Baptists in Moldova

Baptists in Moldova

Daniel Trusiewicz - November 17, 2008

Moldova is a country situated between Romania and Ukraine. It has a population of 4,5 million people comprising many ethnic groups - 65% are Moldavians speaking the Romanian language; the rest are Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz (Turkish), Jewish, and Roma people. Chisinau is Moldova’s capital and largest city.

Moldova is a predominantly rural country. Its fertile soil, suitable especially for the production of wheat, is among the best in Europe. There are also numerous vineyards and orchards. The irony is that in spite of its great potential, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe: 80% of its people live on the edge of poverty. Roughly one million Moldavians are scattered all over the Russian speaking world of the former Soviet Union, and in Western Europe.

The main religion in Moldova is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. However, allegiance to the Orthodox Church is often times inherited and nominal. Salvation by sacraments is emphasized.

The Baptist Union of Moldova hasexperienced excellent growth since the country gained independence in 1990 – the number of Baptists has doubled, reaching 21 000 in 2008. The current situation is that Baptists enjoy freedom to preach the Gospel, train leaders and carry out missionary activities. People are open to the Gospel and seem to be searching for deeper values after so many years of atheistic indoctrination.

There are hundreds of indigenous missionaries who are actively involved in planting new Baptist churches. The Baptist Union church-planting program involves over 40 new church plants. It is my pleasure to introduce two of the church planters who are being supported by the EBF Indigenous Mission Project.

The church planter Eduard works in Chisinau. For the last three years he has been involved in the church planting project. He now leads a group of about 100 people, who meet once a week in the building of a Russian speaking church. The target area for the church planter is the Boikovo district where at least 100 000 people live and where there is no Romanian speaking Baptist church.

Eduard’s church-planting is based around small group discipleship and his method is simple: group leaders invite their friends to a Bible study. Presently there are six groups. Most of them meet in homes and one meets in a nearby MacDonalds! In summer months Eduard organises “survival camps”. He comments that the camps are the highlight of his work but the real challenge for his leaders is to start and continue groups. Eduard disciples and trains the group leaders by having open meetings with them every Tuesday. All the other groups meet on Wednesdays – at the same time.

Each Saturday the new church plant organises activities and ministry with children aged 7 – 12 years old. They play games, sing and have a Bible lesson. The parents are happy to have their children participate in the children’s club. There is also a follow-on group which works with the teenagers who have ‘graduated’ from the children’s club. This group makes use of Youth for Christ training materials during their meetings.

When Eduard is asked about the future he says that the most important goal is to train and equip more leaders, start more groups and develop special ministries. He also made a request for some equipment required for the survival camps; and for other Christians and mission groups to visit the camps that he is involved in organising.

The church planter Alexei lives and works in the village of Rumyantsevo. The village is situated on a hill, accessed along rough and bumpy roads. The villagers often experience problems with the water supply to their village, particularly in the dry summer months. There is no other church in the village besides the Baptist church which means that Alexei has the challenge and opportunity to minister freely to the whole population of the village.

Roughly 25 members make up the congregation in Rumyantsevo. They recently baptized 5 new people. The church managed to affordably purchase a building which was a local ‘kolkhoz’ office in the past. The building is located centrally and it provides the church with a hall where their ‘Awana’ work, youth meetings, concerts and other events can take place. The building does need some repairs – particularly to the windows, and there is need for a fence around the building.

Alexei has 6 children who are aged between 5 -16 years old. Being with a missionary family like theirs, one can truly experience the atmosphere of love and warmth. The day when I visited, the church was also preparing for a day of thanksgiving which is celebrated with special activities.

As you read these words, please pray for the Baptists of Moldova. Pray especially that the newly planted churches may develop, mature and become strong.

In Christ,