A few months ago, I was really discouraged at how little evangelism I saw going on in this “Christian” nation of Romania. In particular, I wanted to preach open-air, but I knew no one loud enough or bold enough to translate for me. So, after praying, I went on Youtube to see if there were any videos of anyone doing evangelism in the streets of Bucharest. (At the time, Youtube seemed the natural place to check. Now, it really doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, of all the places to look for evidence of street evangelism, why go to Youtube?)
I came across a couple videos of an older gentleman named Alexandru Grigorescu who was preaching open-air, passing out tracts, and talking with individuals one-on-one. (Check out his videos here.) Although his style was more confrontational than I liked, I could tell the man desperately loved people and was filled with compassion for their souls. Something in my spirit shouted, “Yes! There *is* fire in Bucharest!” I immediately sent the man a message saying how encouraging it was to see his videos.
A day or so later, he emailed me, saying he’d love to meet some time.
I’ve always been kind of weirded out with meeting people online, and I still wasn’t sure what to make of the man, so I decided to just pray and leave it in God’s hands.
And then I got busy with our work, and I forgot all about it.
On the tramvai before our first Friday night meeting at Vasilica’s, Jason and I were approached by Alesh, who overhead us talking about the Bible. Alesh, we discovered, is a Christian from Armenia but temporarily living in Bucharest with his Romanian wife. I didn’t really click with Alesh, but Jason and he talked for almost the whole ride. A few weeks later, Alesh joined us for a Monday night at the Mihai Bravu ministry. Then Jason joined him on a Thursday for street evangelism. That day, they happened to be street-preaching.
Jason talked with the man who organized the preaching, and the conversation turned towards Gypsy ministry. Jason mentioned the work we’ve been doing and how we would need to find a place for baptizing a few people pretty soon. Unfortunately, racism is widespread in Romania, even in the churches, and so finding a place where we could baptize Gypsies in winter is a real challenge. Praise God, the man said he knew a few churches in Bucharest that would be more than happy to let us use their facilities.
So yesterday, I joined Jason at KFC to talk with the man he’d met. All I knew was what Jason had told me, that he was “an open-air preacher” with a “place where we can baptize Gypsies.” We talked, sharing testimonies and vision, and generally just encouraging each other. I felt my own spirit fed (and also challenged) by this man so zealous for Jesus and for souls. Check out his story here; it’s a poor but readable English translation, and it’s very encouraging.
Even riding the subway was ministering to me as he began to share with the people around him. (God, I need to have more compassion on these people!)
When I got home a few hours later, it suddenly hit me that I knew this man. He was the man I’d seen in the videos on Youtube!
I checked online, and sure enough, God had answered my prayer to connect us with an open-air preacher. I had completely forgotten about it, but God hadn’t. And I didn’t even have to seek the man out; God brought him to us through a “random” encounter on the tramvai. I love it when he works like this!