The missionary adventures of the Stimpson family

Tricycles and Trains – This Must be How Evangelism Works in Cluj

So we were at a church-planting conference in Cluj last month, like I’ve mentioned previously.  Like all conferences, we didn’t agree with everything taught, but we learned some cool insights about planting churches that’ll work really well here in Romania.

After the conference, Ben and I were hanging out in the city center, processing everything discussed, when an old man on a red tricycle rode up to us.

“Do you know Jesus?” he asked in Romanian.

“Yes, yes, we’re Christians,” we told Tudor, and then in mixed Romanian and English, the three of us talked about the goodness of God and why it was necessary to become born-again.  Then he started belting out “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” really loudly in Romanian, so Ben and I felt obliged to join in.  I’m not gonna lie – as weird as it was, it kinda’ ministered to me.

Before he left, Tricycle Tudor introduced us to his friend Mr. Police Officer and then rode off to sit on a bench.  I felt like I was in some strange children’s TV show.

After he was gone, Ben and I talked about the weirdness of an old man on a tricycle sharing the Gospel with us in a language we only partially understand.  Yet, as odd as his approach was, at least he approached us.  Too many times, people are afraid to do evangelism because they don’t want to look weird or say the wrong thing or offend the person, but we just gotta get out there, open our mouths, and trust that Jesus will give us words to speak.  Yeah, you might look weird, but probably not any weirder than Tricycle Tudor.

That evening, we had a long overnight ride on the train, so I was praying for divine appointments onboard.  God answered us.  We ended up sharing a booth with a newly-married Orthodox couple.  Over the course of the evening, we talked about every topic possible – our families, growing up, going to college, jobs, politics, and religion.  At one point, Ben and I got to share our testimonies with them, how Jesus changed our lives, and I talked about how a lot of people go to church and understand religion, morality, and an idea of God, but not very many people in Romania actually have a real relationship with Jesus.

I told them many people know Jesus like they each knew each other when they first met.  They knew each other’s names and what they looked like, and maybe they knew some facts about each other, but they didn’t really have a relationship with each other.  Now, after three weeks of being married, they know each other deeply and have a real life together.  That’s what Jesus is after, that we have a real relationship with Him, not just that we know some facts about Him.

I purposely decided not to talk about the church as an institution or bring up anything about Orthodox Christianity.  I just talked about Jesus, because when people see Jesus for who He really is, He’ll clear up wrong religious ideas.

After a night of talking and sort-of-sleeping, we had all exchanged phone numbers and emails, and we’re excited to stay in contact with this young couple who promised to show us around their hometown of Braşov one day.  A few days later, I got an email from them saying how much they, “loved meeting some people who loved Jesus so much.”

Whether by tricycle or train car, in awkwardness or simplicity, the Gospel must be preached, and Jesus will draw people to Himself, because that’s what He loves doing.  🙂

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3 responses

  1. Wow, I’m very encouraged by both episodes! I think you are right – talking about the love of Jesus is definitely better than arguing over theological differences, especially when it comes to the Orthodox doctrine. This comes to my mind: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1). Thx for telling us from ur experience, we can only learn from it!

    October 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

  2. Kim

    Great post Jake!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm

  3. Very encouraging! Thank you for your obedience.

    October 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm

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