05/30/2009: Books for Romania
Last quarter I introduced you to Gàbor Demeter. Now I want to introduce you to Zsigmond Béla with whom he is working.
Zsigmond was very worldly and had worldly friends. They were singing worldly songs together and had a lot of fun. But in his heart Zsigmond wanted something else. One day he said to his parents: “Let us study about Jesus and His sufferings.” This changed his life and in 1956 he was baptized. He was very glad that he was in a very active church and he was happy.
The years went by and in 1990 a desire grew in his heart to work more for the Lord. He went to his pastor and explained to him that he wanted to work for God and that he needed a permit to go door to door. In Romania you need this permit, because the police will ask you for it. He got the permit and he began to work.
Now he learned that mission work is hard work and that it takes a lot of time. It is not easy, but it has many rewards. He went from house to house, from village to village and from city to city.
As time passed he gained many experiences. For example, last winter he went to a village together with his wife. They stopped the car in a street and went to the first house with a prayer in their heart. A child, 11 years old, came out. They asked if somebody was at home. “No,” the child said, “I do not live here.” Then a man came to the door. He didn’t live there either, but he invited them inside. They came into a room with a table and there they explained to the man and another lady who they were and why they had come. Then the lady told them that God had sent them to this house. Twelve years before she had looked into many different religions, but she did not find what her heart desired. This woman is now studying the Bible.
But the experiences are not always nice. One day as they were talking with a lady, the man came home and called his wife from outside. He wanted her to bring something for him. She told him to wait, because she was talking with someone. He then cried out and asked her if she didn’t have a knife to kill them.
Zsigmond has been working as a colporteur, but it has become very hard to sell books in Romania. The society has changed a lot since communism ended. The interest in religious things has dropped and the books have become too expensive for most people to buy. As a result of this Zsigmond one day suggested to his wife that they would buy as many books as possible and then simply give them to the people who were interested.
Zsigmond and Gàbor do not live in the same place, but they have become friends and help each other in the work. At times they work separately in their local areas, but they do also get together and help each other. As they both have a burden to get the work done and get more people involved, they called together a group of about twenty people and prayed earnestly for the help of the Lord to expand the work. Then they all went to friends and explained to them how they work and asked if they wanted to help them the next time. Some came. And slowly the group has been growing.
Usually they work together in this way: On Friday they travel to a city. Sabbath morning they go to church. There they tell the congregation about their experiences and how they work. In the afternoon they offer to have the church members go with them. Each one of the group takes a new person with him. They continue the work in the city for the next few days. Usually some of the people in the area become interested in the work and continue.
The approach at the door is the most difficult part of the work. It is no longer possible to let the people know right away that you are a Christian, otherwise they most likely will not listen to you. Therefore they begin by showing the book Ministry of Healing. As a second step they try to find out if they have any problems in the family, and then they introduce them to the book Desire of Ages. A third step might be to find out if they are interested in history. Then they introduce them to The Great Controversy. Usually they bring books with them such as Bibles, The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy, Christ’s Object Lessons, Ministry of Healing, Eden to Eden and The Marked Bible.
After showing all the books, the people very often say that they are so sorry because they do not have any money. Then they tell them that it is no problem, because the books are free. They can choose whichever book they would like. Or they even offer several books for free, if they feel the need. If someone is more interested, they get the address and give it to some faithful member of the area, who can keep the contact.
Gàbor told us two small experiences about how much a book can do. One day a poor boy was searching around in the garbage to see if he could find something of value. Then he found the book Desire of Ages. The book looked so nice that he quickly grabbed it and ran home with it. The next Sabbath the whole family was in church. Both the boy and his parents became Adventists.
One day a man received the book The Great Controversy from a man in the street. He went home with the book and found it so interesting that he read it all night. The next morning his daughter and his wife wondered what could be so interesting about that book, and so they began to read it too. Later his son continued to read it. They learned about the Sabbath by reading the book. Then they went out every Sabbath morning to search for a church that was keeping the Sabbath. After several weeks of searching they found somebody singing.
We are told to spread the books like the leaves of autumn. Truly this is what is being done in Romania now.
By Lena Clerc, Better Life Mission, Postfach 4, CH-4938 Rohrbach, Switzerland.