Rodney and Heather Sexton – Romania and UK
Welcome to Bazna, a village of some 2000+ people nestled in the heart of Transylvania, Romania, with its fortified church, Orthodox convent and disused brickworks, and now, natural gas plant.
Bazna is a place where the communist elite used to come to ‘take the waters’ – something still reserved for the better off. It’s a place that had faster broadband than the UK, before it even had piped water. It’s place where, nearly 20 years ago, a group of Christians planted out a Baptist Church from neighbouring Mediaş. Little did they realise what lay ahead as the Spirit began to do a new work amongst them. Just a few years later most would form a new, independent church, Partaşia Vieţii Creştina, Christian Life Fellowship (CLF), a church known for its dynamic, prophetic worship.
As in many places covid-19 has left its mark. One person in the village has died from the disease but others have
been quite ill and there is much scepticism about vaccines. In CLF some people have left or moved on or just not returned; others have joined in for the first time and church numbers are now a little smaller than they were.
Heather and I have been involved with the church and its people from its early Baptist days. To return to Bazna after
an enforced 2-year gap was a joyful experience – just like coming home! Lots of catching up to do.
Much of my time was spent with the 4 elders of the church, both individually and together. The hot topic was: ‘As an elder, what is my role and ministry and what do I recognise as the roles and ministries of the other elders?’
Ionatan, the team leader, is clear about his own ministry but not all the others see this. The other 3 elders have different levels of clarity about the roles they play on the team. It’s all good and it’s all part of the long process of transition from a traditional pastor-led church to one overseen by a plurality of elders, each with his own calling and role. The session I had with the three men (without Ionatan) was honest, gracious and refreshing.
On the flight to Sibiu – writes Heather – my carry-on bag was filled with children’s woolly hats and scarfs, knitted by people from various churches during lockdown. Diana, Ionatan’s wife, teaches kindergarten and some of the children come from families so poor that they cannot afford proper clothing for the winter. As a result, children can be kept off school for 2 months or more. It is good to know the hats and scarves are already being used! I also took out some basic supplies for Diana’s classroom.
The Highlights of the week were:
– A day out in Alba Iulia, a beautiful city, with Ionatan and Diana.
– Overwhelming Romanian hospitality, even from those with limited means.
– Worship on Sunday morning.
– The ‘thanksgiving’ meal on Sunday evening.
– The beautiful Transylvanian countryside.
The strap-line of the church is: Relationship not Religion. We thank God for our Bazna friends!