Adrian: God Provides

This is Adrian. He was the reason we made the trek out here to Badicul. We called two of his cousins to track him down. He works at the camp in Larga where we did the Martial Arts camp this past summer, as well as at the church in Badicul. He is very friendly (and is a hard worker), and attached himself to us from the first day we were at camp. He walked right up and sat down at the table where we were sitting. He doesn’t speak any English, but still sat with us to listen and teach us some Romanian.

He was excited to see us, and you could see it on his face as he rode up on his bike. His cousin told him there was an American waiting for him at the church, and he was trying to figure out who it could be.

Randy Embree sent some gifts for Adrian and we were happy to play Santa Claus and do the delivery. When Adrian opened the bag, he was so happy. He said “I’ve been wishing for a new coat, I prayed to God that He would send me a new coat”. Wow. Daniel and I are honored to be part of how God provides for even the littlest of His children. If you think God doesn’t consider even the littlest things in our lives, or that He’s far away from you, think about Adrian’s story.

Adrian shared some of his life with us. His father passed away and his mother lives in Chisinau. He chooses to stay here with John and Igor (and their family) because they are Christians, and he wants to surround himself with his church and other Christians. He said that if he went to live with his mother in Chisinau, he would be around bad influences, and he doesn’t want to tempt himself in that way. Very strong faith and belief for someone so young.

I learned something today from him, something that I caught a glimpse of when I met him at camp. His strength is in the Lord, and he leaves the details up to God.

I’m glad that Daniel had a chance to meet Adrian. Adrian is attending school but is not sure what he wants to do when he “grows up”. Next time I see him, I’m going to encourage him to become a Pastor.

The Fruit Game

 You might have already seen this video on Facebook, but for those following here, the Fruit Game:

Lauren, Sarah, and Ashley playing the fruit game. This is like musical chairs. Each person is assigned a fruit (either Apple, Banana, or Orange). We take out one chair at a time, and the person in the middle says one of the fruits or all fruits. When a fruit is called, those people have to stand up and switch chairs. The person left standing is out.

Black Belt Training Class

Last Saturday I attended a black belt training class with some of Nicolae’s instructors. I had a great time, first seeing some of the leaders from camp and second having a chance to work out (my first work out in Moldova). Nicolae asked me to bring a message to these guys after we practiced. Luckily I had a moment to catch my breath after we finished training, but before I brought the message.

I chose some verses from James that were on my heart for them.

    But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.  (James 1:22-25 ESV)

It’s easy to be a hearer of the Word only, but not a doer. Hearer’s fill up churches around the world every weekend. Ministry is about being in motion and doing something with the Word of God. Take it to the streets or wherever you go.  Action is what Christians are called to.

One of my ministry goals while here in Moldova is to visit each of Nicolae’s individual Tae Kwon Do classes to get to know the instructors better. I want to understand what each of them believes and where they are coming from spiritually.

Ruslan’s Birthday Party

We were invited to attend our friend Ruslan’s birthday party this evening. He is a whopping 23 years old. Okay, he’s really 34. While he was giving a mini-speech for the party, he made a joke that he is 23. I heard him say 23 in Romanian, I just didn’t get the joke.  🙂 I also didn’t hear him say 34 right after.

Ruslan is the guy in the middle of the circle.

We learned more about Moldovan culture. For birthdays and most other gatherings, music and food are involved. We had a huge meal to begin the party. Then we moved to a time of singing and giving of gifts. The songs were spiritual in nature with some Christmas songs mixed in. Boris was on the accordian and Pastor Anatol played the guitar. Between songs, people took turns giving gifts to Ruslan, and each person shared something about what Ruslan means to them. I was able to share the first time I met Ruslan, when he took our Martial Arts Ministry team to Chisinau and gave us the guided tour. We also sang “Happy Birthday” to him, American style.

 After the gifts, songs, and cake, it was time to play games. The Romeo girls dominated in the game that was played. The participants all sit in chairs in a circle. A leader roams the circle. There are different animals in the game, a monkey, elephant, and bird. The leader points to one person in the circle, and their hand motions make up the middle of the animal. The people to the right and the left of the person must also do motions to complete the animal. If anyone acts out the wrong animal or forgets to act, they are out. The game continues until only two people are left. The last three left in this game were Ashley, Lauren, and Deb.

Ask them when we get back to the states. They’ll teach you how to play.

Border Crossings

I was being an American, I realize it. We made our trip to Romania to go shopping, and on the way back into Moldova we stop in a line of cars at customs. There are about ten cars in front of us. One difference from the US though, everyone is out of their cars walking around and talking while they wait for the customs agents to check their identification. There is a group of teenagers hanging out to the left of the main customs building.

My family and I have made the Canadian border crossing the past few summers, and from the look of the guys from Homeland Security at the bridge coming back from Canada, if anyone gets out of the car they will shortly be eating asphalt.

In Moldova, it’s like a small party at the border crossing. Cultures are different, but you don’t really understand what that means until you experience it firsthand.

Shopping in Romania

Pastor Anatol and his wife Nadia graciously drove us to Romania to buy some things for our apartment. We were in need of some extension cords, power converters, and kitchen items. We took advantage of being at these stores to stock up on some foods that we had been buying daily from the smaller market here in Cahul.

We visited the Metro store, which ironically bears the same color scheme as IKEA. This store is like a warehouse grocery store (Sam’s Club, etc).

Sign for the METRO store, in Romania.

Another store we visited was Kaufland, which is a grocery store chain from Germany. This store was equivalent to the average grocery store in America.

Prison: God Prepares the Way

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the prison here in Cahul today. This was eye opening. Moldovan prisons are nothing like American prisons. I’ve never been in an American prison, but I’ve seen documentary style film of what they are like. No pictures were allowed within the prison walls, so all I have to share are my memories of the event.

As we were waiting outside the door Pastor Anatol went in to let the administration know that we had arrived. He came out and said they did not want to let us in. We were the third group of the day to show up, and they were “caroled” out. After about ten minutes, he came back out and said for us to hurry, they were letting us in.

This prison is Soviet-era. The hallways are all very narrow, barely enough space to walk side by side with someone. Each room contains from one to eleven prisoners. We brought pens, envelopes, stamps, paper, and evangelistic information to share with them. There were some rooms of women, but mostly men. The guard would open one door at a time, and some of us would hand in the gifts while others continued singing Christmas carols in the hallway.

My introduction to ministry continued with this visit. Pastor Anatol asked me to address three separate groups with a Christmas message. The first group was a single room of prisoners (four). The second was one side of a buildings worth of prisoners as they looked out their open windows. The third was a bunk style room of what I’m assuming was prisoners that were less of a risk than the others.

As I gazed into that first open door,  I thought about where my strength comes from. If I minister on my own strength, I’m in trouble. If my strength comes from the Lord and Him alone, He’ll use me in mighty ways to advance His kingdom. I’ve struggled some with public speaking lately, which is a large part of what a Pastor does. Over the last few days as I’ve taught, spoken, and preached, my strength has been in the Lord. When I realized it’s not about me, my mind has been at ease speaking.

I told these prisoners all the same thing. Jesus came to earth on a mission. He took on human flesh and dwelt among us. His mission was to die; a perfect sacrifice for my sins and the prisoners, if they truly repent of their sins, believe, and follow Him. There is nothing they could have done that Jesus won’t forgive them of. Nothing. That’s what I wanted them to hear.

When we got on the plane I had doubts about my purpose here in Moldova. It’s become clear to me in my first week and a half that I’m here to learn from Pastor Anatol, to learn how to be a Pastor. This guy legitimately loves Jesus and is out  telling people about Him. Praise God for him and his ministry here in Cahul. The Lord is using this trip to show me where I need to be in the future.

As we were walking back through the halls to leave, the main guard who had been escorting us asked if we would carol through the administration wing of the prison. We said sure, and off we went. She went in front of us and opened all the office doors for the administrators to listen. We ended up in the warden’s office singing about the birth of our Savior. His family was there visiting him at work, so we were able to sing for them also.

It was funny how God prepared the way for us today. We went from thinking we weren’t even going into the prison to singing Christmas carols to the warden of the prison in his office.

Prayer Requests: 1.  Pray for the prisoners we ministered to today. Pray that the Lord will call them to Himself, that they will repent, believe, and the Lord will change their lives.  2. Pray for Pastor Anatol and his ministry here in Cahul.

CHALLENGE for my Redeemer Church Family: I’m feeling convicted here based on how much this church is in motion. What I mean is that they are involved in various outreach efforts in the community, things that we could be doing in Fuquay Varina, NC. We could visit prisons, Christmas carol, and visit schools. I know by saying this I’m stepping forward to volunteer, and I’m okay with that.

The First Week of Ministry in Cahul

We picked the best week to arrive in Moldova! Celebrating Christmas with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Moldova was a huge blessing.

We had four ministry experiences during our first week. Please pray that each of these groups of people will be affected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. Handing out Christmas boxes – “Love in a Box” from England

Pastor Anatol invited Ashley and I to join him at one of the local schools to hand out Operation Christmas Child “like” boxes. I was invited to share the Christmas story with two separate classes. This was eye opening based on knowledge of public schools in America and our separation of church and state. The separation is not forced here.

(I didn’t have my Bible with me, so the Christmas story was from memory.)

2.  Tae Kwon Do Christmas event

Nicolae held a Christmas gathering for all the students of his Tae Kwon Do school. Some of the black belts (Instructors) put on a demonstration. I shared a message with the students from Luke 2. A skit was performed in advance of my time to speak, so the Christmas story had been acted out in front of the students before I stood up to preach it. I summarized the Christmas story and used an illustration from Ephesians 2:8,9 about salvation as a gift from God. Praise God for opportunities to stand up and preach His Word.

3. Preached my first sermon on Sunday morning for the Christmas service

This was the first time I’ve ever stood up in a church service to preach. I shared from Matthew 1:22,23, the quotation of the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, Immanuel, God with us. Nicolae translated for me into Romanian. I spoke about how God is with us through our relationship with Him, through our salvation, which is only available through Jesus Christ.

4. Colindat (Caroling)

We’ve had the opportunity to go caroling on two different occasions with the church. We went out following the Christmas eve service and again after the Christmas service. During our first session, we walked around various places in central Cahul and sang carols on the sidewalk. At the time of this picture we had gone into one of the University dorms to sing. This picture was taken in the lobby.

For our second session we went to a busy market area and sang on the street. Then we hopped a bus (all 25 or so carolers) and visited the hospital to carol and then on to the medical school dorms behind the hospital. Pastor Anatol invited me to address the 30 or so students, some who had come out to hear us sing, others who were sitting on their balconies. I offered them Christmas greetings from America and told them the Christmas story. Pastor Anatol translated for me and filled in the many gaps that needed filling. The picture below is some of the students that had come outside to hear us. (Daniel is handing them brochures for the church.)

The highlight of this time was watching my children take part in handing out brochures to many people on the street. The brochures contained evangelistic information and information about the local church.

Travels from Raleigh to Cahul

These pictures are from our journey from Raleigh to Cahul.

We started in Raleigh on Friday, departing at 4:30 PM. From there we went to Washington (Dulles) for a 7:00 PM departure for Frankfurt, Germany. We arrived in Frankfurt 8 hours later (and 6 hours worth of time change). It was bright and cold, but didn’t feel like morning. From Frankfurt we were on to Vienna, Austria and then on to Chisinau, Moldova. The flight from Frankfurt to Vienna is a blur to me at this point.

As Deb said, we all arrived safely and our luggage was intact! Praise God for safe travels.

At Rdu, wheels up in 45 for Moldova!!!

Dulles

Ashley has her hat on — she’s ready for the cold.

Deb seems to have caught the Jeremy Fisher sleeping disorder in the middle of the airport.

Wilkommen, we are in Frankfurt. These girls are tired.