Virginia Prodan is an attorney from Romania who was persecuted by her government during the 1980s after she began defending Christians in court from the Communist regime.
After Virginia brought international attention to the plight of Christians in her country the Romanian president authorized an assassin to kill her at her office one evening.
She was alone and unprotected, and you would never imagine what happened next…
The following is a summary of the podcast interview above. Many more details are included in the original podcast episode and we encourage you to listen.
“I’m Here to Kill You”
Virginia welcomed her legal client into her office and closed the door. This was her final appointment of the day, and she stifled a yawn as she turned and walked back to her desk. It had been a long day.
“Sit down,” the client barked at her.
Why is he telling me what to do? Virginia wondered, taking a seat. He’s my client!
What she saw next sent fear pulsing through her body. The man pulled out a gun. And he pointed right at her!
“I’m not your client. I’m from the government. And I’m here to kill you.”
Raised in Fear
The Romania that Virginia grew up during the 1960s was controlled by Nicolae Ceausescu, a dictator who ruled the nation with an iron grip. His government routinely persecuted Christians, Jews, Germans, and Hungarians. Political dissenters were spied upon, tortured, and executed. The entire nation lived in fear and a third of all Romanians became informants on their neighbors. No one knew who they could trust, so few ever did.
Virginia became familiar with overreaching control as a small child. She watched her parents live in complete obedience to the government, and yet she heard them speaking in hushed tones at night of how the government would take away everything they had, no matter how subservient they were.
Everyone they knew lived with fear. Fear the government, fear of the Securitate (secret police), and even fear of their neighbors.
This felt unsettling to Virginia, and she knew she wanted to be different.
The older Virginia grew, the more she felt a burning desire to know the truth. And, yet, she wondered where could she find it?
Looking for Answers
The answer came to Virginia one day as she realized that, at all her family reunions, everyone would gather around 3 people. All of whom happened to be lawyers. They must know “the truth”, Virginia concluded.
She was determined to become a lawyer herself. Virginia had no idea as she entered law school that she was about to start a career that God would use to impact not only her life, but the lives of thousands of others all around the world.
What is Truth?
When Virginia graduated from Law School in the top 10% of her class, she was confident that she knew everything there was to know. She set out with an optimistic view of the world, ready to find and defend the truth.
But the further Virginia got in her career, the more corruption she uncovered.
Her clients were wrongfully accused of crimes they never committed. But when they sought justice, the government would intimidate and torture them until they finally relented and pleaded guilty.
Virginia’s defense work was pointless. Justice was a mockery, and Virginia was no closer to finding and defending the truth than she was before she became an attorney.
“I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore,” Virginia confided in her office assistant one day, feeling discouraged and defeated.
“You have 2 more clients today,” the assistant replied, who, along with most other Romanians, had no hope of change.
What Was Different?
Massive change, however, was right around the corner for Virginia. But it wasn’t a change in the government as Virginia had hoped, but instead in her own heart.
It all started with one of Virginia’s clients, a man who seemed to have a hope and a joy about him. She thought he was crazy.
But the more she spent time with him, the more she began to wish that she was like him. Finally, one day Virginia asked him why he was so different. He responded by asking her if she went to church.
Then he proceeded to write the address of his church on a piece of paper which he handed to Virginia.
“I Am the Truth”
When Sunday rolled around, Virginia found herself at the man’s church. What she heard caught her completely off guard.
For the first time, Virginia heard a complete presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How He suffered, bled, and died for our sins. That humanity could find peace with God by placing their faith in Christ.
When the pastor read from John 14:6, Virginia was stunned. She heard Jesus say to the disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Virginia had spent years searching for truth, only to feel discouraged and jaded. Yet now she was hearing from a man who claimed to not only know the truth, but to be the Truth.
When the pastor offered an invitation to follow Christ at the end of his message, Virginia gladly accepted.
Virginia had found the truth where she had least expected it, and she accepted it that very day.
Faith Comes With a Price
After the service, Virginia spoke with the pastor for over an hour. Virginia agreed to join an in-depth 6-month Bible study program and the pastor handed her a Bible of her own to read in secret.
While the Communist regime begrudgingly allowed churches to remain open and have Bibles in their buildings, that was only to feed the narrative to Western countries that Romania had religious freedom. Owning a Bible at home was a totally different matter and was strictly forbidden.
As Virginia grew spiritually and became more active in her church, she became increasingly aware of the persecution that Christians faced.
If a church wanted to repair their own building, they had to receive a permit from the government. But the government would drag out the process, never granting the permit, until the structure fell into disrepair. Then the government would swoop in and condemn the building, stating it was unsuitable for occupation, and then destroy it.
Defending the Weak
Virginia could not sit idly by while this charade of justice happened.
Soon, she found herself defending Christians in court: Christians who watched the “Jesus” film in their own home, churches who wanted to host a VBS for children, doctors who had lost their licenses after giving a Bible to a patient.
With her skills as an attorney, Virginia was able to find old laws still on the books from the pre-Communist era that upheld the rights of Christians but had been ignored by countless judges and prosecutors for fear of retaliation by the totalitarian regime.
As Virginia successfully defended Christians in court, stories about this petite, yet fiery, attorney began circulating around Romania. And while she was glad that more and more Christians were coming to her for protection, she also attracted the wrath of the Securitate.
Many times, Virginia was unceremoniously whisked away by the secret police who tried to intimidate or batter her into submission.
On one occasion Virginia was placed into a cell with interrogators who beat her. Instead of renouncing her faith, or promising to stop defending Christians, Virginia told the guards about God’s love for them. Moved by her display of faith, many of them turned away their faces with tears in their eyes.
Tensions mounted. Virginia’s defense of Christians had now reached the attention of the national government. But as much as the Communist leaders wanted to imprison her or kill her, there was something holding them back. Western nations.
In the 1980s, Romania desperately needed to maintain their most-favored-nation status with the United States for economic reasons. As a condition of that status Romania had agreed to respect religious liberties and human rights. But while the government actually continued to abuse their citizens just as before, at least now they needed to keep up public appearances.
And now, somehow, in a communist nation that was cut off from international news reporters, Virginia discovered that her defense of Christians and victims of human rights abuses had been noticed by the international community.
Representatives of various embassies located in Bucharest were now attending Virginia’s court hearings. After returning to their embassies they would file reports that eventually found their way into the hands of Voice of America and other Western news outlets.
Eventually, the Western Nations had had enough, and the United States revoked Romania’s most-favored-nation status. Losing it was a crushing blow to Romania’s international trade relations and meant massive economic repercussions in a country already destabilized from years of communism.
Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu was livid, and he blamed Virginia and quickly authorized an assassin to murder Virginia.
Which is now where Virginia found herself.
At her office. Alone, unprotected, and with a gun in her face held by a trained killer.
The assassin explained why Virginia was going to be executed, and how she was going to die. The office was closed for the rest of the day, and no one would hear her screams.
Virginia didn’t know what to say. She was too small to fight back, and resistance would be pointless. She had no weapons or bodyguards.
But then, as Virginia began to pray quietly, she felt God calling her to do the unthinkable.
Share the Gospel.
Unlike her assassin, Virginia wasn’t holding a gun. But the weapon she wielded proved to be infinitely more powerful. And this weapon wasn’t a weapon that destroyed, but rather one that healed.
As Virginia began to speak of God’s love and grace, she watched a change come over the man in front of her. His hard heart was softened, and he became broken over his sin. His initial suspicion of what she was sharing turned into deep contemplation.
Virginia shared several passages with him including John 3:16, and Acts 16:31. But finally, she shared with him the same passage that had rocked her world as well.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
And with that, Virginia’s would-be assassin repented of his sins and gave his life to Christ. He came that evening to kill Virginia, but instead left her office as her brother in Christ.
God’s care for Virginia continued, and more miracles followed, which are detailed in Virginia’s book, “Saving My Assassin”.
Eventually U.S. President Reagan found out about the assassin and made a deal with Romanian Dictator Ceausescu that allowed Virginia and her family to leave Romania and immigrate to the U.S.
And with that, Virginia and her family said goodbye to Romania in the winter of 1988 and immigrated to the United States as guests of President Ronald Reagan. One year later the people of Romania revolted against Nicolae Ceausescu, seized control of the government, and executed him on Christmas Day 1989.
Virginia and her family were safe, although everything wasn’t smooth sailing. Shortly after arriving in the United States, Virginia’s husband left them, and Virginia raised her three children as a single mother in Dallas, TX.
After she and the kids learned English from scratch, Virginia began studying American law and eventually became an attorney again. Today, she has her own practice and specializes in international human rights cases.
Virginia’s story is incredible. In the world’s eyes she faced insurmountable odds, but in God’s eyes she was simply a willing vessel for him to work out his plans.
When the Communist Regime was determined to silence Virginia either through intimidation, beatings, or even assassination, she was unwilling to relent. God had given her purpose, and she knew He would see her through it.
May each of us walk with that same unwavering faith when God places a calling on our lives.
Win an autographed copy of Virginia’s book: “Saving My Assassin”
Note: Winner must live within the United States.