Evangelism in Eastern Europe between 1991 and 1997
Sometime between 1991 and 1997, the parents of M (D&J) ran evangelistic campaigns in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Albania and Russia, among others.
Those countries were not yet open (certainly in the beginning). It was not yet allowed to take Bibles with you at that time, so those Bibles had to be smuggled across the border……
Here’s a (very small) part of their story…
Let’s start with the border…. That border was “some sort of pen, but not really”. Humanly speaking a perilous undertaking, but hey, if God says you must go… then you go.
Visas and the like didn’t work like they do now, so you reported to the border and then “hoped and prayed”. And yes, you were also asked whether you had any prohibited items (including Bibles) with you.
D&J don’t speak a word “whatsoever except Dutch” except some very(!!) basic English. At the border that is an advantage… because if they ask those kinds of questions you have no idea what they ask, and you therefore answer all their questions in Dutch. It doesn’t matter to you that the border guard doesn’t speak Dutch either…. 🙂
The border documents you provided had to look very official because that made an impression… At home, they were put together on the kitchen table (in the Dutch language only…..) with (literally!) postage stamps with the Dutch queen on it (you see that’s the queen, and she is going on this trip with us), stamps from the supermarket (nice colors) and more “official” stuff put together. After that, some exciting, self made stamps, and it was signed with different colored pens. Beautiful! Those papers stated exactly and honestly, what they were coming to do. In Dutch it is….
And at the border… with the grace of God, they have never had just one problem. Nothing… while the van and trailer were full of all kinds of “forbidden literature”….. and yes, they were quite hidden, but without God’s protection you can’t get there. At one point, the quantities became so large that they even slept on it….
Border guards must have seen it.. but they saw nothing..
Satnav did not exist, maps were not of any good quality… and they also drove in the winters… As soon as the van was filled with received bibles and clothing, a new journey was started. They also received donations for petrol. It was often the case that just before departure, a last needed gift came in with the last money needed for the petrol. God provided again and again.
Using a Telephone, back in those days and countries, was complicated, snail mail could take weeks / months, so you could not call like: we will be there in 3 weeks. So, they went in complete confidence and dependence from God, and the recipients in Eastern Europe often didn’t know they were coming, let alone when…..
Example: For one trip, they only had the name of a place and the name of a contact. Street name, phone number unknown and if you don’t speak Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, etc. that can be difficult.
In this case, they arrived in the dark, so what do you do? On the street they saw one woman with a headscarf walking in the dark… they spoke to here… and she immediately(!) knew who they were looking for, and they drove there with that woman in the van… in a completely foreign city, in the dark, where a Christian church is quite rare and not yet allowed everywhere… you speak to 1 person, and it is arranged. Luck? No, a great Godly blessing!
The bibles were distributed on the spot (where possible) and they were LIKELY accepted. The spiritual hunger was great, and thousands of Bibles have crossed the borders in this way. No one could stop it, God was more powerful than any earthly power.
If there were contacts with a local church, they organized evangelistic campaigns. Stadiums full of thousands of people at the same time.. in places where it was actually not possible, but it was possible!
Sermons of several hours were no exception.
An example: at a certain point, D&J had to go with them immediately because they had to share who Christ is “somewhere”. To the question: how long can that sermon be… half an hour? was not enthusiastically responded. An hour then? No, still too short. An hour and a half then? Then they became happier…. two hours then? Yes, that made them happy! Gladly! Talking about who Christ is for at least 2 hours…. wow, just wow.
Halls full, hundreds of bibles, several lectures a day… no exception, on the contrary…
Humanly speaking, there is not much left of those trips… a pile of photos, blessed stories, and… now that D&J are in Poland for a while… we meet people from Ukraine who have become christians during these kinds of actions! Wow…. That’s special!
What’s also left is a cassette tape they had recorded in Ukraine during one of their travels, accompanied by a music group. A cassette tape with Christian songs… and we put that online together with a number of photos from one of those trips, to Ukraine, among other places.
We have put the whole playlist on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4iP3ekBIdY&list=PLONpPpWWCMYljp0jpQTOxulKZD71bhLLo youtube.
And this week… we have a few (not all pre-planned, but that’s the way it goes) meetings with people from Ukraine. They then see the photos of their country from that time, with music they know, with stories about how it went when the USSR fell apart and how God did beautiful things…
Photos they recognize. Hey! That is “place x, intersection y”… a celebration of recognition and hope. Hope for a better future… where there is no more pain, no homesickness, , no loneliness, a perfect and bright future. Wherever you come from…
And so… years after they stopped this work… and started other projects, we’re talking about it once again, it gives hope and another beautiful message of His love for all. Very special to experience…