We took the kids to Bucharest’s Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History for a few hours today, to get them out of the house and do something during the rainy, cloudy weather. They’ve been getting really stir-crazy lately with all the rain we’ve been having.
On the way back, we had to get a cab, and we found out the driver spoke English really well. I told him we had just moved to Bucharest and he asked how we liked it. When I told him we loved it and the people were great, he said, “I do not think so. I do not know how people are in America, but the problem with Romania is the Romanians.”
“What do you mean?”
“I wouldn’t call the Romanian people very good. That’s what I mean,” he answered.
“Well, that’s really why we’re here. We love Jesus, and so we came to Romania to tell people about Him, because He’s the only one who can make a person good,” I told him. “Are you a Christian?”
“Yes,” he said, “I am Orthodox. But when you’re Orthodox, you only have to go to church twice a year.”
“Christmas and Easter?”
“Yes, you understand. It is different in our country than yours. Here, you can be Orthodox, but you never have to do anything.”
So I started sharing the Gospel more, but he interjected, “I’m a realist. I believe in evolution and science and thought, not God. Evolution is the idea that makes the most sense.”
When I challenged his view on evolution, he told me, “I know, it has problems. I don’t think it is the whole truth, but it is better than any other.” Then he continued, “And right now, I don’t want God. I want to live my life. I want to work. I want to party. I want to have fun.”
I wish I could give you a happy ending to the story, that our cab driver got saved and gave his heat to Jesus, and now he just wants to love others and live for God, but he didn’t. I continued speaking the truth and we kept discussing the Gospel until he dropped us off, but nothing all that miraculous happened because, like he said, he didn’t want God but just wanted to live his life.
That seems to be the general prevailing attitude among the younger generation in Bucharest – church is for old people, it’s irrelevant, why would I waste my time there, I’m just gonna live my life and have fun.
This city needs people sharing the Gospel, and the really crazy thing is that we’ve been here over 3 weeks so far and we haven’t seen anyone anywhere preaching the Gospel, except for in churches. There are churches here, and ministries, and we’ve heard of stuff happening especially in the Gypsy areas, and I know of people who are witnessing to family and friends, but we haven’t seen anyone passing out tracts, street-preaching, holding out signs, singing worship music, or anything else, out in public and on the streets. We’ve had people hand us coupons, free magazines, political leaflets, etc. but nothing about Jesus.
In Milwaukee or Chicago or any other American city, you’d see guys out all the time doing some sort of ministry, but we’ve encountered nothing here, in this city of 3 million people. Nothing. When we went out last Saturday for Night of Museums, there were a few hundred thousand people milling around, and in all the wandering and people-watching we did, we didn’t see a single person witnessing. In Milwaukee, if you had an event that big, there’d be people out doing all sorts of stuff.
People here have told me, “Street evangelism just doesn’t work here anymore.” Well, yeah, when you don’t do it, it’s not gonna work. We gotta get out there, church. We gotta bring the Gospel to the streets, where the people are.
Pray for us, that we’d learn the language well, get our tracts translated, and then just get out there and meet some people who need to hear the Gospel. There’s plenty of them out there.
This day really sucked. It didn’t start out that way. Not until Jessie bought a Samsung SC 4330 from Media Galaxy (pronounced May-dia Gah-lock-see). Then it sucked big time. Because the Samsung SC 4330 is a vacuum, and it’s like no other vacuum I’ve ever used.
We finally caved and bought a vacuum today. The rugs were just too dirty and too hard to keep clean by shaking them out over the balcony every day. So Jessie went to Media Galaxy to scope out their selection and find something reasonable. She came back with a high-tech device NASA’s been using to pull satellites back from their orbits around the earth.
This vacuum is intense. We have a rug in our living room that’s supposedly been cleaned, and we’ve been sweeping it and shaking it out over the balcony a lot, but one time over it with the vacuum left half the bag filled dust and hair and other gunk. When I turn the vacuum on, the suction is so intense it’s hard to move across the floor. If Tim the Toolman Taylor were to design a vacuum, it would work a little something like this thing. If you wanna buy one, check it out here.
Tonight, Jessie and I were invited to a small church service / home group / Bible study on the western side of the city. This was a service specifically for some of the refugees from Myanmar that have come to Bucharest. I talked about their situation a little yesterday, but they’ve basically had a tough time in this city, what with the intrinsic anti-foreigner mentality here, the difficulties of the Romanian language, and the fact that the government has been stealing their aid money from the EU to line the pockets of rich politicians. Or so the story goes anyway.
They asked me to share a little at the service, so I gave a short message of encouragement that God had chosen them to be here in this city, for this time, to shine as lights, despite the difficulties they were facing. Jesus said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, that you might go and bear much fruit.” They didn’t wind up in Bucharest by mistake but by design of their Maker and Sustainer.
The service was a lot of fun, filled with people from Myanmar, Canada, Australia, America, Sudan, and even a token Romanian, believe it or not. When the Myanmar Believers worshiped God, it felt like He just walked in the room. They sang with such force, such intensity, that you knew they knew He was there. I tried recording some of the worship on my phone, but it didn’t quite work out.
To be completely honest (because so much of this post has been a lie?), Jessie and I almost bailed on the service tonight. Jessie was really tired, and I started thinking about the fact that we didn’t really know this church, they might be a cult, they might be really wacky, the whole church might be a cover for a human trafficking ring, it might be run by the mafia, etc. We didn’t know where the service was being held (Jason wouldn’t give us an address). Jason’s friend George, who we’ve never met, was going to pick us up at a subway station we’ve never been to, in a black SUV (suspicious, isn’t it?). Jason was the only person we knew going to it and, honestly, he half-way kinda’ freaked me out with some odd beliefs he has. And, no, I’m not gossiping; I told him that he freaked me out already and he’s OK with that.
So, we almost just bailed on the whole thing, but I’m glad we didn’t because we got to minister and encourage this group of really beat-down and worn-out people. And we met some awesome Believers, including Pastor Peter from Sudan, one of the most humble and joy-filled men I’ve ever met.
My philosophy has been that if God has opened a door, we gotta go through it. We’ve gotta believe that He’s guiding us and that He’ll bring people into our lives He wants us to minister to. If you wait around to hear a magical voice from God before you ever do anything, you’ll sit at home all day and never get anything done for Jesus. You’ve gotta take the opportunities He brings your way and believe that He’s going to do something miraculous in it.
I suppose we could have been duped into coming to a creepy cult meeting tonight, or we could have been trafficked or robbed or beat up and left for dead… but so what? Yeah, it would really suck, but what does it matter compared to obeying what you think God is telling you to do?
His situation was way more radical than ours, but this whole thing reminds me of James Calvert. When he arrived on the shores of Fiji to minister to a tribe of cannibals, the ship’s captain warned him, “Turn back! You’ll lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages!” Calvert replied, “Sir, we died long before we came here.” The beginning of the Christian life involves your death. If you’re still serving yourself, pursuing your own desires and wants, scheduling your day to suite your interests, you haven’t died yet and God can’t fully use you. As soon as you die to yourself, God can begin to really use you.
Speaking of which, last night, revival broke out in the dinosaur community of Bucharest. Five dinosaurs got born-again and two whole gangs are now at peace with each other. Here’s the video footage:
First, Triceratops shares the Gospel with Brontosaurus, then the two of them street preach to a gang of dinosaurs fighting in a bad neighborhood. Revival breaks out…
The gang of dinosaurs still has some questions about the Gospel, so Triceratops and Brontosaurus invite them out to eat a giant chunk of chicken and talk about God together. They talk about heaven, hell, and where dinosaurs go when they die…
Triceratops and Brontosaurus answer the most important question of all: how to be right with God and know you’ll go to heaven when you die. At the end of the discussion, a spirit of conviction falls and dinosaurs get right with God…
Like any dinosaur should do when they receive Jesus’ forgiveness for their sins, the gang of unruly dinosaurs wants to get baptized, so they attend Triceratops’s church. Dynamic praise and worship, preaching, testimonies, and baptisms galore…
Naomi made this whole thing up on her own, with Mae and Illiana helping a little, and though it’s not entirely theologically correct, I like the simplicity of it. Every time you obey God and step outside your comfort zone, you should see results like Triceratops saw – people just receive the Gospel and get radically changed.