A people rising to reach their nation and beyond

18 Aug, 2017 | Moldova
Esther Hippel
An OM Moldova outreach team travelling from village to village by horse and cart - Moldova?s traditional and still widely-used mode of transport. OM Moldova is led by nationals and uses a variety of ministries and creative approaches to meet the country?s severe needs and to equip their believing fellow citizens to reach their communities, their nation and the world.
Where is Moldova? Many Europeans know nothing of this small former Soviet country that borders the European Union—a country where many suffer poverty, hunger and deprivation, dying of cold inside their houses. Moldova is crippled by corruption and political instability, forcing parents to leave children and elderly behind to work abroad--a country devastatingly vulnerable to alcoholism, human trafficking and suicide.

However, it’s also where OM has experienced God in amazing ways. Starting with a young British couple moving to the country in 1998, over the following 10-15 years, outreaches grew into a variety of relief and development projects, several missions training programmes, business, literature, church planting, arts and sports ministries. By 2010, responsibility for most ministries had passed into the hands of Moldovans and, in 2015, a Moldovan was appointed as director.

God’s love reaching the forgotten

Churches running OM’s elderly projects help the old lady who can’t afford bread, receiving a pension of 50 euros but needing 80 euros for medication; the old man who lost his house because his alcoholic son used it as security for a loan he couldn’t repay; and many other poor, helpless and utterly lonely elderly.

Most of them believe in an unapproachable God who has no personal interest in them and whose favour must be earned. If they want a priest to pray for them, they need to pay. They have never heard the gospel, never held a Bible. Many are bedridden, so God has to enter into their old, damaged, foul-smelling houses and stand at their bedsides. And He does…in His children who bring food and physical help, as well as His Word.

Many turn to this God who has not forgotten them—people like Pavel*, who admits to having considered suicide but, through OM’s project, became interested in God. He was the first of several elderly in his village that came to faith and were baptised.

OM’s projects reach out to those with disabilities—completely ignored by society, hidden away by their families and attributed no worth—or the countless children living with alcoholic parents who suffer severe neglect and abuse and are left open to exploitation.

OM helps hundreds of local churches transform their communities by caring for those forgotten by others, as well as fuelling change, for example, through business training. Believers who started businesses have offered jobs to others in their community or pass on their knowledge, like Andrei*, who, within two years, grew a beekeeping business of 120 hives and then gave away equipment and bees to three other men, whom he continues to instruct. One has already come to faith through Andrei’s friendship, example and investment.

Churches multiplying to transform their nation

This partnership with local churches and the training of national believers has always been central to OM ministry. Churches used to being receivers of foreign aid are becoming providers of hope and relief to their communities. OM encourages them to extend their vision beyond their own communities to unreached areas and beyond.

Several areas in Moldova have not a single believer within a radius of 100 kilometres. One of these is visited annually by OM’s River Adventure teams. People eagerly await the teams every summer, local authorities are supportive, children remember songs and messages they hear, and the elderly are hungry to talk about God and read the Bible.

OM cooperates with churches that have a vision to plant churches in unreached areas. Supporting such initiatives is the main purpose of OM’s small Local Ministry Teams, teams of OM workers who live in a community alongside church planters, until the new communities are able to live unaided and themselves go out and multiply.

Moldovans sharing God’s heart for the world

A central pillar of OM affecting all other ministries is the training of Moldovan believers in the Challenge into Missions (CiM) course. Hundreds of Moldovans have gone through this training and returned to their churches with new vision, skills and passion. Some have planted new churches. Many joined OM to reach their own country and the world.

“Who will go to them?” Catea* felt God ask her when she heard about the world's unreached during the CiM training. “I will go,” was her response; recently she joined OM to receive further direction and preparation. Catea had worked in Italy for 10 years and could have simply stayed abroad; instead, she joined those who have become an embodiment of the passion and vision of Moldovan followers of Jesus who, unlike many of their fellow citizens, refuse to give up on their country or seek a more comfortable way. Instead, with a passionate witness for Jesus they are determined to bring hope and transformation to their own communities, to their nation and to the ends of the earth.

Esther Hippel grew up in Austria and has worked with OM in Moldova since 2006. After living several years in Moldovan villages doing youth and children’s ministry, she is now responsible for OM Moldova’s communications department. Her passions include helping others grow deeper in faith, revealing beauty and finding God’s fingerprints in the ordinary.

Credit: Esther Hippel · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM exists to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

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