Romanian church divided, ‘Celebration of Hope Crusade’ shares Gospel
From Cosmo and Susette Tomaselli: Church Resource Ministries
Why does Romania still need the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Each year during the week that leads up to October 14, hundreds of thousands of Romanian Orthodox believers make their pilgrimage to Iasi, Romania. Why Iasi? Because the Metropolitan Cathedral in Iasi contains the relics of Saint Parascheva. Saint Parascheva is believed to be the protector of Moldova, Romania’s northeastern region of the country.
Pilgrims come from throughout Romania and neighboring countries to kneel before Saint Parascheva’s relics and ask for miracles. They wait in lines that cover several miles to touch her coffin or remains. This pilgrimage has become one of the major religious events in Romania. The Metropolitan Cathedral is considered the largest Orthodox Church in Romania. Also, located on this site are two churches dating back to the 15th and 17th centuries.
People in line read their prayers to the saints, receive blessings from the priests and write letters to those who have died. “I am going there to pray to the saint and thank her for everything I have now,” said a Romanian student, “I am also praying for my health and for the people I know.”
Saint Parascheva lived in the first half of the 11th century and was born in Epivata, today Boiados, in Bulgaria. Her entire body has been preserved, wrapped and placed in a casket with a glass top, and is on display at Iasi’s Metropolitan Cathedral during the week of religious festivities. Parascheva’s relics were first brought to Iasi in 1641, during the reign of Vasile Lupu.
On the western side of the country, a week later in the city of Cluj Napoca, a different gathering was taking place: an evangelistic crusade with Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson and Franklin Graham’s son, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What a contrast! One city reaching for hope and miracles through religious traditionalism (Iasi – Romanian Eastern Orthodoxy) and another city proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ (Cluj – Evangelistic Gospel Crusade).
More than 85% of Romanians claim to believe in Romanian Orthodoxy. This is why Romania still needs to hear a clear message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unless a clear Gospel message is taught and proclaimed, beliefs will continue to follow manmade religions. And many new ones have been developing since Romania regained its independence from communism twenty-eight years ago.
Thousands heard Will Graham bring the Good News of Jesus Christ at the “Celebration of Hope Crusade” in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, on Oct. 21-22. A young people’s choir, of 1500, lifted up the Name of Jesus in a powerful way as they praised God with songs like, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” from Psalm 151.
“You’re looking for purpose and peace,” Will Graham told the audience. “You aren’t going to find them in the things of this world. You’ll only find them in Jesus Christ. I’m here to give a warning, there’s no neutral ground with Jesus. If you make no stand for Jesus, you make a stand against Jesus.”
More than 32,000 people crowded into the Polyvalenta Hall for the Celebration Crusade, including a dedication service the night before it began. Over 600 people responded to the Gospel message to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The contrast in these two cities in Romania shows the struggle for the souls of the people in many countries. Without Jesus Christ man will always fill his need of God with something else; be it manmade religion, materialism, humanism, sex, illegal drugs… Only Jesus Christ will fill the hunger and spiritual void that is in a person’s life. This is because God has designed us that way.