We’ve spent today in the Balti (Baltzi) Region just north of Chisinau. What a stark contrast to yesterday. The Balti Region has six counties with 416 villages. 294 of those have no local evangelical presence and there are only 54 pastors serving the entire region.
After driving about two hours north from the hotel, we arrived at Bethel Baptist Church. They have a fantastic facility in a pretty happening town. While there we met with about 15 pastors from all over Balti. Many are in established ministries which have great plans for reaching and training. Others are just beginning to get back to their roots – evangelism.
We’ve seen some amazing ministries which are truly serving their communities. I can’t highlight them all, but I’d love to share a few. The first and most unique ministry plan comes from a large church of 500. Moldova has no standardized practice for handling the deceased (no embalming process, no funeral homes). Despite that fact, most families still practice a 3 day wake before the burial.
This ministry has laid the foundation (literally) for the first mortuary to be built in Moldova. They will partner with local doctors to prepare the bodies free of charge while the church will provide funeral services at no charge to the family. They expect to have constant requests for services. What a unique niche and very real need to meet. A need we would never think of in the states.
Another very special ministry is part of Bethel Baptist Church. They purchased a large abandoned facility to turn into a summer youth camp in the hills of Balti three years ago. The drive to the camp really brought out my inner farm boy. We literally drove through a freshly plowed field to get there. In 2010, the camp was opened for the summer. In this first year 500 children and teens were served. 2011 brought 1200 through the gates. This past summer topped 1700! All of these kiddos enjoyed 10 days in paradise for only $8 per day and the church subsidizes much of that! Most of these children have never been to camp nor would they have the opportunity otherwise. Needless to say, they BEG to go year after year. The students spend 10 days immersed in God’s love and then take the hope of Christ home with them to parents who would never step foot in a church. I think we were all blown away by the vision of this ministry.
A highlight for the day is a ministry which serves the other end of the spectrum – seniors. This awesome facility sits atop a hill looking over a beautiful valley and is the only one of its kind in the region. 18 staff serve 40 residents. Jim and I were stunned as a lady walked calmly by us at waist level – on her knees. She had no feet, but seemed in no way hindered.
What a neat ministry which the local Baptist church supports. I had the pleasure of blessing three sweet ladies with handmade afghans compliments of Carolyn Walls. I’ll never forget how their faces lit up!
Today we’ve heard outreach support needs from wells for water to bounce houses. We’ve met veteran pastors who are diligently serving flocks of 20 to pastors of the largest churches in the region. The most striking and resounding thought I have is that God is moving here. The cry for help is genuine and while there is much help needed, there is much great work already underway in the Balti Region.
Tomorrow we venture to the far north.
Check out a few pics from the day. It is so much fun blessing people!