Moldova is situated between Ukraine and Romania. It was part of the Soviet Union before gaining independence in 1992. It has a population of around 3.6 million and is often considered to be one of the poorest countries in Europe. The official language is Romanian.
In 2000 we began to make regular visits to Moldova with several Romanian brethren who were working with the assemblies there. At that time there were about fifteen assemblies spread throughout the country. Most were located in villages in rural areas. The Lord gave the opportunity to preach and teach at these assemblies, and also to help practically with some of the needs of His people. Around the same time we started a Bible Course work in Romania. Through the distribution of calendars, and invitations in letterboxes, prisons and many other places, people were invited to receive a Bible and basic Bible Correspondence Course.
By 2007 the Bible Course work – known as the Postal Bible School – in Moldova had grown to the point that it was difficult for us to continue to run the work from Romania. Some local Christians in Moldova agreed to become involved and in late 2007 we moved our office to Moldova. The Postal Bible School now has about 1,400 active participants. The office is located in the village of Zirnesti. New participants are added each month. In addition to marking the courses and answering questions workers regularly visit the villages where participants are located to meet with them in person. We continue to work on the translation of a number of books into the Romanian, Russian, and Armenian languages. These include a number of helpful teaching books by William MacDonald, booklets like Christ in the vessel by C. H. Mackintosh, and gospel material, such as gospel calendars.
In 2010 the Lord enabled us to buy a house and land in the village of Zirnesti to establish a base for the work in Moldova. In 2011 a dormitory building, with thirty beds, was constructed to provide additional accommodation for visitors who come to help with ministries, such as children’s camps, the soup kitchen, or with construction work. We have been regularly encouraged by teams from Australia, Spain, and Romania. In 2011 the first Summer Children’s Camp was held in Zirnesti. Around 200 children attended, most from non-Christian families. During the 2012 camps it was encouraging to see an increase in the number of children attending.
In July 2012 gospel meetings were held in the village. Invitations were distributed to each resident of the village and on the first Saturday around sixty people attended. The following week the number increased to around eighty. There is much openness among people to discuss spiritual matters, and some started asking for more regular meetings.
In September 2012 the Lord enabled us to start gathering as an assembly in Zirnesti. The basement of the House of Culture is being used for the meetings. It is ideally located in the centre of the village. It can seat around eighty people comfortably, and we trust that many will continue to attend the gospel meetings held every Sunday evening at 5.00 p.m.
In Moldova there are many spiritual and material needs. Our primary objective is to share the gospel. However, we have also seen the Lord open opportunities to help with some of the material needs of the people. For a number of years we have been distributing potatoes and firewood in the autumn to needy Christian families and the elderly to help them prepare for the winter. For many impoverished families this assistance is essential for their survival in the ice-cold winter months.
In February this year we started the Bethesda Soup Kitchen in Zirnesti, which provides around fifty elderly people with a hot meal each day. Most have no one else to care for them. In the same month we heard that a five storey apartment block in Zirnesti was for sale. The asking price was more than twice what we were able to pay. However, we offered what we could afford and, to our amazement, the owner accepted our offer!
The building will be known as the Bethesda Christian Centre. In the building we plan to establish a medical clinic, a thirty-bed nursing home, a soup kitchen, and a coffee and bookshop. The building will also have other facilities, such as commercial kitchens (to provide meals for the soup kitchen, nursing homes, summer camps, etc.), rooms for children’s meetings, English classes, and other outreach activities, a place where local Christians from across Moldova can come together for Bible study conferences, and accommodation for visitors, teams, and workers.
In preparation for these ministries there is much work to do on the building, and we look to the Lord to provide the labourers and materials. Since we have started sharing information about this project in various assemblies, we have been greatly encouraged by the number of medical professionals, builders, and other volunteers who have expressed a desire to come (short or long term) and give their time to serve at the Centre. We pray that the Centre will be a testimony to the Lord Jesus in Moldova. We also pray that it will lead to many new contacts for the gospel and see many added to the assembly. We would value your prayer for this work.
For further information on the work in Moldova and the development of the new centre visit the web site at www.cmiaid.org.