An evaluation of the ministry of Liviu Olah
The Romanians in the United States were not as receptive to Olah’s message of repentance, and his ministry there was not as fruitful. Unlike Kornya, he had little impact on the Hungarian side of the border, probably due to the difficulty of cross border traffic and communication during the communist era. In evaluating the impact of his ministry we must also bear in mind that he faced the police state apparatus of one of the cruelest dictatorships of that age, headed by Nicolae Ceausescu.
Olah confessed to three major influences on his theology: Charles Spurgeon, Charles Ryrie and A. W. Tozer.
What were the secrets of Olah’s success? His ministry was built on three pillars.
- The necessity of prayer. Even while he was still a child living at home, Olah’s mother found him in prayer in quiet places. When asked the reason for the success of Second Baptist, Olah turned to a child and asked, “How many people are on your prayer list?” The child replied that there were 86. “That,” said Olah, “is the secret of our success.” He wrote a book on prayer entitled, The Great Importance of Prayer. Olah prayed that God would open the opportunity for the Gospel to go forth on television and radio in Romania when no one thought that this was possible. Today it is a reality. Although he never boasted about it, Olah customarily prayed four hours per day. His friends and associates, as well as the files of the secret police, attest to this fact.
- The necessity of repentance. He stressed that repentance from sin is necessary to salvation and the Christian life. Romanians derisively call Baptists “Repenters.” Olah said that the Repenters needed to repent. The Christian life must be a holy life.
- The necessity of soul winning.
Though blunted by the efforts of the secret police and the compromise of the Baptist Union, Liviu Olah’s impact remains today in the changed lives of Romanians who responded to his message of repentance and faith.
David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.
- The code name for Olah used by the secret police was “John the Baptist.” [↩]