The Walnut leaves are turning a beautiful shade of yellow and beginning to fall gently to the ground. Michael and Mary were gathering a harvest of walnuts to share with their visiting friends. Off on the horizon are the relics of Orhei Vechi Monastery, a view from times gone by.
The monastery and church are eerily silent. No voices to be heard except for a few visitors and their walnut harvest rattling in their pockets. Where is everyone? Who is here to worship God? Has everyone left? Is God gone?
Where is God and what is He doing these days? With all the pain and suffering in the world, has he retired, is He on holiday? Our team from Harvest Baptist Church in the States traveled to Moldova with that question in mind. What is God doing in Moldova?
That question began to be answered from the moment we arrived. We were greeted by four smiling faces along with big hugs. The Laysons, the same family that joined our church family some ten years ago. The ones who faithfully led our children’s ministry for years. Michael, the little boy who ate play dough his first day in our church’s nursery. Mary, the little girl who would come and visit my office just to see about our supply of soft pepper mints. (The only reason for those mints in my office was to see Mary’s sweet smile) We were grateful and thankful to be meet by these smiling faces.
Our next nine days were glorious and memorable in Moldova. Kelly had us off and running the first day to the village of Schinoasa. Where is Schinoasa? This village was just placed on the official maps just a few years ago. Is God here? We had the privilege of meeting the first person to embrace Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior in the village. She along with pastor Sergio led our team down dirt roads and up dirt paths to give proof that God is there! His hands and feet brought much needed food and timely prayer. As a team we were truly encouraged to see how the Lord was working even in this most poverty stricken village at the end of a dirt road.
Sunday brought us again to our wonderful friends Pastor Petru Catravest, his wife Larissa along with the precious people at Rock of Ages Church in Panasesti. Our team had the privilege of leading in worship, testifying and preaching the Word of God. The afternoon was spent again being God’s hands and feet delivering much needed food and prayer too two families in Panasesti. Once again we could see God is there in Panasesti too.
A few days later we traveled to the village of Lozova, once there we saw the new church being built and visited the home of our dear friends Pastor Spiridon and his sweet wife Stephanie Cozaru and had a time of spiritual encouragement and prayer. They took us to several families that needed help from our Lord and once again we saw, God is there.
Now a few weeks have passed since our return to the States and I have spent much time reflecting on our trip to Moldova. Looking back now our time in Moldova was balanced with times of ministry and times of encouragement and fellowship with OUR family, the Laysons. We were able to “shop” in Mary’s store (we were given and discount card to lower the prices) and hang out with Michael while listening to his Moldovan experiences from the past few years and we just had fun. Christy, the gracious host that she always is, made our meal times special and memorable all the same too. Kelly showed us the Operation Mobilization Moldova offices where he works each day. With such a tiny workspace it’s amazing how God uses him to reach around the world daily.
As I close, I leave you with this. During our time in Moldova the season was changing, temperatures were cooling and leaves were falling. What a metaphor for what’s happening with the Layson family. We enjoyed the harvest season when Kelly, Christy, Michael and Mary served along side us in our church but to see them blossom in the spring of their new season is so exciting and rewarding. Seeing them do exactly what they were created to do filled my heart again with hope and excitement.
So, back to the original question, is God there in Moldova? Yes my friend, our Lord is there…
Pastor Richard Culpepper
Harvest Baptist Church