In the early 1990s a former international wrestler was converted in the town of Sighet on the Romanian/Ukrainian border. In late 2007 this Romanian evangelist challenged me about starting a gospel tent ministry. The following spring the Lord wonderfully provided a 17x7 metre tent. With no experience of gospel tent work, during the summer of 2008 we worked alongside a full-time evangelist from Focani in the earthquake county of Vrancea. We visited nine villages and the town of Marasesti. Where an interest was shown villages were revisited, and a number of people were saved by divine grace.
The following summer (2009) invitations were received from local assemblies in the counties of Alba, Bacau, Vaslui, and Prahova. Twenty-two villages were reached with the good news of salvation in five counties and people were converted to Jesus Christ. The process of expansion had commenced and we prayed that the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, would supply another two tents. He did, and we used three tents during the summer of 2010. This traditional method of evangelism was expanded to the counties of Botosani, Iasi, Buzau and Brasov. The tents were used in 44 villages and 4 towns, and 65 people professed faith in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus. One of several objectives was reached that summer when 12 new childrens works or Sunday schools were started. Invitations had been received from smaller assemblies, and during preparatory work prior to the tent meetings it was discovered that there were no weekly works among children and teenagers. The gospel tents were pitched, invitations were distributed, and the meetings began - for children in the morning or late afternoon, and for "the whosoever" each evening. Children attended in good numbers and often their parents came for the evening gospel meetings. Local believers saw the interest and the need, and commenced a weekly meeting for children and young teenagers.
Other objectives were: the salvation of the lost; motivating the younger generation of believers to be involved in Gods great work; challenging assembly Christians to be more active in gospel work; the first step towards planting new local assemblies; and encouraging evangelists in their vital work.
We had the vision to further develop this gospel ministry throughout Romania and prayed for divine provision of three more tents. The Sovereign Lord again wonderfully provided and during this summer (2011) we used six tents for gospel work in 13 counties in Romania. Romanian believers have really seen the value of gospel tent meetings for children, young people and adults. Romanian assembly evangelists and believers have worked very hard during a long summer from April to October. On a positive note, a weekly childrens work has commenced as a direct result of tent meetings in a good number of villages and towns during this summer. The Lord worked in His own unique way in the salvation of at least 110 people, the eldest being a 90 year old man. In total over 14,000 children plus 1,100 parents attended the childrens meetings in the tents, and over 20,000 people (believers and unbelievers) came to the evening gospel meetings. Visiting at least 90 villages and towns with the great message of the gospel was a big responsibility but also a real joy. A lot of literature and tracts were distributed, including John 3.16 "Seed Sowers" texts.
Memorable tent meetings were held in Valea Doftanei (7 ladies were saved - a great boost for the very small assembly 60 kms north of Ploiesti); Pietrisu (on the Romanian/Bulgarian border, near the river Danube) where 5 people were saved and 150 unbelievers listened to the gospel on the Saturday; Falticeni (northern county of Suceava) where 15 people professed salvation; Tinosu (5 saved, a real encouragement to the small assembly); and Moara Noua where 180 children came to the tent and some adults were saved. A tent was also pitched in the large but spiritually needy city of Craiova for three weeks in three different locations, often by apartment blocks. The brethren were much encouraged and want to expand this gospel ministry next summer in the South-West region of Romania.
The summer of 2011 will long be remembered as a significant turning point in assembly gospel work. However, the aim of gospel work is not only to see people saved by the grace of God, but also baptised by immersion and received into assembly fellowship. This summer some people who were saved at gospel tent meetings last year have been baptised and received into fellowship in different local assemblies. As we regularly visit these assemblies for systematic Bible teaching it is lovely to see believers present who have been saved in tent meetings, later baptised, and now in fellowship in a local assembly. Truly, "To God be the glory great things He has done" and continues to do to His praise and eternal glory. It is not our work, although we are "labourers together with God" (1 Cor 3.9); it is the Lords work and it is the Lord who has and continues to work, for "He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1.6).
Prayer is greatly valued for the continued expansion and development of this important summer outreach work. God willing, we are praying that the Lord will provide yet another three tents. We hope to supply a gospel tent for work in the neighbouring country of the Republic of Moldova where Romanian and Russian are spoken, and where there are twelve small assemblies, but the potential for gospel work and the planting of new assemblies is enormous. I have made two short journeys to the Republic of Moldova this summer to visit a few assemblies and to assess the situation, and to meet elders in these assemblies. Another tent is needed for the northern county of Neam where we had fruitful tent meetings this summer in Targu Neam, Davideni, Urecheni and Pastraveni, using the tent supplied for the county of Suceava. The third tent would be used in the central region of Romania in the counties of Gorj, Hundeoara, Alba and Sibiu.
During the last four summers tents have been pitched in public places (if permission is granted by the local mayor), believers gardens, and in front of Gospel Halls. Having seen a few Bible exhibitions used in the UK, we are currently working on the "Romanian Bible Exhibition" for use next year, God willing, in these gospel tents, in hired public buildings, and in Gospel Halls throughout Romania. Prayer is much appreciated for the construction of this Bible Exhibition and its use as an evangelistic tool to communicate the great message of salvation, the gospel, and also fundamental Bible truths.
Prayer for future tent outreach work and the strengthening of assembly testimony is much appreciated. "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak " (Col 4.3).