Today we were in Briceni , (pronounced Bry-chain), a city that is very difficult to work in for the Gospel. It is a miracle that any school let us come. We did one puppet show and the teachers did not seem to enjoy the program, but the children loved it. There were hundreds of students in the school, but most were not allowed to come. We had almost 100 students, counting the teenagers who came. The teenagers used their cell phones to make pictures of the puppets.
At the second show, we arrived at the school and were told to leave. They would not allow us to do a program. We stood as a group, gathered for prayer, while all the time keeping our eyes open. We begged God to call the children to come to the program we would be doing in the evening at the Music Hall, but none of us could figure out how we were going to tell them about this opportunity. Then the bell rang and we were surrounded by children and teenagers. We had incredible conversations with them, and many heard about Jesus as we stood in the hallway. They were also entertained with Kim as he played with his jumping mouse to help gather a crowd. Our translator, Greg, was very excited as he commented that even the teenagers were captivated with the conversations. God gave us our opportunity to invite them and many of them came to the Music Hall for the program. However, that is another story!
At the third, we were thrilled that they would let us come. We expected that they would also be told to not allow the Christians to come, but God held open the door. The children loved the show and did not want to leave when we finished.
A SWEET GIFT
How much I appreciate the Father’s kindness! A dear teenager came to me today with a gift. Very carefully he had lettered a card for me, with each letter a different color. He had written Psalm 22:1 which asks God why he has forsaken me. I admit that I wasn’t so encouraged and then my friend reminded me that that Russian Bible is different than my English Bible. The two books of Kings are combined and the chapters are often different in other books. So Psalm 22:1 is really Psalm23:1 which says, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Then, I was encouraged!
WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN A PUPPET TEAM MAKE IN THE LIFE OF A TEENAGER?
Everywhere I go, I am hearing wonderful stories about how God has blessed the faithfulness of the team that Sam Shaw and the team planted here two years ago. The teenager who gave me the card is named Alex. For one year, he attended every show on the street and anywhere else that the Moldovan team shared. His parents were separated and he was hurting. Through those puppet shows, he came to faith in Christ. Now, he is sixteen and teaches two Bible studies per week in two villages for younger, interested people. Alex came to faith because the believers here were able to take Jesus’ message to the streets. Alex did not grow up in a Christian home and would not have come to church. He did not know about church. Now, he loves Jesus and is telling everyone about Him.
WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN A PUPPET SHOW MAKE IN THE LIFE OF AN ADULT?
At every school, the teachers come to the programs. Most every single teacher who attends does not believe and some are openly hostile to the Gospel. Yesterday, a few teachers were very rude, not even willing to acknowledge that I was speaking to them. Through much of the program, they made faces at me and one even read a book. She held it up in front of her face and stood at the front so the children could see what she was doing. Considering that in other countries we have been openly cursed many times and had rocks, bottles, CD’s, string cheese (a waste of good cheese) and even a metal chair thrown at us, their stares were not a problem.
However, I tell you the truth, my heart breaks for them. I ache for them to know Jesus. So many grew up under Communism and have been taught that there is no God. They would be extremely unlikely to ever visit a church. How will they hear about the hope Jesus offers? We must find a way to go where they are and tell them about Jesus Christ!
THE MUSIC HALL
At the Music Hall, we really did two shows. First, we did a puppet show for a room full of children, teenagers, and adults. I would love to tell you everyone was captivated, but we had two little boys who were as mischievous as they could be. Gaining their attention so that they would not distract others was a constant adventure. They were just being little boys, but we had two young teenage girls that were deliberately trying to distract the children and cause trouble. They chose to laugh in a serious place and giggled during the prayer. They talked constantly and loudly. At one point, I said to the children, "God sees you." I looked right at them and they did get quiet for five precious minutes.
At no other place that day had we been allowed to pray with the children, so this was an especially important show. Many children heard about Jesus that night and many children did come from the school where we had not been allowed to share! Praise God!
THE SECOND MUSIC HALL SHOW
The second show at the Music Hall took place after the first show, when five teenagers came and asked me to draw them a picture as a remembrance. These young people were at the school that had refused to let us do a show. Kim had invited them to come using the jumping mouse.
As I drew, I shared with them. Young people are interested in love stories. Four of these young people were there on a date and very affectionate. I told them a story about two of my rings, Irish cladaughs, that Mike gave me the August before he went home to heaven. There is a lot to the story, but I will just tell you the ending. Mike knelt, kissed my fingers, put the rings on, and said, "I crown your heart with my love." The girls melted when they heard these words. The young men were amazed that such an old man had done such a romantic thing. Then, I said, "This kind of love is only possible when you know Jesus Christ as your Savior." Now, they were really listening. God used this story to gain their full attention.
As I continued to draw, I told them the rest of Mike’s story and shared with them how they could know Jesus Christ as their Savior. They listened so carefully! We finished our time together with everyone really interested in hearing more about Jesus. They all promised to come to church on Sunday. Please pray for these five young people to keep their promise!
In Jesus, Linda for Kim, Gwen, Drew, and Marsha