When we set out this morning for Svet Miru Baptist Church, I must admit, I had the wrong impression of what I was walking into. Many of the churches we’ve visited across Moldova have had strong traditional influences. I even wore a coat and tie. Imagine that. When we arrived, I quickly lost the tie. Jim Jackson and I spent more than an hour hearing the vision of the church, a 15 year old plant pastored by seminary professors. In fact, victor serves as Dean of Students at the Baptist Seminary in Chisinau. In the 15 years since their launch, Svet Miru has moved 7 times. Their first two years were spent in elementary schools. Sounds so familiar! Two years ago they found their present building, a commercial facility with three floors. God has blessed them with second and third floors for the church.
May I just say I am still blown away by the clear vision and strategy these pastors have for reaching their city and surrounding towns for Christ. While we talked, another church met in their facility. The Svet Miru service we attended ran from 11 – 1 p.m., then another church would use their worship center at 4 p.m.! This church is so driven to reach people that they intentionally allow OTHER churches to use their facilities FREE of charge on Sunday! They have also begun a plant in a small town about 10 miles outside of Chisinau which presently meets in a home. Talk about cooperation and partnership. Wow!
When Jim and I walked into the worship center, I thought I was listening to a CD. The worship leader and his wife were rehearsing an acoustic set for the day. The song which caught my attention was, “I could sing of your love forever” in Russian. Gorgeous. As people began to flow in, it didn’t take long for the room to fill up. By the time service started there were people standing along the walls and all chairs were filled, a sea of faces from all over Europe. Students and families from Moldova, Asia, kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and even America! Would you believe we met a young lady from Iowa? She’s married to a Moldovan pastor in the church who will be one of the next church planters sent out from Svet Miru. As I brought a message from Ephesians 2:1-10, I was humbled to standing in such a place of honor.
After church, we quickly jumped in the car to travel across town to Victor’s home – a nice apartment in one of the Soviet era public housing complexes. I have wanted to walk inside of one of these since we arrived. Today was the day. As we stepped out of the elevator on the 9th floor at the top of the building, we were met at the door by a crowd of children and teens all there to hang out for the day. Both pastors’ children and friends had come. We made our way through the beautiful home (quite unlike the rest of the building) to a room with a view. From the window, one may see almost all of Chisinau. For the next 2 hours we sat around a table full of food – Jim, one pastor and I on the couch, the family seated on pillows around the floor. We dreamed of what a partnership between our church families might look like. We talked of vision, dreams and how God might use us each body to encourage the other. I have never felt a more kindred spirit with another church than I did at that moment.
As we walked out of the building heading for the car, I thought to myself how special this day had been. How many Americans ever have this opportunity? I felt both humbled and invigorated in my call. To know that I am at this very moment, right where God would have me is a priceless feeling.
Svet Miru, which simply means “Light of the World” will certainly play a part in the future of River of Leland. I’m excited about how God might use the two churches to encourage one another and to reach both parts of our world for Christ. We spent today exactly where God planned. I couldn’t have made the day’s experience happen if I had tried!
Suffice it to say, I am humbled.