Salutare din România (Greetings from Romania!)
Cornel and Rachel Mich are missionaries serving in Craiova, Romania with Commission Ministers Network (CMN). They are partnered with Hope Church in Oltenia, a region in Southern Romania, known for less than 1% Christ-followers and witchcraft. They are involved in evangelism, church planting and discipleship, mainly with 12-18 year old youth. Rachel grew up going to family camp at IOLBC as a child and also worked summers at both locations during 2005-2009. Rachel is originally from the Midwest and Cornel is from Northern Romania. They met at Hope Church and got married in March 2017.
It has been quite interesting to observe what God has been doing here amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with so much chaos around us, God has remained constant. This has been our biggest encouragement during this time. We have been amazed by how God has been strengthening those who attend our Sunday services, as well how He has birthed new ministries.
COVID-19 hit Romania in March 2020. At this time, we were in the US. However, Hope Church’s ministry was severely hindered. On a day to day basis, our missionaries interact with dozens of people through street evangelism, discipleship, serving through garbage clean-up, etc. Because of COVID, they weren’t able to meet face-to-face with them anymore. Schools were online, people were working from home, etc… so through the grace of God, our “Digital Ministry” was started. At first, Hope Church thought that the impact would be for the people in Craiova and Southern Romania. Well, long story short… We were receiving comments from people all over the Balkan Peninsula, as well as Western Europe, as to how God was using Hope Church to encourage them in their pursuits of “finding Jesus.” We have even seen Muslims in the Balkans choose to follow Christ, because of this ministry.
Since March 2020, the restrictions have been somewhat lifted. Personally, we have been able to be very intentional with the youth during this time. Not only do they have the typical questions of who they are and why they should care about Jesus, but they have also asked us about the afterlife. Many of them are very scared to get COVID - they don’t want to die and go somewhere awful. They have a fear of the unknown. They are hungry to have their questions answered, and we are so grateful for the opportunities to answer their questions using Biblical passages.
We have also seen several youth make personal decisions to follow Christ. In Oltenia, by choosing to follow Christ, you are giving up your traditional Orthodox background and sometimes, this can even mean your friends and families rejecting you. With this being said, there are very few believers here due to the pressures around them. There are even less among those who are between 12-18 years old. Our prayer for these youth is that God would strengthen their faith in Him, that He would bring them more people to encourage them and that they would take Christ to their peers and families. Every time we think back to our vision for the youth ministry, we think of IOLBC’s mission statement, “To Know Jesus Christ and Make Christ Known to All.” This is all about multiplication, which is the basis behind true discipleship.
While there were many challenges during COVID, God has also brought about many encouragements. We would like to encourage you with these verses found in Philippians 4:4-9
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
We have had our rough seasons during this pandemic. Many questions arose of if what we are doing is making a difference and there was also a lot of doubt and fear. But God proved Himself real to us by showing us that He is King over everyone and everything that happens on this earth. For us, Philippians 4:4-9 has served as a reminder to us to stay focused on Jesus first and then others. Our hearts for others come from a desire to follow Christ and make Him known. The most impactful part of these verses is that “peace of God” is repeated twice. If we focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, we will have the peace of God. However, if we focus on what is negative, overwhelming, dark, etc, it will continue to bring chaos into our own personal lives.
Our conclusion to all of this is that God is at work in Romania. He is at work wherever you find yourselves. He is working in us, you, as well as in your friends and families. Even though it may feel as if the enemy is winning in many things right now, God is much bigger and stronger. The victory is His! Together, let’s keep on pursuing Christ and sharing what He is doing in our own personal lives with those we interact with! Let’s fulfill the Great Commission together!
Many blessings to each one of you from Romania!
Cornel and Rachel Mich
1. What is one “right” thing God is calling you to focus on?
2. Who are some people that you can share the Gospel with?
3. What is one way God has encouraged your heart during COVID?