I wrote earlier about “Children Underground,” a documentary from 2001 about some of the children living in the subways of Bucuresti. Although much has changed since 10 years ago, much has remained the same. Instead of living in the subway tunnels, though, they now live in an old, abandoned, underground heating system in the north of the city. Instead of mostly children, there are now families. But they’re still hooked on drugs, usually paint or heroine.
One of the characters who most stood out to me from the video was Macarena, a 16-year-old girl hooked on paint and struggling to survive. Watching her cry over her stolen paint and beg for food, I couldn’t help but feel compassion in my heart.
Well, our friend and co-worker Jason just called us with some crazy news: he ran into Macarena today! In a city of 2 million, it’s a crazy, cool, God thing to run into her. So, Jason ended up talking with her for quite a while about Jesus, bought her some medicine she needed, and invited her to church. She was very open.
Pray for Macarena and the tens of thousands who are hooked on drugs and wasting away here in Bucuresti. And for some more information about their life (at least from 10 years ago), check out the video.
A few weeks ago, we ran into a handful of high school students during one of our regular times handing out tracts. It started as a pretty normal conversation: the teenagers were mostly not interested but politely received our tracts, a few noticed we didn’t speak Romanian so began to speak with us in English, we asked them about Jesus and began to share a bit…
But then Jacob asked Chady if we could pray for him. He gave his assent. I told him, “Sometimes God speaks to his followers. Would you mind if we take some time to hear if he has anything for you?” The young man again nodded his assent.
Chady told us later, “I expected you would say something like, ‘God loves you,’ and I was getting ready to laugh at you.”
But God had a surprise in store for him.
(Note: Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church. In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities. However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)
Yes, everyone in Romania has heard about Jesus. Yes, nearly 98% of the people in Bucureşti say they are Orthodox believers. So, do they really need missionaries here sharing the gospel? Yes! Here’s reason number six…
Reason #6 – Church? Why Would I Go There?
Most of the Orthodox people I’ve met in Bucureşti have said they rarely go to church. Although church attendance is not a prerequisite for salvation, we in the body of Christ need each other. “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). How will Romania ever achieve its God-given purpose and fulfill its destiny as long as those who call themselves believers do not meet together to encourage one another towards righteousness and to worship the One who is worthy? Yes, 98% call themselves Christians, but most have abandoned their calling.
I mentioned here about meeting Alexandru through a couple “random” events including a chance encounter with an Armenian man who happened to be in Bucureşti. Of everyone I’ve ever met, Alex is the most clearly gifted and called as an evangelist; he’s got a deep passion for the lost and especially for the drug addicts.
In recent weeks, we’ve been speaking with him about helping to reach some of the addicts with the love of Jesus. The statistics are nowhere near clear, but from what we’ve been learning, Bucureşti has around 20-30,000 men and women addicted to heroin. We were told that at one local clinic 3000 men come for help with addictions each day, and the best the doctors can do is prescribe other drugs. What these men need is Jesus.
Pray for God to give us wisdom in this and that he would close every door he doesn’t want us to walk through.
I keep an eye on the stats for my blog. It’s not really useful or productive in any way, but I’m often curious about what posts people are reading, how they find my blog, and how many people are returning readers. In particular, I’ve been watching two posts for the last few months, my two most popular ones: Romanian Prostitutes… Just Another Standard Hotel Amenity and All He Says I Am – Cody Carnes.
Although my Cody Carnes post had been the uncontested lead nearly since the day it was published, a few months ago, a serious challenge appeared in the Romanian prostitutes post. I’ve been watching intently the last few weeks as the gap between the two slowly but surely began to close. Last night, the two were only one view apart by the time I went to bed (702 to 701 views). As of this morning the Romanian prostitutes are now in the top position, with a small but growing 6-view lead (710 to 704 views).
This makes me sad. I know the average reader of my prostitution post is finding it it while searching for ways to get sex in Bucharest, not while searching for ways to help end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It means more people are interested in continuing the exploitation of women and minors than in the things of God. 😦
But there is a bright side. We can all breathe a sigh of relief because Cody Carnes is no longer beating Romanian prostitutes.
(And, yes, I really did use up an entire post just so I could make that stupid joke.)