Teaching in Transylvania, Romania[/caption]I was in Romania most of November, 2013 teaching pastors and other Church leaders on various prayer topics and addressing a number of other practical ministry concerns. Initially I was with the same pastors and churches I’d ministered to in 2011. They asked me to return to help them more fully implement what I had previously taught and to expand into other prayer areas. These pastors face unique challenges. Most have multiple congregations. Many work with gypsy churches in difficult situations. My traveling companion, Pastor Paul Muerson, and I ministered in over 20 churches and met one-on-one with a number of key leaders to strategize for the future. I’ve been asked to return and teach in two training schools that have been set up to prepare new pastors for ministry. There would be around 125 men in just one of these seminaries. A pastor who focuses on gypsy congregations says he can guarantee an equal number of men in his location. Paul and I are discussing when to return this year to take up this opportunity.
During the first week, I taught for 3 hours in the morning and 2 1/2 hours in the evening. My translator had hurt his back as a boy and had been in some degree of pain ever since. During a practicum on healing prayer, as the group prayed for another man, I was quietly praying for Lucian, with my hand on his lower back. God took away all of his pain immediately, though he did not tell me this at the time. He didn’t want to be premature in claiming healing of a problem he’d had for so many years. Four days later, after a day of chopping firewood, he finally told me what God had done. He has since emailed to say that he remains free of all pain. Praise the Lord! God is so very good.
In two weeks I will head to Fiji to review the progress in our beekeeping and agricultural initiatives and to plan for our summer outreach. I will travel to both of the main islands–Viti Levu and Vanua Levu–to meet with those with whom I work. In the past, we have not done any outreaches on Vanua Levu. However, Aisake Emmanuel, the general secretary of GIFT ministries, the Fijian doctors group under whose auspices we conduct the medical portion of our work, moved to that island to build a new home and to establish his own beekeeping activities. He believes there is a great opportunity for us to work among those where he now lives.
Most of the time, however, will be spent in the area of the Lomawai Trade School where we have moved all of our beekeeping activities. There are a number of Indian schools in the area that we want to make the focus of our medical and dental clinics. In the past we have seen many Hindus and Muslims accept Christ as a result of what God does as we work among them. Students from Azusa Pacific University will join us to conduct Vacation Bible School activities for the various students. Please be in prayer.
We just spent our evening meal with an 88 year old retired pastor, Paul’s former pastor, who told us story after story about growing up and leading the church under communism. He was leading several churches while in his late teens and early 20’s. He was finally ordained when he was 28 years old and already married. His wife knew what it would mean for him to be ordained under communist leadership and was not initially happy with his decision. Nonetheless, she stood beside him throughout her life, opening her home to multitudes of believers who visited and sometimes stayed with them.
He told how he went to study in the park one evening in 1946 because the Christians were praying in his house and he had an exam in school the next day. As he tried to study he began to realize that perhaps the Lord would visit the prayer meeting and he didn’t want to miss Him, so he hurried home. The Lord met him powerfully in the front room of his home in 1948, which led to his becoming a leader in the church.
He and his wife began a fellowship in the living room of their small home. That group grew to several hundred over the years. During the time of great repression, their church was the only one in the country that had an active ministry for college students. They had over 300 students each week in a Bible study. When the officials told him he could not hold such a study, he challenged their reasoning, stating this was the only place where these students could come together in a decent environment and meet and perhaps form healthy families. The local authorities were so impressed with his arguments, they asked him to write them down so they could be presented to higher authorities, who ultimately allowed them to continue.
He was constantly under threat of arrest and imprisonment and had to report every Monday to the authorities to explain exactly what went on during services the preceding Sunday. They demanded a list of everyone who was baptized. He was only allowed to baptize those who came from Christian homes, but many from “unrepentant” homes (as they were called) would come to him and beg with tears to be baptized. So he would baptize them. There was at least one informant in the church who would let the authorities know he was going beyond what they had allowed. Somehow he always managed to convince them he was doing what was required.
He indicates the degree of faith was considerably stronger under persecution. He knows the church has grown considerably since the fall of the communist regime, but he sees a lack of deep commitment.
Fascinating man. It was a great blessing to listen to him and to watch his face glow as he recalled his early days in ministry.
Tomorrow Paul and I will drive to Budapest where we will spend the night. I fly out on Thursday. Thanks so much for your prayers.
Paul and I drove from around 9:30 a.m. to around 2 p.m. to arrive at the city where we were visiting with two church leaders he has worked with and done a successful VBS. We were talking about training pastors and church leaders in prayer as well. There is an open invitation to come back and do training.
We met one of the leaders at a castle in the city where he lives. Did a quick tour. Part of Harry Potter was filmed in the dining room of this particular castle. It was interesting to wander through the many rooms that are still in fairly good condition.
We left around 4:30 p.m. for the drive into Timosoura, where we will be until Weds. a.m. when we drive back to Budapest for my Thurs. flight home.
It has been a full day. I’m quite tired and hope to sleep well tonight in the house of one of Paul’s long-time friends. We stayed with them in Mar. of 2011. Great family.
It has been a very profitable trip. So appreciate your prayers.
I preached in three churches today, three different sermons based on three different needs. A very full day. Paul preached twice. So between us, five sermons today. We drove about 2 hours between lunch after the morning services, to the town where we preached tonight. Paul has known the pastor of this church for several years. His congregation helped this man complete his doctorate. His church is thriving and they have recently expanded their auditorium to accommodate more people.
We are in the highlands of Romania at the base of some of the Capathian Mountains. It was supposed to be raining and snowing, which would have made it impossible for us to come. But God has given us incredible weather. I did not have my coat on most of the day as we drove here.
Paul brought a VBS team over last year to assist this congregation in their outreach to children, many of whom are gypsies. They had over 300 kids involved.
I have been asked to return to Romania next fall to teach in a seminary, helping about 125 pastors understand more about prayer. Will be in prayer about that.
I so appreciate your prayers. Tomorrow we drive 8 hours to Timosoara to meet with pastors there and arrange for possible future ministry.
Lucian was my translator during my teaching sessions in Simlau. He did an incredible job–wasne of the best.
On Wednesday afternoon the entire congregation had gathered around one of the older men of the church who had asked for prayer for healing. Prior to our prayers, Lucian had commented to me that his back was hurting him from standing so long during our sessions. I taught for 3 hours in the morning and 2 1/2 in the evening. He had hurt his back as a boy and has been in some degree of pain ever since. He is a tiler, so he lays floor tile all day long in his job. This does not help with his level of pain.
While everyone was praying for the older man, I was standing next to Lucian and placed my hand in the small of his back and was also praying for him. He understood what was going on. This reminds me of a similar situation recently in Fiji after I had taught on soaking prayer. The “class” was praying for a man who had been sick for some time. I had my hand on the back of a former rugby player who was older now and had constant back pain. God healed the man we had been praying for, but he also healed three others in the room including the man for whom I had been intentionally praying.
When we finished our prayers in Simlau, Lucian thanked me for praying for him and said his pain was gone, but he didn’t want to claim to be healed at that point. Last night, Friday evening, at the break in training, Lucian said, “Well, I wanted to test what God did Weds., so I began to chop up fire wood, chopping very large stumps into fire wood. I had no pain at all and am pain free now. I said, “Well, God is good that way.” I encouraged him to continue to pray about and thank God for what he had done for him.
It is so much fun to participate in Kingdom stuff. Thanks for your prayers. When you are praying you are as much involved in what the Lord does as we who are here are involved. In fact, we could not do what we do without your participation in prayer.
Well, it’s almost midnight and I’m back in Zalau, needing to pack before 8 a.m. tomorrow morning to head off to our next stop.
A very touching and significant thing happened this morning as we finished the a.m. teaching sessions. I had talked about beachheads in ministry, using illustrations from what our host pastor has been doing over the past few months in his church. This is a very conservative church–and I don ‘t just mean theologically. Things need to continue as they always have. Change is bad. But as the leadership caught on to what I was showing them, lights began to go on. When I called them to surround their pastor and his wife and pray for them, they began quite happily. Then I stopped them and briefly taught them what it meant to put a prayer shield around their pastor. Again, lights went on. They began to pour out their hearts and to confess opposition, etc. that was not always God honoring. Many tears, including the pastor and his wife. I would have to say that if that was the only good thing that happened on this entire trip, it would be worth it. Fortunately God has been doing many good things. PTL!! But that was a really moving moment. The pastor and his wife were very much affected by the visible outpouring of love.
It is so neat to be involved in such precious, priceless times. There was a spontaneous holding of hands afterward, as one of the leaders began to sing “Bind us together”.
The evening sessions went very well, as I spoke on forgiveness and addressed, in particular, the treatment of women in society and in the church. Ways in which they have become second class citizens whose gifts and talents cannot be used. Once more, lights seemed to be going on. That, of course, was only one of the many issues discussed.
Thanks for your prayers. We will have about a 5 hour drive in the morning to reach our next area of ministry. Must leave now to pack.
Another great day in Romania. The training on praying using the Bible was very well received. One problem is that I teach one group in the morning, starting on a particular topic. The same group is there in the evening, but there are about an equal number who weren’t there for the morning session due to work, etc. So I have to do an adequate summary for the new participants without boring the ones who were there in the morning. It has worked these past two days.
I’ve determined I cannot teach the next section on praying with the Scriptures–lecito divina, as planned. Doing it through a translator and in the current setting would not work. So I’ll use other material that I have. Too bad, as it would have been of help. Perhaps we can have a retreat sometime and do it in that setting and I can work with some of the Romanian pastors in advance to have them prepared to help when needed.
It is getting close to midnight, so I’d best end this in order to get some sleep.
I so appreciate your prayers. They make a great difference.