MBC staffers minister to those who minister to Romania
December 9, 2004
BRAN, Romania – The village of Bran rests at the base of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. The most notable resident of this quaint hamlet is a fictional character created by author Bram Stoker: Count Dracula.
Because Bran is the home of Dracula’s Castle, the tourist trade is the foundation of the local economy as well as the source of wild folklore. But Bran hosted a unique event in the life of International Mission Board missionaries and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) that centered on the real, saving blood of Jesus.
Nearly 30 American missionaries assigned to Romania gathered at the Elim Retreat Center Nov. 16-18 to receive encouragement from MBC Associate Executive Director Kenny Qualls and Worship Specialist Bill Shiflett. Through the preaching of God’s Word and intimate sessions of corporate worship, Qualls and Shiflett invested in the lives of our missionaries and were challenged by their faith and strength.
“There is not a timid soul among them,” Shiflett said. “These people are highly motivated and serious about sharing Jesus.”
The Romanian missionaries range in age from late twenties to late seventies and share a unique bond created by their ministry circumstances. For example, E.C. Dearing is not your average missionary. He and his wife Pearl were on a short-term (three year) assignment that ended Nov. 30. Dearing is unique in that he is 79 years old.
At age 76, E.C. sensed God’s call to foreign missions and did not hesitate to answer. His grandchildren begged him not to go because of his age. They were afraid they would never see grandpa again. But E.C. smiled and said, “God has kept me strong.” When asked about his trip home, E.C. stated that he could not wait to accept God’s next assignment.
Some of the missionaries are raising young children. Some are overseas for a lifetime. All of them represent the face of the Cooperative Program.
Qualls described the opportunity to personally encourage IMB missionaries as “an unforgettable high point in ministry. Making this journey with my 16-year-old son, Dustin, was an experience that we will never forget.”
Shiflett found a new appreciation for the Cooperative Program.
“It’s one thing to see on paper how the dollars benefit ministry and our missionaries, but seeing the grateful and energetic faces of our warriors on the front lines is awe-inspiring,” he said. “The missionaries mentioned that representatives from other denominations are astounded at the consistent support that Southern Baptists receive. There is not another system of support like the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program.”
The purpose for partnerships with Romanian congregations is a reflection of the MBC’s key directives under the leadership of Executive Director David Clippard: evangelism and church planting. A partnership is designed to help equip a Romanian church to share the Gospel in their area as well as plant new congregations.
A nation still overcoming the strain of communism is a fertile field for saving power of Jesus Christ. Since the fall of communism in 1989, Romania has experienced an onslaught of Western influence. The best and the worst aspects of a free society are visible on any street corner. The opportunity exists to see countless souls come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and many Romanian churches need the training and encouragement to reach out to their local communities.
“Chuck Swindoll states that the Christian life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be lived,” Qualls said. “When Christians begin to actively participate in the Great Commission, the focus becomes outward instead of inward and life becomes a great adventure. Missions gets our focus off of self and on our Lord and others.”
Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston, has experienced a tremendous blessing from its partnership with a Romanian congregation. Pastor Mitch Jackson, who currently serves as MBC president, shares that “the church has grown spiritually in giving, prayer and by sending our members on the field to share their faith. This partnership has been the church’s first venture into foreign missions and we are not the same because of what God has done.”
To date, more than 40 partnerships have been established between MBC and Romanian churches. If you would like more information about partnership missions, contact MBC Partnership Specialist Norm Howell at (573) 636-0400, ext. 605.