Moldovan pastor continues grandfather’s legacy
    March 28 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    CHISINAU, MOLDOVA — There they sat, the people he loved most in the world, staring at him with no idea who he was or why he knocked on the door and wanted to come into their home.

    It’s hard to blame them for not recognizing him. Ten years had gone by since they last saw or heard from him. Ten years ago he sent a friend racing to his home to give his family his Bible and to warn the family that they must hide the Bible and any other books or literature that talked about God. They had to act quickly because soldiers were on the way.

    The soldiers did come and they found everything — except the Bible. That Bible is the very one he bought at age 20 and used as he preached the gospel among villages in Ukraine.

    The police eventually put an end to his village preaching and sentenced him to 10 years in a Serbian prison. This was during the time when Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union and such preaching was not allowed.

    While in prison he became physically weak and unable to work. One day he found himself on death row, literally in a line of men about to meet death. He cried out, “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you can save me!” He’s not sure exactly how it happened, or how it was even possible that it could happen, but as he walked in that line of men he felt someone grab his hand and pull him out of line.

    The man was a doctor who took care of him and hid him for one month until he was ready to work again. God saved him and brought him out of that prison alive.

    None of the letters he wrote from prison ever made it back home. His family assumed he was dead. He looked around the room and there was his wife, his two sons, his daughter born shortly after he went to prison, and his mother. “Don’t you recognize me?” he asked again. The lump in his throat now prevented him from saying much else, and he told them who he was.

    “She shouted, ‘Children, your father is here,’” Alexander said as he told the story to the team from North Carolina gathered around the lunch table.

    Alexander couldn’t hide his excitement as he told the story of how God saved his grandfather’s life and reunited him with his family: the daughter his grandfather had never met — Alexander’s mother. The Bible his grandfather so desperately wanted to keep safe — it’s now 110 years old and Alexander held it in his hands as he told his grandfather’s story.

    BSC photo

    Alexander Goncearuc holds the Bible his grandfather used 110 years ago. Goncearuc’s family has protected it through much political upheaval and religious persecution.

    Alexander Goncearuc is pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Chisinau and vice president of the Baptist Union of Moldova. His grandfather’s story is really his story, and the story of his children and will be the story of his grandchildren. His grandfather’s example of faith, and God’s protective, redeeming work in his life, is making it possible for more generations to know about God.

    Using that Bible, Alexander’s grandfather taught his children and grandchildren about God. Alexander remembers as his grandfather got older that his hands shook as he tried to hold the Bible. The day came when he needed help from a magnifying glass to read the print. His grandfather eventually had to let someone else do the reading. Alexander read scripture as his siblings listened.

    “Now, I can teach,” Alexander said as he pointed to his baby grandson.

    Alexander is not only bringing his family up in the ways of God, but he is pastoring other Moldovan believers. In 1992, Alexander helped start Gethsemane Baptist Church where he still pastors today. The church is a plant of Bethel Baptist Church.

    Alexander served as a deacon in Bethel before coming to Gethsemane and had no intention of leaving Bethel. “I was comfortable,” he said. Yet, the church leadership kept insisting, and Alexander knew he had to be obedient.

    One of Alexander’s friends knew the principal of a Russian public elementary school who agreed to let the church meet in the school building. Before long the Communists in that area began meeting at the school and wanted nothing to do with the church. The Baptists and the Communists even came and went through different entrances in the school.

    Week after week Communists tore down the poster on the building advertising information about the church and when the church met.

    Finally, the church moved the poster inside a window and the Communists left it alone. “It’s still there,” Alexander said as he pointed at the window. On this Sunday morning Alexander took a few minutes before worship started to share about the church.

    Alexander said the congregation never backed down. They committed to serve the school and the community. On the church’s fifth anniversary the assistant principal, who had not wanted the church meeting at the school, got up on stage and said he wanted the church to stay. He had seen the difference the church made in peoples’ lives.

    The worship service that morning lasted nearly three hours, but it did not feel as though that much time had passed.

    From singing to prayer to preaching, this Russian-speaking congregation truly worshiped God. This congregation, and its pastor, remembers the day when such public worship was not allowed. And it seems they will not soon forget.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is the first in a series about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s new partnership with the Baptist Union of Moldova. The Convention recently sent a team to Moldova to kick off the partnership and to lead in conferences for pastors, women and youth. Stories and pictures will be available soon at the BSC website,, and in the Biblical Recorder.)

    (SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact or call 919-847-2127.)

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    3/28/2011 8:16:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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