ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

I recently returned from a trip to Romania with a group from the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. The purpose of the trip was to explore a partnership between Romanian Baptists and Virginia Baptists. It was a fruitful trip and a great partnership will come from it. While there we did get some brief opportunities to tour.

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One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Parliament building (second largest building in the world – the Pentagon is the largest). We were guests of a Senator who is also a Baptist minister. That building is amazing! Every room is different, with inlaid marble of all kinds, beautifully carved wood, ornate draperies, etc. Every material in the building came from Romania. Construction started under the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. He began to build this opulent palace to his own ego while most of his country was in dire poverty. The building was finished after the revolution, and eventually became the Parliament building.

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We also went to the headquarters of the Romanian Orthodox church. Again, this is an opulent group of buildings owned by a church with huge wealth. The gold covered icons stand in contrast to a population still largely in poverty.  Among non-Orthodox Romanians, the contrast between the wealth of the church and the poverty of the people is just as repugnant as the wealth of Nicolae Ceaușescu during his hated reign over a nation of peasants.

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It was sure nice to be among fellow Baptists who share our concern for the least, the last and the lost. They are reaching into the Roma (Gypsy) population and the peasant population with the good news of Jesus. They are very active in feeding, educating and training the poor to break the cycle of poverty. Hopefully, Virginia Baptist people and churches will join in this partnership to share some of our riches and resources with these brothers and sisters who are laboring in a difficult but wide open field for the gospel.

 


 

Sequestered!

Ok, I just used that word to get your attention. But really, it is odd when you think about it. How can the most resource rich nation in the world find ourselves in such a financial state?!?  We all know the Sequester is just a stupid attempt to force the different parties to come together on the budget.  But the problem is that it leads us to “deficit thinking”.  We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we have.

I am in churches all the time that operate on the basis of deficit thinking. They focus on the physical resources they don’t have rather than on the abundance of God. When we get caught in a trap of deficit thinking, often the first thing to go is generosity. We begin to think that we cannot afford to be generous.  Churches cut mission giving, they cut benevolence; they pull back on doing ministry. The problem with this way of thinking is that it will never lead to a healthier church.

Your church will only be healthy when you are choosing to act in faith (“Without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11.6). Your church will only be healthy when you give expecting nothing in return (“Give to the one who asks you…” Matthew 5.42). Your church will only be healthy when you put more faith in your Lord than in your bank account (“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Matthew 6.19).

We are not sequestered!