"Preach the Gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15
|report by mission leader
||Testimonies from the
|The 2004 Romanian mission
intersected with a Balkan storm that brought
torrents of rain and a dramatic forty degrees or more (Fahrenheit)
temperature drop. Rising to the challenges beset by the
unseasonable cold and damp conditions, our dedicated Romanian brothers
and sisters swept through southeastern Romanian like an evangelistic
storm, bringing the Living Water to a people long parched.
From July 9th to July 18th of 2004, sixty-four team members, consisting of 24 from Campina and 40 local church members, worked in five mission centers, reaching to 13 mission points, contacted 5929 people, shared the gospel 3414 times, and saw 1132 pray to receive Christ! Praise the Lord!
On Friday, July 9, we had our mission launch cookout. We grilled 50 chicken 'leg and thigh' pieces and 200 hand-rolled ground pork (made to resemble a fat sausage link) called 'mici' (prounounced 'meech'). Everyone ate and laughed well. I brought a brief devotional from 2 Corinthians 5:11-20, speaking about the fear of the God on behalf of those to whom we are witnessing (or 'persuading'), the love of Christ that controls us and surrounds us in our endeavors, and our real partnership with Christ in the work of reconciling men to God through the Gospel. There was no poem, only three points, and afterwards we distributed the GNI T-shirts, grey this year, as they requested.
I also challenged them regarding the future, that it was up to them to see a vision from our Lord, and told them Pastor Ion and I would support that vision. I emphasized their leadership into the future of the mission work in Romania, the Balkans, and the world. I told them we would speak more on Saturday following the mission.
The first Sunday for the teams in the mission center churches had them leading the worship services, conducting any last minute training and reviews, praying together as teams, and resting. We had 3 flat tires on the way to the missions centers, so prayer focus shifted to asking that the vehicles will hold up through the rest of the week. It hit 100+F in some parts of SE Romania as well (we were in the SE), and a "gully-warsher" of a storm blew in Sunday night. It would cool us substantionally through the week, dropping night temperatures into the low 50s.
We went to the southern border of Romania, which is the Danube River (or as they call it, "Fluvial Dunari"), and looked across to Bulgaria. One of our teams is in this "border town", Nimnicea, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake (7.6 on the Richter Scale) in 1977, and totally rebuilt. It is a prettier town because of the quake. The pastor, Pastor Anghel, is very excited about the results they are seeing and repeated time and again what an answer to prayer GNI and the Campina volunteers are. He wants to be a part of doing more missions with us, saying, "This is that for which we have been praying for many years!" So incredible was the moving of the Lord that on Wednesday evening, when the team was weary from the cold and decided to stay in for the night, that they received cell phone calls from people whom they had led to the Lord. The people were in a beautiful city park where the team had been meeting many people, and they were calling asking, "Where are you? We have brought friends who want to hear what you have to say!"
We did a quick call-in on Monday evening only, as every team had at least one cell phone, and with all five teams reporting, the first day harvest in Romania showed 830+ contacts, gospel shared 500+ times, with 200+ professions of faith. This is outstanding considering SE Romania is the most difficult area to reach in the entire country (based on the number of evangelicals as a percentage of the population, less than 1%).
The team in the village of Smeeni (working out of the church in Buzau, the capital city of Buzau county) was challenged by some locals and was told they were required to get permission from the priest to do their work, a position upheld by the mayor. The team leader challenged this thinking, citing the Romanian constitiutional protection of the freedoms of speech and religion. The pastor with whom the team was working came in from Buzau (the town) in support of the team and the leader. The mayor then defaulted a final decision to the police chief, with whom we also visited. He upheld the rights of the team by law, so long as no 'unlawful assemblies were conducted', and reinforced the team's work by saying, "They not only have the right to do this, but we have the NEED for them to do this work".
The team working in the mission center of Ramnicu Sarat evangelized in a nearby village, and was rained out for several hours. They used the time wisely, in prayer and in the singing of songs of worship and praise. They said afterwards that they really felt as one team for the first time. God honored them with a harvest as fruitful as the previous day, a rainless day, and all are excited about what else the Lord will do this week. At the supper table, where we (GNICOM: Pastor Ion, his daughter and my interpreter Ioana, and myself) joined the team, I asked concerning their views of the mission. The Ramnicu Sarat brothers and sisters were highly complimentary of the Campina volunteers, citing their boldness and courage, and what encouragement and inspiration they themselves had found in the leaders from Campina. One young lady, now 22 and whom I first met in 1995 -- her first time to interpret for us, was asked by the pastor of Ramnicu Sarat to take him to the field and teach him how to evangelize!
The team sent to the farm villages surrounding Bratasanca met the challenge of sharing the gospel in a sparsely populated area. The team members worked diligently, making the most of every contact, and seeking them out along the byways of rural Romania. "We felt as though we were in the days of the apostles, walking along, seeking to share the gospel with everyone we could encounter", said Trandifer, the team leader. God was at work, as the team members testified to many lives visibly moved and transformed before their eyes.
The Victory Service in Campina on Sunday evening was tremendous, as song and testimony poured forth telling of the mighty things God has done. Some members of the congregation were so moved they "took the floor" to express their joy, their astonishment, and their praise of the Lord and the volunteers. I shared from Colossians 1:24-29, drawing the parallel between Paul and his labor in the Gospel, and these true "fellow-soldiers in the gospel" of Campina and their energetic labor throughout the many phases of this mission effort.
The Romanians of the Campina area, where GNI has labored since 1993, are not only soul-winners and disciplers, but also trainers of soul-winners. It was their job to train the local members to share their faith, and those lives experienced spiritual growth beyond their expectations. The Campina area believers are now the leaders in evangelism in SE Romania. I will continue to help them sharpen their skills in evangelism, training, and leading. I will also work to open mission opportunity doors for them (two have comitted to joining us in Nepal, and four of the mission centers have asked for them to come back next year), and GNI will sponsor missions they lead as indigenous GNI projects. Thank you for all your prayers and support!
The 29th Chapter of Acts continues...