I want to share the single most significant event I experienced during a recent trip to Romania. It occurred on a Sunday. I was sent to preach in a village 90 minutes drive west of Iasi, where there has been recent severe persecution of Romanian Baptists by the Orthodox Church. After preaching in the morning at the Baptist church, and having lunch with the pastor and his wife, I was told that I was being taken to meet with a group in a forest in the mountains. I did not know what to expect. I was told I would have just one hour with them, as we had to be back in Iasi for the Sunday evening service.
We drove about 15 miles into the country, then up into the hills over rough dirt roads to a remote mountain village. We stopped at a house and went inside. I found ten people sitting in a small room in a circle, waiting for me. There was also a translator.
Sitting together in the room were eight children and two ladies: one probably around 60, who is the only Christian in the village; and her grown daughter, who is not yet a believer but currently counting the cost of identifying with Christ in baptism and forsaking the Orthodox religion.
The lady had been meeting with the eight children. They had nowhere indoors to meet, so they had become a ‘forest’ church, meeting regularly outdoors among the trees.
Recently, a little girl among them had prayed to the true God that he would give them a room to meet in, out of the cold and rain. Now the younger daughter’s husband has finally allowed them to meet in his house.
As I wondered what to share, I went to John 3 and began to talk about the children of Israel and Moses with the serpent in the wilderness. But the translator stopped me and said in broken English, ‘They do not know who or what Israel was and they do not know who Moses was’.
I was startled and moved in my heart, as I realised that here was a group that knew nothing at all. What was I to do?
I decided to do what Paul did in Acts 17 when faced with a people who knew nothing. I shared the same truths as he did, and then went back and explained who Israel and Moses were.
Then I went on to John 3, explaining the serpent in the wilderness and that the Son of God was put on a pole like that to die for sinners.
I closed by exhorting them to put all their trust in Christ and give themselves to him.
I then taught them a children’s chorus which they could remember long after I would be gone.
When I closed, I did not know what to do. The children were dirty, ragged, beautiful Romanian children, who wanted to know about Christ. As I drove away, I could hardly take it in, that God had given me the unspeakable privilege, at least once in my life, of doing what Paul did many times — telling the good news of Jesus Christ to some who had never, ever heard anything at all of the gospel.
I shall never forget it. There were other outstanding experiences in Romania and Moldova this trip; but none for me compared to that of meeting with a forest church of one woman and eight children.
Pray for them please. And pray for me, that I will never get over it!