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3 Takeaways from Romania

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3 Takeaways from Romania

I left the United States for the first time in 2000 when I was just 13 years old, joining my dad on a mission trip to Romania.  He had been multiple times already and he let me come along when I became a teenager.  

I spent that trip in complete shock.  It was my first time outside of the very insulated American bubble where most of us live.  In one of the villages we served, I saw poverty on an entirely new scale.  Ever since I left, I have felt this urge to return.  After 14 years of putting it off, I seized an opportunity to go back last week.

I spent most of the week on the verge of tears.  Some of my old translators from 14 years ago were back.  We were all teenagers then.  Today, we’re adults.  Some are married, others are in college, and all grown up.  I was overjoyed to reconnect with them and see what God has done in their lives through the years.  

I haven’t even been home 72 hours but there are several truths I observed in the way the Romanians serve that must be shared.

1.  We Are One Church

Our mission trip had three key goals – share the Gospel with the community of Suceava, establish new churches in unreached towns, and offer free medical care to those who are underserved.  In order to achieve this, we worked with Maranatha Baptist Church, the “mother church” in Suceava. 

I am blown away by the level of cooperation between their church and others in the community.  The churches don’t compete with one another.  They serve each other.  Maranatha’s student minister, Marius, supports pastors in nearby villages by preaching on Sunday mornings.  Likewise, the pastor is discipling other ministers in nearby communities to enhance their work.

While they still have denominations like we do, I was moved by the way the churches cooperate and you can see it in the results.  These pastors truly love each other like brothers.  They feel each other’s pain, celebrate victories together, and mourn losses as one body.  

2.  Results Follow Obedience

On our third day of ministry, we reached the town of Boroaia.  My team canvased the community the previous day to let people know about the medical clinic.  When we arrived, people were already lined up to receive care. 

Little did we know, the mayor was in the background.  As soon as we prayed, he launched into a public tirade.  He accused us of lying to him, lashed out about the fact we’re an evangelical group, and even called in the police to monitor us.  We were strictly ordered not to share the Gospel and the people were advised not to come out.

Despite this, hundreds of people still arrived at the clinic.  They even apologized to us for their mayor’s actions!  John, the soon-to-be pastor in the town, brought free medicine to the police who looked for any reason to shut us down.  The community’s response was so strong towards us that the mayor was forced to apologize later in the week.  

Despite opposition, the Romanian pastors never cried ‘foul.’  They refused to wage a political war or seek retribution.  When asked, John graciously and publicly apologized to the mayor.  They silently served the people and showed the love of Christ in tangible ways.  Our doctors slipped New Testaments in the medicine bags and prayed with their patients. 

In the end, they are obedient to God and they trust him for the results.  New churches are growing throughout the country in spite of political opposition and threats from community leaders.  As the community sees the difference, they are attracted to the Gospel.  They simply serve the people, share the Gospel as often as possible, and leave the results up to Christ.

3.  God Comes Through

Romania overthrew its communist regime on Christmas Day, 1989.  The swift revolution took place after decades of ruthless oppression.  Within days of the regime’s attempt to exile one pastor in the western town of Timisoara, public protests led to uncontrollable riots.  Everything the government did to stop it only made it worse.  Their president was executed on international television within weeks.

During its communist days, the pastors often smuggled Bibles across the border and distributed them covertly in the community.  They held “special occasion parties” every week to disguise their church services.  One of our pastors was followed around the country by spies for days.  Another was chased down by police in a train station with Bibles in his suitcase.

As they shared their stories, they told us of the incredible ways God still comes through for them.  He has saved their lives on multiple occasions, provides support for them at the last minute, and blesses their ministry on a regular basis.

It was such a blessing to see their ministry up close again.  I consider it a privilege to know and serve alongside them.  You can understand why the Gospel is moving so fervently across Romania when you see how evident these simple truths are in their lives.

Posted in: Discipleship

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