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<---Moldova, children, Bible, Northwest Medical Teams, Medical,, Christian, Romania, church, NWMTI, service, Ron Helton, Chisinau, Kishinev Bible Church, prayer, teams--->

NWMTI-Chisinau, Moldova

8 April 1997

Chisinau ApartmentsIt is sunny and 50 degrees outside... and inside the apartment of my hosts, Ron and Dorcas Helton. It is 50 degrees in the schools and businesses, in the hospitals and orphanages. In fact, it is 50 degrees anywhere there is no independent source of heat, since virtually every building in the Moldovan capital Chisinau (pronounced /kee’-shee-now/) is heated via steam ducts 3 feet in diameter from one plant that was turned off a week ago. Water for bathing in the town is the temperature of the frozen ground. This is quite different for Ron, Dorcas, and two of their children who moved from San Antonio, Texas four years ago.

Ron is the pastor who God is using mightily through the Kishinev Bible Church, KBC, a light in an otherwise dark city. Like in America, the Church is more often than not opposed by the government and the community. During my visit with Paul Goodrich to one of their prayer meetings, the owner of the prayer rooms told Ron that they would not receive the keys for four of the five rooms. He also received two week’s notice that they must find another meeting area. However, this did not hinder the Spirit’s moving among the people. Like the prayer service I attended in February, 120 prayer warriors, (25% of the members!) shared some of their most personal struggles and prayed for 2½ hours. Ron said that it had taken a while for the members to so open their hearts to others, as sharing weaknesses was seen as presenting opportunities to be exploited.

Chisinau MarketplaceKBC is mostly composed of young people, with the median age of members being near 20 years old. Fourteen Youth Teams scattered across the city present the Gospel to about 300 youth in the same buildings where the Communists trained them ten years ago that there is no God. Ron says, “The parents of many of these children would object to their going to church, but are more favorable towards them spending evenings at these youth centers.” Despite their popularity, some of these youth groups are held in dilapidated dark basements. Low-watt light bulbs faintly illumine walls papered with patterns reminiscent of the 1950’s. The children often have to sit on the damp floor among puddles of water as their songs of praise fill the musty air. In one that Paul Goodrich and I visited, we and the children removed our shoes to keep the floors clean--cement floors with a piece of linoleum in the center to make it more “homey”. In this club, a kindly caretaker has ensured adequate lighting everywhere except in the bathroom where the light had been transferred to the hall. The children have decorated the walls with their crafts and awards. After about 15 minutes our unacclimatized American feet were becoming numb, but the young Moldovans had just started their encounter with God. The youth leaders have been invited to present the Bible by flannelgraph on a on a Saturday morning children’s television program. Northwest Medical Teams hopes to partner with KBC by providing Bibles and work teams to repair the clubs and establish a more powerful witness of service to the community.

Photo by Laurent La Brie

Art saleChurch services are held in an old movie theater which has no heating system to take the chill out of the winter’s sub-freezing temperatures. Although it was 40 degrees outside this Sunday morning, the doors were open to warm the still-frosty building. Only the heartiest of members can come to the service, perhaps explaining why the 50% annual growth is mostly teenagers. Kishinev Bible Church won a major victory while I was there in March when they overcame much opposition to become the first new Christian denomination to be recognized in the country since the beginning of the Communist reign. During the service, passers-by heard the service through the open doors of the theater and entered through. Ron spent an hour counseling people, including six who gave their lives to Christ that day, as we were all hustled out the doors by the attendants of the theater. Ironically, the title of today’s movie is “Me Salveaza”--Romanian for “He saves me”. In March, to demonstrate their desire to own the building, the members of the church surrounded it, holding hands in prayer, claiming it for Christ. NWMTI has already made an eternal yet unintentional impact here. Three students at Chisinau’s medical school saw Sasha, the top 5th-year student, wearing the NWMTI helping hands cross, giving an occasion to witness. They later decided to enter the Kingdom of Heaven through the doors of a Moldovan movie theater. NWMTI and KBC are researching a partnership to provide a drug rehabilitation program to a town where marijuana literally grows like a weed.

---For the Cause of the Kingdom,
Laurent J. La Brie,
former European Director, NWMTI

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