Karen Pearce is an IMB worker among European peoples and contributing writer.
Lamar Schubert* entered a house in the Moldovan countryside and found a grandmother who was exhausted from dealing with her unruly granddaughter. She was raising the teen alone and said she was a “handful.”
When the granddaughter came in, Schubert shared the Gospel with her. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Why have I never heard this?” The grandmother began to weep, and they wrapped their arms around each other and prayed to receive Jesus.
They asked for someone to come back and teach them more about following Christ.
Schubert, a missionary leader in Eastern Europe, said occasions like this were unheard of in Moldova – a tiny, land-locked country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. As one of Europe’s newest and poorest countries, it doesn’t demand a lot of attention. In fact, Schubert used to refer to the country as the “Nazareth of Europe,” thinking that nothing good would come from there. Boy, was he wrong, he confessed.
On his first trip to Moldova, Schubert helped train pastors in evangelism. During that training, he and other leaders modeled entering a new village and going door to door to share Christ. Schubert admits he wasn’t expecting much. He and his wife, Audrey*, have been church planters in Europe for 10 years, and they’ve learned how long it can take to see fruit.
“After so many years of doing this type of ministry in Europe, where you see maybe one out of 100 people respond to the message, my expectations were low,” Schubert said. “But, in spite of my lack of faith, God had prepared a harvest.”
In just two-and-a-half days of sharing, 32 people came to Christ.
“I didn’t take Jesus at His word. The field was ripe unto harvest and people were ready to hear and respond,” Schubert said, referring to John 4:35.
Schubert wasn’t the only one who was blown away. The pastor he was training, Mihai, wasn’t expecting such openness either. Eight people in one village repented and began following Jesus.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Mihai said. “I am not sure what I’m going to do with all of these people.”
Although that’s a good problem to have, it is a problem. For that reason, Lamar and Audrey will hold a second training this fall that focuses on discipleship, church formation, and helping Moldovan pastors develop skills for training their own people.
God prepares the workers for the harvest
The obvious movement of God in this tiny country sparked a desire in Schubert to see IMB workers on the ground help facilitate further training and discipleship.
Moldova has 2.8 million people and 622 Baptist churches, making it one of the most reached countries in Europe. But this trip led Schubert to believe that having an IMB worker there, even for just a short time, could help in mentoring and training pastors to lead the Indigenous work.
As only God could orchestrate, just one day after the trip, Schubert got a phone call from a former IMB colleague, now a pastor, who had a couple in his church that wanted to move to Europe to plant churches for a couple of years. He wanted to know if Schubert knew of any immediate needs.
A week later, another American couple called Schubert and said that God was moving them to go and live in Moldova for a couple of years to continue helping the church grow. Both families will be moving to Moldova to serve with IMB by March 2022.
All of this is happening during Europe’s prayer, fasting and bold Gospel-sharing emphasis this fall. IMB leaders believe God has been at work, and now is the time to reap a harvest.
“I’m convinced that COVID has changed the soil, changed the culture, and changed the context where we work,” Schubert said. “People are perhaps more ready to hear than we are to share.”
As an example, Schubert shared about one village where the opposition against the Baptist church is strong. The local pastor, Victor, had been beaten nearly to death by members of the Orthodox church – the Moldovan state church.
Schubert and Pastor Victor expected only hostile receptions, but they started knocking on doors anyway. Although the first two houses turned him away, the third one was a different story.
As Schubert spoke to the woman in the house about the hope that changed his life, she began weeping and said, “This is the only hope for me and my family, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Schubert said, “it is.”
Schubert is excited to see God work so evidently, and that gives him renewed anticipation of what God will do in the months to come. He asks for prayer as he and his colleagues step out in faith and expect the unexpected.
Please pray for Lamar and Audrey as they go to Moldova for the second training. Pray for many pastors to come and for them to catch a vision of reaching their country and beyond with the Gospel. Pray for the new believers in Moldova and for the pastors who will be discipling them. Pray for fertile soil. Pray for the two new couples who are preparing to move to Moldova in March.
*Names changed for security