The following report was originally printed in the Cleveland Daily Banner on April 27, 2019.
In March, Robert and Malissa Hawkins had the opportunity to participate in a Christian Values Summit in Romania. Hawkins is currently serving as World Mission coordinator for The Church of God.
Originally from New York City, Hawkins had served as overseer of The Church of God in Alabama, prior to being chosen missions coordinator. His wife, Malissa, is originally from Kentucky.
The Hawkinses had been to Romania twice before to bring the “message of hope” to the people. In November 2018, one of the pastors who attended one of Hawkins’ meeting, shared how impressed he was with the Christian message preached. From that meeting came the invitation to speak at the Christian Values Summit. Hawkins has been working with Romanian pastors and gypsies in Translyvania. Held in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, the second-largest city in Romania, the summit was organized by Romanian Sen. Avram Gal and volunteers from the Christian community, Hawkins said.
Besides Hawkins, other speakers included Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz; Jerry Maston, pastor of the River of Life Church in Eastland, Texas; and Christian leaders from Romania and Moldova. Hawkins noted that those invited to the conference were “government leaders and families, business and industry leaders and Christian leaders.” The conference was financed by the River of Life Church.
“The main emphasis of the conference was to encourage the citizens of Romania to vote for godly leaders and to admonish the leaders to be godly,” he said. “We urged them to vote.”
Hawkins said, under communism, “Romania had a deep history of corruption in the government. Many Christian people look at all politicians with suspicions, even those public servants who are trying to make a difference for Christ in their nation.” Under the communistic dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, Christians were persecuted, sent to jail and killed. Ceausescu collected the Bibles donated by other countries, including the U.S.A., and sent them to his pulp mill to be turned into toilet paper, Hawkins said. The Romanian Revolution removed Ceausescu in 1989 and sent him to his death on Christmas Day, which was a day the dictator had ordered be devoted to his praise.
Hawkins said during Ceausescu’s rule, “Christians were strong in their devotion to God. After their newfound freedom, their faith caught fire and spread. “I have been told affluence and ease has affected some of their dedication to God and true Christianity has been weakening due to false doctrine arising and being brought in by outside influences,” Hawkins said.
“My title was ‘Romania: A Leader in the European Union.’ I tried to emphasis the spiritual,” he said. “I addressed the evil of divorce and the widespread effect on our families and societies, the fallacy and dangers of believing in eternal security, and the false doctrine of allowing alcohol to be consumed in moderation. Alcohol destroys lives, marriages, families and eternal souls. We cannot sin in moderation,” Hawkins said. He noted he was told “this is what our parents believed.” Hawkins told them “not to let true faith be replaced with something counterfeit … we have to fight for our children, families and teach them what is right.”
Malissa said it touched her to “see the hunger in their lives. We all need the Lord.” “We want to make sure to bring the truth,” she said. Someone told the Hawkinses the volunteers, many of whom were teens, prayed for the conference for two hours prior to its start.
“Stand for the truth,” Hawkins said. “You will bless others and be blessed.”
On Saturday night of the conference, they had a gala with “beautiful music, choirs and singers, including 17-year-old opera singer Laura Bretan, who won “Romania’s got Talent” and placed sixth in “America’s Got Talent” in 2016.
After the conference, the Hawkinses traveled to Carei, near the Hungary border. “We spent several days with some of our Romanian brothers and sisters, and also come from the surrounding gypsy communities, whose ears are very receptive to the gospel. We have had home prayer meetings, open air services, meetings with local pastors and ministers, and provided food for the hungry.”