witnessing

AMID CHALLENGES AFTER COMMUNISM, HE FOUND HOPE IN JESUS

(October 28, 2022) Michael Ashcraft shares…

The discouraging thing about Romania was not the breadlines. It was the utter lack of hope!

Even after communism fell, the leftover lifestyle was colourless – work, work, work. Ovidiu Rusu (right), because he had read widely, dreamed of greater things and despaired of a life assigned by socialism of being just a part of the machine to support the state.

‘When I was a child, I was not aware of how bad communism was. But as I became a teenager and then a young man, it was a struggle not seeing a future. There were no opportunities. All the doors were closed,’ Ovidiu says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. ‘I told my friends, “If the end of the year catches me here, I’m going to kill myself. I don’t want to live this life.”’

Walking on eggshells lifestyle
Life in Brasov under communism, according to Ovidiu, was characterised by:

  • Fear of authority. ‘Anybody with any measure of authority wants you to feel that they are the boss. Authority is there to harm and humiliate you. You live walking on eggshells.’
  • Poverty and boring food. ‘You have just five options to eat and you cycle through them. I remember being tired of beans and rice. You have one pair of shoes, one pair of pants, one coat. You sew it to fix it.’
  • You as an individual don’t count.
  • Thinking is squelched. ‘Because people who think for themselves are dangerous.’

Even the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 did not immediately usher in a change of life. Though freedoms were introduced, life continued to appear pretty dull and opportunity-less.

The legacy of communism was atheism. His parents had never attended the Eastern Orthodox church much, but a lot of other Romanians did as a passive resistance to communism. Ovidiu didn’t believe in God because that’s what they had taught in school.

Thinking that if life were to change, he would need to do something himself, Ovidiu decided to flee the country with some of his young adult friends. Their plan was to make their way to France and join the French Foreign Legion. They had heard that the pay was good, and you could apply for citizenship in France.

Crying out to God
But they got caught and gaoled.

‘I was very, very distraught,’ he says. He kept trying to escape Romania, but nothing worked. That’s when he decided on suicide to escape Romania. During the last two weeks of 1992 he stayed in his room, pacing and smoking. He avoided his friends and his girlfriend. He was stewing.

Though he didn’t believe in God, he cried out to Him. ‘If you exist you have to do something,’ he said.

On December 31, his mom sent him to the bread lines at 4am. You had to get up early to get the special bread that is customary for New Year’s Eve. ‘It wasn’t a line, it was a mob, and I’m right in the middle of it,’ he remembers. ‘I was standing there frustrated, angry, desperate, no hope.’

He noticed a young guy working his way through the crowd. ‘Excuse me, excuse me,’ he pushed gently through, coming straight over to Ovidiu, whom he addressed. ‘I know you from the neighbourhood,’ the young man said. He began witnessing to him about Jesus.

‘I had cried out to God three days earlier, and the first time I step out of my house, God sent this guy to talk to me,’ Ovidiu marvels.

What hit him was the young man assured him that God would take care of his future. ‘That was my struggle,’ Ovidiu says. ‘That was what I was fighting with inside. I could not get his words outside of my head. God was working in me.’

 (Above: The church in Brasov)

Ovidiu went to church that very night. The Christians were praying, thanking God, in a circle. Ovidiu accepted Jesus into his heart.

Growing in the faith
‘The factor in my salvation was the feeling of desperation, the lack of hope for a future. I was feeling trapped. Living in a communist country, you know this is the place I was born, this is the place I will die. I wanted to do more. I wanted to be part of something’ he added.

At the time, there was a revival among young people sparked by missionaries from Germany and elsewhere. ‘I was 23, and I was one of the older people getting saved,’ Ovidiu says. He attended a church led by Richard Brooks, who preached hope and faith, an enticing novelty for Romanians.

‘I was just amazed at the preaching,’ Ovidiu says. ‘I was open. Pastor Brooks was the right man at the right time. He was a man of faith. He was an exciting man, he was happy. He had an attitude that everything is possible. That’s exactly what we needed because we grew up in communism in which nothing is possible and all the doors were closed.’

Ovidiu grew in his faith and knowledge of the Bible. Today, he is a pastor in Brasov.

(Left) Street outreaching with Pastor Ovidiu

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

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 GodReports.com, founded by Mark Ellis in 2009, is devoted to promoting Christian missions by sharing stories and testimonies from missionaries and mission organisations. Reporter, Pastor Michael Ashcraft is also a financial professional in California.
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IT’S A PAGAN WORLD OUT THERE!

July 4, 2022) Richard Winter encourages standing strong for our faith in today’s pagan society…

I like options. But what do you do when the option seems to fly in the face of reality? Can we really ‘have it our way, anyway, and anytime’? If you can, it makes life seem that we’re buying from the like of Burger King – because this is how they sell the Whopper.

Now I like the term Whopper, but I also feel that in a country once termed as Christian, we are being told some whoppers! You know – untruths, inaccurate assessments, actual lies. Examples: Today we have gone from Father God to Mother Earth. In public schools, we cannot celebrate Easter, but we can celebrate Earth Day!

Pluralism and paganism
As a nation we have moved away from our Christian centredness. Although we have many Christians, no longer do people claim America a Christian country! Increasingly, many Americans believe that Jesus is only one option among many.

This is pluralism… and we are expected to accept that –

(more…)

SHINING A LIGHT IN A BROKEN WORLD

(June 10, 2022) Carol Round challenges us to be relevant in these dark times …

Jesus’ invitation in John 12:44-46 is very relevant today: ‘Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”’

Darkness and evil are rampant in our broken world! Mass shootings. Countries at war. Fractured families. Political division. Without hope, we find it difficult to find our way into the light.

But, if we truly believe Jesus is the answer, then why are we allowing the darkness to lead us to wring our hands in despair? Why do we point fingers and blame others for the ills of this world? Maybe we need to be pointing the finger at ourselves.

(more…)

CONFUSED MUSLIM LADY’S ‘CHANCE ENCOUNTERS’ WITH WITNESSING CHRISTIANS

(February 11, 2022) Jalen Jenkins shares a good news story…

Raised in England in a Muslim family, Laila Nassali was bewildered by the number of religions and different doctrines.

‘It was so confusing for me,’ Laila says on her YouTube video channel. ‘God is not a God of confusion, so why are there so many different religions out there? If he’s the one true God, why are there so many religions saying he’s this or he’s that? It looked like a confusing puzzle that I would never be able to solve.’

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Like so many, she gave up on trying to compare, contrast and determine the truth. Instead, she started to live for personal pleasure and be happy-go-lucky like so many fellow university students appeared to be having fun.

Feeling trapped
‘I was literally just living my best life, and that led me to a lot of sin,’ she says. ‘I was trapped in the flesh. I didn’t believe in God, period.’

(more…)

THE BIBLE ISN’T BANNED READING

(October 22, 2021) Maureen McQuillan encourages a concerned person…

Pastor Maureen… I’m hearing from America, England and even here that there’s a rapidly growing conspiracy to demean, indeed block Christianity, cancel church and other Christianity charities, that Christian schools will be forced to accept non-Christian teachers, and such. I’m particularly concerned to hear that any Christian who seeks to help someone find Jesus as Saviour by sharing the gospel with them and pointing out that we’re all sinners and need to repent could be taken to court, fined and even imprisoned… if the person doesn’t like what they hear. Does this mean that we will be banned from sharing about God, Jesus and the things we hold dear? Marie (Not real name).

Gosh, ‘Marie’… whoa, wait a minute, hold it there. Sounds like you’re panicking! Yes, all that you mention sounds very concerning but we mustn’t be afraid… or deceived by any satanic ploy. Australian Christian Lobby (natoffice@acl.org.au) in particular and praying Christians/churches aware of such subversive ‘conspiracies’ are endeavouring to counter such matters (as are others speaking out in America and elsewhere).

(more…)

TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN…

(January 15, 2020) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, reminds us of Jesus’ challenges and warnings

We’re already almost halfway the first month of 2020! Christmas is over… and whatever gifts we were given are parts of last year’s history.

However, thinking of gifts given reminds me strongly of the greatest gift ever, that of God’s gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

What a glorious free gift from God, all because of his love for us (Ephesians 1:4) and his incredible grace (Romans 5:15)! Unworthy though we are, we have received so much!

As I meditate on God’s goodness, I recall afresh just how much we’ve been given. And I’m also reminded that as disciples of Christ it is our responsibility to share this good news with others – as required by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, those scriptures known as the Great Commission.

Much given, much required!
In Luke 12 Jesus told a parable about responsibility that speaks of blessings to those who have been given much when the master returns… but also of warnings. (more…)

I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU BEFORE YOU AN OPEN DOOR

(May 14, 2019) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, encourages us to enter every fruitful door of gospel opportunity…

In Revelation 3:8 (MKJV) Jesus declared: ’I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength and have kept my word and have not denied my name.’

He know our works too!

Jesus knew the situation of the local church in Philadelphia, their faithfulness, their testimony to people where they worshipped and where they lived.

And he told them that he had set before them an open door that no one could shut. A door of opportunity, witness and fruitfulness. He did this because he knew their works; he had watched and seen their faith at work and knew they could achieve even more.

I feel it is appropriate to apply this challenging word of encouragement given by the Lord to that early church to every Christian today, to every church because…

  • He knows the works of every one of today’s churches.
  • He knows the works of every servant of God.
  • He rewards faith, hope and love.
  • He trusts those who trust him.

There are doors and there are doors
Some are basic, providing simple access to a room or place. Others are designed to be beautiful and even, magnificent. Others to secure valuables, treasures, money, gold ingots crown jewels and the like. (more…)

IMPRISONED, TORTURED BY ISIS, CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY LED 40 TO CHRIST

(April 19, 2018) Mark Ellis reports…

Charged with being a spy, Czech missionary Petr Jasek endured a 14-month imprisonment in Sudan where he was tortured by fellow cellmates. But Jesus supernaturally imparted peace during his confinement and he became a bold witness, winning many to Christ.

In his role as the Africa regional director for Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), Jasek went to Sudan to document the persecution of Christians, which was happening in the Nubah Mountains in clashes between the government and rebels.

Imprisoned in a tiny cell
Jasek was detained by the Sudanese police at Khartoum Airport in December 2015. Seems immigration staff found a duplicate passport he carried for security purposes, which led to his immediate arrest and imprisonment.

 Petr Jasek

‘I was put in a cell at about 1:30 am,’ he told VOM. ‘It overcrowded, with people covering the floor. They had to squeeze around a little bit so they would create some small room for me to lie down on the floor. The conditions were sparse. I had no blanket… just two extra T-shirts, an extra pair of pants, toothbrush, toothpaste and soap; that was all.’

Guards had refused him blankets or a mattress. Because he was from the Czech Republic they told him they thought he should be used to cold weather.

At 5:30 am he was awakened by the Islamic call for prayer. All six of his cellmates began praying fervently. ‘They showed me a place behind them where I was supposed to stand while they were praying. The rule is that me as a Christian, I had to stay behind them so they would not look at me while they are praying.’ After the prayers, they identified themselves as DAESH, the Arabic acronym for ISIS. All his cellmates were ISIS fighters! (more…)

7 CONCERNS AND CHALLENGES

(February 28, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan write…

Like this Gypsy Smith quote below? It’s from the cover of Stuart Reynold’s latest book, Getting Ready for Revival.

A challenge for every Christian, not to think ’Maybe I’ll do something later’ but to act on now!

Reawakening needed!
One of Oxford Dictionary meanings of ‘Revival’ is: ‘A reawakening of religious fervour, especially by means of evangelistic meetings.

It’s been many years since the days of genuine ‘religious fervour’ in churches with regular testimonies of sinners saved, lives changed, growth in one’s faith, sick people healed at every meeting.

Something has been missing for some time; church life has definitely changed! We’ve become too sophisticated, too locked into restricting ‘in-house’ systems, and the absence of the unchurched.

That golden oldie, Give Me That Old Time Religion, declaring salvation being good enough for everybody; loving one another; taking us to heaven;  and ‘it’s good enough for me’ had something going for it!

In respect of something being missing in many churches (not all of course, praise God!); perhaps the following is on your mind too … (more…)

SHAPED BY UNITY IN 2018

(January 25, 2018) Tim Edwards shares some challenging post Christmas/pre-Easter/pre-Pentecost reflections…

To many Christmas 2017 is long gone! It’s almost the 30th of January 2018 already! We’re rushing towards another 30thEaster’s Good Friday… the 30th of March! In fact I’ve seen some Easter eggs and hot-cross buns in supermarkets already!

As we move ahead in 2018 our church is continuing to work our way through the Cover to Cover Bible with daily scripture readings. But – although we’re definitely moving forward – I feel led of God to share some thoughts that came to me last December that are so relevant for moving forward in 2018.

For example, I recall we found ourselves in what appeared to be the somewhat strange predicament of pre-Christmas preparations while studying scriptures traditionally associated with Easter!

Strong link between Easter and Christmas
The more I read, thought and prayed, the more I realised that the link between Christmas and Easter is so strong, so real, tangible and necessary.

Easter, the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ, couldn’t have happened without Christmas (the birth of Christ) and by the same token Christmas is simply not complete without Easter – they are two components of the same story; both vitally important and eternally joined.

Jesus himself drew the link between the two events in the middle of his trial at the hands of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate: he referred back to the first Christmas and said, ‘The reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth’ (John 18:37).

As he stood there approaching the designated time of his death, Jesus reminded the listening crowd of his birth, thereby joining the dots and bridging the gap for them by explaining what it was all about – that he came to testify to the truth, truth that would bring humanity into relationship with a loving God. (more…)