Ready to impact the next generation
    April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    When Mihai Caraivan found out his dad had become a Christian he didn’t know what to say or how to react. “I couldn’t believe my ears,” he said. “That was the surprise of my life.”  

    Caraivan grew up in a family that did not believe in God. Even when his dad received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, Caraivan wanted nothing to do with God. So the prodigal son left home. After a year and a half of arguing with his dad he could not take it any longer. “I was against everything my dad said,” he said.  

    Caraivan did not know it at the time, but while he was gone his dad continued praying for him. The day came when Caraivan, out of money and options for work, had to come home. When he did, he was ready to listen, and at age 20 Caraivan became a Christian. He now works with the Baptist Union of Moldova in the area of youth ministry. “It is a joy to see youth serve the Lord,” he said. Caraivan enjoys working with youth because, “you are impacting a full life ahead.”  

    BSC photo

    Moldovan children learn Bible stories during a training event for leaders. See photo gallery.

    When Caraivan started going to church his dad was the youngest member of the church, and the church really didn’t have any youth or young adults involved. Caraivan decided he wanted to do what he could to share his faith with other youth because he knew what he had been missing out on all those years. He knew, personally, the life-changing power of the gospel.  

    One of the challenges for Caraivan is a lack of prepared youth leaders. Even when the leadership is trained, it is very transient, as many Moldovans move in order to find jobs because they cannot find jobs in the country. Caraivan has learned that one of the most effective ways to reach youth with the gospel is by getting to know them and forming friendships. One-to-one, or life-on-life, is when opportunities to share the gospel really abound. Caraivan said that to a non-believer, “seeing an actual life lived for Christ” makes all the difference.  

    The Baptist State Convention (BSC) recently sent a team to Moldova to kick off a new partnership with the Baptist Union of Moldova. The team helped lead a one-day youth conference.  

    David Johnson* is a first-year student at the Bible college in Moldova who attended the youth conference. Johnson said he enrolled in the college because he wants to serve people, study about missions and be involved in youth ministry.  

    The Bible college, which began in 1994, has about 140 students enrolled. Most of the teachers are from Moldova. All the teachers have at least a master’s degree and some a doctorate.  

    Through his studies Johnson is learning evangelism tools and strategies that will help him when he returns home after college. Johnson, like many other Bible college students, moved to Moldova from a country that is closed to the gospel. But Johnson isn’t waiting until he goes home to engage in ministry. While in Moldova he is learning more about other religions and languages, and he is friends with people of different religious backgrounds. He is praying for opportunities to share the gospel.  

    Matt Williams* is a third-year Bible college student who grew up in central Moldova. One reason he came to the youth conference is because of the missions focus. “I enjoyed hearing about the Great Commission and the importance of sharing the gospel, and how they motivated us to answer the call.”  

    Williams is studying at the college because he wants to be obedient to God’s call on his life to be a pastor. He plans to begin serving with an existing church, with hopes of planting a church. Williams has learned through his studies the importance of equipping Christians for missions and actually living out the gospel.  

    “As Christians, we need to give a good example; a genuine example,” he said. “Lots of people say they are Christians, and they have heard about God, but they aren’t Christians. So, they need to see something different.”  

    John Smith* is a youth leader in Comrat, a city in southern Moldova, who attended the pastor’s conference in Chisinau because he wanted to learn how to multiply his ministry and how to be more effective in evangelism, especially among youth.  

    Although such conferences and training opportunities are rare, Smith hopes youth leaders can learn more about how to be effective in ministry. Smith said too often church leaders look to youth in the church to be involved and bearing fruit, yet the youth have never been taught how to do that. Youth get frustrated when they can’t meet those expectations, and as a result, some leave the church.  

    “The world offers them a lot of things,” he said. “The world offers more entertainment. Youth think it’s boring in the church.” When that happens, “the church loses the youth,” Smith said.  

    The church must continue teaching youth about Jesus and what Jesus Christ values, he said. The church must show youth that Jesus is better than anything the world offers.  

    *Names changed

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    4/15/2011 7:57:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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