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Moldovan leader’s journey of faith began at age 17 at Baptist’s funeral

CHISINAU, Moldova (BP)–Valeriu Ghiletchi, elected to Moldova’s Parliament in 1998, was born in a Baptist family near Balti, northern Moldova.

He became a believer at age 17 after attending the funeral of a Baptist youth leader killed in a car accident. “I don’t know exactly for sure, but there was some opinion that the accident was arranged by the KGB,” Ghiletchi says matter-of-factly.

“His funeral was attended by many, many people. I was impressed that, despite the fact that we were in a town of communists, they allowed the church to have this funeral open. There were many preachers, and they preached outside, on the streets, with no restrictions. At that funeral I was touched by the gospel and a few days after received the Lord as my Savior.”

Ghiletchi got involved in the youth ministry of a Baptist church in Balti before his required service of two years in the Soviet army. Army officers tried to force him to abandon his Christian faith and instead become a member of Komsomol, the Soviet communist youth organization. They threatened to send him to the war in Afghanistan if he did not comply.

“It was a difficult time, but God was good,” Ghiletchi recalls. “He used some military officers who just took a stand for me — they told the unit leaders I was good at my profession, and they needed someone who was an electronics specialist.”

He later graduated from a university in Odessa, Ukraine, and worked for several years as an engineer back in his hometown of Balti.

Ghiletchi’s life changed in 1991 when he had a chance to go to Oradea, Romania, and study four years in the Baptist Bible institute there. He abandoned his job and moved out in faith.

After graduating in 1994, Ghiletchi returned to Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, and began the first Baptist Bible school in Moldova. He worked four years as academic dean of the school.

He also serves as an associate pastor of Jesus the Savior Baptist Church, a 1,000-member congregation which began about eight years ago with about 80 members. Each year the church baptizes more than 100 people.

Ghiletchi and his wife, Marina, have three children, ages 11, 9 and 7.

    About the Author

  • Mike Creswell