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GoodNews International

"Preach the Gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15

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Romania 2000: A Chapter Closes
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A chapter closes, and brings a new light
(from team leader Bro Mark)

Reading the last chapter of an engrossing and outstanding book is bittersweet. Somehow, the author manages to tie all the story strands together in an incredible yet believable final stanza, leaving the reader both exhausted and overjoyed.

Such was it in what will now be known as the last days of the American-assisted evangelistic campaigns in the Prahova region of Romania.

The thrust began in 1992, with International Crusades (or IC, of Dallas) working with the Bucuresti Baptist Community to bring the gospel throughout the 8 state region, which included Prahova. IC's effort in this area lasted two years, with the Romanian leadership considering the job done.

Perhaps realizing the sentiment of the Romanian leadership, Pastor Vasile Ion, desiring to see the evangelism efforts continue so as to strengthen and build the churches to which he was entrusted, sought an alliance with IC team leader Mark Puckett. This was the genesis of GoodNews International and a continued evangelistic thrust in the Campina area churches for the next 7 years.

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During this time, 61 team members, working with Romanian translators from the churches, beheld 3,273 professions of faith in Jesus Christ. GNI desired to see the churches to grow in attendance, and was often frustrated by the social and cultural weave that stymied the anticipated growth. Nonetheless, Pastor Ion held fast to his conviction that the most important house to increase was God's house in heaven. "Do not worry, brother, the most important thing is that people are born-again" he would exhort us time and time again.

The churches began to construct new buildings, beginning with as little as 1000 lei. All construction of these beautiful buildings was done without the benefit of powered equipment. GNI raised funds to add two ministers on the field to assist Pastor Ion in covering the five churches and one mission point of the Campina area. Church attendance gradually doubled over the 7 years, especially as The Phillip Project was used to follow-up on the professions of faith during the summer crusades. The Phillip Project is a self-guided, mailed-out Bible study program that offers a devotional book, a New Testment, and a Bible as incentives for completing its three stages. The 39 baptisms among the Campina area churches this year was a record.

On this mission trip began almost immediately. Due to extremely heavy travel to Europe, our group arrived in shifts, 7 hours apart. Each GNI room at the Hotel Muntenia had a member from each "shift" as its inhabitants. Shared struggles spawn espirit de corp.

BMS received a call from home: her sister had bacterial pneumonia. The bacteria was heretofore unknown. She was in ICU. Prognosis was serious. BMS had to return to the USA. I called USA travel agent at 0930h local time, 0130h Houston. She knows working with GNI is business and ministry, and began working on a solution straightaway. Tina called us back with an itinerary, and at 0345h Monday morning, I put BMS on a plane bound for Houston via Amsterdam and Detroit. She called us during our prayer time on Thursday night to let us know her sister made a turn for the better Sunday night, and now was at home.

The newbies -- JC, AP, FK -- were quite concerned by the end of the first Sunday night. Two days to "think about it" were much more than they needed. They struggled with methodology of sharing, striking-up conversations, and loving the lost.  It was hard for them to realize that the veterans had also fought those same battles  Needless to say, the Lord was much more than simply victorious in their lives, and ours.

The newbies eventually had their breakthroughs, as they usually do. The most significant breakthrough experienced on this trip is also the biggest breakthrough experienced in the history of GNI in Romania: the Romanians see that it is their time to be evangelists. This is something for which we have been praying since the first year. GNI and Pastor Ion also agreed this is the last year GNI will be used in "churched communities", handing off the responsibility of evangelism to the local congregation. GNI's role has changed in Romania: its charter is now to coordinate combined teams of Romanian and American evangelists doing national (Romania) and international crusades. The national crusades will target comnunities designated for church planting. Native Romanians will use GNI materials, and have Americans on the ground as both evnngelists and adisors. International sorties into Moldova will rely upon local translators for Americans, while the Romanions will use their native tongue and GNI materials.

Eastward. That is the direction of the gate facing us. Throughout its history, Romania has been the gateway between East and West. The lessons learned in Romania will help us as we move eastward to Orthodox-dominated Moldova and Ukraine, as well as western Kazahkstan, where the blending of Muslims into the populace begins. Kazahkstan is also the western gate to China, further diversifying the people. It all begins at the gate where we now stand. Eastward.

Grace & Peace,

Brother Mark

Romania 2000 Testimonies