This month, Becky was inspired to write our newsletter, as she traveled with me to Moldova in July, courtesy of the generosity of the I.R.S. This was her first time to join me at one of our pastors’ conferences, and I hope that some day she will be able to travel with me all the time. Becky told me she wanted to write about all the things that I don’t usually mention. So below are, first, the photos of some cute children at an orphanage we visited, and then some of Becky’s impressions of our trip:
I’d like to share some of the highlights of this conference so you will have an understanding of what really takes place. This was the very first time for David to be in Moldova. Before going, we only casually knew the man who organized the meetings, Ghiorghi Cazacu, a friend of our mutual friend, George Lang.
At the beginning of the conference, Ghiorghi wanted to know all about what David had done, in order to give him a good introduction to the pastors. David, however, asked Ghiorghi just to introduce him as a man who had come to serve them. He told Ghiorghi that the pastors could judge for themselves if he had anything of value from God for them. I have to admit I doubted the wisdom of that decision because I thought the pastors wouldn’t listen to what David had to say. (Boy, was I wrong!)
David began the first session, not as he had intended, but with a suddenly-inspired message on non-competitiveness among leaders and the importance of pursuing unity, and of pastors really loving each other. He encouraged them to build bridges of love and communication with other pastors whose theology was not exactly the same as theirs, so that “the world would know that He has sent His Son.” The pastors were listening very attentively. The primary organizer of the conference later said publicly that David’s word that morning was prophetic, speaking to their exact situation.
In the second session David laid the foundation for what he feels compelled to teach most everywhere—the primary role of the pastor to make disciples who will teach others also. He shared with them the biblical definition of a true disciple, showing from Scripture that there is no difference between a true disciple and a true Christian. The pastors were listening very intently now and taking notes. Ghiorghi’s wife, Cristina, was wiping tears from her face as she was listening. She told me in our break that this was just what the pastors needed to hear.
Next, David spoke on the difference between the sheep and the goats. How can you tell the difference? It is obvious from how they live their lives. He challenged the pastors to take an honest look at their ministries. Did they have churches full of sheep or goats? Were they preaching the truth? The pastors were very attentive and were not offended but were nodding their heads and looking at one another in approval. After this first day several pastors made the statement that they have never heard an American speak like this. The Lord was working.
The next day the Holy Spirit’s help was very, very evident, and the pastors were so receptive. David spoke of the importance of following the Holy Spirit, and not just following every teaching that comes from America. He encouraged them to check out everything that they heard with Scripture, even what they heard in this conference. “The Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth.” He taught them the importance of expository teaching as opposed to topical teaching only. Expository teaching would help them be balanced. They would teach things they wouldn’t normally cover and what they taught would be contextually correct. Then David taught them by example as he taught verse-by-verse through Matthew 5.
God’s presence was there that day and we knew it. I have no doubt that these pastors were challenged in a way they never had been before. They were very appreciative and David received invitations to come speak at their churches. He told them that their congregations didn’t need to hear him, but that God had sent someone better equipped for the job—they themselves! They needed to go and “teach faithful men who would be able to teach others also.”
The third day included a time of questions and answers. It was wonderful to hear from them and listen to their questions, and just to have some interaction with them. They asked excellent questions and a couple of difficult ones about certain passages of Scripture. David did his best to answer them but even told them at times that he didn’t know the answer, but asked them to pray for him that God would give him better understanding. I think they appreciated his honesty.
Moldova is a land of much need and there are many opportunities for ministry. “The fields are white for harvest.” There is 80% unemployment and you can see the hopelessness on the faces of so many people on the streets. Much of what the government provided under Communism has been cut off. Older people who relied on their pensions are begging on the streets just to have something to eat. On several occasions, we visited an orphanage where 120 children lived. They had no running water but only a well and the toilets were outhouses with squatty potties. They were $4,000 in debt just for food. How I wanted to do something to change this situation! I have to admit I left my heart there. Praise God that we were able to bring five big suitcases of clothing to give to them, and we also helped purchase some fruit for the children. We also were blessed to visit and give some clothing to a very poor gypsy family Ghiorghi and Cristina have led to the Lord and served. The family consists of 10 beautiful children, and they all live in a one-room house. Below are three of them.
We thank you for believing in the vision and work the Lord has entrusted to us. David is leaving for Nigeria on August 31, and we appreciate your prayers.