Two months after a multitude of people responded to the Gospel in Moldova—a small country between Ukraine and Romania—local Christians are seeing a surge in church attendance and baptisms.
On a Friday and Saturday night in July, Will Graham explained to a combined crowd of 19,000 in the capital of Chișinău how they could have peace in their lives through a relationship with Jesus Christ. He invited them to step forward at the Chișinău Arena if they wanted to begin following Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Many who responded were children and teens. Some were Ukrainian refugees who fled to the poor country for safety. Others recalled a few decades before when their nation gained independence from the Soviet Union, leading to a long period of economic difficulty.
Whatever their life circumstances, God spoke to their hearts, ultimately drawing over 1,200 people to faith in Jesus.
And this was just the beginning.
Since September of last year, a team of believers in Moldova started planning for this two-day Celebration of Hope, knowing the bulk of the work would start once the event was over. It doesn’t really feel like work, though, some team members said, when such exciting things have transpired since then.
Several people who have been involved in Celebration follow-up recently joined a Zoom call to recap all they’ve seen in past weeks. They eagerly shared story after story of real-life impact and spiritual transformation, some coming from people they know personally.
Vasily Gherasimciuc, who lives north of Chișinău, served as Celebration director. More than 700 churches across the country got involved in the outreach and have a critical job following the evangelistic event. In the months since the Celebration ended, Gherasimciuc said churches have been following up with every person who committed their lives to Christ.
Every single one.
Since July, more than 1,100 people who surrendered their hearts to Christ at the Celebration are now part of a local church. Of those, over 280 have either been baptized or are preparing for baptism. In Moldova, most churches require a person to complete a Bible class and—particularly for those who are younger—show some maturity in the faith prior to being baptized.
“We as a team are receiving invitations from churches all over the country for upcoming baptism events,” said Vadim Fortuna, who oversees church communication.
To date, 246 churches have welcomed new believers. Gherasimciuc’s own 12-year-old granddaughter was among those who responded to the Gospel.
“There have been thousands of Christians praying … and we bring the entire result to the Lord who made it possible,” he said.
The Far-Reaching Impact
In some cases, entire families and communities have felt the effects of this outreach.
Ruben Miron, who’s helped follow up with new believers, tells the story of Ludmila, a middle-aged woman who was one of 14,000 across Moldova to make a list of people to pray for ahead of the Celebration. She invited each one to the event, and five on her list—her mother, sister, teenage son, and two in-laws—repented of their sins and turned to Christ.
In the Orhei district, one hour from Chișinău, nearly 100 people took several buses to the Celebration. Fortuna shared how eight people from the small village came to faith at the same time, including a pastor’s sister.
“You just can’t imagine the joy of the pastor for a member of the family they have prayed many years for,” Fortuna said. “We are so blessed to be part of this process and support the local church.”
Others from this community who responded to the Gospel were key members of the village, including some who work in government. Since the event, those workers offered their government building to host a Christian summer camp, while the local town hall proposed hosting a church’s harvest service (a Christian celebration in thanksgiving to God).
Proclaiming Christ Throughout the Generations
Nicolae was invited to the Celebration by his mother and rededicated his life to Christ. He now regularly attends church in the city of Străşeni where he’s completing a course on Christianity and intends to get baptized. He prays for those in his family who aren’t yet believers.
Then there’s Vera, which translated into English means “Faith.” Born into a non-Christian family, Vera started taking care of her elderly mother after she had a stroke in 2000. Over the next eight years, her mother would frequently read from a children’s Bible in the home.
Within a year of her mother’s death, Vera’s husband also passed away, and soon after, Vera was diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout her grief, worry, and pain, Vera sought God and was invited to church—the same church where she learned about the Celebration of Hope.
At 73, Vera gave her life to Christ during the event. She started studying the Bible, listening to worship music, and was baptized last month. Vera’s mother left her the children’s Bible, which Vera continues to read. She says she now has peace in her life and puts her hope in Jesus Christ.
Even a member of the local Celebration team was personally impacted by the outreach.
Ion Vintu used to be skeptical of large evangelistic events, but his outlook changed over time. Vintu served as counselor coordinator and was thrilled when his teen daughter invited Jesus into her heart after Will Graham’s Gospel message.
“The Celebration of Hope made a big change in our own family,” he said.
Please keep new believers in your prayers as they continue growing in faith and sharing the Gospel with others around them.