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Iron Curtain

My six days behind the Iron Curtain, and why it matters today

Shane Jones

Yes, I spent six days behind the Iron Curtain.

In the summer of 1981, I sang with a group called, “The Continental Singers.”  After a two-week rehearsal camp, we started our tour in San Bernardino, CA, to New York and back.  At New York, we flew to Switzerland and primarily toured there and in Austria.  For six days of our three weeks in Europe, we crossed the Iron Curtain into Hungary and Yugoslavia.  Yugoslavia was more “westernized” and much more comfortable to be in. However, Hungary was something I will never forget!

While waiting at the border for the large, smelly guard in an uncomfortable-looking uniform with a red star on his cap to clear our passports…we sat very quietly.  The top of the fence with the razor wire tilted toward the country, but the people were told “it is for your protection.”

Everything about Hungary felt “gray” – the buildings, clothing, even people’s expressions.  In Budapest, our group had to split up and stay at a couple of small, old hotels.  We pretty quickly noticed that some men sitting in the lobby were always there when we returned from our concerts.

Shane Jones and his Hungarian translator in the summer of 1981.

When we were inside a church or home of Christians, the people would turn from gray to full of color and life!  It was a wonderful feeling but being hugged tight and close to an eastern bloc European in 1981 was not a welcome smell. I’m just keeping it real.

People would be packed in the churches and cathedrals when we sang about the Lord!  When each concert was over, the gray returned, and everyone went quietly home, and us to our hotel where the same men were sitting.  Four of us were visiting outside our rooms one night and we heard very pronounced footsteps coming up the stairs.  One of the men simply looked over the banister at us and we quietly went into our rooms.  He didn’t say a word, none of them ever did.  The depression and control over that country were affecting us, and I will never forget how quickly it did.

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Now, I read that Hungary is considering sanctions against the social media giants over “systematic abuses” of free speech.  Praise God for the changes that have taken place in Hungary since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989!  Today, we in the USA can feel “gray”… eyes staring over a mask, having many of our freedoms taken away or greatly controlled.  Many are fearful of being turned in for having too large of a gathering, not wearing a mask, for being a “Trump supporter” or simply attending a rally – and possibly losing their job.  Horrible statements are being made of how some should be “de-programed” or “banned” from serving in congress.”

It’s at times like these that we have to be strong in spirit and in mind.  I have a saying I share with my clients: “we have to have healthy-ticked-off-ness.”  It’s the right kind of anger, a resolve that makes us stand firm and not be fearful.  We serve a mighty God and if He is for us, who can be against us?!  My father once told me that the book of Psalms is good to read during tough times, and I have found it to be true.

Social control could not withstand the steady onslaught of the Church of God in Hungary, and it will not stand against it here.  All we have to do is follow the example of God’s people through the ages, and trust in Him and be faithful to do what He asks of us.

– Shane M. Jones, LSCSW, Shane M. Jones & Associates, P.A.