"Preach the Gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15
|Romania 2000: A Chapter Closes (sorry no pictures yet, still under construction)|
|GNI Home||Testimonies from the Team||RB JT JC|
This year, 2000, was my fifth year to go to Romania. Each year I have
gained a better understanding of what it means to be a member of the family
of God. Every time that I have gone to Romania I have been treated like
family. The people that we have worked with have made me feel like I was
home and not 8000 miles from my home. I have always felt welcomed and
wanted as a fellow worker in the Lord. I have received great joy from
working side by side with the Romanian believers to win their contrymen to
the Lord, and the Lord has blessed me imeasurablly by allowing me to be a
part of his work in Romania.
|Becoming a Willing
Witness to Samaria-JT
I can well imagine the angst that must have welled up inside the disciples when Jesus told them (Acts 1:8) they would be his witnesses in Samaria. Samaria was the region populated by people of mixed Jewish and Gentile blood – people despised and looked down upon by the Jews for no other reason than their mixed heritage.
On our first day of evangelism in Campina, Romania, Brother Marius was my teammate as interpreter and guide. As we found one another that first morning on the steps of our home-base hotel, Marius urged me, "Come on, Brother Jonathan, I have some Gypsies we will meet with."
All the stereotypes of gypsies began flooding my mind. I sensed revulsion and fear welling up inside me. I put off Marius a few moments as I discreetly asked one of the younger girls if it was a wise thing to visit the Gypsies. With concern on her face she shook her head saying, "Oh, I don’t think so."
Feeling somewhat affirmed but still uneasy, I made the same inquiry of one of the more mature Romanian members of our team. "Do you think it’s a good idea to go where the Gypsies are," I asked.
"And why not?" was the direct – almost curt – reply.
Acts 1:8 flashed into my mind. I had preached on the very text in the past and was planning to preach on it again in Campina later that very week. In preaching Acts 1:8 I always point out the significance of Jesus’ emphasis on Samaria.
Now God was engraving on my own heart that his word applies to me, too – not just to the disciples or to the people to whom I might be preaching. Paul’s words in Romans 2 challenged me: "You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?"
It is his own command to go to the hard places, and his promise is his own presence (Matthew 28:20) and the power of the Holy Spirit. I silently acquiesced to what I knew God’s will to be – so clearly laid before me in His word. At the same time I prayed a prayer of confession for my sinful attitude and asked His forgiveness for my bigotry, for my lack of faith and love.
And what did God do as we obediently went out in faith to carry the gospel to a people so despised around the world? We encountered our first contacts, two Gypsy couples, as we approached their home – a ramshackle lean-to affixed to the outside wall of an industrial building. They were in their horse-drawn hay wagon with its huge rubber tires, heading into town with two children. They couldn’t visit, they told Marius, because of the errands they had to accomplish. So Marius and I headed on down our road only to see the group turn their carriage around and motion us into their open-air living room.
Pleased they had changed their plans for us, Marius and I made our way in and took our seats of honor on overturned plastic milk crates. Then, through the translation Marius provided, I began to share the testimony of God’s work in my own life. Eagerly and politely they listened to the gospel and responded unanimously that they wanted to know God’s forgiveness and the certainty that his gift of eternal life belonged to them.
After praying a prayer of faith with them, I spoke with them of the brotherhood we shared in Christ and that, regardless of whether we see each other again in this life, we will be together in heaven.
I mentioned how pleased I was to be their brother, whereupon I detected a skeptical smile on the face of one of the men. Quickly I prayed, "O Lord, don’t let me lead them to doubt your love for them by my superficiality. How do I show them the reality and sincerity of my love?"
Then the power of the Holy Spirit enabled me to say and do something that certainly wasn’t in my plans originally. Hardly thinking it through, I indicated for Marius to make a request of them. "In America it is customary to give a strong embrace to your family members. May I give you an American ‘bear hug’ as your American brother?"
Their skepticism changed first to shock and then to an amazed awareness and acceptance that there is a love that transcends race, culture and social status. The man on whose face I had first noticed the skepticism was the first to nod and say, "Da." Yes, he would accept my expression of love. As I hugged him with all my strength, he planted a holy kiss on my right cheek. The other three followed, and together we celebrated our family relation in Christ.
I visited in several other Gypsy homes that day in Campina. Such conditions are hardly imaginable even in the poorest American home. But God’s love reached in and almost 30 Gypsies that day entered my family – God’s family for eternity. Oh, Lord, the privilege was all mine. May you receive all the glory.
|They have answers, I
have questions... JC
I had such a neat experience in Romania but it's so great to be back in the states! We don't realize how good we have it here!! Air conditioning is a wonderful invention - much missed! It was an intense week on the streets. Our schedule went like this:
M-F: 9am-1pm out on the streets in a village (about 10 villages. We went to a different one each day with our translator).
1pm-3pm: lunch with our host family in that village, rest.
3pm-6pm: back out on the streets.
6pm-8pm: service in that village where I gave my testimony each night.
8pm-9pm: dinner with same host family. Then go back to our hotel.
9:30pm-11pm: meeting (with our American team) and prayer time.
Whew! Then we do it all again the next day. It was very scary my first time on the streets, talking to strangers about what Christ has done in my life. Romania is a heavily Orthadox community. The typical responses I get are: "I was born an Orthadox, I will die an Orthadox", "You live in America. You don't know how hard life here is", "I'm Orthodox" (like that's the answer for everything)...
After hearing "I'm Orthodox" many, many times, I finally say, "do you have a bible?" Yes. "Do you believe in what the Bible says?" Yes again. "Does it say anywhere in the bible that if you are an Orthodox, you are going to heaven? What the bible says is Did you know me and did you live your life for me". Silence.....their reaction is like, "I've never thought about that". I had several people accept Christ with this approach, after breaking down their "Orthodox is the answer mentality".
I was talking to this lady who owned a store. She was very interested in hearing what I had to say that she made her customers wait. I found out later that a few years ago, someone (like me) started to tell her the gospel but her family (Orthodox, imagine that!) made her come inside so she never heard it. After some longs talks, she accepted Christ and I prayed with her.
We had 230 people accept Christ that week!!
There were many more experiences that I can with you individually (otherwise, this would be a rather long email).
The bottom line: people are either saved or unsaved. And that's it. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the world for one person.
Phil 2:10 (summarized): "one day, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord!" Every time we share the gospel and what Christ is doing in our life, we are fulfilling this scripture.