ROMANIA : 31 OCTOBER 2007
Today was my only truly difficult day due to health. I had been feeling unsettled since Monday afternoon, but all day the pain grew increasingly worse until I came frighteningly close to passing out during evening services. I had to leave after only half an hour and return home, straight to bed. Cornelia came looking for me soon after and tried to suggest some remedies to ease the symptoms but I opted to rely on the medicines I brought from home. I learned later that she has dealt with much the same issues for many years, also resulting from a surgery. I did not learn whether it was the same surgery as mine (gall bladder) or something else, but I appreciated her concern and understanding.
Despite the ending, today we saw four salvations and many visitations to church members for encouragement. This is something I had never been comfortable doing before, but I’m finding it easy to simply pray in a specific way with no forced efforts. And I have come to love these people and to see them as Brother Avram sees them – with my heart full of concern for their spiritual states. I hope the time here in Romania will influence my courage back in the States and something as simple as encouragement will come without second thought.
Not totally due to my physical state, today was John’s day. Home after home brought connections through shared farm experiences, and he led many to Christ through this simple opening. He has mentioned how important is this story from his life that was previously nothing more than a humorous anecdote. We are so amazed at God’s choices for our words.
On this day we visited Pavel and shared pieces of our stories with him and encouraged him to share his own story with his neighbors. No sooner had we prayed with him in this way than he stood and beckoned us to follow. We walked across these wonderfully rickety bridges from Pavel’s home to the home of some neighbors whom he had been inviting to church repeatedly but had yet to receive an encouraging response. When we arrived at the home of Ioan and Florica, they had been joined by their friend Valeria, who is also Cornelia’s neighbor. No doubt God had divinely appointed this meeting. What I have learned is that the hospitable nature of these villagers makes them always willing to invite you into their homes, and that willingness has led us to God-conversations again and again. I have no doubts about Who is orchestrating this week for us.
Ioan, Florica and Valeria listened intently to our stories, and again John made connections through the farm anecdotes. My task today was in prayer support toward salvation. These three people who were formerly uninterested in attending church were all willing and ready to invite Jesus into their hearts. I was witness to a heart-change and saw true understanding in their eyes. The hearts of so many in this village have been shielded by their minds and by the false message that heaven is achieved by their own hands. God has been summarily exposing this lie, and He is reaching down to reveal His love and desire for them to live with Him for eternity. We know that Ioan, Florica and Valeria are now invited in, and how perfect that their friend Pavel was witness to this moment.
We encouraged Pavel to continue the work by reaching out to many more of his neighbors and sharing his own testimony with them. He nodded in agreement even as he led us to yet another neighbor in the area. Watching the Lord excite Pavel by His work remains one of my sweetest memories of this day.
Pavel next took us to one more neighbor. This man lives with a woman not his wife, and also present was the woman’s mother; we learned later that there is a family connection to our beloved Brother Avram. Our visit was intended for the man of the house, but I know the Lord had much to say to the women as well. The man was full of much talk and an equal amount of aggravation at not finding a church that suited him. We discovered later that he had at one time visited every single church in the village but had also been asked to leave by many of them. He is loud, opinionated, and leans toward obnoxious, but as we know so well, these are simply defense mechanisms used to shield oneself from facing hard truths in life. We could say very little to this man on this day that changed his mind about church and about God, but we were faithful to share what was laid upon our hearts and we trust God with the rest. I am praying that God shows the people surrounding this family just how to love them and welcome them into their fellowship. God has a special place for difficult personalities, and if there’s anything I know from my own life it’s that God often takes these type people and makes them great warriors for Him. I look forward to the day that this particular warrior comes to Christ.
The day continued with a visit to another of Brother Avram’s family members, the home of his father-in-law. Though we were not fully aware of this fact at the time, we came to understand just how prayed for was this dear man. He is surrounded by Christians within his immediate family, yet he has never felt an urgency to commit his life to the Lord. John was able to speak freely and directly for a very long time, eventually bringing Ion to understanding and brokenness that led to his salvation. Avram’s face echoed the feeling of everyone in the room: prayers of the faithful are never in vain.
While God was working in Ion’s heart and through John’s story, I had the unusual experience of connecting with the man’s granddaughter, Paola, who was maybe 4 or 5 years old. It is not my experience to bond with very young children; I am generally unable to find a commonality that opens a door to relationship. But this day, with Paola, I was able to form a bond through a small gift of notepad and crayons. Throughout John’s conversation with Ion, I played with Paola, braiding her hair with curling ribbons and playing a sort of peek-a-boo that gave her great joy. This served not only to boost my own heart but also to keep Paola occupied while the adults were involved in the serious business of salvation. At the end of the day, thinking back on this hour, I realized that the Lord had chosen Romania as the site of my freedom from much self-conscious behavior and thought. What has previously terrified me – being the center of attention with children and discomfort amongst the elderly – is no longer the monster I allowed it to be. I look forward to just how God intends to use this revelation in the days and years ahead.
continue reading: Day Eight