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Stones and Milestones

Rich and Jo Ann Davis on June 6, 2018

UDG Graduation 2018 Joyful milestone at UDG

High Marks

Getting your college degree is definitely a high mark in life for many young people. Saturday, June 2 was a very exciting day for the 53 students completing the BA program and the 10 students completing the MA program at UDG (Universitatea Divitia Gratiae) here in Moldova. It was also an exciting day for Jo Ann and me as it marked the conclusion of our first-semester of teaching. What a blessing to see some of our students reaching this milestone and heading now to many different points in Moldova, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia to serve our Lord. Please click here to see a few more pictures of graduation day!

The Great Commission instructs us to "make disciples" and formal training in a Christian college is a significant help in this process. By no means is this the only, or even major, element in disciple-making, but solid theological training in a Christian setting can help greatly. Please join us in prayer for these graduates that the Lord would use them mightily wherever the Lord sends them. 

Part of our plans for this summer are to develop the next section of our church planting course for the undergraduate program and also work on another church planting course for the master level program. As always, prayer for these endeavors is greatly needed. Please click here to see our most recent prayer requests. 

Many of us will see him again soon! Speaking at the graveside with Mihai translating

Stone Marker

The passing of loved ones often brings us to reflect on eternity and the fact that our souls are eternal. We were impacted to see what appeared to be an entire village express their love and final good-byes to a dear believer. Vasile was a shepherd of sheep in the village, but he knew the Scriptures well and was instrumental in sharing them with our dear partner, Mihai, when he was a child in the village being raised by his grandparents. 

I had the privilege of accompanying Mihai to the village for the funeral where Vasile's son, who is the shepherd of souls in the church there, invited me to speak a few words at the gravesite. We shared with the family and friends that one day soon those of us who have trusted in the sacrifice of our risen Savior will see him again! Thank the Lord for this blessed hope. 

Following that service, Mihai took me to his grandmother's farm where we enjoyed a fantastic meal and lots of hospitality. What a blessing to see the loving home where Mihai grew up without his parents. His father died when he was young and his mother felt it necessary to leave Moldova to work in Russia. This is a very common story here in Moldova and one of the reasons that Mihai created the NGO "Strong Foundations" to help young men who have similar backgrounds and need mentoring to become godly husbands and fathers. One of the goals is to see these young men become active members of the new church plant "Imago Dei." Click here to see a few pictures of our day in the village. 

2018 Easter Service at Imago Dei The core team with family and interested friends.

Removing a Stone

While it is true that young men from broken or dysfunctional homes need a strong foundation, so do the core nucleus of believers that have joined together with the goal of starting a new church here in Chișinău, Moldova. At this point in the process of planting this new church, most of our time is spent in training and strategy. However, occasionally, we take the time to enjoy worshipping together in a more typical service. Our team along with some family members and other interested friends did just that a few weeks ago celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. 

We have set a target date of September 30 of this year to launch Imago Dei Church. While we continue establishing the biblical basis for the church, we are also looking for a meeting place in our target neighborhood. At the moment, the Christian University (UDG) has been gracious to give us space on the campus which is far from the Ciocana neighborhood where we believe the Lord wants this new church planted. 

Mihai and Rich have scoured the neighborhood for possible meeting places and spoken to owners in order to get an idea of available facilities and costs. The challenge is that to rent an excellent meeting place right on the main avenue in Ciocana the asking rental price is $1.500 euros (about $1,760 USD). Because the size of our core group is small, we only have a monthly income of about $500 USD a month. We cannot even try to negotiate on the rent with so little to offer. 

Challenge with Prayer:

Getting a kidney stone out can be painful, but one idea that we have to eliminate the "stone" in our path is not painful but rather to ask for sincere and dedicated prayer that the Lord would supply some temporary help. We believe that if the Lord would put the desire in the hearts of many friends and churches, together enough funds could be raised to cover the rent each month for a couple of years. This temporary help would give us time to launch, establish, and grow the church so that it would be able to assume their own financial obligations. 

Would you pray with us and also consider the possibility of helping us with this church plant rent for a couple of years? With 20 churches or individuals giving $50 a month, we would have an additional $1,000 a month for rent. Add that to what the group already is giving and we could negotiate seriously for the space that we need in Ciocana. Please pray that the Lord will provide the place He wants us to have by the end of September so that the doors of Imago Dei might open as planned to reach our neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Funds for this purpose can be sent to the Rich and Jo Ann Davis - account number 0114181 - and we will apply them to the rent for Imago Dei. It is also possible, very easy and secure to click here and set up automatic monthly giving or one time giving for this project. Just indicate our name and account number as the destination of your giving. 

Stategizing with Mission Leaders_edited Rich and Kelly with key pastors and leaders related to the Baptist Union strategizing how to reach Moldova with the Gospel

Milestone - More Missions in Moldova

For the first time, Rich was invited to attend a meeting of the Missions Department of the Baptist Union here in Chișinău along with Kelly Fath (ABWE Regional Director). There was a strong sense of urgency to boost the evangelistic and church planting efforts in Moldova among this group of godly leaders. How to help the church in Moldova resist stagnation and the status quo was a major theme in our discussions. 

Ion Miron, director of the Missions Department, presented a well thought out project for establishing 25 new churches over the next 4 years. There are at least 750 locations in Moldova that have no Gospel witness of any kind. To quote from the handouts of the meeting (with notes of explanation):

The project involves at least three basic catalysts to partner in planting a new church.

These catalysts are:

  • The local church - this is would be a local church here in Moldova with a commitment to start a daughter church in another village.

  • The Mission Department of the Baptist Union of Moldova - The leadership here will oversee and coordinate the efforts according to the strategy.

  • The partner church - this would be a church outside Moldova who would desire to partner with a Moldovan sister church mentioned in point one above. Short term teams could come to participate in the new work along with the provision of other resources that these struggling Moldovan churches lack.

Because Rich is teaching Church Planting at UDG, the Director of Academics at UDG, Mihai Malancea, mentioned at the meeting that students from the college could be given opportunities to apply what they are learning by participating in these church planting efforts. The men were very excited and encouraged by this possibility of drawing the university and the association of churches closer together in the common cause of reaching Moldova for Christ. We were excited and encouraged too as this has been our vision since 2016 when the Lord called us to Moldova. Please pray with us as all of these efforts develop and become reality. We will be sharing more about this effort in the future. 

We are also encouraged by the opportunity to be keynote speakers at the Pastors and Wives Retreat hosted by the Baptist Union. We are expecting about 150 pastors and their wives for the week-long retreat (approximately 300 in all). Jo Ann is scheduled to speak with the women while Rich shares with the pastors. Please pray with us that we will be able to encourage these faithful servants and also give them many practical tools for their ministries. The theme of the retreat is "The Church and Missions" which is scheduled for July 30 - Aug 3. 

Thank you once again for your faithful prayers and many gifts that make it possible for us to be in Moldova. We know that many of you will check out our "Quick Prayer and Praise" page to read the most recent praises and prayer requests. Please also continue praying for our daughter, Rachelle, and the family as they work through the grief and emotional trauma following the death of Skyler and near-fatal accident of Gabriel - our grandsons.