Sunday, August 5, 2007

What the Church Looks Like (Justin)

Today, Joni and I attended a church service with Slavik, our host family's oldest son (23). Slavik is a real nice guy and speaks a little English. The funny thing about our family is that all of the children go to different churches in town, all of which are separate from their parents' church.

Moldovan believers saw their share of persecution under communism. The guest house that is being converted into our living space used to be a Baptist house church during Communist days. Anatoly told us of how he remembers being a boy and his dad pastoring the church when the neighbors would call the police on them.

The cathedral in the picture is a Romanian Orthodox church built in 1832 in the center of town. The top of the tall steeple you see was reportedly blown up by the Communists in 1962 because the cross was higher than the tallest Communist Secretary's office, which was not allowed.
It appears that the church is now flourishing here. Slavik tells us there are 50+ churches like the one we attended this morning (that's A LOT for a city of 800,000 on this side of the world). The service was progressive by Russian Baptist standards. One of the preachers used a powerpoint presentation, and we sang several American praise songs translated to Russian, with no hymns. Lots of young people, including young men, which I found quite encouraging.

Our host family told us that the Moldovan Baptists have sent over 800 missionaries to various countries over the last 10 years. I've met a few in my travels, personally, and heard of several others doing great work in Central Asia. Their churches have small groups meeting during the week, and also do evangelistic activities like hosting basketball leagues, teaching English, etc. Slavik wants to go to a missionary training school here then head out on the field for a while. 2 of his sisters are active in organizing Sunday schools in villages as well as church camps for kids this summer. Pretty cool stuff, I'm impressed so far.

I'd heard about big Moldovan churches and met several missionaries. It's clear God has blessed these people and equipped them for ministries.

*Request*- Joni and I go to a medical "clinic" tomorrow and will undergo several hours of "tests" to begin our application for work permits. This includes everything from blood work to psychological exams! Please pray for us; even I am quite nervous about tomorrow!


Kristy said...

Um I think your clock shows the current time wherever the reader is. It says it is currently 2:22pm and unless we are somehow in the same time zone i'm going to guess its wrong! Glad to hear all is going well. Tell Joni I still miss tuna!

Joni said...

Kristy, sometimes you have to reload the page to get it to show the correct time... I'm not sure why, but hopefully it's working correctly for most of our readers.

Yesterday I had a Tuna Pizza, and I thought of you! Yes, a pizza with cheese, tuna, olives, tomatoes, and lemon juice! Bizarre, but good. No Subways here, so I'll have to make my own tuna salads to eat on Wednesdays!

Paula said...

Wow, that Orthodox church looks amazing. It actually reminds me of San Xavier mission outside of Tucson. What kind of building is the Baptist church meeting in?

Joni said...

Paula, there are about 50 different evangelical Christian churches, and they all meet in different places. Much like American churches, some have their own buildings and some meet in schools or homes. The one we went to on Sunday was meeting in a school gym. From what I've heard, there are even some mega Baptist churches here, with membership in the thousands... I haven't seen that firsthand, though. I'll let you know if I find them! :)