Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 12, No. 9 Straight and Narrow September 2003
(David Clayton and Allen Stump wrote the following report. Reference is noted for which author is writing. Pictures from the printed version are in the PDF version of the article. This file is over one-half a megabyte and on slower connections may take a few minutes to download.)
Last year Allen Stump and I visited Europe and as we reported in Old Paths and Open Face, we found many sincere brothers and sisters who had received the truth about God and His Son, and others who were eagerly studying the subject. Since last year we had received reports of the growing interest in this area of the Lords vineyard. These reports, as well as direct appeals that we should return, convinced us that we needed to visit Europe again as soon as possible. This desire was fulfilled in July and August of this year. In addition to revisiting Germany and Poland, we also were able to visit the countries of Hungary, Moldova, and also Romania, which Allen had visited for a short time last year. I had been unable to visit Romania because of not having a visa. This year I started working on my visa applications as soon as we knew what our itineraries were like, and were certain of what countries we would be visiting. In spite of this, however, I only managed to get the final visa on the Friday before the Sunday when I would be leaving! The Lord cut it very close, but once again He came through in time to strengthen the conviction that our trip was a part of His will. In fact, I had to get a visa to pass through the country of Slovakia, which I obtained after I had arrived in Hungary at the Slovakian embassy there. In the end, everything worked out well.
We arrived in Europe on July 21 by way of Munich, Germany, and we were met at the airport by Brother Erwin Zoor, who was to be our guide for the entire duration of our stay in Europe. Though a very young man (only twenty-four), Erwin speaks English, Hungarian, and German very well. He also speaks some Romanian. He is in the forefront of the work in Germany and has already established a meaningful work there this past year. He has set up a website (heart4truth.de) dedicated to the truth about God. He has also translated many articles and some booklets from both Smyrna and Restoration Ministries that he has reprinted and distributed in many places. Every time Allen and I have met Erwin, his serious attitude and the intensity of his desire to serve God and to spread the truth about Him has impressed us. This trip was no exception. During the four weeks that we spent with Erwin, eating and sleeping together, praying, driving, studying, and working together, we were constantly impressed by his desire to serve and glorify God, and we believe God will use him powerfully in spreading the truth in Europe.
After leaving Munich we headed directly for Budapest, Hungary, where I would get the Slovakian visa, and where we would be meeting with various individuals and groups, mostly people who were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement (SDARM). We drove through Austria, after leaving the German border, where there were no border checks because they were both a part of the Schengen Union. We arrived in Budapest as evening fell and met sisters Saci Noyes and Kata Meszaros in the yard of the Holiday Inn. From there we drove to the home of their aunt, where we spent the next day and a half, while I waited for the Slovakian visa and visited some of the contacts in the area.
On the following day after we had applied for the visa, we spent some time seeing some of the sights of Budapest. Budapest was once two cities, Buda and Pest, but they had joined to become the city of Budapest. However, both sides are still separated by the Danube River. Hungary has many magnificent old castles and Budapest is no exception. We went to see a castle in a place called Trinity Way. There we saw an awful Trinitarian representation of God. There was a huge monument with all kinds of figures carved on it, and at the top there was a picture of an old bald-headed man representing God with another slightly more hairy figure seated beside him as Christ, and above them a metal dove with metal rays radiating out from it. Though it was great to consider the magnificence of the place, and to consider the history of the place which was filled with tourists, Erwin looked distinctly uneasy and said that he felt as if it was an evil place.
While we were in Hungary we visited with several people from the SDARM. For the most part these were friendly people and the discussions were done in a cordial spirit. The one exception to this was a woman who, although otherwise friendly, refused to listen to what we had to say, although she was anxious that we should listen while she told us how terrible our doctrine was. The more we talked to these people, the more we realized that the great obstacle in the way of them ever accepting the truth was their enslavement to human organization. They just could not accept the idea that God could and would work outside of a human organization. In the case of the sister before mentioned, she wept genuine tears because she believed that Saci had left the church and accepted heresy.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed these visits and our study with Brother A___ was especially delightful. We found him to be a cheerful old man who was eager to share his experiences of what he had suffered for the faith. He told of how he had spent four years in prison for refusing to work on the Sabbath back in the 1950s when Hungary was still communist. He had been drafted into the army and was allowed to work as a non-combatant. For a year he was allowed to have Sabbaths off, but later hardliners took over the government and he was told that, from henceforth, he had to work on Sabbaths. When he refused, he was cast into jail to await trial. Every morning, for about a month, until the trial, they would come to his cell, point at him and say, Sabbath, you come. Then they would take him out and give him a beating. After the trial when he had been sentenced to ten years, the beatings stopped. He stayed in jail for four years until his sentence was reviewed and he was released. During that time he spent his days pacing back and forth in his little cell, two meters wide by four meters long. However, he gained something from his experience, for he was able to learn to speak German, English, and Yugoslavian by speaking to the other prisoners and the authorities in charge of the prison. He used a common pin as his pen to write the words on the walls of the prison, and day-by-day as he paced back and forth in his cell he studied these words.
Sister Saci Noyes (wife of Steve Noyes) had come from her current home in Washington state, all the way back to her native Hungary, to help organize these meetings. Working with her, we realized that the Lord had given Brother Steve a real treasure. Not only was she our very competent translator, but she had everything organized perfectly, down to the time that we needed to get up in the mornings. I will not forget her quiet but firm voice saying, We must leave now. I think she even had Allen on his toes! Her sister Kata also traveled with us, and though she did not speak English, she was every bit as helpful as Saci was.
Our final and best days in Hungary were spent at the home of Sister IIdiko Meszaros, the mother of Saci. Her home is in the south of the country in the pretty little town of Keszthely (pronounced Kast-hay). Sister Meszaros husband, Janos, is a lawyer and is not a Christian yet. However, he was very kind and courteous, and opened his home allowing us to have meetings there on Sabbath. God blessed us with some really open-minded and honest people that Sabbath. There was Zsolt Elo and his wife with their three delightful young daughters. There was also Sister Erica, one of Sacis good friends, as well as some other interested brothers and sisters who came to study. They all paid close attention while Allen and I shared the subjects: Who is the Holy Spirit and The Importance of Knowing the Truth about God. Thankfully, the meetings end found us agreeing on these truths. The desire was expressed that we would soon again have the opportunity to study together. Brother Zsolt (who also speaks German and some English) is especially full of zeal for the message, and talked with Erwin at length concerning ways they could work together spreading the message. They immediately started making plans to translate more materials into Hungarian.
Sister Meszaros, her daughters, Saci and Kata, Brother Zsolt and his wife, along with Brother Erwin are all committed to spreading the message and we have great hopes for the Hungarian work. Saci has heartily agreed to help translate materials into Hungarian, which, by all accounts of those we met in Europe, is the most difficult language in Europe to learn and speak.
The prejudice we encountered was very high, especially among Adventists who believe that their church organization cannot be wrong, and that God cannot and will not speak outside of the system. However, it is evident that God has many Hungarians listening to the Shepherds voice who will accept His truth.
We left the Meszaros home Sunday morning after an emotional goodbye. So powerfully had the spirit of God quickly and lovingly bound us together, it was hard to leave.
We arrived in Romania that evening, July 27, as the sun was going down. After the usual hiccup at customs (they examined my passport inside out and asked all kinds of questions), we crossed the border and entered the Romanian border town Oradea. I immediately noticed that Romania was different from any European country I had yet encountered. Poverty and decay could be seen everywhere. The roads reminded me of Jamaican roads. Old unused buildings were everywhere and the landscape was full of unused lots with high and unruly weeds. The exchange rate in Romania is 32,000 lei to 1 US dollar, and the average months wage is approximately $80.00 U. S.
After about an hour and a half Sister Rodica Duma came to meet us. Rodica is a member of the SDARM in Romania, and she is among many Romanian Seventh-day Adventists who have recognized and accepted the truth about God. I found her to be a pleasant sister with a kind, good-natured personality. From Oradea we traveled the bad and extremely dusty roads to her home in the country village of Sumugiu, about half an hour away.
We spent the next couple of days in Sumugiu finalizing our plans for the next two weeks, and studying with some people who came to see us and ask questions. Here, I met Vlad Ardeias and his wife, Andrea. Vlad is a very intense and earnest young man, who has wholly dedicated his life to the task of awakening his brothers and sisters in Romania to the truth about God. He has already translated several of the books from Smyrna and a few by A.T. Jones into the Romanian language and has had them printed. Andrea is equally dedicated to the work and I was amazed to hear them tell of how they often hitchhiked from one end of the country to the other, sometimes over a thousand kilometers. This was hard for us to understand, but things are so hard there that every cent is carefully preserved, and it is much cheaper to hitchhike than to take a train or bus. When hitchhiking, they use the opportunity to share the truth with the person who gives them a lift.
On the day after we arrived in Romania, we had a meeting in the SDARM chapel in Oradea. The leader is an open-minded man who agreed to hear what we were teaching. Rodica invited several people from other faiths (which we did not know until afterwards). The people listened attentively for the most part, but Allen and I both thought that it was an audience made up entirely of people from the SDARM church and we made our presentations with that in mind, spending a good while looking at the development of the SDA Church and the introduction of the Trinity doctrine into it. Vlad later described the meeting as a disaster and chastised himself for not having made us more aware of what the situation would be. However, the rest of us did not think it was bad because everybody showed a lot of interest except for a family from the SDARM who walked out halfway through the meeting.
The husband came with his family and brought a video camera. Partway through Allens presentation he interrupted to ask which church organization we belonged to. Allen explained our position and he stated that we had no right to speak in the church and that if the pastor had been present, we would not have been allowed to speak. Allen showed admirable restraint and answered him quietly. This man then gathered his family and left in a huff. The church leader apologized saying that this man did not belong to the local church and did not understand the way they operated. He was actually a member of the SDARM from America who was visiting.
Dej and my train ride
From Oradea we traveled to a town called Dej, where we met with Daniel and his family. Daniel is the brother who does all the printing for Vlad. We looked at his equipment and asked him about his work. That night we had talks with him and his family, which included, his wife, his mother, his brother, and his sister trying to answer their questions. As most Romanians we met, they are very sincere people who take Christianity very seriously. They listened carefully to the messages. I will never forget the pain I felt when Dannys mother asked us, I want to be saved when Jesus comes. Which is the true church? There were tears at the back of my eyes as I explained that her search should first be to find a relationship with Christ, Who would then lead her to wherever He wanted her to worship. They understood what we tried to say and there were a few tears by the time we had finished our presentation. The next day we said good-bye and headed for the city of Cluj-Napoca, which was about sixty kilometers away from Dej.
At Cluj-Napoca I separated from Allen and Erwin. They, along with Vlad would be going to Moldova while I would travel with Andrea, by train, back to a town near Oradea where Rodica works. Moldova is a country where even Allen was required to have a visa to visit, and I did not have one, so I was to visit with brothers in Timisoara, while they went on to Moldova.
The Romanians are poor, but are very nice people. On the train the people I sat with did everything to be nice to me. One very fat lady, coming from the market, offered me some of her sunflower seeds (they eat them like peanuts over here). Then they had a good laugh while I tried to open it with my teeth like they did. Finally, they showed me how to put it in the split between my front teeth and then to gently twist. After a while I got the hang of it and did quite well. They asked me many questions and treated me like an old friend. I felt quite at home. Though I could not speak the language, Andrea was with me to interpret.
One man could speak some English and he eventually started to question me about my ministry and my message. I told him I was an independent Christian and my message was to turn men away from human organizations to the worship the true God. As I explained how organizations can blind people to the truth, he became very interested. He said, I have never heard of an independent Christian before, this is very interesting. The man on the train said, this is a message that we really need, but it will take a very long time to reach us here in Romania. I said, God is already opening the doors. He then gave us his address and asked us to send him books on this subject. We can do this because Vlad has already translated several of our books, as well as some A.T. Jones material into the Romanian language and had several hundred of each already printed.
These people have been under communism, the Catholic, and the Greek Orthodox churches for so long, that even among the Seventh-day Adventists, the concept of Christianity without church membership is a very strange idea. This has affected them greatly and has driven some of them far away from God. I have had talks with people where they ended up in tears as I explained the blessing of a personal relationship with God that does not depend upon connection with anything human; just with God and His Son alone. One girl who left the SDARM disillusioned two years ago would never allow anyone to speak to her about God. She would chase them away when they tried. However, she agreed to meet with us. As I spoke about the blessedness of a personal relationship with Jesus she broke down in tears and left the room. After the meeting they asked me to speak with her. We talked until nearly one oclock in the morning. Everybody was amazed at the change in her. For the first time in her life, she prayed to God as her Friend.
When we arrived near Oradea, Rodica picked us up at the train station and took us to her workplace. Here I had my first close look at the gypsies. There were many of them gathered at the factory gate with their horse drawn wagons, vans, and cars. This factory buys and processes goose feathers for making pillows, jackets, etc. Among other things, the gypsies trade in goose feathers. Apparently, the factory could only buy a certain quota each day and they had already reached their limit that day. However, many of the gypsies were still waiting there with huge bags of goose feathers. They were determined to sell their feathers, and the atmosphere was tense. As we drove up we heard shouts from the factory about calling the polizia (police).
The gypsies are strange people, despised by everybody. Many are thieves and beggars who live a wild, uncontrollable life. Vlad told me that, even the communists could not control them. They are always lighting fires and playing music and dancing all night. Strangely I find something in my heart that goes out to these people. In a way, I admire the untamable spirit, which even in the time of harsh communism, refused to be broken.
From Oradea we traveled to Timisoara. Here we spent the weekend with Bennyamin (Beni), his wife, Cosmina, and their friends Christina and Viera. These are people who have been disfellowshipped from the SDARM for more than two years because they protested the churchs position concerning Christs human nature. Since then they have functioned as a home church. During this time, they were introduced to the truth about God which they accepted after careful examination. The time spent with these brethren was a real blessing. Except for Sister Viera, they are young people in their twenties. They are full of life and good-natured fun. I was very much at ease and felt almost like I was at home while I was with them.
Each Romanian brother and sister has an interesting story to tell. Some of these stories are quite amazing. Sister Viera told of how she first became interested in Adventism when a Pentecostal woman gave her a copy of The Great Controversy! Rodica wanted to become a Baptist when she was a young girl, still in the Greek Orthodox Church. However, she was a star pupil in school and her headmaster took her aside and told her that if she left the church, she would endanger her place in school. This temporally put an end to her desire to be baptized. People who belong to the protestant groups in Romania are called pocaiti (pronounced pocaitz). This means converted people and is sometimes used in a derogatory and cynical way. Later, when she was a grown woman, Rodica decided to join the Pentecostal Church. When she was just a few days away from baptism, she watched them pray in church. A great uneasiness came upon her and the thought entered her mind, this cannot be right. With a very troubled mind she returned home to seek guidance from the Lord in prayer and as a result, she changed her mind about joining that church. Later, through her interest in health, she came in contact with Adventists from the Reform Movement where she was finally baptized.
The group I met at Benis home was a breath of fresh air. They were eager to hear what I had to say and were full of questions. After each study we would take a break, relax for a while, and then everybody would gather together again. Beni would usually be the spokesman saying, now Brother David, we would like to ask you about , and off we would go into another study. At times during the discussion the brethren would talk animatedly in Romanian for a while before coming back to me. At such moments I wished and hoped that God would grant me the gift of tongues. We looked at subjects such as the nature of Christ and the 144,000 as well as the judgment of the living. But the one topic we focused on the most was what really happened when Jesus died at Calvary. This caused a great deal of discussion, and at one point the brethren objected to what I was saying. They could not see how Christ could have had the pure, holy, and spotless nature of divinity in Himself if He was our example. They understand that the power of the Holy Spirit kept Jesus from sin and that Christ was no different from us in any respect. However, as we looked at what Jesus suffered on Calvary, when God withdrew His presence from Him, and how He, in the face of eternal death, chose the unselfish way, they saw the issues more clearly and joyfully recognized the truth that at Calvary, Gods character was tested in the trial of His only begotten Son.
We were scheduled to leave Benis home on Sunday to travel a journey of about 700 kilometers (434 miles) to Bralia on the other side of the country. However, it was hard to say goodbye and the brethren pleaded for one more study that night. Benis and Cosminas apartment is a tiny flat in one of the high-rise apartment buildings built during the communist era. There was just enough room for the two of them, and seven of us had been crammed into it for the better part of the last three days (although I was the only one who slept there). I was reluctant to inconvenience them for another night, but they insisted and so we stayed until Monday morning. As we left at 6:30 the next morning, it was like saying goodbye to my own family.
We drove all day Monday and Rodica endured like a champion, waving her arms about and doing exercises each time we stopped for a break. I offered to help, but she seemed to feel it was her duty to get us there and politely refused the help. We arrived in Braila a little after 9.00 p.m. on Monday night, tired and full of the sights of the Romanian countryside.
Romania is a very interesting country. In many ways it is like my own country, Jamaica. It is a poor country. As noted earlier, it takes 32,000 lei, their unit of currency; to buy one US dollar and when I changed a small sum of money I became a millionaire. In this country, the lifestyle of the 20th century mingles side by side with the lifestyle of one hundred years ago. Everywhere there are horse-drawn wagons in the style of the old American Wild West, with the only difference being the wheels are usually made from car tires and rims. These wagons, some open-backed, some covered, are used as family transportation as well as to haul logs, huge piles of hay, or to transport the merchandise of traveling gypsies. The sight of these wagons piled high with hay always fascinated me; the grass hanging over at the sides, and a man with his wife and family perched on top of the hay.
The villages of Romania are like scenes from an old time storybook. Flocks of geese are everywhere, mingled with cows, horses, goats and sheep. Women are seen minding a cow or two, driving them to the pasture or working in the fields with their husbands. The older women usually had a scarf tied over their hair. Cow and horse manure are all over the streets and help promote the abundance of flies that are to be found in these villages. Bicycles are also a popular means of transportation and more than once I saw a well-dressed young woman wearing a business suit, apparently going to work, riding a bicycle.
Before we entered Romania, we were told that it was a violent and dangerous country. We did not find this to be the case. I suppose that just as with my own country, Jamaica, a few bad cases had given the entire country a bad name. By most accounts, Bucuresti, the capital city, is a wicked and violent place. Most places in the country and smaller cities seemed safe to us. As an illustration of how safe the country is, hitchhiking is a popular means of travel. Women, men, and whole families are often seen hitchhiking and they usually get a lift. This kind of behavior does not happen when the society is really violent and dangerous.
Vlad is in the forefront of the Romanian work. He is a young man; twenty-six years old, but he is full of zeal for the truth, and is seeking with all his might and resources to spread the truth about God everywhere. In his wife, Andrea, Vlad has found a kindred spirit. In an effort to spread the truth, both of them have hitchhiked all over Romania.
Allen Stump: Moldova
(While David was traveling to Timisoara by way of Oradea, and then Bralia, Erwin, Vlad and I had the following experiences.)
Leaving David and Andrea at the train station in Cluj-Napoca, we went to Apold in central Romania to visit an orphanage. We had heard problems had recently arisen and the government, encouraged by corrupt people, was removing the children from the orphanage. Arriving late in the evening we were heartily welcomed. We sadly learned that there were only a few orphans left, and that plans had been made to have them removed the next day.
I listened to the sad experiences that the operators of the orphanage shared with me. I tried to encourage them in the Lord, noting that He was more concerned about the orphans than we were, and that He would watch over the children. After having prayer we left at 2:00 a.m. to begin the long trip to the Moldova border.
The first part of the trip was very slow due to the poor roads. Shortly after daybreak we were crossing through one of the most beautiful mountain passes I have ever seen. The twisted canyon walls were almost vertical and several hundred feet high. Even though rain and mist obscured our vision, it was truly one of the most marvelous things I have ever seen.
Finally, at about 10:30 a.m., we reached the border between Romania and Moldova. After waiting for about 45 minutes we passed through to the Romania side. There a lady official saw some of the books we were taking with us including, This is the Church, by A. T. Jones. She was very interested and asked, Who is the real church? Vlad had a very nice talk with her and offered her a copy of the book, This is the Church, which she quite eagerly received.
Our treatment at the Moldova side of the border was not so friendly. First, they said that Erwins visa was the wrong type and it would cost 10 Euros to correct it. Then we had to pay taxes to bring the literature into the country. After what seemed like a very long time, and more taxes, we were finally allowed to enter.
Some people in Romania told us that there might be bandits along the road in Moldova stopping cars to rob the people. We were advised not to stop for anyone. To encourage us, we were told that it was not as bad as going through Ukraine. There you are sure to be stopped unless you are driving a car so old and worthless that it does not pay the bandits time to stop you.
Thankfully, we arrived safely in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova. However, finding the location of the village where our contact, Brother Grigore Ghinda, lived was not easy. We searched for over an hour to find the small village where he lived. After locating it, nobody seemed to know the location of the street where Brother Grigore lived. We finally found someone who could give us proper directions and within a minute we had arrived. We were greeted with the usual friendly warm welcome, and we were invited to eat, rest, and bathe. All three were very welcome.
Brother Grigore had made arrangements for me to speak at two SDA Churches. We were to meet with one church on Friday evening and the other on Sabbath morning. When we arrived in Moldova, I did not know if there would be five or fifty people who would come to the meetings. We were surprised to find out that the church we were to meet in Friday evening had about 100 people attending each Sabbath, and the church where we would be Sabbath morning had over 200 people attending each week! It is hard to express how my heart was thrilled and humbled at the though of possibly speaking to so many people.
I asked if the ministers from two churches knew I was not a church member. Brother Grigore told me that it would not matter because he was sure that they wanted truth no matter where it came from.
When we arrived at the church building Friday evening, I was shocked to see such a big, magnificent, new structure in such a poor country. We later learned that the church building had been a present to the congregation from the Moldova Union. The pastor was not present, but the head elder heartily greeted us. After meeting a few people we had prayer with the elder and I was escorted to the pulpit. Approximately twenty people had come to the meeting, all of whom understood Romanian so Vlad translated for me.
I spoke about the necessity of having a personal relationship with God, but this would not be possible if we did not properly understand His identity and character. The Lord gave me great freedom to speak against the false trinity doctrine and to exalt the truth. As I spoke, I could see by the peoples faces that they were drinking in the message. After speaking for an hour, I asked if they would be interested in me continuing. Several large amens were chorused and their eager faces showed that they wanted to know more about a personal God. I closed with an appeal to have a personal relationship with the only true God and His Son.
After the meeting everyone wanted to receive the literature we had brought. The main book we had was, The Foundation of Our Faith, translated into Romanian and titled, The Omega Crisis in Adventism. We also had The Formulation of the Doctrine of the Trinity, This is the Church, and different pamphlets translated in Romanian. Every person at the meetings took literature, and we left with thankful hearts that God had opened a door to these brethren in Moldova. We looked forward to the morning with great anticipation.
After the meeting, the local elder invited us to his home for watermelon and to visit more. We accepted his offer and had a lovely visit. Just as we were leaving his phone rang. It was the pastor. He had learned of the meeting and had already seen some of the literature. He was not happy!
The pastor told the elder that there was a lot of controversy about the subject of God, and that it was not good for me to have preached. Our new friend told us that he was not happy that the pastor had reacted this way, and he assured us that he was very happy we had come. That night we prayed a lot not knowing what our reception would be the Sabbath morning.
The next morning we arrived at the appointed church building. It was an older structure, but one that was very magnificent. The pulpit was elevated about eight feet above the sanctuary floor, and there was a balcony on both sides that rapped around the back of the sanctuary. Both Russian and Romanian languages were used in this church with most of the people speaking Russian.
Upon entering we learned that the local minister was not present. However, the Union president was there and he wanted to see the literature that we had brought. He also wanted to know if we had credentials from the General Conference to speak. He said that he would look at the material and talk to us between the Sabbath school and the worship service, and at that time he would decide if we could speak or not.
Brother Grigore taught one of the many Sabbath schools classes, and after he had led out for about ten minutes, he asked me if I would like to share a few thoughts. Not knowing if the opportunity would be available later, I gladly accepted. The lesson was on Christ as our high priest. I showed, from the Scripture, that Christ was the only mediator between God the Father and man, and that His right to be our high priest was based on him being the Son of God. The people listened very closely. One older sister was especially interested. After Sabbath school ended we told this sister that we had literature on the subject and she would be welcome to it after the meetings. She said she would like to have it.
After Sabbath school the President of the Moldova Union did not come to meet with us. Brother Grigore went to find him. The president had looked at some of the literature and said, if the Catholic Church believes in the trinity, then we believe in the trinity, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are the same person. When he saw the book, The Omega Crisis in Adventism, he said, Crisis, what crisis? There is no crisis in Adventism! I would not be allowed to speak.
Our hearts were low, but we waited through the sermon for the opportunity to pass out literature at the end of the services. After the sermon and a long appeal for the offering, the Union president and the minister from the other church spoke to the people in Russian. The union president held up our books and spoke very badly about the literature and us counseling the people very strongly not to accept any literature from us.
After the services, the minister spoke to me in English inviting me to have a conversation. This I agreed to. I hoped that Erwin and Grigore would have the chance to pass out literature without being bothered while Vlad and I meet with the leaders.
After being taken to the basement away from the common members, we visited with the minister, the Union president, and some of the church elders. Our friend from the night before was there as he had come to hear me preach again.
I wish I could say that they happily received the message, but they were very much against the truth. We were hardly allowed to speak. Interestingly, Vlad personally knows a newspaper reporter who agreed to come and meet me, and perhaps do a report on my visits in Europe. He later came into the meeting. Afterward he remarked, Those people were impossible to talk to!
We were asked about who we were and what was our background. I told them that I had been an Adventist minister and that I had spoken out against the church having hundreds of millions of dollars of tithe in the stock market. They said, Yes, there are problems, but this is Gods church. They told me the best thing to do would be to stay with the church (even though the church disfellowshiped me), and not to write and speak out, that God would take care of all the bad things.
At one point the minister showed me a copy of the pamphlet, The Truth About God written by Lynnford Beachy. He indigently asked me, Who is this Lynnford Beachy? The minister let us know that he was well educated, and someone like Lynnford could not teach him anything.
They accused me of being upset because I was put out of the ministry, and that I was looking for some way to attack the church. I replied that they could not judge my heart any more than I could judge their hearts.
I read to them 1 John 2:22, which states: Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. I asked if they believed that the papacy was antichrist. This they dare not deny. I then reminded them that the Catholic Church claims to believe in the Father and Son. Yet, based on the text from 1 John 2:22, we know that this claim is superficial and false. I then stated that if the Adventist Church believed in the trinity doctrine as the Catholic Church (which the union president had before confessed), then the Adventist Church also meets the requirements for the antichrist. This did not make them very happy.
They stated that God was working through the church and it had to have pure doctrines. I asked if it would be possible for the church to ever error. They said no. I then asked how it could be that the church started out teaching against the trinity doctrine and then become Trinitarian. They just kept repeating, You dont understand.
Stating that they did not have time to study due to their schedules, the minister told me he wanted to give me some counsel before we left. He told me to seriously consider the souls that would be lost if I was wrong in what I was teaching and doing. He said God was leading the church and that in the Old Testament, many times there was apostasy, but God was still with the church. I told him that as a minister I greatly appreciated the counsel, and that I had given the matter of peoples souls a great deal of thought and prayer. I told him that his counsel was good for me, for him, and each person in the room. I also acknowledged that there had been apostasy in Israel at times and He [God] suffered long with them. However, I reminded him that when they finally rejected Jesus as the Son of God, they were rejected as a people, and that this God we all claimed to serve was the God that said, I change not. (Malachi 3:16)
After leaving the meeting I realized how much control the leaders exercised over the people. Of the approximately two hundred people in the church, only the elderly woman from the Sabbath school took literature. She later phoned Brother Grigore wanting to know why the leaders would not let the people have the literature? Erwin stated that you could see the fear in the peoples faces as they were offered literature. No doubt many wanted to take the literature, but being trained to have a Catholic mentality, they had to obey their leaders.
I thought of the words of Christ, And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:18) And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. (Mark 6:11)
Sometimes our witness appears to be a failure. Jesus said that there would be times that many would resist the gospel. However, He said our witness would be a testimony against those who reject the truth. Our witness will be used in the judgment to show Gods goodness in trying to share the gospel with them even though they reject it.
I found myself Sabbath afternoon in a melancholy state. Things had not gone as we had hoped and I was missing my family in America greatly. I decided that praying for my family and brethren in America, who were about that time entering into Sabbath school, would be the best medicine I could have. I prayed for my family. I prayed for the Sabbath schoolteacher. I prayed for Brother Dana Uhl who was scheduled to preach at the worship service. I began to pray for other groups in America that I knew were meeting or would be meeting. I also started to carefully dissect my suitcase looking for notes that my wife and daughter routinely pack among my clothes when I go on a trip. I had found a few cards, but knew that there must be more. To my very pleasant surprise I found three more cards and two pictures. The medicine worked and God refreshed my spirit.
That afternoon Brother Ghinda had invited some of his family and neighbors who lived close by to come to a meeting to hear the gospel. It was quite a contrast to what we had encountered in the mid-afternoon. Here were some of the very poor of Moldova. They did not have the nice clothes. They did not claim to be educated. But, they were interested and very willing to listen. I spoke about how we had a personal God Who wanted to be our personal friend; how God had sent His Son to die for our sins; and that we could approach God through Christ without a priest or church. We explained how the trinity doctrine took away God as being our Father and how it destroyed the Sonship of Christ. The people listened carefully.
After the presentation we were asked questions about 666 and the mark of the beast. This gave us an opportunity to speak about the commandments of God and to warn them about the man of sin. We showed how the trinity doctrine tied in with the worship of the sun god, and explained the important issues concerning the Sabbath. After this meeting, I was even more refreshed than before and thanked God that the humble of the earth would listen to His message.
The next day we would travel the long distance back into Romania and to Bralia. The trip was pleasant and we eagerly looked forward to being reunited with David.
Even though we arrived in Bralia very late that night, our host, Valeriu Cucos and his very gracious family very warmly welcomed us. The next day we visited Bralia and saw some of the ships on the Danube River. Vlad, Erwin, and I also got a needed haircut from a very skilled, third-generation barber. The remainder of the day we rested and visited with the people until the time for the first meeting, which was to begin at 7:00 p.m. These meetings were scheduled to be in a SDARM building. I asked if this would cause a problem. Brother Cucos told us that it would not be a problem because the church meets in large room built onto his house for a chapel, and that nobody could tell us that we could not use it.
David was scheduled to give the first study, but since he was not going to arrive until later, I spoke on the truth about God and His love in giving His Son to die in our place. The meeting was well attended with about forty-five people present.
David Clayton: Braila
At first there had been a question mark hanging over our trip to Braila. Some of the brethren there had accepted Desmond Fords views on Daniel 8, Hebrews 9, and the sanctuary. Vlad thought that any meetings there might be very controversial, a waste of our time, and stigmatize our work. We had prayed about this, because Braila was a long way from the other places that we had visited in Romania. However, we decided that we would go through every door that opened, and leave the results with God.
When we arrived from Timisoara, Allen, Erwin, and Vlad had already arrived there from Moldavia, and Allen was in the concluding stages of a sermon on the subject of the godhead when we arrived. The congregation was listening with intense interest. As soon as the meeting was over, the local pastor stood to his feet and declared that he could not allow meetings of this sort to be held in the church building because these doctrines were contrary to the churchs beliefs. However, Allen quickly stated that that was an internal problem and that the pastor and the brethren there would have to work this out among themselves since it was the brethren who had invited us to come. As Allen noted, the church building was built on to the back of the home of Brother Cucos, our host, and it was not the property of the SDARM.
After a long discussion, the decision was finally made that we would continue the meetings. The pastor, however, expressed the desire to be present at the meetings, but stated that he had to be away at another meeting on the following day. The brethren assured him that on the following day we would address issues related to the sanctuary, and would not deal with the issue of the godhead until the day when he could be present. This solution of the problem appeared to make everybody content.
There were several brethren in this church who had been studying with a man that convinced them that the little horn of Daniel 8 and the 2300-day prophecy referred to the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes. Many also believed that Hebrews 9 proved that Jesus went directly to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in AD 31. In the first presentation the following morning, I dealt with the issue of Hebrews 9. I had not had time to properly prepare myself for the presentation that was of a somewhat technical nature, however, the spirit of God gave me wisdom and by His grace, nobody was able to counter the arguments in favor of the truth that was presented.
Later in the day, Allen took on the more challenging task of dealing with the little horn in Daniel 8 and the 2300 days. At this time the man, who was responsible for the spread of the false ideas, was present and he kept interrupting Allen making objections. After the presentation he put up his hand to ask questions, but really used the opportunity to make extended points of his own. As we discussed the issues with this man and some who supported him, I was more fully persuaded that the fruit of these beliefs is not good. This man told us that he had already become convinced that there was an eternally burning hell, because, as he stated, the Bible says so! I decided that I had no desire to emulate his approach to Bible study.
We tried to explain that the book of Daniel was concerned with end-time events, and that each of the lines of Daniels prophecies ended with the setting up of Gods kingdom, and the deliverance of Gods people. The book of Daniel, as we pointed out, was not dealing with the history of the Jews, but with the destiny of Gods people, ultimately showing what would happen to Gods universal people at the end of the world. To our astonishment, one of those who had embraced this teaching declared that the deliverance of Gods people referred to in Daniel 12:1 was referring to the deliverance of the Jews, rather than to the deliverance of the Christian church. This unreasonable position was taken in order to explain why Antiochus Epiphanes, who lived so long ago and did not make a major impact on the destiny of Gods people, should figure so prominently in the book of Daniel. Thankfully, at the end of our presentation, there were a few people who declared that they would have to rethink their position, although some remained adamant.
On the following day, the pastor was there as promised and listened to our presentations on the godhead without saying a word. The people, however, were quite vocal and expressed agreement and appreciation for the truth as we made several presentations. There was almost a unanimous acceptance of the truths that we presented on the godhead. That night three older ladies, who had attended the meetings faithfully without saying a word, finally stood up and expressed thanksgiving for the truths which they had heard. The pastor was courteous and thoughtful, but stated that he did not agree with our point of view. While we were sad that he did not yet see the light, we rejoiced at the results that we saw among the congregation.
One Bible worker, who had accepted the truth about God, was present at the meetings, and on the last day that we were at Braila he expressed his determination to stand for the truth no matter what the consequences. This brother stood up recently at a workers meeting where he was questioned concerning his beliefs on the godhead. He declared his position unflinchingly and asked, So what are you going to do now, are you going to cast me out? No such decision was taken then concerning him, but he is convinced that it is just a matter of time and he is preparing himself for it. This faithful brother has a wife and three children to support, but he is already convinced that God will provide for his needs. He is determined that no matter what happens, he will stand faithfully for the truth. Please keep him in your prayers.
The next morning before we left, we watched as Brother Florin, who is Romanian but lives in Germany, give a demonstration of chiropractic techniques. He seemed to be very adept and knowledgeable at what he was doing. Allen and I were his guinea pigs in illustrating a couple of techniques. We were sorry that we did not speak Romanian so we could have had the full benefit of the lesson.
From Braila, we drove several hundred kilometers to the town of Sfintu Gheorghe. This was where Erwin had grown up until he migrated to Germany at the age of ten. Here his grandmother and several others of his relatives lived. In fact, while we were there we stayed at a cabin in the countryside that was owned by his uncle.
At first, a doctor, who was a prominent member of the SDA Church, had agreed for us to hold meetings in his large, waiting room. However, he later changed his mind and when we arrived the possibility of meetings seemed very remote. However, at the last moment a man, who is the brother of the elder of the church, said that he wished to hear what we had to say, and arranged for us to meet in the courtyard of his home. This was a really interesting meeting place because it was really a barnyard, with chickens everywhere. In a nearby stall there were three horses and in a neighboring barn there was a wagon piled high with hay and also another one in the yard. To top it off, there was a little dog chained to a doghouse nearby. In this unlikely chapel, Allen and I proclaimed the word of God. In spite of the surroundings, the audience paid keen attention. When we moved on from Sfintu Gheorghe, it was with the assurance that the owner of this home along with his wife had embraced the truth. Erwins aunt and uncle and a lady from the Adventist Church, who was thrilled to hear the very things being taught which she had believed for years, embraced the truth. While I was speaking this lady kept on saying, It is true.
Brother Emil Maghiar, along with his wife, Elena, had come to their native Romania from California just about at the time that we were scheduled to be there. However, up to this point, we had not seen him, although Sister Elena had come to see us while we were in Sumugiu. We finally made contact with him and he told us that he had arranged for us to speak in a SDARM church in Brashov, a town just a little over a half hour away from Sfintu Gheorghe. So on Sabbath morning we all drove over there, with the exception of Erwin, who would be staying with his mother and the rest of his family to visit the SDA Church in Sfintu Gheorghe.
The people at Brashov were almost uniform dressed, mostly in black and white. All the men were clean-shaven and dressed in similar suits. A well-trained choir rendered several beautiful musical selections. However, I must confess that I felt a sense of restraint in the worship and almost a sense of watching something that had been carefully choreographed. It seemed almost as though each person was playing a well-rehearsed part. Spontaneity, vibrancy, enthusiasm appeared to be missing.
David Zic, a youthful representative of the General Conference of the SDARM, gave the morning sermon. After his presentation, we were told that Allen and I would be allowed forty-five minutes each to make our presentations. Brother Emil asked us to not say anything that would be too controversial as he was hoping that we would be given another opportunity to share with the people later.
Maybe it was the spirit of God overruling (I later learned that Allen did not hear Emils counsel), but when Allen started to speak it was evident from the beginning that he was not following the plan. His topic was The Son of God, and throwing all caution to the wind, he spoke for the next hour and a half of the contradictions and the evils of the Trinity in the light of the gift God gave in giving His literal begotten Son. The sermon was a moving one and not only did Brother Emil, who was translating, break into tears, but several other persons in the audience wept openly. One woman sitting behind me could not control her sobs. When his message was over, we were informed that I would not be speaking. Instead, Brother Zic would be giving a presentation on the Trinity, to counteract what Allen had said. After a short break he set up his laptop and began his presentation on the Trinity. It was the usual worn arguments and quotations and I, for one, was starting to feel depressed. One of us would have to return to Sfintu Gheorghe for the final meeting in the barnyard. I must confess that I was not unhappy that I was chosen to go because I had a feeling that it would be a long, frustrating evening for Allen, Vlad, Andrea, and Brother and Sister Maghiar back at the church.
Allen Stump: Brashov Continued
During Brother Zics presentation, Sister Maghiar and I felt that there were some misrepresentations that should be corrected. We were assured that after Brother Zic spoke we would be given time to respond. However, when he finished, some of the members declared that it seemed like there was an argument going on in the church, and that this was wrong on the Sabbath. I could agree with the principle to a degree, but not with the interpretation. I told them that my presentation was the only message of the entire day that had touched anyones heart, and that they knew it. I appealed for a spirit of fairness and openness, but those controlling the meeting had made the decision to stop.
To the credit of one family, Vlad, Andrea, and I were invited to the home complex of one of the elders who was a good friend of Emil. There we had the usual tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon, and other foods we had often seen. During the meal, the elder asked me a question that I had never been asked before. Do you know the angel of Revelation 3:14 and do you speak to him? At first I wondered what was the point he was trying to make. After talking for a while I realized that this brother was advocating that the angel represented the visible leadership of the Laodicea Church. He was, of course, referring to the general conference president of the SDARM. His point was: if I did not belong to an organized church with a visible angel or leader at the head, then I could not be a part of the true movement. This turned into an interesting discussion concerning the meaning of the seven churches, and if we were in a Laodicean condition or not. I told this brother that Jesus said that if we did not repent, Laodiceans would be spewed out. (Revelation 3:16) I further declared that by the grace of God, I was not a Laodicean in experience. This seemed like quite a shock to this brother. He indicated that we would always be Laodiceans, and quoted from the Testimonies to prove that the church was Laodicean. I told him that the Testimonies encouraged us to accept the counsel of Jesus in Revelation 3:18. I asked him if we could be in a Laodicean condition when Jesus comes and be saved. This disturbed him and he seemed confused and unsure of himself for the first time. I declared that I could not deny the work of grace in my life and that by the grace of God alone, He had delivered me from the coldness, blindness, and the self-righteousness that I had witnessed in Eastern Europe.
David Clayton: IMS Youth Camp Meeting
While we were in Sfintu Gheorghe, Vlad told us excitedly that he had heard of a camp meeting organized by an Adventist doctor near Reghin where any Adventist from any of the various groups was free to come and to present studies. This was very strange and did not sound like the Romania that we had encountered thus far. However, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to witness, so we decided to visit this camp meeting. The only difficulty was that most of this camp meeting would take place at the same time that we were scheduled to be in Poland. If we were going to attend this camp meeting, we could only be there the first day and then we would have to leave immediately for Poland. Nevertheless, Vlad contacted the Doctor and he told us that everything was set for us to speak the first day.
Erwin decided to stay behind in Sfintu Gheorghe for an extra day so that he could spend some extra time visiting with his grandmother and other family members. So on Sunday morning, August 10, we traveled with Vlad and Andrea heading for the mountainous interior where this camp meeting was to be kept. We made some stops on the way to do some sightseeing, and it was nearly 8.00 p.m. that night before we finally arrived at Reghin. As soon as we stepped into the room where the meetings were to be held we realized that our information had not been very accurate. The people there were mostly children, teenagers, and a few adults. They were members and friends of the International Missionary Society (IMS), a different group of Reform Adventist from the ones we had been meeting with before. It was a youth camp organized by the IMS in Romaina. However, they seemed to be expecting us and we were warmly welcomed. When we arrived they were in the middle of worship, and after this they outlined the rules that would govern the behavior of the young people at the meeting.
After the meeting was over, we talked with Soarim, a young man who was helping with the camp. He explained that we were free to speak on whatever topic we chose to speak on and that the next day we would basically be able to take all the meetings but one. However, he asked us very nicely to consider that there were non-Adventist visitors and young people there, who had come to the camp meeting, who might be confused or have their faith shaken if we dealt with very controversial subjects. We appreciated the approach taken by this young man, and during the time that we were there I was able to have some good talks with him and learned to like him. We agreed that we would still speak on the subject of God, but that we would present our messages in such a way that they would not be confrontational.
The next day Allen and I spoke on The God of The Bible, The Son of God, The Spirit of God, and The heart of God. At first we were supposed to speak three times for the day, but after hearing the first two messages, the brother who was supposed to take the third meeting said he would give up his slot and asked us to take that as well. The messages seemed to be greatly appreciated, and it was a joy to see the peoples faces light up as we spoke of the great God of the Bible, His marvelous love in giving His only begotten Son, His literal presence through His Holy Spirit, and the kind of person He is revealed to be in Jesus. We did not mention the Trinity, but we simply presented the attributes, qualities, and the identity of God from the Bible and the results were blessed. More than one person came to us afterwards and tried to express the blessing which they received from the presentations. One non-Adventist lady gave me her address and asked me several times to be sure to write to her when I got home. She especially seemed deeply moved by the messages, and she never took her eyes off either Allen or myself while we were doing the presentations. As we were getting ready to leave, one sister approached us and said, We have heard new things from you and we like them and were blessed very much. If you ever come to Romania again we want you to come and visit us. Our leaving Romania was very difficult emotionally. We had come to love Vlad and Andrea very much and it was with many tears we parted.
We left Romania Monday night, August 11, and headed for Poland where we were scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday afternoon. We had a long journey ahead of us, through not only a good portion of Romania, but also through Hungary and Slovakia before we would get to Poland. Erwin would be driving for most of the time with only a short break for Allen to drive some in Hungary. Once we stopped during the night near a gas station and for about two hours we slept fitfully. It was cold to me, and the seats were not designed to be beds, but we were happy that Erwin was able to get some rest.
We crossed from Hungary into Slovakia and then into Poland by way of the border crossing near Javorina. This was up in the mountains, in some of the most beautiful country we had seen in Europe. The mountains were majestic and beautiful. At every border crossing my Jamaican passport created a little excitement. Each time the officer, who took the passports from us, would look at my passport and then call his friends over to take a look at it. They would smile, laugh, and discuss it for a little while, check the visas carefully and then finally stamp it and let us through.
The Poland camp meeting was held in Niedzica Zamek near the Poland, Slovakia border. At first I was sure that we were in the wrong place. The whole area was breath-takingly beautiful and was obviously a major tourist attraction. There is an ancient castle, several centuries old there in a prominent place between two lakes, set against a background of beautiful rolling hills. (Zamek is the Polish word for Castle.) The place was a photographers dream.
The only address we had was #73 Niedzica Zamek so we drove around looking for a house with the number 73 on it. Most of the houses had no numbers but eventually Allen shouted, theres Jacek! He was sitting with two other brothers on the steps of a huge house that had been especially designed to be a meeting place. The building had ample room for the approximately thirty campers who were assembled, waiting for us to arrive. Many of them were familiar faces, people we had met last year. However, there were also other new faces, new people who had come to hear what we had to say. Jacek Poreda was our Polish contact. We had met Jacek last year and greatly looked forward to seeing him again.
Last year our main emphasis had been the Godhead. This year, however, our focus was to be the issue of righteousness by faith. Legalism is a real problem in Poland, as in many other places in Eastern Europe. There was danger that it would cause real divisions among the brethren there.
As we presented the messages for the three and a half days that we were there, I was greatly blessed and, there were signs that the people were also affected by the messages. Among other things, we spoke on the relationship of law and grace, the difference between servants and sons, the issues in the book of Galatians, and the attitude of God towards us.
One notable experience came from a Brother Adam who related that before the camp meeting he had a vision in which he saw an American who looked like Allen and wearing glasses just like Allen. In this vision, this man was speaking at the camp meeting and held his Bible up often. Adam understood that the people preaching at this camp meeting had the truth concerning righteousness by faith. Providentially, we only learned of this shortly before we had to leave. While Allen sometimes holds his Bible up while preaching, he did this an unusual number of times at these meetings. It was an encouragement to us, not that we doubted the message for a moment, but it helped us to see Gods personal interest in what we were doing in Poland.
At these meetings we were specially blessed by music from Brother Piotr (Peter) Maciejewski and his three daughters, Kasia (Kate), Gosia (Margaaret), and Madzia (Magdalene) who are very skilled in song and music. Kasia, plays the guitar and Gosia and Madzia play the violin beautifully. Brother Jaceks daughters also helped with the singing and we were greatly blessed.
On the final night of our stay in Poland we had a question and answer session. There were many interesting questions that we did our best to answer in a Biblical way. The question of whether or not women were obligated to cover their heads while praying generated quite a bit of controversy. My answer did not seem to satisfy several of the people, and I felt some degree of disappointment when I realized that much of what we had been saying over the past three days seemed to have been lost on some of the people. Nevertheless, there were those who were able to see the issues quite clearly.
During our last day in Poland, a brother arrived adorned with a shaggy beard reaching almost to his waist. That night as I responded to the question concerning women covering their heads, he stood to his feet and told me that I was not qualified to be a teacher of the Word of God and that I was teaching falsehood. At first I was angry and inclined to answer him with hot words, but I waited a while before responding and my answer was simply to tell him that I had met many Pharisees like him and I quoted Pauls words to him that in judging me he was bring judgment upon himself. To this he replied with thanks. In talking with him afterwards I found out that he greatly admired the Pharisees. I felt very sorry for him as the Jesus he knew was cold, formal, and distance.
Our last day in Poland was made happy by two joyful events. Allen and I conducted a baptismal service and Brother Allen performed a sacred marriage service for Dominik Walczak and his sweetheart Anina. They were a beautiful couple that had recently dedicated their lives to serve God. It was a thrill to see them unite their lives to be one. Please remember this young couple in your prayers that they may remain strong and true to the Lord.
As in the other places we had been, leaving was very difficult. The people were determined to keep us as long as possible. They even had the children to sing several songs and play their musical instruments outside, as we said our goodbyes, so we would stay a little longer. We began our drive to Germany with moist eyes. These kinds of experiences make us long for the second coming of Jesus when there will be a grand union of all of Gods people.
We arrived in Germany on Friday evening, August 15. The meetings were to be held in a place called Hohenstein (meaning High Stone). There were to be meetings for Sabbath and Sunday morning with four messages on Sabbath and two messages Sunday morning. These meetings were held in a comfortable conference room and about fifty people were there Sabbath. The people listened politely to the messages without any comment. (German people seem more generally reserved than the people of Eastern Europe.) Even when there was an opportunity for asking questions, there were hardly any. However, in the afternoon I discovered that there was some opposition to the message when an older gentleman (later I discovered that he was the local SDA pastor) and three ladies asked me some questions privately. Their contention was that we were misusing the Scriptures, and they were disturbed that we had not quoted from Ellen White, but only from the Bible. They believed that Ellen White clearly taught the Trinity and had several quotes from her to support their conclusion. However, I pointed out the puzzling fact that Ellen White had lived in a non-Trinitarian church all her life, and yet had never even once corrected any of the pioneers for speaking against the Trinity. Our discussions ended inconclusively because we had to stop to make way for the next meeting.
Thankfully, most of the people seemed to be very happy for the meetings. After the Sabbath meetings we met in the dining room of the guesthouse with about sixteen people who had questions to ask.
One young man by the name of Henry had an especially interesting story. He had been a spiritualist for several years and among other things had become involved in the spiritualistic method of massage healing called Reki. About five years ago he had started to become very afraid. At nights he would be filled with a nameless fear that would not go away. This fear haunted his life. Eventually he called his grandmother, who was a Seventh-day Adventist, and asked her to pray for him. Through her influence he was converted, delivered from his fear, and was baptized. He became a Seventh-day Adventist.
Later Henry started to meet with a small group in the church who were studying the Bible. It was while they were studying together that this group discovered that the Bible did not teach the Trinity doctrine. This discovery led them to agitate the subject in the church that resulted in the usual uproar and the formulation of a home church.
Another person who had an interesting story was Martina. This lady had become a Christian some time ago, but after learning the truth about God had desired to be baptized by someone who did not believe in the Trinity. Erwin baptized her on a very cold day in a little stream in the presence of several believers. Upon Martinas request, her mother and father, who were devoted Catholics, also attended though they were very unhappy at her decision to be baptized. While others were shedding tears of joy, they were shedding tears of sadness, convinced that Martina was doomed to an eternally burning hell. During our meetings Martinas face was always an encouragement as she was continually smiling and showing interest in the messages. After the meetings we had several requests to come back to Germany next year for a whole-week camp meeting instead of just a few days.
These meetings were our last assignment in Europe, and by the time they came to an end at mid-day on Sunday, Allen and I were eager to be on our way for the final leg of our journey. We were tired and very homesick.
Allen Stump: Conclusion
The ride to Pappenheim, where Erwin lives, went well. We had one more day before our flight to the United States. We used this day to get our packing done. Erwin, David, and I had taken several digital pictures and video while on the trip. We used this time to share among ourselves the computer notes, files, and video and pictures we had taken during the trip.
The next day, Tuesday, August 19, we were saddened by our last goodbye. It was really hard to say goodbye to Erwin and his wife, Claudia. However, our sadness was tempered with the joy that I would soon be seeing my family, and David was just an extra day and one half from being home. The blessing of the Lord was clearly upon our trip. We were privileged to sow many gospel seeds, as well as to water some that had already been sown. Please keep these brethren in prayer that the good seed may bring forth much fruit.
A special word of appreciation.
I would like to acknowledge our gratefulness to the Lord for allowing us to be able to visit so many brother and sisters while in Europe. I am especially thankful for our contacts, who worked so hard to set up meetings, and especially to Erwin and Vlad who traveled with us during the trip.
This trip proposed some scheduling problems for me. Ann Ford, my secretary, and her husband, Glen our church elder, had planned for over a year to be gone from the office during the time I needed to be in Europe. Brother Lynnford Beachy and his family had also planned a trip during this time. Esther McDaniel, Lynnfords secretary and mother-in-law, was going with him and his family for part their trip. Her husband George was also going for the entire trip. When Esther returned, she had planned to do most of her secretarial working from her home. All of this combined would leave the ministry would be without someone to answer the phone or care for day-to-day duties. Also, our pool of local church speakers and leaders had been seriously drained.
Thankfully the Lord provided some super great help. Brother Dana Uhl, who started helping with the printing made himself available to help lead out in the previously unscheduled services of the church, as well as continue his work in the print shop. Also, Verity Holt, off from school for the summer, agreed to help in the office while we were gone. Each time I called back to check on things, I received an honest and accurate assurance that everything was under control. This took a tremendous load off of my mind, and I was able to fully concentrate on the activities in Europe.
I also want to acknowledge a special thanks for all those who were praying for us and the success of the trip. I know that God greatly blessed because of it. Allen Stump
This issue of Old Paths recounts some of the thrilling experiences that David Clayton and I had in Europe. Please continue to pray for the seeds that were sown, and for the hearts that were touched.
Later this month, and in October, Brothers David Clayton and Howard Williams of Restoration Ministries will be going to Africa for a camp meeting in Kenya. They will also be visiting some new contacts and holding meetings in Ghana, South Africa, and, Lord willing, in other areas. Please keep them in your prayers that they may do a great work.
Sister Esther McDaniel, Lynnford Beachys secretary, will also be traveling to the Kenya camp meeting and then on to help at the orphan there before returning. She will greatly appreciate your prayers.
One of the our teenage sisters here at Smyrna recently requested prayer for an acquaintance who is directly involved in satanic worship. Declaring she believes in the power of prayer, she requests your prayers for a young man, who is terribly deceived. Thank you very much. Editor
Youths Corner - A Call to Service
God calls for workers. His cause needs men who are self-made, who, placing themselves in his hands as humble learners, have proved themselves workers together with him. These are the men that are needed in the work today. Let those who have shown themselves to be men, move out and do what they can in the Masters service. Let them step into the ranks, and by patient, continuous effort prove their worth. It is in the water, not on land, that we learn to swim. Let them fill with fidelity the place to which they are called, that they may be qualified for still higher responsibilities. God gives all opportunity to perfect themselves in his service.
He who puts on the armor to war a good warfare will gain greater and still greater ability as he strives to perfect his knowledge of God, working in harmony with the plan that God has given for the perfect development of the physical, mental, and spiritual powers.
Young men and young women, gather a store of knowledge. Do not wait till some human examination pronounces you competent to work, but go out into the highways and hedges, and begin to work for God. Use wisely the knowledge that you have. Exercise your ability with faithfulness, generously imparting the light that God gives you. Study how best to give to others peace, and light, and truth, and the many other rich blessings of heaven. Constantly improve. Keep reaching higher and still higher. It is the ability to put to the tax the powers of mind and body, ever keeping in view eternal realities, that is of value now. Seek the Lord most earnestly, that you may become more and more refined, more spiritually cultured. Then you will have the very best diploma that any one have,--the indorsement of God.
However large, however small, your talents, remember that what you have is yours only in trust. Thus God is testing and trying you, giving you opportunity to prove yourself true. To him you are indebted for all your capabilities. To him belong your powers of body, mind, and soul, and for him these powers are to be used. Your time, your influence, your capabilities, your skill,all must be accounted for to him who gives all. He uses his gifts best who seeks by earnest endeavor to carry out the Lords great plan for the uplifting of humanity, remembering always that he must be a learner as well as a teacher. (Mrs. E. G. White, Youths Instructor, December 11, 1902)
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
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This page was last updated: Thursday, November 01, 2012