On Friday, June 3, 2016 Viking raiders sheepishly released the Bodnariu children back to their parents after feeling the wrath of the Christian God. Surprisingly, they did so in a civilized manner, even though they failed to say “we’re sorry!” What made them do it?

Only a week ago I posted a commentary with the opposite title, In Norway, God giveth children and Barnevernet taketh them away!” […] Since then, in the span of less than a week, things changed dramatically: Barnevernet agreed to return the children. The two (2) older boys are to return to their parents permanently this week, and the two (2) older girls by the middle of the month after the end of the school year.

This is a gigantic miracle, to say the least. Because, once Barnevernet takes kids captive, the vast majority of them stay in foster care until they attain legal age, some are adopted, and very few are returned to their parents. And very few of those who are actually returned, end up back with their parents in a relatively short period of time. Here, the Bodnariu kids were returned to their parents in seven (7) months, having been abducted, I remind you, unlawfully and without a court order, in midNovember 2015, in the old-fashioned Viking raiders’ way – brute force.

The God factor

What was at work here? First and foremost, it was the God factor. True are the words “God is mighty … and firm in his purpose. He … gives the afflicted their rights. He does not take his eyes off the righteous.” (Job 36: 5-7)

These principles were at work here. All along. I have come to know Ruth and Marius Bodnariu fairly well during this whole ordeal which to them seemed like eternity. Two godly parents, righteous, and upright. Just like all of their siblings and extended family whom I came to know during this time. Throughout these trying times they all anchored their hope in God, trusted God’s promise that He does not forsake His own, and God honored them in return by coming to their aid. The God factor made this miracle possible. Plain and simple. The faith of the parents pleased God. God’s purpose was for the children to come home, God was firm in this purpose, He gave the parents and the children their rights, and did not take His eyes off of them.

The “you” factor

And then you, the reader, were the next most important factor for this miracle to happen. Yes, you. The tens of thousands of you who stood in the gap for the family, for Norway, for Barnevernet, for the children. For seven (7) long months. Hoping. Praying. Persevering. Fasting. Not letting up. Believing and exercising faith. Adding faith to action. (2 Peter 1:5) Answering calls to action. Signing petitions. Sending letters to Naustdal, to Barnevernet, to Norway’s Prime Minister. Standing in front of Norwegian embassies and consulates around the world holding signs and asking Barnevernet to release the children. Assembling peacefully in public places and firmly, yet respectfully, demanding the return of the children. Not allowing the media, the elites, the doubters, the sarcastic, the scoffers or your enemies to uproot you from your conviction that Barnevernet wronged the family, and that the children must come home. You exercised outstanding citizenship and virtue. You sacrificed tremendously, time, money, resources. You invested your skills and talents to create world-wide resistance to the abuses of Barnevernet. Your skills, talents, and devotion to the cause put the Bodnariu case on the world map, in the international media, and, yes, in the annals of history. Because never before had Barnevernet faced such fierce and sustained opposition from anyone.

Then, you demonstrated peacefully. You impressed law enforcement and public authorities all over the world with your sense of responsibility, conviction, and commitment to parental rights and religious freedom. Whether you were standing on the steps of the Victoria Parliament in Melbourne, in front of Norwegian embassies or consulates in Houston, Bucharest, San Francisco, Chicago, Vienna, Oslo, and in countless other cities around the world, you made a profound impression on those who watched you with your prayers, speeches, hymns, narratives, godly attitudes, and fearless calls for the release of the children.

You ignored the strident voices of the opposition. Some of Romania’s intellectual elites, inappropriately so called, mocked you. But you remained undeterred. The “elites,” beneficiaries of generous stipends, grants, and scholarships doled out by Norway’s international assistance programs, sought to muzzle you up. They told you Norway is perfect and Romania imperfect. That Romania has many things to learn from Norway and that Norway has nothing to learn from Romania. They even shamelessly called you Putin’s agents. But you still persevered. Your persistence and exemplary public engagements beat the big, vicious, growling Barnevernet dog back into the cage. In the end, Barnevernet buckled under international pressure.

You also ignored Norway’s psychological war unleashed against you in the early months of the year as soon as Bodnariu supporters around the world announced massive worldwide protests for April 16. Norway’s Embassy in Bucharest posted irresponsible messages, implying that you are ignorant, telling you that you don’t understand Norway’s “perfect” system, the best in the world. Looking down on you and intimating “what do you know?” “You are simple people!” But you were not deterred. You chose to stand by your convictions rather than be dissuaded by Norway’s propaganda. You refused compromise and insisted that the children must come home.

Then followed the visits of Norwegian delegations to Romania carrying the same message – “we’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t understand us, we are a nation la laws, we are perfect” – unlike you. But still, you did not blink. Then followed visits by Romania’s intellectual elites to Norway, at the behest of Norway’s international propaganda machinery, where they were lavishly entertained by Norway’s propagandists, shown around, and seemed dazzled by the statistical data Barnevernet put in front of their eyes, without the “elites” understanding the actual meaning of the data.

God gave you victory

In the end God gave you the victory. Rejoice! In the “little Nazareth” which lies in the South-Eastern corner of Europe, God found valiant spiritual warriors. It was you, the faithful people of God. For decades Barnevernet had has its way. It had become accustomed to getting away with massive violations of human rights and crimes against the family. It had gotten used to speaking arrogantly and down to immigrants and governments. Until it faced you – God’s warriors in Romania. You defeated Goliath. Congratulations! Through your victory you gave hope to thousands of families around the world which have been victimized by Barnevernet, an institution I still call hostis humani generis, that is, enemy of mankind.

Norway and Barnevernet admitted defeat. On Friday, June 3, 2016, Norway’s Ministry of Children and Equality [Note the conspicuous absence of the word “Family” in the appellation of the Ministry] posted a message, in Romanian, admitting that it is best for children to be raised by their biological parents instead of in foster care. […]

The battle, however, is not over. The battle for the Bodnariu family was a spiritual battle. You need to continue. Praying for spiritual awakening and revival in Norway. For without God, Norway will descend into the abyss of darkness, that place of terror about which the prophet dreadfully writes in Isaiah 14: 9-11.

Peter Costea is a civil rights attorney practicing in Houston, Texas. He also holds a PhD in diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, Massachusetts.