The Bucharest Concert Tour/Crusades
It was an exciting ride from Hunedoara to Bucharest. We drove through majestic mountains and quaint old world villages along the way. It had been 3 years since I was in Bucharest and I was very excited to return and renew some friendships that I have attempted to maintain via email and the internet. As much as I enjoyed the churches and fellowship in the Western half of the country, I was looking forward to the civilization of Bucharest and the hustle and bustle of big city life once again. The crusades were all scheduled in churches and halls that I was already familiar with and I was interested in how we would be received a second time around.
Rich always refers to our trips to Romania as a concert tour, but in reality, they are much more than that; especially this time around since time was put into training the leadership of the churches to personally deal with those who made professions of faith or wanted prayer in regards to their walk with Christ. It truly was a crusade tour!
The Saturday morning Pastor/Leaders meetings were not as well attended as expected, but they were a blessing. Overall, we had over 25 who came to hear me challenge them on the subject of “The Life a Disciple” from Luke chapter 9. Even though many of the prayers that were offered up were spoken in Romanian, I enjoyed listening to their passion as they poured out their hearts to God asking Him to bless our efforts and to fill each venue with non believers. And those prayers were answered! Each event was filled with visitors, many who heard the gospel for the first time.
All 3 crusades (as I have been referring to them) were as good as the next in Bucharest. As I stated in an earlier blog, the addition of the Romanian Impact Quartet was a real blessing! They had never been to Bucharest for a concert tour so they were as excited as we were. We were praying that they would be well received and invited back; and they were. (By the way, they blessed me with one of their CD’s and DVD’s. I would love to share their music with you sometime, just ask! Yes, for some of you that will require a trip to AZ, but you have wanted to visit us anyway so let’s get busy and make plans!) In the meantime, you can find them on the internet at www.impactquartet.ro and you can click on the “TRANSLATE” button and it will translate the entire site into English.
The first crusade was held in the new facility at Grace Baptist Church. I never expected to see a brand new church in Bucharest. The city is pretty much land locked but apparently not as much as I was led to believe. The music was well received even though this crowd was a bit more subdued than the others in Bucharest. There were a dozen or so hands for salvation and even more to re-dedicate their lives to Christ. What a blessing it truly was.
The next morning, we regrouped and headed to the Scala Movie Theatre in the University district of downtown Bucharest. We were scheduled to have the entire morning service at Good News Baptist Church, which meets in the Scala Theatre. The last time we were in Bucharest, Good News met at the Sola Dallas Theatre, but since then, they have outgrown that facility and needed to move to a larger venue. This was the crusade that was broadcast by Credo TV. We were surprised to learn that the church had several things of its own that they needed to include in the service, but God worked despite the changes. I met a missionary from Bolivia who is originally from Good News Church. She is married to a Bolivian, they have 3 children, and they are planting a church in Bolivia. She asked me if I would be willing to video tape a message to her husband who was not on this trip home with her and encourage him with what I thought the most important thing he as the head of his family and a fairly new missionary needed to focus on. I shared that the most important thing that he needs to remember is to be a leader in his home, raising Godly children while he balances his calling in the ministry to serve God as a pastor and missionary. Through the years, Roberta and I have met many a missionary and pastor who neglected the largest mission field they had, their own families. I shared some other things with him and she seemed to appreciate my words. We exchanged cards and I know that God will bring us together again someday. We will wait and see how God brings that about!
I also had the opportunity to speak to an African woman from the Congo who came forward during the invitation and for several minutes, she was the only one who had the courage to walk down the aisle. There were hands all over the theatre, but she stood alone until a husband and wife also came with tears rolling down their cheeks, but before we knew it, there were many others as well. She made a point to tell me that just like the Samaritan women at the well, she had many friends from her village that need to hear about Jesus’ “well of living water.” What a blessing she was!
The teens from the church performed a pantomime that depicted a girl who had received Christ. Being drawn back into a world of sin, Jesus helped her overcome her struggles and protected her from the power of sin. It was powerful to say the least, and it went so well with my message about the women at the well. After the service I met a woman from Kansas City who is a missionary in Bucharest and a friend of the girl who was the main character in the pantomime. She was very complementary toward our entire presentation and was impressed that the church allowed us to have an alter call. Alter calls are rare in Romania, but we are trusting that the pastor’s will begin to understand their responsibility to invite people to make a public profession of faith. Again, another small thing with great results!
Sunday afternoon was spent fellowshipping with the guys from the Impact Quartet over a lunch that lasted all afternoon. We then headed to Holy Trinity Baptist Church for our last crusade. I love this church! I think, no I know, it is because the pastor is a great model to his people and they have energy like no other church we have been to in Romania. It is unusual for the Romanian Christians to clap to the music without being prompted to do so. Pastor Cornell was sitting behind me singing along and clapping away, and so was most of the church. There were a lot of visitors at Holy Trinity that evening and both of the quartets were performing at their highest level and the Spirit of God was so prevalent. Just like the 2007 tour, Holy Trinity was filled with young people and young families. Pastor Cornell wanted me to give an alter call at the end of my message and invite people to come forward. This was not their practice, but he wants to change that. No one came. So I asked if anyone had prayed the prayer I led them in and hands went up all over the place. Afterwards, Pastor Cornell told me not to be discouraged that they did not come forward, (which I wasn’t) stating that he will have to change the way he does things and we will have to wait on God and see what happens. I love this guy! He is so happy and so encouraging and just warms my soul. While the quartets finished with the last few songs after the message, a young girl by the name of Georgiana, around 16 years of age, came up and sat next to me. She spoke in clear English with a Romanian accent and told me that she was too afraid to come forward during the invitation. She apologized for that and told me that she was visiting tonight and that she knew Christ as her Savior but until tonight, she never realized that her relationship with Christ should include two way conversations with God. She asked how she could hear God speak to her and we had a great conversation while the guys kept singing. I encouraged her to begin with the book of John, telling her that it is a great love story of the love God has for her. She was so excited by what I had to say that she hugged me and asked me to pray with her right there; again, another exciting experience of seeing God at work right in front of our eyes.
I saw a young man about 15 with blond hair and blue eyes and I spoke to him in English as I was heading to the back to shake hands. His mother asked how I knew he could speak English and I told her that it has been my experience that most of the teens could speak enough English to have a cordial conversation, but with his blond hair and blue eyes, I figured he was not Romanian. I was right. They are missionaries with the Evangelical Baptist Mission out of Minneapolis, MN and they are working in Pastor Cornell’s church teaching small groups and teaching others how to run small groups. This too is an unusual concept for Romanian Christians. She told me that the work is off to a slow start, but they are plugging away at it. I told her that I thought they were beginning in the right church and she told me how supportive Pastor Cornell was of their ministry. I told you, I love this pastor’s heart!
Pastor Cornell had arranged a dinner for us after the crusade and we fellowshipped together one last time. I was dreading saying goodbye to the guys from Impact and I knew that as we loaded up the van, we would be heading home. As we were saying our goodbyes, we gathered in front of Impact’s van, (they had a 10 hour drive and it was already 10 P.M. and they all had jobs to go to in the morning.) Rich asked if I would close our time together in prayer. So we prayed! We had so many things to thank God for; our new friends, our old friends, willing churches, visitors, dozens of new converts, believers getting right with God, and the wonderful experiences God allowed each of us to have, individually and as a group. We were all so filled with happy tears and the promise of a future tour together.
Bucharest, was truly a blessing to each one of us and we can’t wait to do it all again! Thank you for praying for us through this journey. God kept His hand of protection on us and allowed us to be used for His glory! Wow, what a privilege, and you were a part of it all!
Now, don’t think this is all, because there is still more to tell. Roberta and I are on our flight from Munich to Chicago as I write this blog, and we are traveling economy class and my battery is about to lose its power. So, I will finish with at least one more blog from Christy and Andy’s home in Chicago as we recuperate, enjoy our kids, and spend a little Grandma and Papui time with Aidan. Hold on, I’ll be back!