Alin Cristea: Our Amazing Josef Tson

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On the last day of September 2014, the most prominent Romanian evangelical reached the age of 80. Yet he looks like he may be … 63.

He has had an amazing life and has been the model of a faithful Christian man. Our amazing Josef Tson.

There is no other Romanian evangelical with such charisma and such a wonderful and often miraculous story of walking with God. His life story could be made into a movie. Or into a trilogy of movies.

“To study Josef’s entire life is to study the greatness of our God and His actions in the lives of His children,” wrote his daughter, Dorothy Ghitea, in Josef Tson’s Biography, „Josef Tson – New Horizons in Spirituality and Serving (2004)”, a Festschrift or compendium of theological essays written in honor of Joseph Tson’s 70th birthday. This volume includes essays by Peter Kuzmic, Paul S. Fiddes, John Stott, Livius Percy, Radu Gheorghita, and others.

The first element characterizing the extraordinary life of Josef Tson is his courageous stand for religious freedom. Dorin Dobrincu, an important Romanian historian, mentioned Josef Tson as “the most vocal of evangelical Romanian opponents of communism.” He was our leader in the fight for religious freedom.

For years, Josef Tson spoke on Radio Free Europe, and he was well known in Romania as „the pastor from Radio Free Europe”. He was our voice for freedom.

The second important element of Josef Tson’s life is his prophetic vision for the freedom of Romania. He firmly believed that one day the Iron Curtain would come down. Convinced that Communism would soon fall, he worked tirelessly as President of the Romanian Missionary Society to bring about his vision for training Romanian young men and women for ministry. To achieve this, he initiated an ambitious program of publishing Christian books and training materials in the Romanian language, to provide all the books necessary for theological training. He wanted to be able to flood Romania with Christian literature as soon as communism fell, and to provide an entire curriculum to be used in a Christian University. He was our hope for freedom and our guide in how to use freedom for the glory of God.

Third, Josef Tson was the rock of our new freedom in Romania. He pioneered several new evangelical institutions in the new era of freedom. When communism fell in Romania, Dr. Tson returned to Romania and initiated the establishment of the Romanian National Alliance of Evangelicals, the Emanuel Bible Institute in Oradea (now, Emanuel University), the Radio „Voice of the Gospel” network, and the Publishing House called „The Christian Book.”

Preacher, writer, leader, Josef Tson is part of our legacy. He is our amazing Josef Tson.

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