We've learned that Speranta TV (Romania's "Hope Channel") has posted online the final concert of Oct. 4 in Romania in Bucuresti.
You may watch it online here.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
We've learned that the Adventist pastor in Ukraine who was taken into captivity during a Sabbath worship service has been released.
Read the brief news story here.
Read the brief news story here.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
By Louise Craig
The statistics of the final concert in Bucuresti: packed 800-something seat house, Speranta TV video recording equipment everywhere, over 90 (by my math-challenged count!) singers on the platform, preachers, dignitaries and politicians vying for face time with the audience. By all PR measures, it was a successful evening.
The intangibles tell a story that cannot be measured by numbers. Nor can the full sum of the numbers be totaled at any time in earthly history. For how can anyone measure the value of friendships strengthened, relationships born, hearts moved tears, minds opened to accepting a message of hope?
A couple of days before the advance team left Portland, Donna Schmidt called me with tears in her voice. "Tell me," she said, "Remind me how we came to the belief that God was calling us to this mission?" Under the stress of the final details, the challenges of still-unanswered questions, things had reached pressure-cooker status.
We prayed together on the phone, then we thought back over the months to the events and answers to prayer that led to this moment. And, we thought about the answer to prayer that we did NOT get. As much as we prayed for God to reveal his will, some of us did our best to sway God in the direction that this was not a good time for such a project. I imagine He chuckled as he said, "Wait and see what I can do."
In looking back over the last three weeks, it is clear that, as hard as the team had worked to pull this off, we were just playing at doing things. God was in charge, at all times, and over all details. Some days would have been funny if we had not stressed ourselves out looking for solutions, only to find solutions where we least expected them.
What an amazing God!
We don't have everyone's reaction, but here are a few.
Marius, from Madrid, was beaming from ear to ear as his two brothers joined him on the platform. His mother's joy watching her three sons singing praises together was a thing of beauty.
Lev leaving the platform after directing Prayer for Ukraine the first night, with his eyes suspiciously bright. His friend and colleague, Viktor, listened to the song sung by Americans, Romanians, Africans, Romanian-Spaniards, with tears streaming down his face.
Many hearts were heavy with sadness as we listened to Lev tell of bombings, shootings, widespread destruction in eastern Ukraine. Viktor talked of the beating he had endured, how he had lost teeth, was badly bleeding and sure he would not survive. Guns were pressed into his abdomen. We were never clear on whether he had gunshot wounds but it appeared that may have been the case. Lev described the disappearance of a pastor in his conference, a good friend of his and Viktor's, who has not yet been returned, despite assurances from those who kidnapped him.
Lev reported that the conferences in Donetsk and other eastern Ukraine regions were using their funds to help evacuate church members and assist people in their communities. Many buildings are completely demolished. People are without housing, food, power, natural gas, and most definitely without security.
People are taking sides in the conflict, resulting in families being torn apart by their beliefs. Lev asked that while we pray for peace, we pray that people are able to find the unity Lev and Viktor experienced during their days with us. Despite language and cultural differences, the common ground found in Jesus is what they want for their people.
Despite the sadness and anguish, there was peace and unity as the entire group surrounded Lev and Viktor during our Sabbath morning worship, bathing them in prayer.
Speaking of being bathed in prayer, our prayer team created a plan that ensured that every aspect of this project was continually bathed in prayer, from weeks before departure to every rehearsal, bus ride and concert.
Corleen Johnson had decided that she could not participate in this mission because of a number of health-related issues, primarily nutritional challenges. As the deadline for getting tickets neared, she and Paul decided to leave the decision in God's hands. She prayed for a clear sign that she should go on the mission and that she have a defined role in the project.
From the time of that prayer, Corleen was symptom free for two weeks. Then she got a call asking her if she would create and lead a prayer ministry that would take the entire project to a deeper spiritual level.
Prior to one of the concerts, a concert hall usher was standing nearby when the prayer team gathered in a circle to pray. They saw her watching and asked if she was a Christian. When she answered affirmatively, she was invited to join them. They asked if she had any prayer requests. Her sister was suffering with cancer. They placed her in the middle of the circle and prayed for her and for her sister. You'll have to ask Corleen, Brooke Stafford or Joan Fuller about her reaction. You have to see their faces as they describe it.
Because of the daily devotionals on the buses, one driver was convinced to toss away his cigarettes. On Sabbath morning, we celebrated with him one week of being free from cigarettes. Near the end of the trip, he learned that his wife had received word of a possible cancer diagnosis. While we were on the road, we prayed for him, for his wife, and for healing. He told one of our singers that he believed prayer was influential in us being just a few minutes behind major accidents, rather than being in the accident. In one case, a driver asleep at the wheel was headed straight for our bus. He suddenly veered off, hitting a truck instead, causing the truck to capsize into a ditch.
Michael Andrews was approached by two women after one concert. They said that while they didn't understand the words to "His Eye is On The Sparrow," they were nevertheless moved to weeping.
Another singer reported on Greek Orthodox sisters who thanked him for the music. They said, "The world is in need of an awakening. Thank you for bringing this message to us."
Prayer request cards were distributed and collected daily. The team received some heart-wrenching requests along with some heart-warming praises. The presence of God was palpable.
Several of our young singers recorded their stories on cell phones. We'll have to wait for them to send their stories to us, but we can tell you they not only had a good time singing and making new friends, they definitely experienced spiritual growth.
Over time, videographer Ron Pestes will work on editing video-taped interviews and on-the-spot experiences. This will take him some time to accomplish. (Singers, if you haven't shared your story in one of the Memory books, please email them to email@example.com. Your stories inspire us to keep OAMC alive and well to praise God with even more fervor.)
After the final concert on Saturday night, we stood by the buses, wanting to get to the hotel to pack and catch a precious few hours of sleep before early morning departures for the airport, but not wanting to board the bus, knowing that for some, these were final farewells. It was especially difficult to send Lev and Viktor on their way back to eastern Ukraine, knowing the danger they face.
Please keep praying for OAMC, for God's continued leading and direction, and, while you're praying, be lifting up our pastors and church members in Ukraine.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
|Final concert Saturday evening, Radio Concert Hall, Bucuresti|
Oct. 4 - Happy Sabbath!
We are preparing for breakfast in Romania. We were to have had communion on Friday at 2, but the hotel was not prepared to serve us lunch until 2. If there is one thing we have learned in various mission jaunts, it is that we must be ready to adapt quickly.
So this morning (Sabbath) at 10, we will be having a communion service here in the hotel, after which we load up and head east and slightly north to Bucuresti for our final concert.
God has blessed.
That statement really does stand alone. Our expenses have been much less thanks to Alin (Apostol), Eddie (Ciobanu) and Vio's (Rosca) considerable negotiating skills. That's even with having sponsored more Romanian youth.
Last night's concert in Pitesti was a lead-in to an evangelism series beginning this evening. Near the end of the program, just before the "Four Hymns or the Second Coming," the evangelist made an impassioned plea. He referred to a Romanian artist who created Christian-themed sculptures under the noses of the communist government. We will have to get Vio to tell the whole story.
It was another full house, without the kitty. Let me explain.
The night before in Ramnicu Valcea, a gray striped kitty joined the orchestra in tuning up. We thought we might have escorted the interloper out of the concert hall, but we discovered during the robust opening bars of "Va Pensiero" that the cat was hiding out in the orchestra area. Apparently, Verdi does not agree with kitten ears.
Back to the young people -- last night I watched 14-year-old Olivian do nearly the entire concert from memory. In just a few songs, he glanced down at his neighbor's book. I looked down the rows, watching the faces of the young fellows and felt blessed. Again. Thank you to everyone who contributed to helping some of these young people reap the blessings of this journey. Their faces are aglow.
We had some 73 singers on the platform last night. We expect quite a few more to join us in Bucuresti (Bucharest) tonight.
That's all for now. Breakfast is calling.
Oct. 5 - Sunday morning
Sitting in the Bucuresti airport waiting to board for the return trip to good old USA. Don't know what can be said about last night's final concert, except that it surpassed all our expectations, hopes, dreams. The hardest part of the evening was having to say goodbye to our friends.
There were many hugs and a few tears as we parted ways. Even then, we hung around on the street corner where the buses were parked, one heading for northeast Romania, the other for the airport. We were loathe to board the buses!
We will try to do a better recap once were return home. For now, "la revedere" from Romania.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Singers/Staff for prayer: Blessings for all who participated.
Romania Mission, Day 15
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Location: Travel home!
Scripture and Meditation:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10 NIV).
Together our voices have been raised in praise to God in Romania. But there is a much greater “concert” yet to come when voices from every nation and every age will join in triumphant praise before the throne of God. Our involvement in the Romania Mission is a preparation for singing in that great heavenly choir. The inspiration we experienced here strengthens our resolve to be there. As we return home, our commitment is renewed to take every opportunity to invite others to join that grandest anthem of praise.
Today’s Prayer Challenge: Safety as we travel home. Wisdom to share with others what God has done in Romania.
We walked back to the hotel for another terrific meal. Late night suppers following the concerts have pretty much been the rule while on tour. Fortunately, we had more time to sleep this evening, which helped us recover from the night before.
By Dennis Nutter
Friday, Oct 3 - (Pitesti) - Fortunately breakfast wasn’t schedule until 8 am. The hotel wasn’t ready for us until about 8:30. We were given free time in the morning to explore the city or catch up on our sleep.
Lunch was scheduled for 1 pm but took until almost 3 pm to get this mob through one single slow-moving line. We had originally planned to walk to the local Adventist church for a Communion service at 2 or 2:30, but had to reschedule for Sabbath morning in the hotel, as we had to leave by 4:15 for the concert hall for a 6 pm concert.
We had lots of space on the stage for the orchestra that was nice and five riser steps for the chorus, which really helped, though filled to capacity.
A handful of young Romanians were able to join us for the very first time for this concert. This was perhaps the biggest concert hall we have sung in, to be surpassed by only the one in Bucharest tonight. The acoustics were such that we all felt that we could hardly hear any of the other sections, so extremely important to keep our eyes on the conductor, as it should be anyway.
By Dennis Nutter
Thursday, Oct 2 – Just south of Ramnicu Valcea, is a salt mine that we attempted to visit upon arrival on Wednesday, but they were closed. Fortunately they were willing to open an hour early this morning. We loaded by twenties into shuttle buses that took us underground. What a surprise it was. Most of us imagined going underground and seeing a few conveyor belts, or trucks mining the salt blocks. Instead, there were huge tunnels with restaurants, play areas, lounge areas, ping pong tables, a tennis court, a soccer field, art gallery, and the largest underground church in Romania, or perhaps the world per the Orthodox priest. They conduct weekly Sunday services there for the local community.
We had already packed our luggage and put it on the buses before breakfast, so we were able to continue on south to our next concert site in Craiova. We arrived shortly after 1 pm and quickly devoured box lunches that the local church ladies had put together for us. The concert was in Filamonico de Stat just off the huge town square in the heart of the city. We were able to walk from the local Adventist to the Concert Hall.
We had another standing-room-only concert at the Filamonico de Stat. People were standing on the side aisles and at the back of the auditorium as well as several rows standing in the foyer. The Lord blessed and we had a very positive response. Several men in the Romanian Men’s Chorus were inspired and invited by their conductor, Alin Apostol, to join us the next night in Pitesti.
Following the concert we boarded the buses and headed out for the two-hour trip to Pitesti. We arrived after midnight, and by the time we got to our rooms, it was later to 1 am before we were to get to sleep.