A month or so ago, on my way to Chisinau with Daniel to work on applying for Ana’s birth certificate and passport, we had picked up an Orthodox priest who was alongside the road trying to hail a ride to the capital. You can imagine the interesting chemistry that a Baptist missionary and an Orthodox priest can have. He was not interested in talking about Scripture once he found out who I was. I was able to get some conversation going with him and learn more about the priests here. We separated amiably that day.
Wednesday evening, while driving back home with Daniel from Chisinau, having picked up our renewed green cards and Ana’s passport, we passed an Orthodox priest along-side the road trying to hail a ride (hitch-hiking is everyday life here). It was dark and below freezing at the time. Once he thankfully hopped inside the warm car, I found out that this priest has been trying to get someone to stop and give him a ride for the past hour. Both he and I also quickly found out…..that it was deja vu, he was the same priest I had picked up last time! I couldn’t tell if he was happy to know the driver or not 🙂 I offered to drive him to his house (which I was not expecting to be off the beaten path and add 50 minutes to our trek home). We were able to talk some more.
I told him that I bought an Orthodox Bible in order to read to our neighbor and am interested in reading through the added deutero-canonical (apocryphal) books that are not in our Bible. He said that if I read through the Orthodox Bible I will find “the truth.” He was not convinced that, outside of the 10 additional OT books, our Bible and theirs says about the same thing. He was still not interested in talking about Scripture.
He took a phone call and explained to a lady that the price of the icons had increased due to the devaluation of the Moldovan currency. One of the icons was now being sold for 700 lei (about $40). It was sad to know that some Moldovans will spend money for a picture of a saint or Mary, truly believing that it will help answer prayers or enrich their spiritual life.
I then asked for his input in regards to a situation with our neighbor, Varvara. I told him how she is up in years and unable to do the good works that she used to and is worried about making it to heaven due to her decreased abilities. I then asked him what he would tell her? His response, “No one knows where they go after they die. Only God knows.” He was taken back when he heard me say that the Bible says we are not saved by our works and that we can know where we go after we die. He then told me some three-fold system for salvation that included faith, works, and I didn’t catch the third. He did not know about what Paul had written in the New Testament. After 4 years of “seminary” and 4 more years of practicum (total of 8 years to become a priest), he showed very little familiarity with the Bible. I encouraged him to read Ephesians 2 to start with. He reluctantly took my contact info when we arrived at his gate. My heart longs for him to pull off the vale of church tradition in order to see the light of God’s Word and beauty of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Providentially, we have now met twice…. and maybe we can again one day. Please pray for Valeri to search the Scriptures and find true salvation through Christ.