During our two weeks in Romania, we caught a small glimpse of the vision John recorded in Revelation 7:9. He saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” worshipping God. We had the great privilege of leading worship in Romanian (and English) for two weeks of youth camp. We had the joy of experiencing the global Church and realizing again the bigness of the God whose glory crosses all barriers of time, culture, and language.
We had the unique experience of visiting three churches during our time in Romania, one from each of the major branches of Christianity. I had never done this in such a short time period before, and it was interesting to compare. In the ornate Orthodox and Catholic sanctuaries, we were reminded of the grandness of God, of His glory and transcendence. There was also a constant reminder of the great cloud of witnesses and the example of those who have been faithful and gone on before us. We also visited a small Protestant congregation and were inspired by the personal faith and involvement of the majority of the congregation in the worship service.
The vast majority of Romania is Greek Orthodox, and about half the campers come from this background. The others come from various Protestant denominations. Each group has very specific cultural expectations about church, and we encountered these in various ways. We found that while the Orthodox have a very ritualistic, impersonal understanding of God, many of the Protestants have also created legalistic barriers in order to not be like the Orthodox or the world. We learned to adapt our expectations and preparations in many things, from our lesson plans for English class (church camp isn’t the place to correct Justin Bieber’s grammar) to the spelling of the name of Jesus on the slides (Iisus with two I’s). In our worship, testimonies, and interactions with the campers,we tried to show what it means to joyfully live and glorify God in everything.
My job on the trip was to run sound, and one of my favorite things about running sound is getting to watch people worship. Each week, we started the first service with a high-energy English song, but continued worship in Romanian, to the surprise of the campers. It was really cool to watch them throughout the week become more and more engaged with the music, the truth of the lyrics, and their relationship with God. Many campers each week committed their lives to Christ. Pray that these decisions will have a lasting impact, as they grow in their faith in the coming weeks and months.
It was also a blessing to be able to minister to the counselors, who have five long weeks of camp, and give them time to rest and focus in worship. We spent a lot of time developing relationships with the counselors and encouraging them. Some of the highlights of the trip included translating songs with several of the counselors and teaching them more about leading worship.
In Romania, we found mutual encouragement in the body of Christ. Though there were significant differences, we found that our similarities were greater. Through the fellowship of the Spirit, we share a passion for God’s glory and His gospel going throughout the whole earth, that all nations and peoples in all languages may worship Him forever.