Friday nights, we head over to Vasilica’s house to share the Gospel with the drug addicts and junkies who gather there. You never know what’s going to happen, but it always ends up good.
Sometimes, all we do is get to encourage Vasilica, who is the only Christian in the drug house. She refuses to eat the food they steal, sometimes going days without eating. The junkies mock her, criticize her, and sometimes even beat her physically. We’ve attempted to get her out of the house and into a better living situation, for her own comfort and safety, but she refuses to leave, telling us that this is her ministry, to shine as a light to these people who have no other way of seeing Jesus
Other nights, we get invited into the midst of the drugs, cheap beer, and cigarettes, addicts asking us to pray for them, asking us about Jesus and Heaven and Hell. It’s dirty, messy, and uncomfortable, and we always leave smelling like an old biker bar, but the whole experience makes you feel a little more like Jesus hanging around with the prostitutes and tax-collectors, telling them about the Kingdom of God.
Vasilica is committed to shining for Jesus in the midst of this darkness. Rather than leave for more apparent safety or comfort, she feels the presence and power of God on her to minister, and she doesn’t wanna leave that safety. She’s planted her feet here, and she’s not going to leave until the light vanquishes the darkness.
One night, we met a young man who asked us to pray for him to receive more of God’s power in his life. We prayed and then he shared his story. Some time ago, he was addicted to ethnobotanicals, legalized narcotics that used to be sold at neighborhood “spice shops.” The government closed the spice shops to clean up the city a little bit, but they never did anything about the drug dealers or their stores of drugs they were selling. So while the shops were closed, the deals went underground. And now free from taxes and regulations, sales increased. Thank you, government.
So this young man was addicted to drugs, frequenting the drug house that Vasilica’s husband runs, and one day he had a really bad trip. He dramatically explained how he felt snakes start to crawl up from Hell and enter his body, he felt the ground opening up and begin to swallow him, he felt flames start to devour him. As most of us would do, he freaked out, running around the streets screaming and writhing in pain until Vasilica found him.
As he describes it, Vasilica walked up to him and put her hands on his shoulders. Instantly, the hallucinations stopped and he had no more desire for drugs. From that moment, he was free, and he’s never gone back.
Amazingly, this young man has somehow been able to resist surrendering to Jesus. Even though he was dramatically delivered from drug addiction and probably death, he treats Vasilica and religion with a huge amount of respect and awe, but he hasn’t surrendered to Jesus Himself yet.
Pray for Vasilica to keep shining as a light. Pray for the drug addicts who come to her house to encounter Jesus and be changed forever.
So things have been going kinda’ nuts meeting with Vasilica, an older Gypsy woman who recently became a Christian. Our friend Jason shared the Gospel with her and baptized her last year, and we all started meeting together just recently. She’s the only Christian in her little Gypsy community, and you can read more about her here and here.
Recently, things have been nuts because her husband, Mircea, who dropped heroin cold turkey for a few months and let us use their house as a base for a church meeting, is now back into the drugs, which means he doesn’t want us to meet in his house anymore. So while he and his friends smoke heroine inside, “chasing the dragon” as they say, we meet outside in the alleyway, talk about the Bible, and pray for Mircea and his friends to wake up and cry out to Jesus for help. It’s cold out in the alley, it’s dark, not that many people want to join us, but it’s all for Jesus and Vasilica relishes the encouragement.
Last week, while we were talking with Vasilica, a young man of maybe 20 or 25 ran over rubbing his red eyes and angrily yelling about something. When we asked him his name, I couldn’t make out what he said, but it was something like an Italian form of Jeremy. I’ve been calling him Geronimo whenever I pray for him or tell people about him, so that’s what I’m naming him here.
“Are you OK,” Vasilica asked.
“No, my eyes are burning. Some police just pepper-sprayed me,” Geronimo told her.
Geronimo is homeless. He showed us his couch in the alley that he’s been sleeping on. He’s got no blanket, no pillow, no protection from the cold. Just a couch to sleep on.
We prayed for his eyes, explained the Gospel to him, and asked God to free him from the drugs he’s become addicted to recently. They’re mild “natural” drugs that used to be legal in Bucharest but now are simply sold black market.
When we asked him why he was pepper-sprayed by the police, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of teeth. Then he reached into another pocket and pulled out a lower jaw with some teeth still in it, more teeth from another pocket, and finally he pulled out a small tube, opened the top, and poured out another handful of teeth to show us.
Aaaah, I thought to myself, so he must be a dentist. Not.
He held the teeth up to us proudly, so we could see the specks of metal glittering in the dim glow of moonlight. “I had to dig up four bodies to get these.”
Yes, clearly a dentist, I thought. Not.
Then he laughed and smiled at us. “No, I’m joking,” he said. “I was digging in the garbage behind a dentist’s office when they came and just started spraying me in the face. But at least I got these. Do you think I can sell the metal? It might be silver.”
Please pray for Vasilica to remain steadfast in her faith. Pray for Mircea and his friends to get fed-up with the drugs. Pray for Vasilica’s kids and grandkids living in the drug house. And pray for Geronimo the dentist. We headed back to his couch a few days later with a sleeping bag, some food, and winter clothes, but he wasn’t there, so pray we’d be able to find him again.
We had a really weird night with the Gypsies a Mihai Bravu last night. Rather than go through all the details for you, you can read my brother Ben’s post instead.
Since I know you want to hear them, here are the rejected titles for this post: Lost in Translation, Testify Sistah!, a Mormonic Conversation, and a New Wife for Jason. Yeah, it was an eventful night, mostly encouraging but also difficult.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the discouraging aspects of the night, but I think it’s good to let you know that ministry here in Bucuresti is not all a bunch of successes. So, before I get to the awesome stuff, here’s the list of what discourages me: we lost our translator somehow, we arrived an hour late, most of our regular families were gone tonight, worship seemed heartless and dull, the praying was similarly just as lifeless, a couple of the kids at the meeting were going crazy, Lali stumbled into the meeting drunk, I couldn’t seem to say a word in Romanian…
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