In September 2019 I moved with my family from Luna de Sus to Pericei (Transylvania, Romania) to do mission and pastoral work there. In British terms Pericei may be likened to a small town with a large (about 2000) Hungarian population. We did know something about the church, but I had not preached there that many times. My wife was very supportive in my decision and finally even the children accepted it. This was reassuring. There were not only many boxes to pack, but also new questions to solve. However, it was good to experience the goodness of the Lord in every step of ours.
So, what did we find in Pericei? A community that needs the gospel and a church that –interestingly – needs the same: the gospel! Although it may be quite early to write as one who knows the local situation full well, my first impression is that the congregation loves to plan ahead and loves to be organised. This gives me hope about planning outreach or something similar. However, the local people seem to be very busy. They work hard to build better houses, to buy better cars,etc. This makes it harder to reach the family members and the relatives of the congregation, as well those outsiders, who know not the value of the kingdom of God.
On Sundays there are about 150 or more people present. During weekdays there are about 70-80.Praise God there are some lay preaches who can step in and preach if I am away for whatever reason. Moreover, the leadership of the church is strong, which is also good. We have Sunday schools in three small groups which, according to our custom, takes place during the prayer meeting on Sunday morning. At the end of the prayer meeting the children join the church for the main service to recite the Bible memory verse and to listen to the sermon. We also have a youth group which meets on Saturday evening. There are about 10-20 young people attending and at the moment I am teaching them on how to handle the occasional crisis in the Christian life. The people here love to celebrate different events: child dedication, baptism, elderly people’s day, mothers’ day, harvest day,thanksgiving day etc. The celebration of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost also takes place for three days each – which means I have to preach every day twice for three days (and in between once somewhere else)! This is kind of common among Hungarian pastors in Romania…
Unfortunately,there are several members who either grew cold in their love for the Lord so they do not attend regularly the church services, or were disciplined for various serious sins of which they were not willing to repent. I have also found out that there is lot of pastoral work to be done which will demand much of me it seems. There are signs of both strong legalism and practical libertinism among the people in the church, which will probably require balanced teaching about the grace of the gospel and its outworking in holiness and in the fruit of the Spirit.
In the meantime, I also continue to go back to Mera to finalise a catechism for baptism with the newly converted Gypsies. Their baptism took place on 22 December 2019.
So here we are in Pericei to save the lost and build up the church. How? By preaching the powerful gospel of our Lord Jesus!