Village churches in Moldova are of various sizes, locations, styles and atmospheres. Recently, I went with Matthew and a translator to visit a Russian-speaking church in Transnistria, the Russian enclave of Moldova that declares itself autonomous.
So to get there you have to cross their ‘border’, even though it’s not a ‘real’ country that is recognised by anyone else. Anyway, one of our team members Olea is from a church in that area. She is one of four girls preparing to go on a short-term mission this summer to Central Asia. Olea shared her testimony and about the mission trip she is going on.
Matthew preached in English and was translated into Russian. It was quite a large church and the service lasted two and a half hours, full of everything including prayer, testimonies, poetry, an accordion solo, a couple of sermons and a baby dedication!
I was glad that Olea was sitting with me, translating into Romanian from Russian so I could understand what was happening. On the way home she mentioned that her purse was full of money that people kept handing her for her mission trip.
A few weeks ago I travelled with Lilian, Olea and Viorica to Viorica’s tiny village church. Let me share with you this typical village visit.
We usually leave from Chisinau anywhere from 7.00- 8.30am, depending on how far we have to travel and what time the worship service begins. Lilian did the driving, which was good, because he knew the way!
Small but caring
As we were travelling I asked Viorica about her church. She told me there were about seven or eight members so I knew it would be a small church. But when we arrived it was so small I didn’t even recognise it as a church!
But from this tiny building the Christians in the community host a daily feeding programme for poor children of the village. The pastor and some other members do outreaches and programmes to help children in nearby villages as well. The churches here are committed to care; and sometimes it is the tiny ones that seem to care the most.
Once we arrived, we visited the little building in the back of the church (no indoor plumbing, you understand) and checked out the playground built by one of our summer teams for the community.
Eventually the congregation arrived and, between us and them, we filled all the seats in the tiny church. In fact, we took up almost half the chairs! After a time of singing, Viorica shared a testimony of how God is working in her life and how she feels called to go to Kazakhstan. She showed photos of the work she has been doing as a team member.
The church prayed for her. Then Lilian was invited to preach. One of the women recited a poem and the pastor also preached. I was given an opportunity to say something about Viorica, the work of our team and the mission she is going on. The service ended around noonâ€†’â€†a typical two-hour service.
Typically guests are then invited to someone’s home for a meal or served lunch at the church. In this case they just moved the chairs back, set up the table, and a feast appeared before us. The food was good and plentiful and it gave a great opportunity to get to know the pastor, his family and others.
I always come home from these visits feeling blessed, full, and more aware of the way of life in Moldova. Moldovans are some of the most hospitable people I know.
The author works with Operation Mobilisation