“The church is depending on you to get a message into the hearts of unbelievers. They will be very resistant. It’s up to you. You must succeed.” I sat there with tremors running through my body as I tried to hold back the tears and the agony of probable failure.
I noticed that I was repeating to myself, “Everything I have I do not need and everything I need I do not have.” God was speaking, in the midst of this uniquely challenging episode of my life, not just a true Word of the Lord but also a soon to be indispensable message.
If not for the fact that God is the owner and distributor of spiritual gifts I never would have been able to fulfill the request from Titi Bulzan to serve his church in Arad, Romania as an evangelist. It was a critical turning point in the life of the Golgatha Baptist Church. How would I, with zero practiced skills in evangelism, meet the congregation’s need?
It’s like finding an oasis in the desert with a bubbling natural spring of refreshing water and a variety of fruit trees in season. This sanctuary in the barren wasteland nurtures body, mind and spirit.
There is a praise chorus that proclaims and repeats, “Our God reigns.” In a materialistic world where even religion is overrun by disbelief, how does one person’s experience that God reigns become a compelling witness to others?
I began writing this story in the year 2013. I returned from Hungary and Romania exactly 31 years ago when I was 31 years old. I have been telling Romania and Hungary stories frequently for half my life.
We boarded the bus early in the morning for an 11:00 A.M. service in Timisoara. I was preoccupied by our late-night visit to Titi and Ligia’s home. This encounter now had a never to be forgotten grip on my heart, despite the fact that there was no reasonable expectation of ever seeing them again.
Reinhold had traveled before under the strictures of communist and other coercive governments, he told me, and it was never possible for Americans to figure out what behavior would or would not build binding ties to our Baptist brethren nor what behavior would incur the wrath of the oppressors. “Just make sure you are listening to God.”
A prayer at the border: “Almighty God, protect our brothers and sisters in Romania from fear and persecution; keep us safe as we enter Romania knowing that whatever happens we are held in Your hands. Amen”.
Among my significant others, there was no resistance to my accepting a call to a Preaching Mission behind the Iron Curtain. This was a surprise.