I don’t read a lot of memoirs, but I want to share a book I just finished – Saving My Assassin – an extraordinary memoir filled with courtroom drama, political intrigue, persecution, suspense and danger. Set in Romania during the brutal communist regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu, Virginia Prodan’s story is both frightening and inspirational.
Romania didn’t lose their freedoms overnight, but slowly the government took everything of value from their citizens until they were left only with fear and desperation. Some spied on their own neighbors and families in order to remain in favor with corrupt government officials and to get a few comforts of life like extra food, clothes, or a vacation. Others kept their mouths shut, heads down, and eyes closed to the horrors around them, hoping the securitate (secret police) wouldn’t take notice and they would stay alive.
It’s hard to believe much of this story took place less than three short decades ago. In America we take freedom for granted but once you read this book you may have a hard time taking anything for granted again. It all seems so frighteningly possible in the political and social climate we’ve been living the past few years.
Virginia Prodan grew up in what you might call a dysfunctional family, without any or very little real affection shown her. She was treated differently than the other children, more like a slave in fact, and didn’t know why. She must have been a tough little girl because she turned out to be quite a resilient young woman.
As a teenager, Virginia realized that truth was a commodity that rarely existed in her world. It had gone the way of freedom, liberty, and the Dodo bird. Nevertheless, she had a thirst for truth and justice and thought that if she became a lawyer she’d be able to find that for others. Little did she understand that having laws on the books to protect Romanian citizens was no more than a ruse to stay in the good graces of the West, and lawyers were expected to ignore them in favor of whatever their dictator ordained.
Virginia’s conversion to Christianity as a young lawyer turned her world upside down. Freedom in Christ was a wonderful new reality and she was infused with a strength and boldness she never knew before. But it was not without danger. In the early 1980s, Romanian Christians were arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for owning a Bible or going to church. Church buildings were even bull-dozed and their land confiscated. Freedom of religion did not exist. President Nicolae Ceausescu set himself up as a god and expected Romanians to worship him alone. Those who refused were punished and oftentimes murdered.
Virginia was arrested multiple times, beaten and threatened. She was told over and over that her life was in their hands and they would kill her. But knowing for a certainty that her life was actually in God’s hands, she refused to live in fear of what men could do to her.
“I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously, I am not. God had other plans.” Virginia Prodan
Saving My Assassin is a wonderful story of the redeeming love of Christ. It’s also a timely reminder that freedom is a precious commodity and so easily lost when people forget why truth matters and are willing to let go of certain unalienable rights in favor of empty promises.
Virginia’s courage and faith in the face of such evil is truly inspiring and well worth the read. I encourage you to pick up a copy!
*I received a complimentary copy of Saving My Assassin from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
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