We arrived in Chisinau, Moldova on Wednesday afternoon. Our Eastern European Team Leader, George Popa, met us at the airport. We then proceeded to our hotel and and had talks with George concerning this trip and also future work in the area.
In the night, our friend and colleague from Romania, Pavel Clipa, arrived. He has many connections here, as he lived here for several years. Pavel and one of his brothers own a Christian center, where many youth groups and others hold summer camps and evangelistic camps. He will do some of the translating for Baruch during this time.
Our first meeting was Thursday morning at a local seminary. We were taught about this region and what the challenges and opportunities are here. Moldova’s official language is Romanian, but Russian seems to be spoken just as much. The seminary holds classes in Romanian and Russian.
The Russian language is used by 76 different nationalities. This language is a very important tool to reach people. It is a uniting force. The students at this seminary are from many different countries. There is a part of the world called 10 40 (latitude and longitude). This region comprises the Balkans to Western China. In this region, there are more than 200 million Russian speakers.
This is a very complex region. The shared language, even with its localised dialects, enables the students trained at the seminary to be prepared to reach out to many different people groups. The seminary currently has more that 400 students, 160 of which are residential. They also train Central Asian students to work in the underground church.
Baruch spoke at the chapel service, which was attended by all of the residential students. He taught from Isaiah 52 and it was translated into Russian.
The students and professors were very appreciative and Baruch was asked to teach the Preaching class immediately after the chapel service. They then provided us with a lovely lunch and invited Baruch to teach a class in Missions on Friday morning.
Our next venue was Bet El Congregation, where the National meeting of Baptist ministers was being held. Baruch taught in the main sanctuary to all of the pastors who spoke Romanian. Our friend Pavel translated for Baruch and he did a wonderful job. Baruch taught on being Disciples of Yeshua, using the text I John 2. One of the main leaders in the denomination is excited about the possible opportunities for us to work together to reach the people of Moldova and beyond.
We then headed to Golgotha Baptist for their evening service. Baruch was scheduled to speak from the book of Acts. However, while speaking with the pastor before the service, it became clear that a different message was needed and Baruch spoke on the End Times. There is much confusion and lack of teaching in Eastern Europe concerning the events and their order.
At the end of the service, Baruch explained the plan of salvation, and many people came forward to receive Yeshua! It was a meaningful, moving time.
Finally, the Pastor made a passionate speech about the Moldova and the Jewish people. He said that culturally, economically and educationally the country has suffered greatly because those people who were leaders in those areas (the Jewish people), were murdered. In several towns (including the capital city), the Jewish population numbered over 50% of the total population! Finally, he said that the land cries out. It cries out because of all of the Jewish blood which was unrighteously poured out upon it during the Holocaust.
At the end of the evening, we went to dinner with one of the deacons from the church. He shared with us a very moving story from his father and grandfather from the time of the Holocaust. He talked about how the Jewish people had many of the stores in their village. They were an integral part of the community. Yet, when the Germans came, the Jewish people were taken to the edge of the town and murdered in a mass grave. There was some family information also given about this event and this man felt a burden to share with us. We were very touched by his conviction and also very saddened by the Holocaust account. The events from the Holocaust were very similar in many places of Europe. The Jewish people were active participants in their communities. They were friends with their neighbors. Yet, when the nazis came, very few people came to their aid and in many cases, local people participated in the killing of their neighbors.
This was such an educational day for us. Hearing stories of loss, death, redemption and restoration have had an emotional effect on all of us.