The Rapture and the World Left Behind

Rapture lightning

Let’s fly away to Jesus!

We know what the Bible says that the Rapture is going to look like for Christians:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine).


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words, (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, emphasis mine).

Now, consider this passage:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name!” Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not Mine,” (John 12:27-30, emphasis mine).

This passage gives an interesting insight.  Just as there are three courts to the Temple, humanity can be separated into three categories:

  1. The Outer Court, also known as the Court of the Gentiles – This court represents the world that has not accepted Jesus as Savior. These people would be those who heard Father God’s voice as thunder—and that is likely what the archangel’s shout and the trumpet call will sound like to them at the Rapture.
  2. The Inner Court, also known as the Holy Place, where only Jews can enter – This court represents people who believe in Jesus, but are not bearing fruit for the Kingdom. These people would be those who heard Father God’s voice, but thought it was an angel that spoke.  Because they are not spiritually tuned-in, they probably will not understand the significance of that shout, and it will be too late for them to go in the Rapture.
  3. The Holy of Holies, also known as the Most Holy Place, where only the High Priest can enter – This court represents Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit and bearing fruit for the Kingdom. These would be the disciples, those closest to Jesus, who knew it to be Father God’s voice.  Those going in the Rapture will hear the shout and the trumpet, and will know and be ready for what is happening, and they will go in the Rapture.

Another interesting insight has to do with the veil between Heaven and earth.  Revelation 6:14 and Isaiah 34:4, which both speak of the same phenomenon at the End Times:

All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree, (emphasis mine).

How is it possible for the heavens or sky to be rolled up like a scroll?  Douglas Hamp believes that Heaven and earth once coexisted side-by-side.  Then after the fall of man, God placed a veil between the two.  The occult practicers of alchemy believe that it is possible to pierce the veil.  To do that, they use the help of so-called ascended masters or spirit guides (note that it doesn’t matter what you call them, what they actually are is demons).  There is another tantalizing reference to the veil:

On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever,” (Isaiah 25:7, emphasis mine).

That shroud or sheet would be the veil between heaven and earth.  So if it gets rolled up like a scroll, then that means that everybody will be able to see into heaven (also known as the spirit world, which exists in dimensions beyond our three plus time).  The heaven I mean (using the small h) is not the Third Heaven where God’s throne is, but the second heaven, where Satan and his demons fell when they were expelled from the Third Heaven.  Notice what happens when the heavens roll up: “all the starry host will fall.”  In the Bible the word host comes from the Latin word hostis, meaning a multitude of people or angels, or an army.  The starry host are angels—some of them fallen:

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down, (Daniel 8:9-11, emphasis mine).

In Ephesians 2:2 the devil is called the prince of the power of the air (in the King James Version of the Bible).  My personal theory is that he and his minions cannot currently stay long on the earth because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the bodies of believers because the Bible says:

The secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the One who now holds it back will continue to do so till He is taken out of the way, (2 Thessalonians 2:7, emphasis mine).

Given that up in the air is where Jesus will appear at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and given that we will fly up there to meet Him in the air, and given that the devil is the prince of the air, I believe that the Rapture will cause the veil between heaven and earth to roll up, and also cause (or allow) the devil and all the rest of the fallen angels (demons) to fall to the earth, where they will immediately begin to manifest.

I also believe that Jesus’ appearance and the fall of the demonic forces to earth is going to be like lightning (Matthew 24:27), and as such will have the effect of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  Jesus’ appearance, the Rapture, and the fall of the demonic beings will likely knock out all electronics, all the computers (including those in cars), all telecommunications, and probably even all the satellites—some satellites may even fall back to earth then.  In other words, in an instant the whole world will be back in the 18th century: no electricity, no phones, and no computers.  Older cars may run for a time, but where are they going to get fuel from?  So news of the worldwide disappearance of Christians is going to be very slow in spreading.  At first, people will really only become aware of the disappearance of the Christians they know and live near.  Far more noticeable will be the disappearance of children and babies.  Parents and grandparents are going to be frantic because their children are suddenly missing.  So the disappearance of Christians is not going to register as quickly or profoundly on people as the personal losses of their children and their electronic gadgets.

But far worse than merely suffering the lack of all our modern conveniences or even the disappearance of the children is that those demonic manifestations I mentioned earlier are going to be worse than you can imagine.  The isolated incidents of mass murder that we’ve seen so far in schools, workplaces, and theaters are going to suddenly and dramatically increase, perpetrated by both demons and demonized humans.  Quiet people, people you would never suspect of behaving violently, will suddenly become ruthless killing machines, heartlessly killing everyone around them until they are stopped one way or another.  And these people will be young and old, men and women, people from all walks of life, and they will all display supernatural strength.  It will be chaos and anarchy on an unimaginable scale.  The demons will likely manifest in various forms: cat people, reptilian people, octopus people, giant bugs, mythological creatures, monsters, robots, and/or extraterrestrial aliens.  This murderous rampage will look like the Holocaust in our streets in only a matter of days or maybe even hours.

This sudden murderous violence will eclipse the news of the disappearance of Christians worldwide from the earth.  In the midst of all this chaos and anarchy, there will arise a man who will save the day.  He will stop the violence supernaturally—possibly by causing the sudden death of the demonized humans.  He will organize a return to life as usual by getting the fallen systems up and running again.  Because of all this, people will think of him as the savior of mankind, when he is anything but that.  This man will be the antichrist.  But he will be so charming, capable, and persuasive, so rational in a world so recently chaotic, that people will flock to him.  They will want him to lead their countries, and he will.  Probably one of the first things he will do is collect all the weaponry.  And this will make sense for people having so recently witnessed the killing rampage with their own eyes.  This man will promise Utopia—and people will believe it because that’s what they want to believe.

When the news of our disappearance does eventually become noticed, this man (or perhaps a new age prophet) will explain the Rapture this way: he will say that our “alien fathers” came and took us back to the mother planet for re-education.  He may even blame all the recent anarchy and violence on the Christians.  He will likely explain that the alien fathers had a prime directive (as in Star Trek) not to interfere with a planet until they show themselves ready for first contact.  (Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, will be hailed as a prophet.)  So aliens will walk among humanity (cat people, reptilian people, octopus people, giant bugs, mythological creatures, robots, and of course the big-headed, big-eyed extraterrestrial aliens known from so-called close encounters and from movies).  Whatever form they take, if you’re still on earth when this happens, know this: they are not aliens!  There are no aliens!  They are demons, and they have a hidden agenda: to take worship away from God, and to wipe out humanity.

Christians and Biblical Christianity will be blamed for all the wars and evils that have plagued earth since the time of Jesus.  For example, he will point to Hitler and claim that he was a Christian, when in fact, he was anything but.  He will most likely call for Bibles to be gathered and burned.

Then in his most cunning lie, he will offer people the opportunity to “evolve” by having their DNA enhanced, promising them the same supernatural powers that he possesses, including healing and life everlasting.  Transhumanism will be hailed as the greatest scientific advance of all time.  People will be given the opportunity to “genetically enhance” their own bodies as well as their unborn children.  What will look to people as their salvation is really the biggest scam of all time—and many people will fall for it.  This “evolution” is going to change people’s DNA so much that they will cease to be human.  When they cease to be human, those people will be beyond all possibility of redemption.

I am aware of how much this all sounds like science fiction.  It sounds crazy now, but when it happens, remember that I wrote all this beforehand.  In my next post, I will give some insights into how to survive the Tribulation.  But the best thing of all is to make a commitment to Jesus Christ now, and go with us in the Rapture.  It’s very simple: believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and that God has raised Him from the dead.  And then tell others about Jesus.  I promise you, you’ll never regret it!  God is good!

The Lesson of Job

lidia%25202Worshiping God is what it’s all about!

This morning I was remembering a sermon I had heard about Job.  The interesting thing about the story of Job is how his actions and reactions to his situation changed things:

  • First is Job’s customary action, found in Job 1:5 (emphasis mine):

When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

So what is the first thing that the devil took from Job?  It was the animals for the sacrifice (Job 1:14-16).  The preacher said that without the ability to sacrifice, the hedge around Job lifted, and he lost everything.

  • Next is Job’s reaction, found in Job 1:20-22 (emphasis mine):

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job had lost all his children and all his wealth, and his reaction was to praise the Lord.

  • Then when the devil struck him with sores all over his body, what was Job’s reaction?  He broke a piece of pottery to scrape himself with and sat in the ashes (Job 2:8).  This time he didn’t worship.
  • His wife told him to curse God and die (no doubt so that she could go find another rich husband).  But Job’s reaction was to rebuke her and remind her that God doesn’t owe us anything (Job 2:9-10).  But he still didn’t worship.
  • Job’s friends sat with him on the ground in silence for seven days and nights (Job 2:13).  Notice that after this second attack, Job didn’t worship, like he did after the first.
  • Then in chapter 3, Job curses the day of his birth, and this opened the door for his friends to blame all his troubles on Job because of sin.  I used to think that they weren’t such good friends because of the rest of the book of Job, but in rereading 2:13, I realized that only good friends would come and sit in silence for seven days and seven nights with someone suffering the loss of everything like Job.
  • Then in chapter 42, God rebukes Job’s friends, and Job prays for them:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before, (Job 42:10, emphasis mine).

When Job got his priorities straightened out again (God first!), and prayed for his friends, then God restored to him double what he had before.

So in thinking about all this, the Holy Spirit reminded me that when I was at my lowest point, after three years of depression ending in divorce, the way out of all that was when I worshiped God with all my heart.  I was at a new church, sitting down front where I wouldn’t be distracted, and I worshiped God with everything I had.  Was it a hand-raising church?  I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.  I wasn’t there for anyone else, only God.  And don’t imagine for a moment that I felt like worshiping—not at all!  If I had done what I felt like doing, I would have stayed in bed with the pillow over my head.  But I’ve been a believer long enough to know that no matter what I’m going through, God is always worthy.  And because of this abandon in worship, God healed me very quickly from the disappointment and sorrow of divorce.  And not only that, but then He gave me the life of my dreams.  I never even dared to dream that I would live in Italy and travel all over Europe helping missionaries.  I hadn’t even thought of it this way before, but I had gone through a Job experience.  God is good!

Come Now Let us Reason Together!

This morning I got the sad news that my friends, Natasha and Mikail’s youngest child was accidentally killed.  Mikail is a fourth generation pastor whose father and grandfather had been pastors under communism in Eastern Europe.  His brother is also a pastor, so this is a family full of faith and many years of serving the Lord.

Of course my first reaction was sorrow.  It’s just unimaginable that such a thing could happen.  Then I struggled with the question: why did this happen?  Of course, God could have stopped it from happening, so why didn’t He?

When I couldn’t find a reason for God’s letting this happen, I admitted to God: “I’m having a crisis of faith.”

And that’s when something wonderful happened.  I can’t tell you what because I don’t know what it was, myself.  But little by little, I found myself convinced once again of God’s great goodness and love for us.

Many times when tragedy strikes, we tend to blame God, even rage against Him.  I did.  Years ago when both my sisters-in-law lost their babies, I raged against God.  After the death of the second baby I read in the newspaper that three women in New York City had thrown their babies out the window.  At the time, I was pretty far from God, not having ever found a good, Bible-believing church in the city where I lived.  Plus, my husband had announced one day that he didn’t believe in God any more.  So when I read that, I thought about how much my sisters-in-law had wanted babies, and how people like those New York women seem to breed like bacteria.  So I decided that either God was lazy or God didn’t exist; and not willing to live with the idea of a lazy God, I became an atheist.

God let me have my temper tantrum.  For eight years I lived as an atheist, and all the while, God protected me in inconspicuous ways.  Then God showed up again in my life and invited me back.  I hadn’t been looking for Him, but He left the 99 other sheep and came looking for me.

That’s when I realized that God doesn’t react in anger to our anger.  Like a loving father with an angry two-year-old, He let me rage and pout and turn my back on Him.  And when my anger was spent, He gently invited me back.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” (Isaiah 1:18 NKJV, emphasis mine).

So yesterday, when I honestly admitted my crisis of faith, He gave me some kind of faith injection.  Don’t be afraid to be honest with God when you’re struggling.  If you’re honest with Him, He will help you through whatever you’re going through.  And I have no doubt that He is helping Natasha and Mikail and their children to work through this terrible loss.  Even when tragedy strikes, God is good!

The Significance of Rainbows


The rainbow had depth and substance!

This afternoon I saw a rainbow in the sky just east of Milan.  It amazed me, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  Usually rainbows seem ethereal, almost mirage-like, but this one it had depth and substance.  I was on a bus, and as we drove, it was like I could see many different sides of the rainbow.

The other really amazing thing about this rainbow was the timing of it.  Just this morning in my quiet time God led me to the first chapter of Ezekiel, where I read:

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking, (Ezekiel 1:28, emphasis mine).

And then the Lord reminded me of Revelation 4:3, where John describes his first sight of God on His throne:

And the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne, (emphasis mine).

The first time I read this, I didn’t understand how a rainbow can encircle anything, given that it’s never more than a semicircle.  But then I learned that Heaven exists in dimensions beyond ours (click here for a good demonstration of the fourth dimension).  The rainbow that encircles God’s throne is a multi-dimensional rainbow, and therefore it is a full circle.

So on the bus as I sat gazing at the rainbow, God revealed to me that when He gave the rainbow as a covenant to Noah, He was putting His own throne up as the guarantee that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood.  And then I also realized that whenever we see a rainbow, we are seeing a reflection of God’s throne—His presence!—on earth.

When I was a small child I lived next door to my grandparents in the small town of Hereford, Texas.  One day I saw a rainbow, and the end of it was just on the other side of the fence, in my grandparents’ yard.  Their yard was fenced because they sold farm equipment, so I had to run down to the gate to get into their yard.  But when I got to the spot where I had seen the rainbow, it had moved to our yard, instead.  Back and forth I ran all afternoon, chasing that elusive rainbow.  God was playing with me!

On our recent trip to Kosovo, we saw rainbow after rainbow on the road between Albania and Kosovo (see On the Rainbow Road to Pristina).  And on my trip to Israel, when we were traveling about in northern Israel, near the Syrian and Lebanese borders, there was a fat rainbow just outside my window that kept pace with the van all day.  Nobody else saw it, but I knew that God was showing me that He was with me.

So what is the significance of rainbows?  Rainbows are encouraging.  They are a sign of God’s presence, since the rainbow in Heaven encircles God’s very throne.  If God is for us—and with us!—who can be against us?  God is good!

Saving the Girls

Part Two

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Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and poverty means vulnerability.  Sometimes, as noted in yesterday’s post, a family will either abort or abandon children that they can’t afford to keep.  So Moldova’s orphanages are filled with children who are not truly orphans, but are simply abandoned.  Being the poorest country in Europe, and having the responsibility for so many orphans means that the orphanages cannot do more than simply keep their little charges alive.  When an orphan reaches the age of eighteen, they are given a small amount of money and a bus ticket to the nearest city.  Traffickers know this and often cruise the bus stops by the orphanages looking for young girls to whisk away into a life of prostitution.  And, having no other life skills, they really have no other alternative.

Sometimes, in exchange for money, the orphanage directors will cooperate with the traffickers by letting them know when girls will be released.  And sometimes, the orphanage directors, themselves, become traffickers, opening the orphanage as a child brothel, and selling the girls into a life of prostitution when they are released.

Rescuing these girls from prostitution is the focus of several ministries here in Moldova.  In Trans Istria we saw the construction site of a church that wants to house girls, teach them life skills and job skills, and help get them started into a better life.  The church doesn’t currently have enough money to finish the building project, so they are using the help of missionaries who come as volunteer help.  Even if you are not skilled in construction, but you want to help, any extra pair of hands is very gratefully put to work in various ways, and for whatever length of time you can come.  You can contact us through the GoMissions website for more information.

Our visit yesterday to Irena and Olga, the mother and daughter team that works in the Pregnancy Crisis Center in Chisinau is another organization that helps these at-risk girls.  Orphans and the rescue of prostitutes is not the primary focus.

Stella’s Voice is a ministry based in the UK that also rescues at-risk girls.  You can contact them on their website for ways that you can help their ministry help these girls.

Traditionally, law enforcement (worldwide) has jailed and prosecuted the prostitutes, themselves.  But the fact is that few prostitutes choose that lifestyle.  The ones who do choose to go into prostitution have all been molested as children, so that they have come to believe that it is only through sex that they have value.  Therefore, it is not only wrong to jail prostitutes, but also a waste of resources, since it only effects the supply in a very small way without diminishing the demand at all.

The only country in the world that has been able to drastically reduce prostitution (by 80 percent) is Sweden.  Instead of prosecuting the prostitutes, Sweden prosecutes the johns—and does so publicly.  In fact, anyone traveling to, from, or through Sweden for the purpose of buying the services of prostitutes (sex tourism) is jailed and denounced in the Swedish media.

Unfortunately, Moldova is far too poor to address the problem of prostitution at all.  But the western countries to which these girls are trafficked do have the resources.  Any country that really wants to help these girls, or at the very least to stop prostitution within their borders, should follow the Swedish model.  I suspect that the problem is that most politicians don’t care about prostitutes and/or the police are in some way involved (financially or by receiving favors).  My criticism is not limited to the countries of Western Europe, but worldwide, including my own.  It is within the power of our government to stop prostitution.  But do they want to.  America, do you want to stop prostitution?

Saving the Girls

Part One

This morning we went to visit a mother and daughter team (Olga and Irena) who help girls with “problem pregnancies.”  In other words, they help girls who find themselves unhappily pregnant to make the right decision about their babies and their lives.  Irena pointed out how unusual their partnership is in Moldova, where mothers and daughters are frequently at odds with each other.  The generation gap in Moldova is wider than the Grand Canyon.  But through Jesus Christ, they are as much sisters as they are mother and daughter.

Besides helping young girls, they also help married women who find themselves pregnant with a baby they can’t afford to keep (most Moldovan families who cannot afford to care for their children either abort or abandon them).  They also help fathers and at-risk families, and do post-abortion counseling.  And they help the children born as a result of their efforts with a daycare program.

Irena, the daughter, translated for her mother, who told us about how she became involved with this ministry.  Olga had been working in an important, high-paying job when God called her to this work.  She was able to do both for a while and then the director of the ministry left, and she was asked to take over the directorship.  Olga thought and prayed long and hard about it because it would mean giving up her apartment (owned by her company), and taking a dramatic cut in pay.  She asked four people to pray about it, and all four came back with the same answer as she had gotten: that she must take the directorship.  Then Olga asked God for four very specific signs, and she got all four signs.  So she made a deal with God: “If I do my part, then You’ve got to do Your part and help me out.”  I laughed at that point and told her what my pastor in Texas says: “If your ministry doesn’t scare you, then it’s not from God.”  She laughed and said, “Then it was definitely from God.”

So Olga took over the directorship, and the money came in as needed.  Of course, the most important thing that they do is to introduce each person that enters the center to Jesus.  Only Jesus can help them to have a better life.

Now they have bigger needs.  Olga has big dreams: to open a house for unwed mothers, with a training center in which they can teach job skills as well as baby care.  In addition there would be a day care center and counseling center.  They would also like to open a school for the children, the first of whom are now almost school aged.  I love the faith to dream big like that, and I pray that they will find the funding to make their dream a reality.

If you have it in your heart to help this ministry, please make a donation.  Any amount would be so greatly appreciated!  You can make a tax-deductible donation on the European Faith Missions website.  At the same time, please send me an e-mail ( to let me know that you want your donation to go to the Pregnancy Crisis Center of Chisinau in Moldova.  Do good because God is good!

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Our Trip into No-Man’s Land


Today we are going to Tiraspol in Trans Istria (also called Transnistria or Transdniestria because of the river Dniester that divides it from the rest of Moldova), an autonomous region of Moldova.  Trans Istria is Communist and doesn’t want to be part of Moldova.  In fact, they have sent a request to President Putin of Russia to become part of Russia.  His response was that he would consider their request in due time (presumably to give him time to conquer the region of Odessa in Ukraine).  This is wonderful for us because if he had said yes right away, then we would not be able to go there without a visa and an invitation.  As it is, we were invited, and are going to visit Natasha, one of the teachers who had come to the conference, and to sit in on her English class.

We have to be very careful about how we travel.  Although we have a van, we will be taking a bus there.  On the bus we will need to be careful to blend in as much as possible, which means no loud talking among ourselves, no laughing or smiling, no conversation with the people around us, and not volunteering any information about ourselves or our reason for entering the region.  At the checkpoint, we will be asked to show our passports and to fill out a form about ourselves and our reason for entering.  We were instructed to give as little detail as possible, and to refuse to fill in the entire form.  Our reason for entering is tourism, and since we will be exiting the region tonight, they can’t force us to fill in the entire form.

For me, keeping a low profile is not a problem except that my bright red hair, cut in a strange style, and my brightly-colored wardrobe tend to draw attention.  Had I known about this when packing for the trip, I would have packed appropriate clothing.  But I came up with a plan: I will wear my gray T-shirt inside-out.  At least that much will be plain as plain can be.  I can’t do anything about my lime green jacket or multi-colored scarf and hat.  But perhaps it will be warm enough that I won’t need them . . . at least that’s what I hope.

So with this rather scary prospect in mind, we sat over supper and without planning to do so, we got all the silliness out of our systems.  Sally started it with a hilarious translation of a Polish phrase for “dinner is served.”  From there the evening progressed into more and more laughter and giggles, howling and chuckling.  We frequently asked ourselves what we’ll do at the checkpoint if a fit of laughter overtakes us.  But I don’t think it will.  We really laughed so hard that our sides were aching.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mission house’s landline to God–we laughed until we cried!

The Next Day

Our trip to Tiraspol went very smoothly.  We took very little with us, besides our cameras, some money, passports (of course), and umbrellas in case it rains.  We were given the checkpoint form to fill out at the bus station in Chisinau.  The bottom half of the form was exactly like the top half, so I filled in only the top.  But we were told to fill in both halves.

About half an hour later, at the checkpoint, the guard took a look at my form and passport.  He shoved the form back at me immediately, saying something in Russian.  Jurek translated, “You need to fill in your father’s name.”  And what they wanted was my father’s first name.  Then the guard took a very long time, perhaps checking me out on the internet.  Finally, he handed my passport back with only the lower half of the form, which he had stamped.  Eventually, we all got through the checkpoint without any problem.

The most obvious difference between Trans Istria and Moldova was that the roads were noticeably better in Trans Istria.  Also, the signs in Moldova are in either Moldovan (essentially Romanian) or Russian or both.  In Trans Istria, the signs were exclusively in Russian.  I remembered what I had learned of the Cyrillic alphabet in Bulgaria, and was able to figure out some of the signs we saw: аптека (pharmacy), фото (photo), телефон (telephone), and кофе (coffee).

Natasha met us at the bus stop and led us two blocks away to the church.  The church has rented space in an enormous ex-Soviet exhibition center.  Natasha took us upstairs to meet her English club, and there the five of us split up and joined in the groups.  In my group I met Jessie, an American girl from San Francisco—where I grew up.  Talk about a small world.  Jessie was there with the World Racers, a group of young adults who sign on to do missions in eleven countries in eleven months.  What an adventure!

Over lunch Natasha told us some easy and fun ways to remember simple Russian phrases.

Natasha’s Crash Course in Russian:

  • Godzilla? (Как дела?) – How are you?
  • Space Bob (спасибо) – Thank you
  • Yellow blue bus (Я тебя люблю) – I love you

I think that if Natasha’s English classes are as fun as her little Russian lesson, then she must be a really fun teacher.

On the bus home the woman across from me had a rabbit in her lap.  We laughed about how scared we had been about the checkpoint and the KGB, and instead we rode home with a fluffy bunny.  God is good!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fluffy bunny on the bus ride home

Teaching Teachers to Teach

Doug and Janet organized the conference just like they knew what they were doing: making signs and handouts, organizing books to give away, advertising over the internet to the Moldovan Christian community, setting up speakers and their topics, and finding local volunteers (including Kostanza) to keep us supplied with coffee and tea, and to cook for us.  Doug also facilitated the roundtable discussions.  I was shocked to learn that they had never organized a conference before.  Everything ran so smoothly that I had been convinced that they had done it many times.

The first of the attendees arrived the night before.  She was uncertain about being able to get to the conference on time, so she had contacted Doug about coming early.  So Bobbie, an English missionary, spent the night with me and Sally in the female bedroom, also known as the conference room.  In the morning we moved the mattresses to an unfinished back room, and rounded up all the available tables in the house.  Jurek set up the projector, screen, and laptop with Sally’s flash drive.

Meanwhile, Kostanza and the other local women arrived to help out with coffee and meals.  They didn’t speak English, but they worked hard all day long, singing and talking together in Romanian, which is what they speak in Moldova.  Soon after they got started, the other attendees started arriving in twos and fours.  I served as greeter, giving each person a name badge and information packet with the day’s schedule, a brochure about GoMissions, my and Sally’s card (a two-sided business card), and a GoMissions rubber bracelet bearing the phrase “I love,” and I checked their name off on the master list.

Some people knew each other, and some also knew Jurek, who has now come to Moldova so often that it has become like a second home to him.  Others dove right into that all-important secondary motivation for attending a conference: networking.  As is often the case among Christian missionaries, even if we don’t know each other, we know many of the same people.  For missionaries in Europe, it really is a very small world.

The program started late, due to the late arrival of people who had trouble finding Jurek’s mission house.  However, they phoned and got directions and soon found the house.  Meanwhile Yuri, one of the young men that lives in Jurek’s house picked up his guitar and started playing worship songs.  Doug had asked him to prepare songs to sing in Romanian and Russian, but that are well-known in English.  Yuri did a great job picking out songs, and everyone joined right in singing.

Once the last arrivals was in the door and settled, Doug opened the program with a brief welcome, a prayer, and invited Yuri to play some more.  He didn’t realize that Yuri had already played his entire repertoire, but never mind.  They were all songs that everyone knows and loves.  A funny moment came when we had gone through one song in Romanian and a second time in Russian, then Yuri said, “English!” and nothing but silence and then laughter followed because we all knew the chorus, but not the rest of the song.  Then, because Yuri was about to leave to go on a mission trip to India, we gathered around him and prayed for him.

Next, we each briefly introduced ourselves and our interest in attending the conference.  The last one was Sally, who introduced herself in her PowerPoint presentation on Assessing Student’s Needs and Designing Lessons.  Again I found myself marveling at how gifted Sally is at putting together an interesting and engaging talk.  She has been an independent businesswoman for many years, so Sally is very clever and creative.

Then there was a brief coffee/bathroom break before the next session, which was taught by Johnny, a recently retired teacher from the UK.  Johnny now teaches English at a church in a town not far from here.  He taught a session on Classroom Management.  As he spoke about maintaining order in the classroom, Johnny spoke about the importance of treating each student with love and respect—especially when it comes to maintaining discipline.  In fact, he spoke so passionately about loving your students, that I could easily imagine that Johnny’s students must all love him, too.  It would be hard not to love a teacher who smiles so warmly and laughs so easily.

After lunch Jurek showed some slides of his mission house in action, filled with Polish and Moldovan teenaged believers, playing games and singing songs, getting ready to go into the nearby villages on outreach.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and on the streets and in the shops, it is rare to see anyone smile.  The Orthodox Church stands in gaudy golden contrast with the disheveled gray surroundings—it seems a mockery.  Most Moldovans still identify themselves as Orthodox, though church attendance is very low.  The poverty of Moldova is so bad that the orphanages are filled with children who are not really orphans, but simply abandoned by parents who can no longer feed them.  And the plight of the Moldovan orphans is very bad indeed.  Most orphanages release their young adults into the world without the necessary life skills.  So equipped with only a bus ticket to the city where they are expected to somehow find an apartment and a job and begin to fend for themselves.  The traffickers know this and cruise the bus stops near the orphanages, looking for newly-released girls (and boys) to whisk away into a life of prostitution in Western Europe.  Some orphanage directors even get kickbacks from the traffickers by handing over young girls.

So it is against this backdrop that Jurek enters the villages each summer with his teenaged missionaries.  The children see his van coming and they run to greet it.  They entertain the children with games and stories and songs, all on the theme of God’s great love for them.  Jurek has recorded it all in pictures and video.  In fact, he has been taking pictures of the conference since we first arrived to set things up.

Next it was time for Sally’s next workshop: Communicating with students.  Sally is highly creative and innovative, so she showed us some wonderful ways to incorporate Jesus into any English lesson in a way that feels very natural and normal.  She said that she always tells the language school in the first interview that she is a Christian missionary and an English teacher.  That way, if someone finds out about her talking about Jesus, the school can’t say that they didn’t know about it.  In her lessons, illustrating the past tense using a person or a story from the Bible is easy to do, and she gave us some examples.  She also uses the Bible to illustrate other parts of speech, as well.

Sally also showed the class her latest genius idea: black clothing labels machine embroidered in gold, which she had gotten in bulk from China.  They say: “Jesus – Light of the World.”  She has sewn them onto her clothes in odd places: on a sleeve, on a pocket, at a seam, or at a hem.  They are small and tasteful, maintaining the professional look of her wardrobe.  And because they are in odd places, they catch the eye and evoke comment, which becomes conversation—either with her students, her co-workers, or strangers on the bus or in the coffee shop.  She gave away several of the labels, and encouraged the attendees to use them.

Sally also periodically holds an English lunch outside the language school with her students.  Since the venue is outside the language school, she is freer to share her faith.  She has had students come to the English lunch, wanting only to talk about Jesus, which of course, she is only too happy to do.

After the afternoon tea break, there was the final workshop, which focused on the books and other materials that Doug and Jane had brought with them from Poland.  Since the books had been sitting out on shelves all day, the attendees were practically salivating at the thought of getting their hands on these materials.  They had had the opportunity to browse the selections, but now Doug spoke about how to choose the right materials for their needs.  He had told me the day before that often the teachers will choose materials that fail to sufficiently challenge their students.  So he encouraged the teachers to think about choosing the higher level books in order to draw their students into a more advanced level of English—and possibly themselves, too.

Then after a lovely dinner the conference concluded.  Doug read us the parable of the talents, and instructed us to write on a piece of paper three talents that we have.  Then he said that with these talents comes the responsibility to use them for the Kingdom of God.

This morning we went to a little church in a village nearby.  The church didn’t have a sign outside, but there was a cross-shaped window on the front that made it obvious that it was a church.  Jurek told us that the church had been meeting in a very badly dilapidated house built with asbestos.  So some German believers helped by building a church building for them.  Many people refused to go to the bright, shiny new church building.  This is likely for a number of reasons:

  • The new building smacks of the Orthodox Church’s ostentation
  • The Orthodox Church collaborated with the Communists, so because the new building reminds people of the Orthodox Church, it also reminds them of Communism
  • Most Moldovan Christians are plain people, playing no music in church, wearing a headscarf to church, no makeup or jewelry.  It feels wrong to them to go to such a fancy church
  • The new building is so clean and bright that it is a bit intimidating for Moldovans, who are used to things that are dingy and gray
  • Because of all this, the new building doesn’t feel Moldovan, but foreign

All of this is a real shame because the people of the church were very sweet and welcoming.  The songs were sung loudly by all, with only the pastor at the front.  He sang with eyes closed, as in prayer.  We were assigned interpreters who didn’t interpret much.  One was seventeen, and the other in his early twenties, neither had very strong English language skills.  We understood that they had been put on the spot.  It’s one thing to understand a second language, but it’s another to interpret from your native language into a second language, even if you’re conversational in that language.

One woman went to the front and sang a song that God had given her.  Of course I didn’t understand a word of it, but the heartfelt emotion came through.  Another woman told about a dream God had given her, and concluded with a song.

The pastor preached about the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and since I couldn’t understand and the translator couldn’t translate, I began to think about what our guide told us in Jerusalem just a month ago.  He said that when you think of the people waving palms, you picture something like a king whose slaves continuously fan him with palm leaves.  But he said that more likely the people had pieces of the date palm leaves, which are long and pointed, and they were waving them like swords because they expected Jesus to raise an insurrection against the Romans.  And from that thought, my mind meandered to how Italians use olive branches instead of palms.  Olive branches symbolize peace, the opposite of how our guide interpreted the Triumphal Entry.  Hmm . . .

Sally had bought Italian chocolates (Baci!) to give to the churches we visit.  So she approached the pastor’s wife after the service.  She received them graciously, but as soon as she got them, the pastor’s wife gave away all the chocolates.  I don’t know if she kept one for herself.

The pastor and his wife asked us how we felt there.  I was unsure whether they meant Moldova or in the church, but in either case, the answer was the same: welcome.  That answer brought smiles.  We’ll see if we feel welcome tomorrow . . . stay tuned!  God is good!

Welcome to Moldova!


Sally and I arrived in Moldova yesterday, not knowing what to expect, so I came prepared for anything.  (Sally is my ministry partner, and so, unlike all the other names in my blog, hers is unchanged.)  We were met at the airport by Doug and Jurek.  Doug and his wife, Jane, are British, but they live in Poland, Jurek’s homeland.  They had invited us here to help them host a conference to train English teachers in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ while with their students.  At the same time, we will be training them to be better teachers of English. Jurek has been coming frequently to Moldova over the past 20 years or so, working with children and sharing the love of Jesus with them and their parents.  So Doug and Jane came with Jurek and we are using his mission house both as a place to sleep and to hold the conference. The conference was Doug’s idea.  Several years ago Doug met a representative of a large publishing house that specializes in textbooks.  He asked the publisher what they do with the old editions when new ones are published.  The answer is that they had been throwing away all the old editions.  They certainly can’t sell them.  So Doug said, “Please don’t throw them out!  Send me the old editions of English texts when the new ones are published.”  So now their garage is filled with boxes full of English textbooks.  Doug gives the books to missionaries so that they can teach English as a way of sharing Jesus. So he organized with Jurek and Sally to have this conference in Moldova to train English teachers.  Sally teaches English as a living in Italy, but calls herself a missionary thinly disguised as an English teacher. At first, I didn’t think to come to Moldova because my ministry is not so much about reaching the lost as it is a ministry to missionaries to help them reach the lost.  I have occasionally taught English over the years, and shared Jesus through that experience.  But it is not my main call or focus.  However, just before going to Israel last month, I spoke with Sally again about the conference, and I felt that familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit.  I saw that my calendar was open for the seven days that Sally would be in Moldova.  I also saw that God can use me to encourage these teacher/missionaries, too.  And that is my calling and focus.  So I booked tickets on the same flights and came along to help. Today has been spent getting Jurek’s house ready for the conference.  After breakfast we put our heads together to come up with a plan of action for today’s tasks and preparing for tomorrow’s conference.  Since Jurek lives in Poland, he has a couple of young men stay in his house while he’s away.  They have gone elsewhere for the duration of the conference.  So we started with the basics: grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, sweeping away the cobwebs, dusting the furniture, sweeping the floors, and clearing away the toys and games.  Kostanza came to help, but since she speaks only Moldovan and Russian, her tasks were limited to preparing lunch, kitchen cleanup, and ironing the tablecloths.  Being the only person who could communicate with Kostanza, Jurek’s job was to instruct her in her tasks, and make sure that she understands.  Then we began unpacking and organizing Doug and Jane’s treasure trove of books to give to the teachers, hanging posters, making photocopies of handout materials, and making name badges and signs.  There was lots of laughter and good feelings in coming together to make this conference happen.  Every so often, Jurek would come into the designated conference room to take pictures of our activities—which generated even more laughter. It has been a full day, and tomorrow will be equally full from the conference’s 9:30AM arrival to its 8:00PM close.  Then we get to do it all over again for a Messianic community in another city on Sunday.  As we were hanging posters, Sally and I were talking about our lives.  Think about it, just the day before yesterday, I was laughing over a coffee with teenaged believers in Albania, and today we’re hanging posters in Moldova for a conference.  We agreed that we wouldn’t trade lives with anyone else—what an adventure!  What fun!  What a life!  God is good!


Doug’s Treasure Trove!

Back to Tirana

Just like in Sofia last year (see Our Last Night in Sofia), Angie and I were the two remaining teammates after prayer walking in the capitals.  And just like last year, we returned to fly out of the city that we had flown into.  So once again, we enjoyed an evening together.  Angie is the teammate that I have nicknamed Snoopy (see Puppies and Clowns and Rainbows and Joybringers in Kosovo) because of the joyful dance she does that reminds me of how Snoopy dances in the Charlie Brown specials.  Angie has the most beautiful smile—one that really overflows with joy, and she laughs easily and often.  So she is a pleasant person and a lots of fun to be with.

We had a lovely dinner together, and early this morning I had a beautiful worship session, enjoying the closeness of my Father.

Our time in Kosovo had not been without its difficulties.  I haven’t written about these because they are not for the public, but also because I don’t know the whole story from both sides.  All I can say is that there was a teammate who became offended with another teammate, and because of this, we lost our unity.  Both sides are convinced that they are right—and I can’t say that either side is completely right or completely wrong.  But I have seen this kind of subtle attack of the enemy, causing division and disunity.  The loss of unity was felt by all of us, with the most sensitive spilling over in tears.  The rift has been the central focus of my prayers ever since I became aware of it.

I have been on both sides of this issue, so I know how each party feels.  As the offended person, you feel betrayed, and even righteously angry because of the damage done to your ministry.  As the offender, you need to understand how you have hurt the other person without meaning to hurt.  Whenever this kind of thing happens, whether we are the offender or the offended party, we need to be willing to love the other person enough to really try and see things through their eyes.  Both parties need to love enough to extend grace (unmerited favor!) to the other person because Jesus extended grace to you.  Situations like this can easily turn ugly without real, sacrificial love and grace.

The two parties took the same transportation from Pristina, so I hope and pray that they were able to talk it out and restore the relationship.

So with this sad situation in our last days, Angie and I bolstered ourselves and each other in love, compassion, and laughter.  And in the end, I felt encouraged, though I will continue to pray until I hear how things were resolved.  No matter how things turn out, I know that God is bigger than our egos, our hurt feelings, our insensitivity, and our big mouths.  His will will prevail, and His purposes will be accomplished, even despite ourselves.  God is good!