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Comarnic-- The 1994 Romania Crusade
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Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord!

Summer is here and the heat, humidity, and constant lawn care remind me that conditions do not have to be comfortable to experience great growth and see great beauty. In Houston, the comfortable times of the year produce little growth or beauty, yet the uncomfortable summer produces lush growth full of color. Our experience this year in Romania was very similar to "summer".

Romania 1994--Comarnic

Comarnic is a town of 14,000 setting on the Prahova River, in the foothills of the Carpathian Meridian Mountains. It is heavily wooded, with the trees interrupted only by mountain pastures. The primary commercial products of the town are hand-crafted linens and cement. The cement personified the town, a factor we discovered only after our first day in the streets. Our Romanian brothers and sisters then described Comarnic using phrases like, "a hard town", "full of bad men", "very difficult with strong Orthodox/anti-evangelical sentiment (and more indifferent people than we had previously encountered)" I guess our brothers and sisters wanted our impressions before they gave us the reality of the situation. The fact that a woman called her twelve year-old daughter out of our first Sunday service should have been a clue for us.

After the first discouraging day, the team regrouped in the hotel for a strategy meeting and prayer. There we discussed the objections, initiating contact, and other special challenges Comarnic presented. The Holy Spirit led us to responses and solutions to each problem. We prayed together that night and every night and saw God begin to move mightily. Each successive day brought more and more people to Christ. We saw God answer prayer after prayer throughout our week on the streets--then came the weekend.

We noticed our posters announcing the weekend services attracted immediate attention. Many were torn down completely, while others only had the service times ripped away. We knew by now we would receive much opposition from the Orthodox church, as evidenced by the number of people (maybe a dozen, but much more than we had seen in six other communities combined) who exhorted us to leave their country and to take our horses as well (I think you get the picture). The Orthodox are strong in this area, as 98-99 percent of the people claim association with the Romanian Orthodox church. I will share with you that the Romanian Orthodox church does not teach the truth of the Gospel. They tell their people not to listen to us when we speak from the Bible, for they have their own traditions that are more important. The Orthodox doctrines center about centralized "temple" worship (no prayer can be offered outside the church, especially without going through a priest), with the priest as the intercessor between man and God. The Orthodox leaders are nothing more than the old Judaizers Paul wrote against in Galatians and Colossians. They have put the people under the Law (we heard many boast that unlike evangelicals who derive their doctrine from the NT, the Orthodox church had the Law of Moses), and only by first believing in God, then having the priests perform sacramental rights throughout their lives and interceding for them, then keeping the Law themselves could they have any hope for eternity. They could not know for themselves whether or not they would go to heaven, for God was arbitrary in His selection. The people are lost and without hope for their souls in a country struggling amidst despairing conditions. These people do not need to change churches, they need changed hearts, they need Jesus Christ!

Now, I will return to the weekend. We had spies in our midst who were distracting during services, turned the building power off in the middle of our first service, destroyed our posters
around the cinema, and took the New Testaments they had been given and shredded them, leaving debris all over the parking lot. The next day, we also found where one New Testament had been burned. The opposition had escalated their attacks, and we escalated our prayer. The people did stay away from the cinema, as our total attendance was only about 150. Almost everyone who attended had received Christ during the crusade, and the lost who came (except for our spies)

"Jesus loves you, and we love you", our theme for the cinema services.  Ionut, the boy waving to us, not only received Jesus as Lord and Savior, but has also served as a guide and interpreter on subsequent trips.

received Christ. We had thirty-one decisions for Jesus during the weekend services.

In spite of all the opposition (the spiritual heat and humidity), we experienced growth and saw God do beautiful things. We prayed God would send us "Andrews", who would believe and bring others to us. People bringing people to hear about Jesus--it happened time and time again. "Andrews" varied in age from 10 to 73 years, having faces of small girls to old men. Ironically, we later discovered the apostle Andrew brought the gospel to this part of the world! We also saw English-speaking youth come to Christ who then helped us as fully fledged interpreters, leading their own people to Christ! We had two hundred and thirty-three  (233) decisions for Christ during the Comarnic crusade. This crusade, although not nearly as many decisions of the 1993 crusade (population area 63,000), had the greatest population penetration of the prior crusades in which I have been involved. We had over 16 decisions for Christ per 1,000 residents, whereas last year's crusade with 703 decisions represented 11 decisions per 1,000. God did an awesome work among great "heat and humidity"!

Andrew of the Railway

I want to share with you the story of one "Andrew". His name is Ion Berteanu, and Ion is 46 years old. I met Ion on a dusty street in Comarnic and asked him if he could spare a moment to talk with us. He carried a slender metal object in his hand, topped by a circle of stainless steel. He asked about what we wanted to talk with him, and through my interpreter I explained that I had come to tell of my experience with Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life. Ion told us he did not have time to talk, but to come by his office at the railway station the following morning. Elena, my interpreter, and I met Ion the next day at the railway station. He brought four of his friends with us into his office and locked the door. The men, aged 42 years to 52, sat down and asked me to speak. After giving my testimony, I explained the gospel to them. One man, Constantine, spoke out that Jesus could not have died for his sins--he was not alive at the time Jesus died! This gave me the opportunity to explain to the men the eternal nature of God, His foreknowledge, and His election of the saints. Constantine understood and rejoiced, and shortly afterward all five men prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.