The end of March saw a six day visit to the UK for some friends of Romanian Ministries from Scornicesti, Romania.
Scornicesti, the town famous throughout Romania as the birthplace of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, is where our missionary Iosif Varan serves the Lord today. The pastor of Scornicesti Baptist Church, Titus Achim, joined Iosif on this visit. Together with their wives and Gabi Maior, the widow of the church’s previous pastor, and her son Iosua, the party was complete.
The idea behind the holiday was to give these hard-working Christians a well-earned and much- needed break. And also to widen the base of financial support for the Lord’s work in Scornicesti. And also for them and us to enjoy some quality fellowship!
All of this was achieved, and then some. Our visitors were intrigued to hear that Bristol was home to the George Muller orphan houses. Although today used by Bristol College, our short visit to the buildings was deeply inspiring. We actually managed to go inside on this occasion, our imaginations running riot with thoughts of God’s work in times past.
We also paid a visit to John Wesley’s chapel. Perhaps for the first time in its illustrious history, its walls echoed to the Romanian version of Amazing Grace, sung most beautifully by our guests.
Among the books on sale at the chapel was a huge black family Bible. Titus, seeing the price of £20, decided on the spot that he must buy it, quite willing to forfeit space for clothes in his luggage for the return flight if necessary!
Friday saw a visit to Wales. There we traveled the length of the valley in which Adrian was raised, sadly musing on the many derelict church buildings to be seen. We actually we able to enter one of them, now used as a deposit for second hand furniture. A picture fixed to the wall just inside the entrance declared over a ghoulish visage "Welcome to the Madhouse", which caused much pain. A salutary reminder of what happens when churches forget their gospel witness. As we returned to the nearest town, we called in at the Cadbury's shop (much to Titus's delight!) and then in to St Fagans, the Museum of Welsh Life.
Saturday dawned cloudy, but undaunted we headed off for a day at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. As shown in the photo in the gallery below, Iosif got as close to a tiger as he would ever wish to, and we had the privilege of meeting Anthony Bush, the farm’s owner, for photographs and a short conversation.
We were all impressed by the lunchtime talk delivered by Anthony Bush to a youthful and noisy audience. Weaving gospel thoughts into his informative message to just the right degree, any listener would have left understanding the key elements of the gospel. And knowing how much milk cows produce each day. And how tall a shire horse is. And with a basic grasp of a sheep’s digestive system!
Sunday was a special day by any reckoning.
We travelled to Tabor Baptist Church in Llantrisant in the morning, where Adrian gave a presentation on the work of the Lord in Scornicesti. A lunch of Savoy quality followed, at which our friends once again sang a number of hymns. Welsh and Romanian voices – a blessed combination!
The evening saw a visit to the Romanian Christian Fellowship in Bristol, where Titus preached the sermon. Absolutely unforgettable on this occasion was the testimony of Gabi Maior, whose account of her formative years and subsequent widowhood at the age of 46 left not an eye dry in the house. But they were blessed, Christ-thanking tears.
The final Monday saw a visit to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and a run to Thornbury. There, we ventured into the local Anglican church for the sake of its architecture, only to be blessed by some wonderful organ music. The man at the keys claimed to be effecting some kind of repair, but he certainly seemed to make the organ sing.
And then, it was over. The minibus trip to Luton Airport saw a number of our friends in a state of slumber, but we were thankful for our time together.
And especially thankful to Tabor Church for their generous gifts towards the work in Scornicesti. These were much appreciated.
Together we serve the Lord in our respective countries, thankful for the events that have caused our lives to overlap.
In the short days here on earth we serve our gracious Saviour. And then we go to be with Him forever – praise His name! Please now enjoy the gallery below!