The Road of the Army Encampment
Every Friday night, we head over to the Drumul Taberei (literally “the road of the army encampment”) neighborhood and spend some time with Vasilica and the Gypsy community around her. Vasilica is probably in her fifties and is the only Christian in the community. Her mother’s dying prayer was, “Lord, let Vasilica become a Christian.” When Vasilica heard it, she resisted God with all she could, but eventually, a year or so ago, she surrendered, received Jesus’ forgiveness, and now she shines as a bright light in the midst of drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves, and a lot of mocking.
Vasilica has six kids, all of them addicted to heroine from what she’s told us. None of them have jobs but survive by stealing, prostitution, and selling drugs. The neighbors in the area all follow suit. Because of their lifestyles, Vasilica takes care of most of the grandkids and some neighbor kids as well.
Vasilica witnesses constantly to her family and neighbors, even in the midst of a lot of ridiculing. One time, someone came back with a bunch of food they had stolen. They offered it to Vasilica, who hadn’t eaten in days, but she refused, telling them, “I will not eat stolen food. The Lord will provide my food.” Hearing this, the rest laughed and mocked her and her husband Mircea took her Bible away, but Vasilica prayed and as it turned out, the next day we ended up coming by with an armload of food.
Vasilica’s quiet witness is having an effect on people. Mircea, her husband, was addicted to heroine for 13 years but just dropped it cold turkey recently. Shortly afterward, he prayed with Ben and Jason to receive forgiveness and begin following Jesus. The lifestyle of drugs and immorality had a hard pull on him, though, and a couple weeks later, he got angry with his wife and ran off for about a month. But now he’s back, praise God, and showing signs of repentance.
So every Friday night, we head over to Vasilica’s house for a time of prayer and worship and teaching from the Bible. Sometimes, she’s the only one there. Others, we’ve had as many as 10 people gathered with us.
My favorite night, a good-sized group of about 10 had gathered, and I was planning on preaching a basic Gospel message. There was a little extra chaos than normal: a woman answered her phone during my message, another just walked out, angry dogs were barking outside the windows, one dog even tried to jump through the window and bite Jason, a young boy kept screaming and running around hitting people. Yeah, it was crazed.
By the end of the night, though, we had been able to share the Gospel with everyone, we prayed for a paralyzed man who was really touched by God, and the presence of God came as we worshiped and prayed together. Closing with some worship, I prayed for this young boy of about 10, Viruel, who God began ministering to. During the prayers, Viruel started smiling, lifting his hands, and staring up to the sky, as if he were expecting something from God. As I continued praying, he slowly started bending forward as if some heavy object were being placed on his back, and his legs started shaking and wobbling uncontrollably. Suddenly, he lost his balance and would have fallen over except I grabbed him and held him there. When I was done praying, he looked up at me with a huge smile, hugged me, and didn’t want to leave my side the rest of the night.
There was a holy peace as we left Vasilica’s that night, and I think we could all tell that, amidst the darkness and the chaos, God showed up, and He will continue to do so because He loves people enough to come and live among us.