We made it back. We saw the Lord do some pretty incredible things in Romania the past 2 weeks. I can see that Tasha was busy posting everyday keeping you guys updated! Just kidding! (I love you, baby.) She was unbelievably busy with our 2 terrorist children, so I don’t blame her in the least.
The Lord was gracious to allow us to see roughly 600 people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! We worked with a local church in the city of Satu Mare who will be very busy following up with these individuals. We used many different methods of ministry and evangelism – sports events with Crossfire Ministries, street evangelism, school ministry, medical clinics, kids’ clubs, and evening church services.
On the flight home, I was praying and asking the Lord to help me make a list of some of the highlights of the trip that I experienced as well as some of the things He taught me that I want engraved forever in my heart. Here’s a synopsis, though certainly not exhaustive.
1. It’s pretty easy to be religious, harder to be a true follower of Christ – Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church are engrained in the Romanian culture. Elaborate church structures with beautiful Gothic architecture pepper the Romanian horizon – beautiful yet heart breaking – heart breaking because both churches teach that salvation is found in the church. Salvation is achieved through the keeping of the sacraments – repentance is unnecessary, even antithetical to their cause. Equally connected to this point is . . .
2. It’s hard to break past the surface of religiosity – for most people, the religious motions associated with Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox church are all they know. Interestingly enough, this sounds a lot like our own country. Bottom line: It’s hard for religious people to see their need for repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. These barriers are tough, but not impossible. I was reminded of the amazing work that the Holy Spirit does to soften hearts. In many cases, we just planted seed and prayed that the Lord would soften their hearts. It’s a tough barrier, and one that Jesus dealt with throughout his entire earthly ministry. But if the devil has been dragging religious people to Hell for centuries, why would he need a new tactic?
3. People just want to know that you care about them as individuals and that they are not just a notch on your religious belt – this should be a no-brainer, but we must always see people through the lens of the cross – that they are individuals made in the image of God for whom Christ died and loves. These are real people with names, families, dreams, ideas and, lest we forget, sin that separates and condemns. These are people in need of hope – in need of a Savior. And they need to know you genuinely care about them.
4. The Holy Spirit gifts his children all uniquely and differently not only to function uniquely in the body of Christ, but also to reach the unique and the different in this lost world.
5. I was reminded of the simple power and effectiveness of a gospel tract – our team canvassed the whole city of Satu Mare with tracts (on car windshields, in phone booths and into the hands of pedestrians). One event that I’ll never forget happened on our last day of ministry as dad and I were walking back to our hotel passing out the last few tracts that we had left. We handed one to a young man a block away from our hotel and told him “God bless you” and moved on. But he wouldn’t let us. He turned around, approached us and began talking to us in broken English. He told us his name was Thomas and that he was surprised to see some Americans in his city. We told him that we were there for the one purpose of sharing the love of Christ and the forgiveness of sins through his blood. After about a half hour conversation, the Lord opened Thomas’ heart to the message of the Gospel and he opened his heart to Jesus Christ right there on the street. It all started with a tract.
The folks at The American Tract Society said this: “A tract can travel farther, last longer, say it more effectively and cost less than any other form of evangelism.”
6. Finally, the doors that may seem closed by human standards can easily be opened by the Lord – On our second day of ministry, Dad and I decided that we could be most effective if we could get into one of the public schools to do some ministry, which we have done in many other countries. We asked the pastor of the church we were working with what he thought about the idea and he said that he didn’t think it could be done. The headmaster would never allow it. But, we thought, “What do we have to lose?” So, we talked to our interpreter, Leo, and asked him to take us to his high school from which he graduated 3 years ago. He took us. And we were warmly welcomed by the headmaster and faculty. We told them what our intentions were, that we wanted to share some greetings from America and that I wanted to sing and play some American songs. Instantly, the Lord opened the door. The headmaster loved the idea. So, off we went, singing about Christ and preaching the gospel in the classrooms of one of the most prestigious high schools in Romania. Amazing!
But that’s not all. The headmaster invited us back the next day for an award ceremony. We arrived early and they gave me the opportunity to sing a few songs during the ceremony. So, I sang and lifted up the Lord and gave testimony to his goodness and mercy and forgiveness. It was a closed door, but not for God.
Thanks to all of you who prayed for us. And thanks especially for your prayers for the lost who were brought into the Kingdom of God. Pray that they will bear fruit that remains.