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Field of Souls--The 1996 Romania Crusade
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One of our youthful Romanian interpreters combing over the decision information forms, making sure all the information is complete for the follow-up program. (Click here for testimonies)

We returned from Romania on July 15 weary, but joyous over what our Lord had done on this mission trip. This was my fifth trip to Romania, and my best crusade yet. Although the number of professions of faith have been higher in times past,  never before has the Romanian church involvement been greater. Our eight-person team (four men, four women) saw 438 professions of faith, over twenty Romanians walking with us, numerous home visits, and over 200 Romanian Christians (Baptist, Pentecostal, and Brethren) attended our victory rally at the end of the crusade.

Romania 1996: Field of Souls

I never know what to expect on these crusades, but I know God is in the business of saving men, women, boys, and girls, causing them to be born-again into His family and kingdom. As we drove from Otepeni airport northward to Campina, we saw fields of corn ripening, row after row of tomatoes ready to be eaten, and then, quite by surprise, a combine--the wheat was ready for harvest. Romania's wheat production is down sharply this year (over 50%), but the quality of the crop was unchanged. The heads on the stalks were full and ripe, assuring the harvesters healthy seed for a promising future. Our Lord made several references linking fields of wheat to the field of souls, and I hoped this endeavor would see a good harvest, and that the fruits of our labor would give growth to the Romanian churches.

Our mission began with ministry to the churches. For the second year in a row, we held a leadership training seminar. The goal of these seminars is to equip the local church leaders to reaching and discipling new believers. Many of the tools we use in the United States are unknown to them. Small group Bible studies are unheard of in this part of Romania. One-on-one discipleship is not practiced, either. The churches in Romania have had a fortress mentality for 50 years, and were suspicious of newcomers (possible agents of the secret police). The seminars we lead are to help the church members move to a harvest and growth mentality, using Biblical principles of discipleship. We hope to hold a seminar on follow-up ministry and programming in 1997.

The week of evangelism began in the presence of a record-setting heat wave. Daily temperatures soared over 100 degrees, and in a land without air-conditioning, fans, or well ventilated buildings, it was stifling. Our work in the streets and homes slowed greatly in the melting heat. This went on for two days, praying each day the Lord would send relief. On Tuesday night, our prayers were answered. A cold front, complete with rain (the lack of which was the chief cause for the decreased wheat production), moved upon us, dropping the temperatures by twenty degrees--we had to sleep under a blanket at night! This mild weather held throughout the remainder of the week, and we saw the number of decisions rise, as team members and interpreters regained their enthusiasm and energy. Our church services on Wednesday through Friday nights were more pleasant as well. The church in Filipesti (where I ministered) did not see the same sweat-drenched preacher they had seen on Sunday night.  The Filipesti team saw 152 decisions for Christ, and at least twenty-five of these attended the weeknight services. God was indeed awesome in His provision.

We also, for the first time, conducted special children's programs at the churches. The results were incredible. We saw 377 children in five services, held in three communities.  Lack of resources and time prevented us from doing more. The children were so excited and are so beautiful! They were so eager to learn that a team of two Americans and their interpreters were able to lead over 100 children. While this is not the preferred student-teacher ratio, it highlights the ministry need to children. We would love to run a Vacation Bible School in these communities concurrent with the evangelism effort. This would require twice as many Americans as we are now taking.

The churches were more involved this year than in previous years. Believe it or not, too many of the Romanian believers are content to sit back "and let the Americans do their thing". This is changing. Not only did we have as many Romanians walking with us as we had in the previous four trips combined, but we also had many more involved in providing home visits with their families, friends. and neighbors who are lost. This was a sign of encouragement to us, as it demonstrates spiritual growth and widening vision in the churches. Three churches also have building programs underway. You can perhaps see why I regard this year's trip as the best ever. Our church and community penetration was deeper than ever, and we had a solid number of decisions for Christ.

A Personal Experience

We had lunch with an 84 year-old brother and his wife. After lunch, his fifty-something sons and their wives came over. Brother Neai explained that his sons formerly attended church, but had married 'women of the world', and had turned away from Christ. I shared the gospel with them, and although all were teary-eyed, not one would commit their lives and souls to Jesus. Brother Neai wept openly over the lostness of his sons, and after prayer, we departed. We immediately encountered three teen-age boys, and a young man in his twenties sitting at a well. My interpreter, Adina, and I began to share with them.  One of Brother Neai's daughters-in-law followed us to the well. I gave an invitation, and all, including the woman, wanted to receive Christ. All prayed aloud to invite Jesus into their hearts. The three teen-age boys were the sons of Brother Neai's daughter-in-law--his own grandchildren! The Lord led us to many other souls that day, but none could match the graciousness and irony of God as the meeting at the well.