The last few days have been interesting here in Bucureşti. It started with losing our internet connection, then a massive influx of cockroaches, and then lots of days out on the streets sharing the gospel with Jake Martin.
I’ve known Jake for about two or three years, and he’s definitely an awesome man of God. In the states, he was nicknamed “The Evangelism Machine” or simply “The Evangelist” for obvious reasons. Due to a funny mistranslation fo the nickname, we started calling him the “Evangecar” or “Evangemobile” during his two weeks with us.
We decided to put our language-learning on hold and go hardcore with evangelism while Jake Martin was with us. We spent almost every afternoon out on the streets. We passed out tons of tracts, spoke to dozens of people, and watched God at work outside the church buildings. Man, it’s been an exhausting and exhilerating week, and we’ve got Jake for another seven days! Praise God!
Nearly every day, we met up with some of the young men from Spiritual Revival and other area churches. Although we saw some good fruit, sharing the gospel from 2 to 4 p.m. isn’t always the most comfortable time to be in Bucuresti, especially in August. It was HOT. Some days we were out there in heat over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and no matter how much shade we could find, we still poured sweat. I’m not a night person, but we’re thinking there may be some wisdom in going out after sundown.
We noticed that many Romanians are fully aware of their sin, but not of the gravity of it all. In America, most people think they’re generally good, that they don’t really have sin. Here, it seemed almost everyone we talked to admitted they had sin and that it was bad. But we found few who were at all concerned by this. What we tried to focus on most days was sharing God’s expectation for holiness in his people. He expects us to be perfect (Matthew 18:20), but he knows we have failed and probably will fail again. This is why we need Jesus. He is our righteousness. But if a Romanian doesn’t see the death that sin brings, the devestation, then he won’t cry out for the righteousness of Jesus to be imparted to him. On Friday, Jenifer was especially convicted of sin, and when we left her, she was very bothered by the fact that she (using her own words) “love[d] the world more than Jesus.”
Although our favorite activity is speaking one-on-one or two groups, we ended up spending two full afternoons simply passing out tracts. We got out 1500 or so of them, and that’s 1500 or so people who have now heard how Jesus can rescue from sin and the wrath of God. That’s 1500 people who maybe would not have had the chance to believe before. That’s 1500 more people given an opportunity to know Jesus, have their sins forgiven, and live in fellowship with him. So I’d say it was a job well done.
In Ferentari, we found a group of men to whom we preached. All of them (as all Romanians) said they believed in God and yet all admitted to being content with variosu sins in their lives. We spent the bulk of our time encouraging them that Jesus came to give us a new life, to make us burn *again* (a second time, anew, from heaven!) and so to be different. I was most excited when Sorin quit translating and just started preaching to the men. A few definitely expressed their realization of the need for a savior to get a changed life, but it’s very different from the U.S. The culture is so steeped Orthodoxy here that everyone thinks they’re already Christians. They view faith as simply growing more like Jesus, a daily walk with ups and downs. This true, but there is also a moment of surrender whereby we are made into new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and become born a second time. At the end of it all, the men were challenged to pursue righteousness and live surrendered to Jesus. Only God knows what fruit will result.
Visiting the poor gypsy families living in the vacant lots is quite an experience, almost like a trip to Haiti without having to leave Bucuresti. Right smack dab in the middle of prosperity on either side (a massive Corra on the left and the Romana mall on the right) is an ever-changing community of some of the poorest Rroma families in the city. They call their jumbled structures of cast-off furniture pieces and plastic sheets “houses,” but in America we would definitely call these families homeless. And yet poverty is not the real issue with these families. The real issue is they have heard the gospel and yet are not pursuing Jesus. How do we break through that? Are handouts and visiting them enough? I don’t know.
Through the whole week, I’ve been realizing that I really miss open-air preaching. Man, I want to preach. These people know next to nothing of what it means to serve Jesus, and they won’t set foot in a church that teaches them. We need to get church out to them. So pray with me for God to send me a like-minded and loud Romanian to translate for open-air preaching.
So it’s been an exciting week. I love getting out there to share the gospel, and I pray God gives us wisdom to know how much time to spend in street evangelism. Although I am energized every time we go out, I definitely get worn out, too!