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In Brasov: Vuta and Mihai
The first two CBM visits to Romania this year have found the country emerging from a particularly vicious winter into a late but very welcome spring. Experience has shown that visits to this part of the world in the depths of winter are best not undertaken, as communications are difficult and too much energy and time is taken up just getting about. This does not mean we are not concerned for the welfare of the brethren and sisters for whom, notably in the south, the cold months pose a considerable challenge. But it does mean that the 'English' who go on the opening visit of a new year are specially keen to find how things are. The regular contact by post, telephone and e-mail that takes place throughout the 'closed season' is no substitute for face to face contact.
What changes there have been since, in 1992, Ernest Batey first placed advertisements in Romanian newspapers for Bible courses in Esperanto! Not only have ecclesias appeared in which an understanding of the true message of the Bible is held and can be defended, but it is evident that brethren and sisters are learning to live the principles of Christ. The suspicions, mistrust and self-preservation of the old communist days are being discarded in favour of ways that are loving and encouraging. We 'English' often go with carefully prepared exhortations, only to find ourselves exhorted, and sometimes humbled, by the examples we observe. There continue to be rapid changes in the country itself, as it moves inexorably towards a scheduled appointment with destiny in the form of EU membership next year. Quite how this may be achieved in view of the multitude of seemingly insurmountable inequalities, not least economic (a loaf of bread is the equivalent of about 20 UK pence) is hard to see.
A meeting with destiny?
The political situation has its ironies, for the EU has told the Romanian government that it must get its corruption under control before it can join the union - the pot calling the kettle black? Somehow one doubts that this pre-requisite will not be overcome, as Romania's desire for entry is at least matched by the EU's desire to have her in rather than out. The resurgence of Russia with the potential to reclaim some of her old territories by the Black Sea is surely a factor in European thinking. Perhaps, as one elderly brother used to say of such international matters, "the angels are at work".
Home from home
A major help for three of the ecclesias in Romania (Brasov, Craiova and Caracal) has been the acquisition of their own meeting rooms with funds from CBM and WCF. Renting rooms for meetings is expensive, unreliable and often impossible. Having a permanent address gives the brethren and sisters a feeling of stability and a venue to which that they can invite friends, which they regularly do. Good use is being made of these investments. One sometimes wonders what the future may hold for the country and the work of the truth there before the Lord appears. Today it is so easy to get a relatively cheap flight to Bucharest, but will the day come when, possibly for reasons of cost or maybe politics, access to the brethren and sisters of Romania may be denied us and, if it does, how suddenly may it come?
None of us knows precisely what lies in store except that it is the Father's good pleasure to give His kingdom to those who love Him, and some of them are in Romania.
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|