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Sharing a meal with members and friends at Craiova
After ten years of preaching, four small ecclesias are now established in Romania: at Bucharest the capital city, Brasov in the Southern Carpathians about 150 km to the north, at Caracal a similar distance to the west on the Wallachian Plain, and at Craiova 50 km further to the west and the major industrial city of the Oltenia region.
The economic and social conditions of post-communist Romania lag far behind other East European states and impact heavily on our brothers and sisters. In the capital, increasing economic activity is evident in new building, the volume of traffic, and the appearance of the people. But both there and more especially in the small towns and villages, there is a huge underclass of people who struggle to survive on meagre wages, live in poor quality apartments, and see little hope for improvement. The town of Caracal is typical. Industrial investment is scant, many people have little meaningful work or wages and, though some public buildings are being refurbished, the general air is of neglect and civic apathy.
Inevitably these conditions create a sense of resignation and acceptance. It's unusual to find adults with the 'can-do' philosophy of the western world, though it seems that the younger generation is determined to break out of its economic and cultural strait-jacket. Those we meet, sons and daughters of brothers and sisters and friends, study hard at school and university, but whether the country can ever meet their aspirations is, at present, very doubtful.
This visit started with a public talk in Bucharest on the subject 'The meaning of the cross'. A visitor to last year's Bible School, Gabriel Popescu, had contacted Graham with a request that we visit him in Tārgu-Jiu, which is about 100 km north-west of Craiova. He knows that he should be baptised, and also has many friends who are interested in the Bible and want to hear about our beliefs. He hoped about forty might come to meetings he had arranged, but in the event Easter intervened. Only five came on the evening of our arrival and thirteen the following day to the local museum, where Graham spoke about the coming Kingdom of God, after which there was a lively discussion.
Back at Craiova the recently-purchased house proved ideal both as accommodation and as ecclesial home. Brother Alex and Sister Vali Bangau have enthusiastically taken responsibility for its management and put great effort into all arrangements for the meetings and visitors' well-being.
Moving on to Caracal to stay at the ecclesial house, we were much encouraged by meeting all the brothers and sisters who have remained in the area, others having emigrated or gone abroad to find work. On the first evening I spoke again on 'The meaning of the cross' and the following evening Graham exhorted at a Memorial Meeting at which fourteen brothers and sisters and friends were present. On two occasions, when invited to lunch by brothers and sisters, we were again reminded of the blessings that we in the West enjoy.
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|