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

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The following is Mark Puckett's report from GoodNews International's recent mission trip to Romania and Moldova. This was GoodNews International's 10th mission to the Campina area, beginning in 1993. This mission represents the first Romanian to Romanian mission effort conducted by GoodNews International, an achieved goal for which hope, prayer, and labor had been invested these last 10 years.
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The Light Shines: Romania/Moldova 2002
JUNE 27 -- JULY 8 2002

Ten years, or was it longer? When did this work begin? I have been engaged with it since 1993, which, humanly speaking is the beginning point. Was the real beginning the year before, on my first sojourn to Romania, and my ordination to the ministry of the Gospel? Did it all really begin the year before that, when what was then known as International Crusades (now International Comission) first went into Romania, with whom I went the following year? Perhaps it was even before that...

The salvation of a soul is simultaneously an event on earth (seemingly spontaneous) and an event in Heaven, completed in the present, but appointed from before the foundations of the earth (Romans 8:29-30). What I have seen and heard on this mission tells me its beginning was of old, long before GoodNews International and the Campina area churches in Romania existed. What I beheld was the church organized as a mighty army, driving the forces of darkness from before it, even beholding those who belong to the darkness fleeing their presence. The Truth of John 1:5 was on vivid display:

John 1:5 Greek NT
"The Light shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness could not overcome it."

What did this mighty army, consisting of 25 Romanian believers aged 14 to 53 years, armed only with their own testimony of Christ and the ability to communicate the Gospel, find in the highways, byways, and hedges between the 45th parallel and the Doftana River, east of Romania Highway 1? What did five of the 25 'apostles' (which merely means "Ones who are sent") find in the villages outside Cahul, Moldova?

This mission represented one of the most amazing weeks of my life. There were times, while in prayer for the teams;
Final role playing of sharing the gospel  before the mission begins
I was completely speechless before the Lord because of what He was doing! I would continue in prayer after these "dumb" moments (I was not stricken, but rather so in awe), re-energized to battle for the teams in the spiritual realm. I could sense a true joining of the Lord in driving back the Enemy, and the teams would return in the afternoon with awesome stories of victory after victory in the name of the Lord.
This mission was also about a pastor's heart. Pastor Ion had spoken to me in recent times past about the inspiration he found from the American team members who came to his area to evangelize. He could see the change that had taken place in them through their week of ministry. In their testimonies, he heard about the spiritual impact the mission had on their lives. He longed for his own church members, his flock, to have similar experiences. He longed to see a transformation take place in his churches. Two friends experiencing the joy of winning others to Christ toigether
Fellowsip around the table was joyous, both morning and evening He also told me that one of the most enjoyable times for him was sitting around the dinner table with the American team members. Whenever we get together, our speech patterns sped up enough that he was no longer able to keep up with our bantering. There were, however, two things he noticed: we had grown closer to one another in the course of the mission, and each of us was experiencing much joy in the Lord. Pastor Ion also longed for a closer fellowship among the believers in his churches. It was a treat for me to see his
heart filled with the joy of the Lord as he listened to the members of his flock return each day with exciting news of what great things God had done. Pleasure in the Lord washed over his face during the meals we shared with the team as the laughter and the fellowship grew louder and sweeter day by day.
This mission was also about spiritual breakthrough. When I first came to Romania ten years ago, I was told that American Christians were needed because "A Romanian Christian cannot evangelize another Romanian". This was largely due to the strong cultural differences that separate Romanian evangelicals from the rest of the Romanian culture.
This mission was Romanian to Romanian, with the Americans acting only in advisory capacities. The teams of Romanian evangelicals went into the highways, byways, and hedges of their own country to find people who needed to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Every afternoon the teams returned with reports of touching lives with the gospel. Not only did they evangelize the highways, byways, and hedges, but they compassionately ministered to people along the way as well. For me, every day was like the return of the 70 Jesus sent out Romanian team members take a break along one of the many byways where the Gospel was shared
(Luke 10:17). Christ was made great in them, and all the church gloried in what was done. GoodNews International considers these brothers and sisters fit partners as we continue eastward to preach the gospel.

One of the most exciting things to observe regarding the Lord's work in this part of Romania has been the spiritual growth of the church evolving from a fortress mentality, where every visitor was suspect, to a church eagerly involved in the Great Commission. The Campina area churches have been reaching out to villages adjacent to their own, reaching out to Gypsies, and reaching out to other countries. Although plans to go to Kazakhstan were thwarted in the last days before the trip, the Moldova portion of this year's mission proved to be a very special gem in the hands of the Lord .

The Moldova team, led by Roger Benson, worked in villages first contacted in last year's campaign. The church, under the leadership of Pastor Croiter, was well prepared for the team. During a week in which the 500th birthday of Cahul (Team Moldova's base of operation) was celebrated, the team of six visited in the homes of people in the surrounding villages of Zarnesti, Andrusus-de-jos, and Andrusus-de-sus. The church members had set up appointments for home visits throughout the entire week. Their labor and efforts for their neighbors was effective. The team shared the gospel with nearly 200 people, and 150 people prayed to receive Jesus Christ.

A side note to this trip was the encounter with Brother Andre of Colibasi (a town in which we ministered last year). One of our team members ran into him on the streets of Cahul. After exchanging greetings and pleasantries, our team member discovered that Andre had brought a youth group into the Cahul area and was working in some other villages outside of Cahul. Brother Andre, one of the most energetic and capable man I've met on the field, and the man who organizes the Christian camps for children in the Colibasi area, was inspired by the evangelistic effort of GoodNews International in the Colibasi area last year. Many of the youth were eager to go out to share the gospel as well. Brother Andre took what he had learned from of us and put together his own mission team and is now continuing the work in places of which we know not. This is not what I would call "collateral damage" from our mission trip last year, but rather it should be called "collateral building", as a group of believers are growing in their commitment to the Great Commission. The blessings of the Lord are never-ending!

While the team in Moldova was experiencing the intimacy associated with home visitation, the team back in Romania hit the streets. The Romanians evangelized in seven different villages and during the week, using 10 teams to accomplish the task. Assignments did vary day by day, but we tried to limit the variations so that spiritual warfare might be adequately fought over each village. Whenever we sent an additional team into one of the larger villages, more people prayed to receive Christ. The fields were indeed white unto harvest. Team members came back tired at the end of each day, but their physical weariness was greatly exceeded by their spiritual joy. There was much to talk about from the moment of their return, through the report session, through dinner, and until the time they departed for their homes. During the course of the week they had reached out to over 1200 people, witnessing 706 professions of faith in Christ. This surpassed the most prolific effort the Americans teams had experienced in the Campina area, which occurred during the 1993 mission when 703 people prayed to receive Christ.

Altogether, this was the most fruitful trip ever led by GoodNews International. The total of 856 professions of faith in Christ surpassed the 1999 India mission trip when 815 people prayed to receive Christ. This was GNI's first truly national to national mission effort. This has opened the door to a more expansive effort next year as we move beyond the confines of the Campina area to organize a mission thrust throughout the province of Prahova.

More than conquerors in Jesus Christ
The excitement in the hearts and spirits of these believers is a beautiful thing to behold. They are clamoring to see whose village (the village where they evangelized during the mission) will be the first to receive a new church plant. Each Sunday morning, teams are sent to the villages to do follow-up work and to begin Bibles studies. The teams have been very well-received, and we hear reports that many people are still being won to Christ. The 29th chapter of Acts continues ...

Grace and peace,