TRUE STORIES OF WORLD CHANGERS WHO STARTED ALONE: This month we share stories of individual Christians who couldn’t wait for others to tell them when to help the hurting and share the gospel. Their clear vision of a pressing need pushed them to do what they could as soon as they could.
AN EVANGELIST FROM MOLDOVA / www.tcmi.org
By David Wright
Raised in Moldova, one of the smallest states of the former Soviet Union, Mihai Malancea and his family were different from most of their neighbors. They were Christians.
His father led a small house church in the capital city, Chisinau. Mihai’s worldview was framed by a belief in Christ as creator, Lord, and Savior, while living in a society accepting the lie that God does not exist. He shared the truth with all those around him. His broad smile and love for others was infectious, and his ministry began in his own backyard.
In his early 20s, Mihai enlisted in the Soviet military, as the law required. The military knew he was a Christian. He was assigned to Siberia. This young man who had never been far from his home city was flown several time zones and thousands of miles away. After two weeks in the coldest and darkest place he had ever been, he realized, “This is where they send all the Christians! I spent my entire time in Siberia shoulder-to-shoulder with other Christian brothers. Our faith in Christ was shared with one another daily, and it grew. More than ever I knew that when I left the military I wanted to be a minister.”
Mihai heard of a relatively new seminary in Austria. He enquired. He researched. He applied. He was accepted. He also learned his ministry education would be provided through scholarships. His first session, with TCM International Institute at Haus Edelweiss, was full of answered prayers. His classmates included others from Moldova who, like him, were attending their first ministry classes.
With the first session and two classes completed, the carful of Moldovans headed home. On the way they dreamed, planned, and prayed. Their prayer was to someday start a Christian undergraduate college modeled after TCM. Years passed, and Mihai and his colleagues earned their master of arts and master of divinity degrees.
Soon their prayers were answered and their dream came true with the establishment of a Christian university in Moldova. The university includes schools for religion, music, education, and business. The vast majority of the faculty, including the founding president and deans (Mihai and his friends), are graduates of TCM International Institute. The Moldova college even serves as a location for TCM’s graduate-level courses. The university is further evidence the Christian movement is changing Moldova, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia from the inside out.
Mihai is a church pastor and planter, TCM faculty member, and an expert in evangelizing to Muslims. Some call it “street smarts,” that ability to know and thrive in one’s surroundings. No matter where he goes he shares Christ. When we see his impact on his own country and other nearby regions, it is no wonder this international disciple maker also has his share of roadblocks and detours. In recent years he has been blacklisted from entry into several countries where sharing Christ is not simply frowned upon, but illegal.
Mihai described a recent challenge:
After being stopped, detained, searched, and arrested at the airport, getting to my destination country in time to teach the course seemed unlikely. But I had one more option. I could take the train. I would take a 12-hour ride circumventing the country I would not be allowed to fly over. If God ordained it, he would provide me with safe passage. And he did.
For two weeks we taught two different courses. We had 20 students. We then led a conference on the Islam faith (how to minister and reach them for Christ) that was attended by 70 leaders from Christian churches in that Muslim-dominated region of the world. Satan (working through border patrol and customs officials) does not like people to hear and learn about true love, the love that embraces those who persecute you.
Mihai has been instrumental in changing his country for Christ from the inside out. He is a mentor to hundreds of new believers. As evidence of his influence, TCM has more than 900 students, with 135 of them from Moldova, one of Europe’s smallest nations. Mihai knows each of these students and dozens of others who have already completed their studies at TCM.
These men and women are sharing the good news of Jesus with thousands more as they boldly and skillfully work to change their part of the world from the inside out.
David Wright is North American vice president of TCM International Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana.