powerful in my life. I learned later on, not in that moment, because when I knew and I learn that that was a mission that God gave me, God taught me how He is the one who will sustain that mission in me. And when you show others your love for Christ, you have no idea how many lives you will reach and touch.

Jim: Powerful. Let’s move now into kinda the, the deeper part of your story, where you’re now a lawyer, you’re a humans rights lawyer in Romania, against a government that recognizes no human rights.

Virginia: Yes. Mm-hmm.

Jim: I tell you what to do and you do it.

Virginia: Exactly.

Jim: Or you go to prison or you had a-

Virginia: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Psychiatric hospital, or you’re killed.

Virginia: Uh-huh.

Jim: Whatever it might be. Describe that kind of environment, trying to work as an attorney to defend others who are expressing their religious beliefs. I think you had three, four, probably more than that, cases that you won.

Virginia: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, that became very, uh, concerning to the government, there.

Virginia: Yes. Yes.

Jim: Describe all of that.

Virginia: Uh, first of all, I want to say that I never, I, I wanted to find the truth, but I never thought in my, uh, wildest dream I’m gonna take dictators to court and so forth, it’s that what the Lord had in mind that’s His mission. That what He has done it in my life. So when I accepted Christ, first of all-

Jim: How old were you when that happened?

Virginia: Uh, I was maybe 26, 27.

Jim: Okay.

Virginia: Yeah. Um, when I was baptized, my name was not on the list, uh, because my church was very clever, because the government controlled that, so they wanted to baptize me before the government knew, (laughs) so I was the last one. After that, as I was, I accepted Christ and baptized, I realized that the Lord wants me to defend Christians, and I didn’t have to look for cases. They will come to, to me, and they will, uh, I will, um, defend them. Like, uh, young people that will take Bibles from one church to another, for Vacation Bible School, and they will be arrested; or churches that ask for government to allow them to maintain the church or extend and the government will put them on the waiting list until the church will be disrepair and disrepair and the government will come and take the church, demolish the church, and take the land; or doctors that will, uh, give out prescription to, to their clients, but also a Bible verse, and they will be in, uh, danger, the government, will say, “I take the, your license away.” What the Lord did, and people can read in the book in detail, is, God helped me to find out the laws that were in the book from the capitalist era, but the government, the socialist government, never took them away.

Jim: So the laws are still in place?

Virginia: Yes, but they keep them under lock.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Virginia: For nobody to find them, but as I pray as a young person, and I pray, I say, “Lord, help me to find the law,” because you cannot sue someone, and not say, “I’m suing in the basis of, and of this.” You sue the dictator on what?

So I pray and I went to the library, and I, I search and I search. The Holy Spirit guided me, and I found the laws on the table because someone forgot to lock them. And-

Jim: Oh my goodness.

Virginia: And I heard the Lord saying, “Take pictures of those law.” And I did.

Jim: Huh.

Virginia: I, I took copies, not pictures. Copies. I took them to the copy machine and I took copies. Unknown to me when I went in the courtroom, and I said to the government, “You have to release my clients today, because we have the law protecting them,” the, um, judge look at me like, “You’re crazy, what you’re taking about.” Well, I went to my briefcase and I give him the copy, and I gave the prosecutor the copy. They turn red. They turned red, and they said, “We need to look at those laws, and we’ll take a few hours, and we’ll make a decision.” Well, I went home after this, and I listened to Voice of America, because that was the only radio, Voice of America and Free Europe, that we’re able know what’s going on in, in the world. And as I listened to Voice of America, to the news, I realized I became the news.

Jim: (laughs)

Virginia: Voice of America was, is saying, “A young girl under, you know, 28 years old, five feet tall, 82 pounds, is taking government to court and showing them the laws.” I was thinking, where in the world this information, uh, coming?” Because Voice of America and Free Europe were not allowed. Later on, I found out that as I was in the courtroom facing the judge, behind me the representative from United States from all over the world were there taking notes, because they have never seen a young person taking the government to court. And they were sending those notes and information to, uh, to their government, and I was happy on one hand, because the world knew, but on the other hand, I knew that I have guards outside ready to come in a minute and kill me on the pretext that I’m a spy for America.

Jim: Yeah.

Virginia: But that’s the, the way God, uh, helped me.

Jim: Well, and the, what you say so often is you have to choose.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: If you’re going to walk with God, then you trust in Him all the way.

Virginia: Yes. Uh-huh.

Jim: And you don’t become deceptive, yourself-

Virginia: Yes. Yes.

Jim: In order to save your own self.

Virginia: Yeah, you cannot say- (laughs)

Jim: And this is a powerful point.

Virginia: Yes, it is.

Jim: ‘Cause I think that so many people miss that, especially people who are fearful. Uh, you know what? You lay it all out there. You go.

Virginia: Yes.

Jim: And you stand firmly for the Lord.

Virginia: And you-

Jim: And then take the consequences.

Virginia: Exactly. And you know what? In doing this, you exercise your faith muscles. You exercise those every day.

John: What an amazing testimony from Virginia Prodan, and there’s more to the story that you’ll hear next time on Focus on the Family.

Jim: She really loves the Lord, doesn’t she?

John: She does. It’s obvious. Yes.

Jim: And I love her passion and determination, and growing up in some tough circumstances, it shows you how to overcome a difficult environment if you trust the Lord. It doesn’t get any more difficult than that, uh, being in a dictatorship under communism, being threatened with your life, et cetera. Next time, we’ll hear about, uh, her biggest challenge yet, when she faced her would be assassin. So be sure to listen tomorrow to find out how God worked in that frightening situation. Also, get her book from Focus on the Family. It’s called, Saving my Assassin, and please, support the work of Focus to give families hope this holiday season. We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of lives change through the truth and hope of God’s word. Marriages saved, babies rescued from abortion, and parents equipped to raise children in the Lord. With a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Virginia’s great book, and when you donate today, your gift will be doubled by some dear friends of Focus on the Family, to deliver twice the ministry impact.

John: Donate today and get that book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459; or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Saving My Assassin

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