Jesus is enoughby BSCNC Communications
UNGHENI, MOLDOVA – After just a day or two, walking on piles of snow and narrow strips of ice was a welcome relief from mud.
Walking on mud that has hardened some wasn’t so bad because you could gingerly step on the top and squish along, slipping and sliding. Walking through the soft mud was more challenging. Navigating through that was more like sloshing, and should anyone remain in one place for too long, the mud became like quicksand.
Sometimes the mud is even too much for the “Moldovan Mercedes-Benz” (a horse and cart, the common mode of transportation in villages) to handle.
The 11 staff members of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) who recently participated in a mission trip to Moldova became well acquainted with mud roads in Moldovan villages. For one week the team went to door-to-door throughout villages in the Ungheni district, distributing food and sharing the gospel.
Each day they served in a different village and followed mud-laden pathways to meet people, often being invited to visit inside their homes. In one home an 11-year-old boy lay in bed, unable to walk. A wheelchair sat next to his bed, but it seemed daunting to get the boy and wheelchair down the slippery, muddy hill.
The team met two older ladies, a mom and her daughter, living in a home consisting of only two twin-sized beds with barely enough room to stand in between, a small wooden stove on the floor which served as means for cooking and heating the home, and one cabinet.
The mom was bed-ridden and could not get up to go to the bathroom (for many Moldovans, a bathroom is nothing more than a squat toilet – a hole in the ground). So a table next to the bed with a pan served as her bathroom and a urine smell smothered the home.
The mission team saw similar living conditions in every village they visited.
Jimmy Huffman, director of Caraway Conference Center, spent some time during the week going door-to-door in apartment buildings in the city area of Ungheni. In one apartment he said he saw the worst living conditions he had ever seen.
“One man living in the apartment looked like he was at the end of his rope,” Huffman said. “When I reached out to touch him, you could tell that was the first time in a long time anyone had showed him any kind of compassion. I continue seeing that image in my mind.”
Moldova is marked by extreme poverty. Moldova is the poorest country in Eastern Europe, with agriculture serving as its main economic source.
At first glance it doesn’t seem so obvious. In the Ciripcani village, homes painted blue and green (popular colors in Moldova) are nestled among sprawling, rolling hills and the village seemed still and peaceful.
But for many Moldovans, home life is anything but peaceful. It is not uncommon for men to go to Russia or other countries to find work in order to support their family back in Moldova. Some return home, but many do not.
Human trafficking is very prevalent in Moldova, and the prime years are from ages 12-19. Up to 600,000 teenagers are lured into trafficking each year.
Moldova is also a spiritually dark place, with an evangelical population of less than two percent.
Despite all this, believers of Jesus Christ do live in Moldova and although few in number, their faith is strong and their joy undeniable.
“We have more stuff than we know what to do with. They have nothing. But they have a contentment we don’t have,” said Merrie Johnson, BSCNC senior consultant for student evangelism and ministry.
Johnson met a man, a paraplegic, living in an apartment that would be condemned in the United States. He was a Christian, and wanted the mission team to go visit a friend who was not a believer. And he wanted to go with them.
The team carried him from his apartment to the car, and then up flights of steps in the next apartment building to the fifth floor. “Nothing was easy for him,” Johnson said. “But he had such a burden for his friends to know Jesus.”
Pastors in the villages share that same excitement, passion and burden for people to know Jesus.
“I remember walking into the house of culture the first night and being overwhelmed by the body of Christ,” said Ashley Allen, director of Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries. “I will never forget seeing all the deacons and youth and church members we had worked with during the week.”
During the former Soviet Union days, buildings called the house of culture were used to teach Communist ideals.
Allen shared how the pastors rejoiced when people in their village came to know Christ, and when people from other villages came to know Christ. “There was excitement that the Kingdom of God was growing,” she said.
One pastor the team met grew up in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city, but said he felt God calling him to disciple people in the villages.
One night after the evangelistic service the Convention staff had already boarded the van to head back to Chisinau when a local pastor came on the van, grinning from ear to ear. “Someone in our village got saved tonight,” he shouted.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSCNC executive director-treasurer, was encouraged by the faith of Moldovan believers.
“The people in Moldova have so little. In order to have what they need to do the work of the church, they must depend on God to provide,” he said. “We have so much here in the United States that we don’t recognize God has blessed us with all that we enjoy. We fail to give Him praise, and we take our eyes off God and focus more on ourselves.”
Students of Moldova’s Bible College, which began in 1994, are certainly depending on God. Many students moved to Moldova from a country that is closed to the gospel, but will return home when they graduate to evangelize and disciple people in their country.
“These college students can help multiply our efforts in Moldova,” Hollifield said. “They can have more of an impact reaching their own countries than we can sending American missionaries into these countries that are hostile to the gospel.”
Alexander Suparscky, who oversees the work in Ungheni as well as three other districts in Moldova, is making a Kingdom impact in his homeland. Every day he went with members of the Convention mission team to visit in the village homes. In all 56 villages he works with, Suparscky said the poverty is great.
Every day Suparscky, as well as local pastors, deacons and church members, worked with the Convention staff and shared their heart’s desire to see people in these villages come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Suparscky’s father is a pastor. “I thought if I lived in a Christian home I was a Christian,” Suparscky said. But at age 14 God revealed to him in a dream that he was living in the dark.
“Now, I live in the light,” he said.
This is the third article in a series about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s staff mission trip to Moldova. To learn more about how to get involved in Moldova, contact Michael Sowers and the BSCNC Office of Great Commission Partnerships at (800) 395-5102 ext. 5654 or visit www.ncbaptist.org/moldova.For photos and videos, visit www.flickr.com/ncbaptist or www.vimeo.com/channels/2012findithere.