N.C. Baptists begin partnership with Moldova
    April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    CHISINAU, MOLDOVA — Every day at school John was told God did not exist. He remembers when youth in his village were taken off to prison after soldiers finally discovered they had printed portions of the New Testament.  

    Growing up in Moldova, when it was part of the Soviet Union and being a Christian was not allowed, did not make life easy for John Miron, his seven siblings and parents. In his village there was no church, so his family met with other believers in what they called underground church. The government forbid them to meet publicly, so they met privately in homes throughout the village. John could never tell anyone he was going to church or that he had been to church.  

    John’s parents did not have much, but they worked hard to provide for their family. One day his dad’s cow — the family’s main source of food — got sick. His dad refused to try and sell a sick cow. So for 12 days the family prayed and fasted.  

    “God healed the cow,” John said. And that became the moment John said will be forever etched in his memory when he knew God cared about their family and would always provide for them. God used that experience to teach John to trust Him. John knew when he received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior that his faith may bring persecution. Yet, God took his fear away and replaced it with a great desire to serve.  

    “I knew when I grew up I wanted to serve Him,” he said.  

    John is now president of the Baptist Union of Moldova and pastor of a Baptist church in a country with an evangelical population of less than two percent. About 3.5 million people live in Moldova and the predominant religion is Eastern Orthodox.  

    Moldova, situated between Ukraine on the north, east and south and Romania on the west, experienced great spiritual revival in the early 1990s as the Soviet Union collapsed, the country gained independence and its citizens their religious freedom.  

    “People were thirsty for the gospel,” John said. “The people were looking for hope; they were looking for God.”  

    Things are different now. John described Moldova as a country growing more and more interested in secular, worldly things as the interest in God and spiritual things is less and less.  

    BSC photo

    John Miron, once an atheist, leads the Baptist Union of Moldova. Less than two percent of Moldova’s population is evangelical. See photo gallery.

    At least 700 villages in the country are without a church or evangelical presence of any kind, while at least one Orthodox church is in 99 percent of all villages.  

    Moldova is a poor country, the poorest in Eastern Europe, and agriculture is the country’s main economic source. Many people living in Moldova — John estimated as many as 1.5 million — actually work outside Moldova because they cannot find work in the country. While some who work outside Moldova only do so for periods of time and then return home, others never return, leaving nearly 190,000 children as orphans.   

    Earlier this year the World Health Organization named Moldova as the world leader in alcohol consumption. Human trafficking is also very prevalent in Moldova.  

    Despite all this, John is not discouraged. He has not left to do ministry anywhere else, nor will he, because he said God gave him a responsibility to share the gospel with the people of Moldova. “We go every month by faith,” he said. “We are like the Israelites coming out of the wilderness. Every month we make it a step of faith.”  

    John began his ministry working in youth ministry in one of the largest Baptist churches of Moldova. After several years of ministry training in Bucharest he returned to Moldova and helped organize a Bible college. He also got involved in church planting and ministry with the Baptist Union.  

    As president of the Union, John is working closely with the Baptist State Convention (BSC) as the Convention begins a partnership between Baptists in North Carolina and Baptists in Moldova.  

    The partnership, organized by the Convention’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships, is set to be at least a three-year partnership in which North Carolina Baptists will help the Baptist Union in three strategic efforts: evangelize, congregationalize and disciple the residents of Moldova; strengthen their ability to train, send and support an international missions force; and provide leadership development opportunities for pastors.  

    “We praise God for the opportunity to be in this partnership and for Him to give us this hand of help,” John said. “We appreciate North Carolina Baptists who are part of God’s plan in Moldova.”

    Moldova is uniquely situated to not only impact Moldova with the gospel, but the rest of the world. “Moldova is involved in the mission outside of Moldova,” John said. “We are blessed to be in a special context.”  

    For example, the Bible college in Moldova is training many students who are from countries that are resistant to the gospel. These students will take the gospel back home once their studies are complete.  

    Though they may be few in number, the Christians in Moldova are hungry to learn more about God.

    Yet, the opportunity for training and equipping is rare. To kick off the new partnership, the BSC recently sent a team to Moldova to lead in conferences for pastors, women and youth. One pastor who attended the conference said, “Pastor John, I’m going home with a new strength, a new hope.”

    “God has already used North Carolina Baptists in Moldova,” John said.   Michael Sowers, consultant for Great Commission Partnerships, said one goal of the partnership is to send a North Carolina team to each of the 33 districts in Moldova. North Carolina Baptists who come to Moldova will be involved in leading an evangelistic outreach on Friday and Saturday nights in the main town or village in the district they are serving that week.  

    Teams will also be involved in various outreach activities, such as day camps in order to teach the Bible, sports and other children’s activities. Teams can host a medical clinic or minister to senior adults who often live in poverty.  

    “We are praying God will use this partnership to advance the gospel not only throughout Moldova, but throughout the world,” Sowers said.  

    “Our Moldovan brothers and sisters are ready to do whatever it takes to see the name of Jesus Christ glorified. We pray for God to send out many North Carolina Baptists as workers into His harvest field.”  

    Believers in Moldova are ready for a great revival to once again sweep across the country. “I’m praying the people of Moldova may hear the beat of God’s heart,” John said. “And that their hearts may feel like God’s heart for unsaved hearts.”

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    4/15/2011 9:11:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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