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Pastor and Ms. Bobbie Carrigan, Finley and Shirley Fowler, and Tommy & Myra Smith left on May 1 to work with Brother Kevin Winemiller to minister to the Romanians and Romanian Gypsies tribes. We left the Greenville airport at 4:20 on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Bucharest, Romania on Wednesday about 2:00 p.m. Romanian time, which is about 7 hours ahead of Greenville time.
Our group brought over 3000 Romanian John/Romans to distribute. We arrived at Hotel Lebada, took a short 2-hour break, then had supper at a food court in a nearby mall. After the meal, we visited the "Matthew House", which is a boys home established by Brother Condurachi Ioan. Next, we went to an old train station to hand out John/Romans. Brother Kevin taught us the Romanian words for good news: "Vestea Buna". It was great to say "Vestea Buna" and watch as many immediately opened and began to read. Brother Kevin purchased sandwiches and we proceeded to an area outside the train station to minister to the street people. We handed out John/Romans as Pastor Carrigan and Brother Kevin preached to them as Brother Vicorel Luca, a local Romanian pastor, interpreted. Several of them prayed the sinners prayer, but most of them continued to sniff the bags of glue chemicals to get high. Some of these were children, not more than 11 or 12 years old. What a sad picture of the horrible pit of sin! Thank God for places like "Matthew House" and men like Brother Ioan, Brother Luca, Brother Kevin, and Pastor Carrigan who reach out with the Gospel to those who will accept it. It had been a long day and sometime after midnight we reached the hotel and got some much-needed rest.
On Thursday the group went back to the airport to get luggage that had been lost during our flight. Afterward we traveled to Sighasoara, stopping on the way to visit Brother Lucas home in Brasov. The countryside was beautiful with rolling hills and valleys of rich, green grass often spotted with flocks of sheep and shepherds. My Shepherd is! Amen! In Sighasoara, we went directly to the Biserica Baptist Church to have service with Pastor Florin and his people. The McPhersons, two men from Virginia, and Myra Smith sang. Although the majority of the people there did not understand English, they responded well to old hymns. I noticed many of the people singing the hymns along with us in their own language. Pastor Carrigan preached, with Brother Luca interpreting, on "I've fought a good fight, I've kept the faith, I've finished my course". Awesome! One person was saved at the end of this service! After church we went to a nice Pizza restaurant for supper and walked around the castle known as Draculas castle, then to the hotel for another nights rest.
Friday morning we visited a small building with Brother Florin that he and his church family has stepped out on faith and renovated into a church. The building is available for purchase and currently they are being allowed to use the building until it is sold. They are trusting God to provide the church with the funds to purchase the building. Next, we visited a 93-year-old Christian lady. The group gave her a love offering. She cried and hugged and thanked us. I watched a neighbor lady standing in her door wipe tears as she witnessed the love of God being expressed to this precious saint through the hands of our group.
We continued on to a Gypsy church. The McPhersons and Myra Smith sang, others in the group testified, and Pastor Carrigan preached with Brother Luca translating. Three Gypsies came forward and accepted Jesus. After the service, we gave candy to the children. They were very poor and very precious. After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a short break and then back to Emanuel Baptist Church. Here eleven souls were saved. After church we had supper at the Pizza restaurant and fellowshipped with Brother Luca and his family and Brother Florin.
Saturday morning we visited a state owned Girls home. We were not allowed to preach, but they did allow singing. The girls from the home sang to us songs about flowers, about youth, and about partying. It was so obvious they needed the Lord. Pastor Carrigan was allowed to say a few words about the Lord. The McPhersons and Myra Smith sang with Brother Luca and his wife interpreting.
After the girls home, we loaded a van with Brother Terry Ingram to travel to Oreaga.
We saw many Gypsy beggars along the way. Brother Ingrams ministry is to the Gypsies. We stopped to visit a children's home and the church which is the work of Brother Ed Hembree and his wife Carol. They graciously prepared a wonderful Romanian meal for us in their home. Next we visited Liberty Square, later named Revolution Square, in Timisoara and learned about the history of the 1989 revolution. This is the spot where the Romanian army revolted and won their independence. We arrived in our hotel in Oreaga after 2:00 a.m. to get some much-needed rest.
Breakfast at 8:00 a.m. with Brother Terry Ingram and Darrell Blankenship began our very busy Sunday. We stopped at a nearby coffee shop where Pastor Carrigan and the missionaries shared the gospel with several men who appeared to be the town drunks. Next, we went to the Gospel Light Baptist Church. There we had church services in a courtyard outside some very humble houses. The people there treated us with such respect and kindness. Although they stood in the hot sun, they provided stools in the shade for our ladies. The McPhersons sang and Myra Smith sang and gave her testimony. Tommy Smith, Ms. Bobbie, and Finley Fowler gave their testimonies. Pastor Carrigan preached with Brother Ingram translating. Brother Ingram and a Gypsy preacher named Brother Goman preached. Some Gypsy musicians played their instruments. The worship service lasted for over three hours. After the service, we all walked to the Tileage River to witness the baptism of a 73-year-old lady named Ms. Varga and her young grandson. We held hands with the children who seemed so excited to be touched and loved. The children were very entertained when Pastor Carrigan filmed them and allowed them to view themselves on his video camera.
We returned to the hotel for lunch and a nap. During lunch we talked with Ema and Zoli Somogli, a young missionary couple who has a burden to reach Romanian and Gypsy children through teaching the gospel in the schools. In many of the Romanian schools they are allowed to openly teach the Bible. Ema shared her vision to have American children to be pen pals and supporters for the Romanian children in her classes.
After lunch we left for church services in other gypsy villages. The first stop was a small church, poor but nice compared to the morning. This village actually had a small church building. We sang with interpreters, Pastor Carrigan, Brother Ingram and Brother Goman preached. One young boy came forward to be saved. We left this service, and traveled on to the next Gypsy village where there was again a small church building. We sang with interpreters, and Pastor Carrigan preached. Then, we left and went to the last village. Here there was no church building. There were over 250 people here. It was now dark and very cool outside. They had one small light that they hung over the eve of the very humble house in order for the preacher to see his Bible. We sang and the Pastor Carrigan preached a salvation message with an interpreter. The people were so open to the Gospel. Many of them wept uncontrollably during the preaching. They stood for hours listening intently to the message. Brother Ingram and Brother Goman preached after Pastor Carrigan. Nine people made their way to the front of the crown and made a public profession of faith. One old man, probably in his 70s weeping greatly moved forward and accepted Christ as his savior. I noticed a pregnant lady who stood for hours and listened intently to the messages. What a blessing to see the hunger in these people for the Gospel. What an honor it was to have a small part in representing our Lord and His Gospel to these people.
" Jesus loves them this I know
And He's commanded me to go
To tell the Gospel to each one
That they too might know Gods Son"
On Monday, we visited with Korin and his mother prepared and served an authentic Romanian meal in their home. Afterward we shopped in downtown Oradea and had a time of fellowship and rest in the evening.
Tuesday morning we were up early and traveled to Budapest, Hungary. We checked into the Hotel Stadion, rested for a short time, then toured Budapest with Pastor Andres Lovas.
Wednesday morning Brother Terry Ingram gave a devotion for us in the lobby of the Hotel on "How Big is your God". He reminded us that His hand is larger than the universe and that the average man is 5 6 times larger than his hand. What a great God we serve! We shopped in downtown Budapest, then went to a Gypsy Cultural program in the evening. We spent some quality fellowship time with our group and packed to go home. God richly blessed. Over 3000 John/Romans were distributed, 24 public professions of faith, and many Christians encouraged.
Thursday we flew home.
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