Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Day in Romania

I leave the Bible Institute here at 4 am tomorrow (Friday) morning. I fly British Airways to London and then American on to Dallas. I hope to be at the DTS BBQ tomorrow night! I noticed that Ireland had some problems with the ash cloud the last few days but I trust I won't spend additional time getting home. I am going to miss my little six-year old friend Ruthie. She talks to me, translates for me when students talk to me at the table, sings, prays and she gets all the candy I have brought in my suitcase! I gave her the sleeping mask from the airplane and she wore it to lunch. Lunch was soup and peas with some chicken mixed in. I enjoy it.
Classes ended at 1 pm and I spent the last hour or so preparing the exam that the students will take on Monday.
Tuesday night I spent some time in the guys room sharing a devotion with them. I took a picture of the three guys in the room on their bed and another one of their closet and shelves (that is my friend Alin who is a staff member here and got them to invite me to come! He was my translator for the devotion too). Not much by some standards but these guys are great!
Last night I spoke for 45 minutes to the students because they wanted to hear how the Lord had saved and led me. The singing was great (sometimes I recognize the tune) and the students very attentive. I've had some great conversations with those who know a little English and with the others through translation. I am going home richer for having come here. I took a picture of three of the young ladies is. Always serving and working around. May they find good husbands to serve with them in the years ahead!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Minor Prophets for Romanians!

Today was my second of four days of teaching, for 5 hours a day, the Minor Prophets to the students here. There are only 11 students (including both first and second years) which seems real small for some of us but if I remember correctly, Dallas Theological Seminary started with 11 students 85 years ago! God is often in the small, seemingly insignificant things of life. The amazing fact is that these students and the staff here in Word of Life are praying and planning to start Word of Life in Greece (where you cannot evangelize anyone under the age of 18) and Turkey (where the Muslims are not welcoming!) and a few other countries that are in this part of the world. Isn't that amazing? I think I would just be satisfied with building up my "own" ministry in my "own" country but apparently they believe God wants them to reach out to the world! They have camps planned for both countries this summer. Bold, humble and trusting.
After teaching 3 classes we had chapel and Iuliana translated for me as the students shared. They first sang enthusiastically (Laurian, a second year male student led) and then they shared what had happened in their ministry week last week and last weekend. In various avenues, these students shared the gospel using drama, puppets, street witnessing, ministry in churches, to well over 1,000 people I am sure. Wonderful reports of decisions and plans to meet and talk and disciple in the days ahead. Aura, a gypsy girl here, shared how she was able to speak in the gypsy dialect with two girls who responded to the offer of salvation and then how others came too. In class we were studying Jonah and it was so applicable to the situation.
Romania is both modern and not-so-modern. The picture I took out the van window shows modern cars passing the horse and cart. The picture of the people standing outside the fence of the church where I preached Sunday morning shows you the smiling faces of Romanians with a typical house out here in the rural areas.

The weather here has been perfect in that for me there has been no rain, the sun is shining, in the 70's, and the air is fresh out here in the country. I have two more days to teach and I need to cover a number of prophets! Pray for me. The Lord seems to have given me real rapport with the people here and I hope I can come back again to teach (and bring some of you with me!).

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's It Like Where I am This Week?

Today is Monday (now 9 pm) and I just finished teaching 5 classes from 2-7 pm and then had dinner (fish, rice, carrots and tea or water to drink). I'm going to talk about classes in the next blog but let me show you some pictures of the property where I am living and teaching this week.
It is located about 80 miles from Bucharest, I would guess, though it takes about two hours to drive the distance, the last part up a steep gravel/dirt road. Sixty miles W/NW of Bucharest is the city of Pitesti. NW of Pitesti about 20 miles is a piece of property on the side, near the top, of a hill that overlooks a huge valley. In the far distance is a larger city with a Renault car factory that employs many people and has brought some prosperity to some while most remain in small houses heated by wood with gardens and fruit trees in the front and back. Some have cows (often just one or two owned by a family) and there is a flock of sheep in the nearby meadow.
I'm not sure how big the property is but I'm guessing at 40 acres. It will be the site of the Word of Life summer kids camps as soon as they can complete the dining hall and kitchen complex. The picture shows the concrete and steel beams in place just waiting for more funds to complete the rest. For the last number of years they have rented camping facilities but this will give them great advantages to have camps here.
Last year the school operated out of one building, the wood building that now functions as the kitchen, dining hall for the 16 students and 6 staff that are here right now. Last year (the first year of the school) it was the dormitory, washrooms, classroom, as well as the kitchen and dining room! Many rooms were multipurpose!
During this past year they completed the two story dormitory you see in the picture (the small building on the left is where the heat is created for the building using a wood furnace. There is no natural gas available). Only the first floor is finished and it is used for the men's and women's rooms (4 students to a room), two rooms for Alin and his wife Iuliana and daughter Ruth (no kitchen so they eat with the students every meal), two classrooms, an office, and a room for a guest (where I am staying this week). They are planning for a number of more students next year so they will need to complete part of the second story I think. They are building Alin and Iuliana a small house on the hill. It is almost completed outside and they hope they will be able to complete the inside by the Fall so they can have a place of their own. Pray for the Lord's provision for them. I wonder how many of us would be willing to live in two 20 x12 rooms with a child just so you could serve the Lord in this place? They do it without complaining and with a smile on their face. Saturday night they had me in to their "home" for tea and cookies (which they had just been given by a believer and so they wanted to share them with me). I brought them some Starbucks Coffee and they were so excited. But they made a pot to share with the students at lunch on Sunday. They have been a real inspiration to me about being content with what I have and sharing everything with fellow believers. Almost sounds New Testament. Great to read but even greater to see.
The students are a joy to be with even though I have only been here a couple of days and am just getting to know them. They are sincere, hard-working, committed to the Lord and to ministry. Most of them have accepted the Lord in past few years as teenagers. One of the first things they do when they talk to me (a few in slow English, the rest by translator) is to share how they came to know the Lord. It is just a natural thing for them to do and they are excited about it!
I'm afraid many young people I know would complain about some of the conditions (did you notice the "sidewalk" from the dorm to the wood dining hall?) but these trust the Lord for the $1,000 for the year and accept what that can provide for them in terms of food etc. They wash their clothes by hand and the ladies have a tent (the white one to the left of the wood dining hall) that they can hang some of their clothes in (bedide all the tools that are stored there!). Someone comes in to cook their lunch and dinner during the week but weekends the (female) students that their turn and the men clean up.
What an experience I am having. I think I'm getting far more than I'm giving.
Thanks to my home church, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship ( for taking care of the flight expenses to come to Hungary and to Romania. My ministry here is part of the ministry of each one at Waterbrook who gives faithfully.

Preaching in Romania Sunday Night

After the morning service and lunch I had a short rest and then did some preparation for the evening church service.
After a two hour drive into Bucharet from the bible Institute, we stopped for a Romania chicken shwarma, the best shwarma I've ever had, and I've had lots. I took a picture of this place and the chicken "mass" that was being cooked. They have 7 spits on the go so there is always meat available and the place is busy! It is know throughout Bucharest and now I know why!

Then on to a Brethern Church for the 6:00-7:30 evening church service. We walked in as they were singing a hymn (without instruments) and I was amazed at the scene. There were about 150 believers present for this evening service (apparently evening church services are still very much the norm here in Romanian evangelical churches), men on the right as I walked in and the women on the left. All the women and girls had head coverings on (which I am very familiar with being raised in the Plymouth Brethren chapels of Canada). The center portion of the sanctuary was down a few steps. On either side of this main section was a raised section. Then completely around the sanctuary was a balcony in which there were a number of people including some children (I walked around later and discovered the children's nursery/play area was up behind the balcony).

The singing was beautiful with voices blending together, I could hear some young boys (see the picture below outside the church) clearly in the pew behind me. There were a good number of younger men and boys as well as young ladies and girls present.
A couple of hymns and a prayer (everyone stands for every prayer) and then I was ushered to the pulpit by my translator Emmanuel (he is on staff here with his wife Tereza and he is a gifted young man who has been used greatly in evanglism and discipleship here. Now he is assisting the director in many areas of ministry). It was about 6:15 and I was told to preach until about 7 pm. When I heard of this opportunity on Saturday I was asked to carry on in the portion they were studying on Sunday evenings and so I had John 14 to cover (not an easy passage to cover for some verses and especially through translation). However, the Lord gave me freedom and clear thinking and the right illustrations I believe and when I got to 6:50 the translator told me I didn't need to stop at 7 pm and to keep going that it would be OK with the people. This is the first time this has ever happened to me as a preacher!
I ended at about 7:10 pm with a challenge not to allow our hearts to remain troubled because 1) we could trust God, 2) Jesus has gone to His Father's house to prepare a place for us so this world is not our final home, 3) Jesus is coming again for us, and 4) in the meantime we can show our love for our Lord by acting according to His will because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who can help us in our struggles, give us understanding in our seeking after Him etc. After I sat down tired but sensing the Lord's blessing, the congregation was asked to sing a hymn. During the hymn the elder beside my translator asked him to take me back up to the pulpit where I could share more of my testimony or whatever I thought would be good to share! So for 20 minutes more I shared God's working in my life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and for the conversations afterwards (a number of the men were very familiar with DTS and Drs. Pentecost, Walvoord, Toussaint, and showed great appreciation for the teaching by these men and others). It was a wonderful time of fellowship with belivers, very few who could speak to me in halting English, but who obviously loved the Lord and His Word. Things we might see as impossible hindrances to ministry these believers accept and continue to share.

I got back late and then had a great conversation with Emmanuel. He and his wife are enjoying their second anniversary today! (They will now enjoy it with a pound of Starbuck's Coffee and maybe a special meal out because many of you as God's people have been so good to me). Pray for the staff here at Word of Life who share so freely, generously, and effectively. They have already become a great example to me.

The students have been away for a week of outreach ministry (they study for 3 weeks and then go out in ministry all over Romania for the fourth week). They have this morning to recover and take care of various things and then we are going to start classes this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Preaching in Romanian Churches

I had a wonderful, full, unique day in Romania today!

Breakfast was the usual Romanian breakfast here at the Bible Institute. Bread, a spoon-full of butter, a spoon-full of jam, a slice of thin ham, warm tea (without milk). Simple, good, all that the school can provide and one for which I am thanful to God.

Morning church was in a Evangelical/Baptist Church about 3/4 of an hour away. The church was pretty full with about 15 men and 20 women. The pictures will show the church building (yes, the toilets are outside to the back right!). The church is heated (as it was this morning) by the wood lying there in the church yard. The furnace was a tall, ceramic block wood furnace in the back corner of the room (behind the men in the inside church picture. The two hour service was mostly planned five minutes before it started (at least that is when I agreed not only to preach but also present two 5 minute teachings on prayer! Talk about being ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment's notice!). The service was from 10 to noon and consisted of a hymn (no instruments though there was an organ at the front), prayer (everyone stood), another hymn (with no instuments), 5 minutes on Hebrews 4 by me, prayer for 15 minutes (everyone stood but only the men, seated on the right in the photo prayed), 5 minutes on Philippians 4 by me, prayer for 15 minutes (everyone stood and only the ladies, seated on the left prayed), a solo by Luliana one of the staff ladies from the Bible Institute (an amazing beautiful voice, a former student of mine from Hungary two years ago), a testimony by a student here (Oura ? pictured with my little friend Ruthie) who has scars all over her face and hands from being burned but who uses this to tell how she came to know the Lord (I had sat outside after lunch on Saturday and she had told me the story in halting English which brought tears to my eyes), two more solos by Luliana and then I preached for 40 minutes! Then a closing hymn, offering, and prayer. Too long for most American audiences, not enough noise, no instruments and yet God's presence was there like few times in many services I have been in!

After the service, an older lady dressed in traditional Romanian dress stood beside me and talked through a translator. What a joy to hear her comments and I wanted to get a picture with her so you could see her. She told me I was very tall (the first time I think I have ever heard that).

Lunch was outside under a beautiful spring/summer sun in Romania. I wish you could be here to experience some of God's special work in His world today.

It's after midnight here so the evening service in Bucharest will have to wait for another blog. I teach tomorrow and I'm excited (and always a little nervous when I start with a new group of students, especially ones from a different culture than my own) and I'm trusting God to reveal Himself in great ways through His Word. Check back tomorrow for more on my wonderful Sunday in Romania.