Moldova Reflections

At the end of this week we will be departing Cahul for the United States. I’ve had a running list of reflections based on our time here and I’ll share them over the next few days in categories.

  • The people here are curious why a family of Americans would travel to Moldova and live here for three months.
  • Moldovans can put many people on a single bus. As many people as are standing there waiting to go somewhere.
  • Lines are an American / English thing. If you attempt to stand in an orderly fashion here, more than likely someone will step in front of you to get to the counter.
  • People have one of two reactions when they realize you don’t speak the language: annoyance or laughter.

Ministry Reflections

At the end of this week we will be departing Cahul for the United States. I’ve had a running list of reflections based on our time here and I’ll share them over the next few days in categories.

Ministry

  • A church is a body of believers. It’s not a building. A building is four walls with a roof. A church is a group of people that serve Jesus, each other, and their community.
  • Ministry is about action and activity.
  • The work of a Pastor is never done: Pastor’s preach, teach, help, lead, and shovel snow.
  • People need to hear about Jesus — and those that believe in Him are called to tell them, regardless of locale, location, geography, or situation.
  • God has a plan for everything — we did not entirely understand why we were here, but we have seen God working in many different areas and in how we’ve been privileged to minister to people.
  • God has called me for something more than a life of working in technology.
  • As a family we love Cahul and Emanuel Church and need to figure out when we will come back. We are currently thinking either September 2012 or January 2013.
  • If you want a Ministry Internship, get out of the United States and serve. They will put you in every possible Ministry opportunity, from preaching in the pulpit to a funeral.
  • If I could preach a wedding, I would have completed everything possible.
  • There are churches here without dedicated Pastors: that makes me want to learn Romanian and travel around offering to preach.

Family Reflections

At the end of this week we will be departing Cahul for the United States. I’ve had a running list of reflections based on our time here and I’ll share them over the next few days in categories.

Family 

  • Six hundred square feet for a family of six + an office space is a tight fit — but you get to know each other a whole lot better.
  • Reading the Bible together as a family is a worthy activity to do.
  • My wife is a really good English teacher. She loves Jesus and demonstrates that in her daily walk with Him.
  • My kids have been stretched by this experience we’ve been on. I’ve seen growth in their spiritual understanding and I’ve been able to have them minister alongside Deb and I.
  • My kids will not forget this experience as long as they live. They will likely be talking about “when we were in Moldova” to their children.
  • It sometimes is difficult to work in a small living space with a wife and four “active” children.

Chris

Prayer Requests for Our Final Week

We have begun the packing process to return to North Carolina. Please pray for us as we finish this chapter in our Moldovan ministry.

  1. Pray that we finish this chapter strong and preach the gospel consistently for the remainder of our trip. Pray that we leave the country with no gospel “loose ends”.
  2. Pray for safe travels back to North Carolina. We leave Chisinau on Friday @ 1:00 PM and arrive back in Raleigh at 10:20PM (7 hour time change, 16 hours of travel time total)
  3. Pray that our house in Holly Springs sells.
  4. Pray for all those that we have ministered to here, that they will be gospel fruit and will multiply and preach the gospel to others.
  5. Pray for the Pastors of the Evangelical churches in the Southern Region of Cahul.

Teaching English is Deb’s Calling Here

My wife is a good English teacher. She has stepped into this role that I thought we would both be sharing during our time here. I’m okay with the fact that she’s taken the lead on English. I’ve found many other things to keep me busy.

Turns out she has a knack for teaching English and connecting with the students. She’s been teaching many classes as a substitute for the regular teachers when they are traveling or sick. The students have been very appreciative and complimentary of her approach and teaching style.

She started a separate class study group today and next Wednesday to teach some of the very new students the basics (colors, days of the week, months, sight words).

My vision for us as a family is to return to Moldova again in the future for a similar trip, but with Deb teaching her own English classes.

Chris

“Why Are You Here?”

Why are you here? We’ve heard this question many times over the past few months.  From Natalia (bank), Victor (electronics store), Sasha (grocery store), two young ladies who work in the open fruit market, and a guy who is visiting Cahul (his home town) yet he works in Ireland. I met him walking down the street. (I tend to stick out here. Deb says it’s my beard but I’m not convinced.)

They all wonder the same thing. Why is this person or family from America here in Cahul? Why would they give up their nice life in America to be here? The younger generation of Moldovans are dreaming of their one way ticket out of here. They see places like USA, England, and Italy as places where they want to go for work and a better life.

We’ve answered the question many ways:

  1. Teaching English at Emanuel Baptist Church. We’ll be there on Sunday, you should come.
  2. Missionaries from USA.
  3. To tell people about Jesus.

We need to get better with our answer. The main job of a missionary is to tell people about Jesus. The language barrier is daunting sometimes. It’s been easier to interact and tell people about Jesus when we have a translator with us.

We had a chance to share with an older lady in an Alimentara (convenience store) a few weeks ago when Irina was with us. She translated as this lady was trying to say that good health is the most important thing in life. I politely disagreed and we were able to have a discussion about Dumnezeu (God) and how a relationship with Him is more important than good health.

Please pray for us, that over the next two weeks God will provide us opportunities to clearly present the gospel to all the people we’ve be interacting with over the past few months.

Chris

Sermon Preparation and Delivery

I had a class this past semester at Shepherds Theological Seminary on the topic of Bible Exposition. The course focused on how to effectively teach the Bible to different age groups, but also how to study the Bible in preparation to preach or teach.

Our Professor in sharing his sermon preparation experiences recommend one hour of study and preparation for each minute that a Pastor stands up to preach. I thought this seemed a bit heavy of a guide until last week as I was preparing.

For a total of four short verses I spent fifteen hours studying and preparing. I could have easily spent fifteen more hours.

I’ve taken the approach to write out my sermons as I prepare to speak. For the most part I’ve followed my written preparation, but have noticed it is easier to  add additional detail about a point when I have written and prayerfully considered what I want to say.

I have a long way to go with my oratory skills, but am thankful to God for providing me the opportunity to stand up and share His Word across the country of Moldova!

Chris

Emanuel and Pascani: All to the Glory of God

I had the amazing opportunity to preach again this past weekend. I shared a sermon on the glory of God in two different churches, one in the morning and one in the evening.

In the morning we were at Emanuel church. The text I chose to share for this message is 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 ESV)

My focus was on discussing the glory of God, the need for us as believers to not offend others for the sake of the gospel, and Paul’s direction to us to imitate him as he imitates Christ.

The issue of avoiding offense is huge for the Christian here in Moldova. Over 90% of the people here consider themselves Eastern Orthodox. Their affiliation is not by a choice but by birth. I spoke to the people about reaching out to the Eastern Orthodox with the love of the gospel. It would be easy to offend the Orthodox by discussing their customs and beliefs that we do not believe in. I encouraged the local body here to look for common ground for gospel focused conversation and outreach.

Nicu has been like a brother to me here, acting as my translator when I speak and has served my family and I in so many ways.

My photo staff made their way into the church balcony for some arial shots.

In the afternoon we visited a small church in the village of Pascani. This church has been without a Pastor for a few years, but is led by two men from the congregation who take turns teaching. I was unsure what the actual program would be for this service until we arrived. I didn’t realize it was just Nicolae and I going to visit this church. I switched my original plan and used the sermon that I had preached that morning.

Daniel and David Dunas also accompanied us on this journey as our photographers.

I’ve provided the video of my sermon from the morning session at Emanuel.

The Glory of God  – 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1 – Video: Part 1
The Glory of God  – 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1 – Video: Part 2

Our Future Plans in Moldova

Deb and I were talking the other day and we both feel as if we are part of this local church in Cahul. We’ve been here for almost two months. Everyone at the church has been open and friendly to us, including us in the life of the church. They truly define Christian community. All of us that are in Christ are part of the bigger Church and can gather to worship and share in God’s splendor and majesty.

We’ve decided that, Lord willing, we will return to Moldova as a family. The question for us is not if, but when. We have many other details to consider, but we are comfortable that God will work those out for us. We are continuing to pray that our house in Holly Springs, NC will sell prior to our return. We are trusting in God that He has a plan for our future, and the plan may not be exactly as we currently expect.

We would appreciate the prayers of our family and friends as we consider the timing for our future plans. We need to decide what our primary ministry will be here and consider how the next trip will effect work and school. We know that God is sovereign and will place us just where He wants us to be!

Chris and Deb

Dunas familia casa

Our family was invited to visit the Dunas family home during our visit to Brinza. Nicolae and Anatol’s parents still live in the house where they raised their children.

Nicolae and Natalie drove their car for this journey and took Sarah and Lauren with them. Deb, Ashley, and I rode with Nicolae’s brother-in-law Vova and his wife Donna (and their daughter Melissa). All of them grew up in the village of Brinza and were involved in the church there growing up.

There are very few snow plows in Moldova and there are zero snow plows in Brinza. The drive up the hill was a mini-adventure. For those of you from the North, you know it’s a bad idea to stop when traveling up an icy incline. We built up a good bit of momentum with Vova behind the wheel and made our way up the hill.

The Dunas family house sits off the side of a very large ravine. It is around 200 feet to the bottom of the ravine. (If you know Nicolae or ever meet him, ask him about the time the donkey fell into the ravine while he was taking out the trash.)

It wasn’t this donkey from Nicolae’s story.

It was nice for us to join in a family gathering in the village. The people here in Moldova are very family oriented and enjoy gathering together for food and fellowship. We enjoyed a giant feast of many different Moldovan delicacies (including the ever popular Sarmale: google it).

Around the table we had a great laugh when a plate full of chicken was brought out. Deb and I were both looking at it and we thought that one of the pieces still had the head attached. Deb couldn’t stop looking at it. Finally Nicolae moved the piece with the head attached to the other end of the table and all the Moldovans had a good laugh.

After we finished eating, Nicolae’s father brought out a hand copied hymnal for the family to sing worship songs to our God. This book is a Dunas family treasure. It is old and worn from being used many times. The family learns songs together as they sit around the table.

 Praise God for fellowship and worship as a family.

Ashley the animal lover.