Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We came to bless and help, but we are the ones who are blessed and helped!!! Today we again saw God at work. It is as though we have seen the hands and feet of Jesus himself helping the poor, weak and needy.

This sign was posted at the entrance to the back of the stage at the largest congregation in Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova. It means, "To serve on this platform is a privilege. God thank you that you chose me to serve." Mike and I have seen this attitude in action in the tireless, hard-working and skillful followers of Jesus in Moldova.

Mike and me on the steps of the largest congregation in Moldova. There are 5 services each attended by 300 people.

The pastor of this congregation shows us the plans for their new facility which will be on a larger property. The current members will remain at the current facility and will watch sermons by live feed from the new place. They are not moving, they are expanding!

This congregation also has the best Christian elementary school in the country.  This school is run by the same director as the one we visited yesterday for middle and high school and the street kids who live in home groups on the same site. These are the finest schools in Moldova with an exam passing rate of 100%. The national average is 40-something %.

 Sign on the art class room.

Children learning a the computer lab.

Mikey made a friend!

The extensive homeless ministry here is incredible! They feed the homeless with food prepared daily on the premises and served at the park across the street. The homeless are encouraged to come on Sunday mornings and are even offered showers and laundry facilities-also on the premises (pictured above) 30-50 homeless people attend worship on Sundays. For those who want to take the next step, there is a rehab facility, which we visited later in the day. We were too early to see the homeless gather for lunch, but we could smell the food cooking!

From Chisinau we drove a little over an hour to the town of Balti. Each congregation was planted by a servant of the Lord who was called to do so. Most of them were able to purchase buildings that were formerly Soviet facilities. The political climate currently is such that the government is very willing to sell these facilities to the Pentecostal Union, because of the extensive relief the members provide to the neediest members of their communities.
The church building in Balti was formerly a theater. The auditorium is used for worship gatherings and the rest of the building is filled with classrooms, prayer rooms and a dining room/kitchen.

The photo with happy faces is the schedule of the extensive list of classes such as sewing, ceramics, complete with a working kiln...a kiln at an afterschool program in the poorest country in Europe, go figure!

The sewing classroom is so tidy.
Wood working room...yes, wood working room!
The woodworking room even has a lathe! The resourcefulness of this poor country is astounding. Also, the churches do far more for with far less than the government does with a much bigger budget.
The art class was full of beautiful paintings and drawings, even though most projects the children take with them.
The cooking class is equipped with a kitchen just for teaching. There is a separate kitchen on the main floor for preparing meals for the needy. 

English class is also part of this after school program.

Again, we arrived too early to see the kids, but the servants of Jesus at this congregation are ready to teach and love on these 250 kids 5 days a week from 1-4pm. This program is so well respected by the community that the schools made a formal agreement that this congregation would be their partner in social work rather than the government agency. They also feed 45 street kids every day.

The people at this congregation are also very devoted in prayer and have a prayer chain 24/7 in which members come to pray around the clock and they even provide beds for those who come overnight and cannot get back home because public transportation does not run all night. There are also 2 small prayer rooms. The children are taught to pray that their parents will know Jesus and be saved.

The next place we visited was a church in Foresti which had been converted from a Soviet bank.

Check out the contrast between these buildings. The bottom pic is the old bank. The church offers after school Bible classes and feeding program for street kids and social orphans as well as "Adopt a Granny" program which provides care for the elderly. The gold-domed orthodox church is right across the street. Many orthodox congregations are puzzled that people flock to these humble buildings. Some are offended and critical. "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
An interesting history of the building is that the congregation used to meet secretly at a home across the street in the 70s. One member of that secret meeting told the believers there that he had a strong sense he believed was from the Lord that God was protecting them. Little did they know, the KGB was spying on them from the bank across the street with plans to arrest them. That same day, there was a fire that started accidentally because the roof was being redone with tar. The fire kept the KGB from making the arrest. 20 years later, the man who accidentally started the fire had become a believer and told the story of how God had used him to protect his church even while he was unsaved!

These kids are learning praise songs and Bible stories in the Royal Rangers program. Most of them would have no one to go home to after school. Here they are cared for and given the Words of Life!
The street kids can also get clean clothes, food and a shower here. There are several pictures like the one of the woman on the right (whose name I did not get) in the kitchen cooking. Preparing food for the street kids is a continual task and these women go about it with quiet faithfulness "as unto the Lord" because He said, "Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me."

Our next stop was a brand-new rehab center in Ciniseuti. The program is new, but the building is far from it as you can see in the pics.This is a great example of how all of these programs started. They did not wait for everything to be perfect and planned. The most important thing to have in place seems to be the calling from the Lord on the people He plans to use. They just get to work with what they have knowing God will provide as the need arises.
This rehab center serves 26 men and women who have drug/alcohol addiction and want to overcome it. These pics don't really show how badly this place needs repair.
It doesn't stop Ruslan (in the black hoodie) from taking them in, helping them get cleaned up, teaching Bible classes and leading worship and praise in the meeting room.
They have been there just since May and hope to put on a new pitched roof before the rainy season because there is a leak. (You can see the damaged ceiling in the photo of the meeting room with the green floor and pews). They simply proceed with what they have and are affecting change by the power of Jesus in the lives of the people.

These men are 4 of 26 who would be freezing on the streets with no practical help or hope if it weren't for this facility. This is the men's dormitory. The beds were built by a volunteer from Sweden who brought in all the wood and materials.

This is Uri. He arrived while we were touring upstairs. We watched as Bishop Victor asked him where he had come from and why he was there. He said he has been an alcoholic for 50 years
and that he had lost his family and his apartment. He was at the point in which he would either die or change. Bishop asked him if he was ready to change and he said "Da!" "Yes!" From here they will help him get cleaned up, give him new clothes, a warm bed and most importantly, the good news about the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus Christ! Note: In trying to take this photo discretely, wouldn't you know my flash went off!? Forgive me Uri! I don't think he noticed, actually.

There are also chickens and cows to take care of, so they can get to work right away. It helps to be useful and do your part in a community.

The last place we visited was back in Chisinau. It was a house for "rebellious teenagers." They can stay for 1 night or 6 years. It is an "open shelter" meaning the children are free to come and go as they need to. Most of them are social orphans. Some have been trafficked as prostitues or slaves. The goal of this house is to convey the love of God and the sense of family, which includes structure and rules but in a loving and supportive environment. There is a psychologist who sees the children individually and in groups. This group is recognized by the government organization Cener of Resources for children and though they are not a church, they are allowed to invite the children to church and to study the Bible. Each year they have children who are baptized. The director gets messages on social media from kids who have stayed there. He got a call from one boy who was in prison for theft. After that, the young man was baptized and got a job. Two years later he will be conducting the young man's wedding!
The director shows us one of the girls dorm rooms.
Laundry hangs outside to dry on the balcony.
Thanks to the generosity of church and community members, the supply room is full of food and clothing. The people give out of their own poverty! God brings forth the increase and does wonders with so little. Praise Him!

Now that Mike and I have taken in all we have seen, we will wait on the Lord to make clear how he wants us to work. We greatly appreciate your prayers!

1 comment:

  1. Pictures still didn'the come through so can'take wait for you to come ho.e so I can see them.