“We have seen the need; we have experienced the work; we want to go into missions!” This was the passionate response of two participants after finishing this short-term mission trip. Two Moldovan girls suddenly determined to bring the gospel to the least reached of the world; two girls willing to go to even the most difficult places on this globe; two simple girls from the poorest country in Europe, convinced that God was calling them and that He was also able to open a way.
What had awakened this passion?
In the autumn of 2016 these two girls went through OM Moldova's ‘Challenge into Missions’ (CiM) training and in April 2017 they joined a team from Moldova that went on a short trip to Serbia to help with the work in one of the refugee camps there. It was the first time OM Moldova offered Moldovan believers such an opportunity of experiencing short-term cross-cultural ministry in another country. The team was made up of three Moldovan OM workers and five others that had signed up from various Moldovan churches, among them these two girls.
Even for these two - although they had gone through CiM - it was challenging, as now they were interacting with people of a different language, different culture and mostly a different religion. At the same time, most of the other participants had no previous experience at all and were unsure about how to speak to people or even how to approach them. But they found that they didn’t even need to approach anyone, as people came to them, seeking them out, eager to speak to them. OM has a heated tent in this camp, where they offer tea to people and, since there is not really any occupation for the people in the camp, many come to the tent to sit down for a cup of tea, a game of dominoes or simply some conversation. As some were trying to learn English, they were excited to have the chance to practise with a foreigner, but most were simply hungry for attention and a few kind words.
The Moldovan visitors did not find it easy to hear the heartbreaking stories of what some of these refugees had gone through, to see the pain in their eyes and the hopelessness with which they looked into the future. At the same time, the Moldovans experienced how much their sincere interest was valued by these people who during their flight had come to feel rejected and unwanted wherever they turned. The team’s own life stories were shared again and again, people eagerly listened to the message of acceptance and forgiveness they shared and often in tears would ask the team to pray for them, even if they did not share their faith.
There were also a few refugees who had turned to the Christian faith a few months earlier, and now were full of questions and every day urged the team to study the Bible with them. The example of these believers greatly encouraged the team and they also noticed that there was a difference between this group and the rest of the people in the camp: These Christians spoke with hope! The deep confidence that God was with them and was in control, whatever would happen to them, gave them a peace and joy most others could not find.
Returning to Moldova the team was exhausted but excited and overjoyed by what they had experienced. For every single participant it had been a time of growth: whether it was simply realising that, compared to the people they had met, they were blessed with a lot of things. Or they were being motivated to study their own faith more because - having been challenged about it for the first time - they felt they needed to become more sure about what they believe and why they believe it.
And they understood that mission is possible - even for simple Moldovans.