"And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:36-38).
Eduard, our visionary Moldovan friend on the right, took this selfie of the group of pastors desiring to begin the Institute of Church Planting (ICP) about 2 hours from Chişinău. We have the training materials on the table available in Romanian and Russian - the two languages spoken in Moldova. Bill Braun (ABWE) is standing behind Eduard.
Spreading our Wings!
The crowds were gathering in Capernaum and clamoring to see Jesus. He was having a “successful” ministry there. Can you imagine the surprise of the disciples when He said, “Let’s go somewhere else?" After 33 years of fruitful ministry in Peru, to our great surprise, the Lord said to us “Let’s go somewhere else” and He took us to India for a year to train 30 church planters. Then He took us to Central America and the Caribbean for 10 years where we had multiple ministries training missionaries and national leaders. Following those amazing years, He once again said “Let’s go somewhere else” and this time it was to Chişinău, Moldova to serve as professors in a Christian University (UDG) and for church planting. On our survey trip to Moldova in 2016, we shared with the Moldovan leadership at UDG and the Association of Baptist Churches our desire to prepare leaders for multiplying churches as we had done in other countries. Just as He did in India and in Nicaragua, the Lord raised up a Moldovan leader who understood the potential of this vision. The time has finally come here in Moldova, and the Lord has put us together with a visionary Moldovan pastor/entrepreneur, Eduard, to multiply churches all over Moldova. We have already begun the 2 ½ year training program with several leaders of new church plants right on the border of the Russian controlled province of Transnistria which is about 20 miles from Chişinău. Recently, we met with several pastors (pictured above) just outside Balţi, the second largest city in Moldova, where they are very enthusiastic about inviting even more pastors to start the training at the beginning of March. This location is about a 2 hour drive from Chişinău. It is possible that there could be one or two more locations for the Institute of Church Planting (ICP). Our goal, and the goal of the Moldovan leadership, is to see Great Commission churches raised up with a vision to make disciples, start churches, and present the gospel to every person in this country and beyond. Yes, we have helped to plant one church in the capital city of Chişinău, but now it is time to spread our wings to see Moldova saturated with gospel preaching Great Commission churches. At this point, Rich will be doing all the classroom teaching and Jo Ann is planning to work with the wives of the pastors and church planters as they also need encouragement and training. Bill and Denise Braun (ABWE) will be coaching on the practical side.
Taking a short break from our training in Ciruleni, next to Transnistria. Though not everyone was captured in this quick shot, there were 7 leaders taking the training this week. Andrey and Natalia are included in this picture as well as a couple of members of a nearby participating church.
Lift Off We are getting up to speed and lifting off with our first group of ICP trainees (pictured above) and the second group to begin in two weeks. There are a couple of challenges that need prayer as the Lord brings it to your mind: First, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and many of these Moldovan leaders are living with the barest means of support. We are providing all the training materials for our students and also the meals when we meet together. Andrey and Natalia have 9 children, most of whom are foster children or adopted. This family, like the other pastors, does have some support here in the country but they need help with things like putting fuel in their cars, etc. We would like to help these families with some of their basic needs on a monthly basis. It would bless these families greatly if we were able to provide something like $100 a month to help with the cost of transportation. Please pray with us that the Lord would touch the hearts of those churches and individuals who are able and willing to help these faithful servants for the next 2-3 years. Jo Ann and I are limited in our ability to go beyond what we are already doing for this ministry. Second, there is concern among the Moldovan people and government as the war in Ukraine becomes more violent. There are reports that Russia is trying to take over the Moldovan government, while at the same time scheduled to begin a major “military exercise” in Ukraine later this week, which is the one-year anniversary of the start of the current war. If successful, Russia could push through Ukraine and move right into Moldova should it desire. Moldova is not capable of defending itself, and taking Moldova would provide a platform for Russia to attack Ukraine from the south. The Lord knows what He has planned, and we simply ask that you join us in prayer that peace would come soon to Ukraine and any threat to Moldova be eliminated. There is so much that we would still like to do for His glory!
Some of Andrey and Natalia's children were home from school and joined us during the training session. The other 5 children were attending the afternoon sessions at school.
Flying - Through Courses No doubt, some are wondering how we can keep up with our courses at the Christian University (UDG) while starting this exciting new ministry. We should not be amazed that the Lord orchestrated Rich’s teaching schedule this semester so that he was able to complete his 30-hour course on Discipleship in just three weeks! Yes, it was a challenge teaching several days a week for several hours each day, but the Lord had a reason for helping me complete that assignment in record time. Both Jo Ann and I co-taught for a month on the Christian Family this semester, and that too has been completed. Jo Ann continues to teach English at the University as well as to a group of leaders in our local church (Imago Dei Baptist Church) while also studying the Romanian language online.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous financial support. Please continue praying that the Lord would give us the health and strength to push forward during the current challenges.