Romania is a long way from America, and Olga can tell you what every mile is like.
Living in Atlanta and working as a consultant in the hotel industry, life is very different than it was in Olga’s childhood. Her large family had struggled during the oppressive communist rule of Romania’s dictator. Olga vividly remembers standing in line every day for hours to get a small portion of bread.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, Olga’s father led the family to follow Jesus. They grew up thankful to have each other. That would soon change.
One of Olga’s brothers was forced to be a military guard at a Romanian border crossing. He met a young woman, Gaby, and fell in love. She was moved to America, but they wrote letters to each other and decided to marry. Gaby returned to Romania to help Olga’s brother escape.
Gaby and Olga’s brother worked with an underground network to devise a plan of escape from the country. When the plans were finalized, they decided it was time to flee. On the night they began their quiet trek for the border, everything went wrong. They were discovered. Dodging a barrage of bullets, they ran across a corn field to hide. Somehow, they made it unharmed. Olga’s brother got a job in the U.S. and was able to save enough money to pay for their wedding.
Back in Romania, Olga’s father left the country. He prepared to bring Olga and her mother to America, but when the day finally came Olga and her mother arrived at the airport in Romania to find only Olga’s mother could leave. Olga had have to stay. This was the government’s ploy to make it as difficult as possible for families to leave the country. The government was known for keeping children as hostages. At only eight years old, Olga stood in the airport and said goodbye to her mother.
However, her time finally came, and Olga was reunited with her family in the U.S. She began a new life of freedom—one she’d never imagined. Olga’s father led the family in worshipping Christ. With only a few English words at his disposal, her father shared Jesus with everyone he encountered. Olga went to school, learned English and began thriving in her career. She met Kris, a native of Tennessee and a store director for a fashion designer. After their wedding, they settled in Atlanta.
They feel burdened for the hurting world around them. Because they are actively engaged in ministries at their church, the newly married couple found out about refugees who were being resettled in the Atlanta area. They were introduced to a refugee family from Africa. Knowing what it was like to come to a strange country, Olga could relate to the challenges they were facing. Olga also knew how important family is.
It wasn’t long before Olga was introducing her Romanian family to her new African family. Though the continents they came from are far apart, the refugee experience has brought them together.
Lorna Bius is a Send Relief Missionary in Atlanta, Georgia, for the North American Mission Board. She and Olga worked on this story together.
Published August 21, 2018