Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moldova 2011 Memory Part 5...

The story started yesterday continues...

Diane and translator teaching girls to sing "Gloria" as angels for the Nativity drama...
... there's more to be told about something that happened during the rehearsal for the angels. Diane was handling the girls who were learning to sing the "Gloria" song so I stepped away from her and the group of girls. I was standing in the gazebo, observing Diane and her singers when a stranger walked into the gazebo, came up to me and said,
"Hi, I'm Gloria."

And I immediately replied as I held up my nametag,

"Hi, I'm Linda."  

With that introduction, we began a conversation.

I had learned the evening before that some team members had met several University students from different countries.  It had been learned that they were in Moldova as part of AIESEC to volunteer in camps where vulnerable children spent time during the summer.  I had not met any of these students but as Gloria introduced herself to me, I learned that she was one of the students with that group.  

I had been wondering about their length of stay and the purpose of their volunteer work so I began to ask Gloria some questions and she had some questions for me.  Her English was flawless. 

I learned that she was from China.  She had been in Moldova for at least 10 days and would be there for another 20 days.

She said that she and the other students who represented 8 different countries, were working in two camps which were geographically side by side.  A path through a wooded area was the way they moved back and forth between the two camps.  She told me they slept and ate their meals at the other camp.  She also mentioned that they hadn't been spending much time at "our" camp because they had learned that a team of volunteers was there that week so the need for their help wasn't so great.

Then she said, "I understand you are teaching Bible stories to the children.  Is that true?"

I replied, "Yes, we are teaching Bible stories to the children.  Are you also teaching Bible stories?"

(I had been very curious about her organization and was grateful for the opening to ask about her organization and its purpose for sending University students around the world.)

"Oh, no," she replied.  "We are not a Christian organization but I want to be a Christian!  I've always wanted to be a Christian.  But no one has ever told me how I can be one.  And ever since I have arrived in Moldova, I have been meeting Christians."

She went on to tell me that she had met a pastor named Dorel who was in a park in the center of Chisinau the previous Sunday.  Dorel, his family and some of his church members were in the park as was their usual custom on Sunday afternoons, to sing and invite people to their church for an evening service.  She had been invited by Dorel's wife to come to their home and stay a few days.  She had done this and had witnessed a baptism during her time with them.

She said, "During the baptism, I just felt like I wanted to be baptized."

Dorel & Olga with John & me in August 2005.
As she spoke, my heart was leaping.  I could hardly believe the readiness of this girl to become a Christian.  And I didn't wonder about the teaching she had received from Dorel and his wife, Olga, because I knew them.  Dorel was the director of CERI - Children's Emergency Relief International - when our church began to have teams go to Moldova each August.  I knew their testimony so I was certain Gloria had been receiving scriptural answers to the longing in her heart.

Gloria was talking fast and furiously.  She repeated her desire to be a Christian.  She told me that when she was 15 - 16 years old, she had a tutor who taught her English.  This tutor had studied in the United States for two years and during that time, she had become a Christian.  She returned with a Bible and gave that to Gloria.

"But the Bible was hard for me to read and I didn't know where to read in it," she told me.  "But I want to be a Christian!"

And with tears threatening to flow, I told her, "I can tell you how to be a Christian.  Do you want to become a Christian right now?"

"Yes, Yes, I am ready!"

I wanted to make sure she understand that repentance of sin was part of the process so I said,
"The Bible teaches that everyone has sinned."

With urgency she responded, "Yes, Yes, I already know I am a sinner!  I want to be a Christian!"

I realized she was ready and I needed to lead her with the prayer that would confirm the choice she had already made in her heart.

We were somewhat in the midst of children and their activity so I suggested we step out of the Gazebo and go to a spot that was just a little more quiet and private.

Photo taken in April 2005.
We walked together to a large tree that was away from the noise and action in the Gazebo. 

As we arrived at the foot of the tree, we turned to look at each other and she said,
"I feel this is a holy moment."

The tears were again threatening but I was telling myself to keep my emotion under control so we could pray together the words that would cause rejoicing in heaven as one sinner repented.

"This is a holy moment."  I continued,  "To become one of God's children, you need to pray, confess your sin and tell God you want him to come into your life and make you one of his children.  I can say a prayer and you can repeat my words if you'd like to do that."

She nodded her agreement and we began.

Dear Lord,
I want to be one of your children.
I know I am a sinner and need forgiveness for my sins.
I know that you died to pay the penalty for my sin.

Thank you for dying for me so that I can be forgiven.
I ask you to forgive me.
Please come into my life and make me your child.
Thank you for coming into my life and making me one of your children.
I love you. AMEN

The glowing smile on Gloria's face was the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time!  We hugged and I told her that there was rejoicing in heaven because of her repentance.

We heard her name being called.  Other university students were telling her it was time to go back to the other camp and have lunch.   

I told Gloria I would be back after my lunch and would return to the camp the next day also.  She said she would try to return before I left the country.

(I have blurred Gloria's face in this photo.  I do not want her to be identified by face or national name which may cause her to be subject to persecution and discrimination.  Gloria is the English name she apparently gave herself as an easily pronounceable name.)

As my heart overflowed with gratitude to Father God for the privilege of having this moment to share in the harvest for his kingdom, I walked to the van for our ride back to the team house.

A prayer of mine was answered, the prayers of many others were answered and a new life in Christ had begun.

I was about to learn that another new life had begun at about the same time as Gloria's had.  Rick would share over lunch that one of the boys in his small group had lingered after their sharing time in order to place his trust in Christ as Rick opened the way for him.
John 20: 30 - 31
 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

It was an especially sweet time of sharing and rejoicing around our table for lunch that day as a team.  And we prayed that God was glorified through us as we gave him our praise and thankfulness.

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