[Note: Originally published in fall of 2013. The original article can be found in issue 1 on the issues page.]
By Sara Lambert
Things are changing in Moldova and it is hard to pin point exactly what is causing the change.
The rate of divorce is growing exponentially. One couple said out of a line of 20 or more at the courthouse, only two couples were there for marriage-everyone else wanted a divorce. This must be difficult on everyone in the country but especially the youth. It is hard enough to grow up much less having to do it without a solid marital foundation to lean on. Perhaps Western culture is to blame. Perhaps it is the economy. Perhaps what is needed is biblical truth. An increasing number of young people want more and more, and they want it right now.
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” If children and young adults continue to head down this path, the darkness will remain permanently.
Enter Campus Crusade (CRU)—a program started in 1951 in the United States for the sole purpose of “helping to fulfill the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others.”
CRU has since gained momentum and spread throughout 191 countries with dozens of different ministries to reach as many people as they can. Their website gives an in-depth look at their goals and how they are using spiritual movements in an unprecedented way. Using the ideal that “today’s college students are tomorrow’s world leaders,” they try to reach even just one of the 110 million college students and let them hear the truth that is the Gospel.
This need is never more apparent than in the country of Moldova, settled between Romania and Ukraine. After generations of living under Communist rule, many Moldovans live in poverty. The average salary is a mere $120 a month, according to the International Labour Organization. However, Moldovans who choose to work outside the country make an average of $800 a month. As a result, families are split up as one or both parents seek work in another country, leaving grandparents, aunts and uncles to raise the children.
CRU has set up 40 staff members in some of the country’s most prestigious universities and has already recruited over 79 college students to participate in the movement. They are adjusting their program to include things like text messaging, which is now prevalent within the young adult community. The campus program has managed to put the gospel into 8-10 text messages and has said, “Many students answer back and are willing to meet in person before the last message is sent.” The program also runs a summer English camp, and nearly half the participants last year decided to give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Zinadia Balmus has been on staff at CRU in Chisinau, Moldova for six years. She encountered CRU as a first-year student in her dormitory.
Embolden: How did you get started with CRU?
Zinadia Balmus: I came from a non-Christian family and I was very skeptical about Christian faith. I honestly believed that Christians were hypocrites and they didn’t really know how to explain their faith. When I became a student CRU was very popular in our city. I knew they were Christians and I did not get involved because I did not really believe what they believed. But I started to observe them! In my dormitory I met some girls who were joyful, kind and the best students at their faculties. And one night I came in their room and a man was talking about something. Very quickly, I realized that they were talking about God. That was the first time I had the chance to talk about God without the feeling judged. After a while, I became a Christian and I knew that my life was filled with sense and meaning. This was why I became staff within CRU: I want teenagers and college students to know about God, who gives sense and meaning to their life, and help them to find the real truth about themselves and the world.
Embolden: What has been the biggest blessing with CRU?
Balmus: I find that the biggest blessing is to know that I am not wasting my life, but I am investing my time and my gifts. God gave me two things I will never lose: my relationship with Him and investment in other people’s lives. At the end of time these two things will remain. Before the throne in the presence of God, we will see all those people who believed, because we had the courage to take the initiative and to share our stories and the Gospel. This is the greatest motivation for me to keep doing what I was called to do.
Embolden: What is something the ministry struggles with?
Balmus: I think our ministry in Moldova needs more people who want to commit to win people for Christ and to glorify Him. We have two teams of staff in two cities. Two years ago we had to close a ministry in the second biggest city in Moldova. And we have lots of opportunities to work with high school students, but we just don’t have people to take these opportunities.
Embolden: How can people help?
Balmus: If you would like to donate to Moldova you can write a check for Campus Crusade, and you must indicate this number: “2275479” on a note with the check. Send to:
PO Box 628222
Orlando, FL 32862-8222
The darkness will not prevail whilst hearts still contain a cross-shaped hole. The young people are eager to learn about the Gospel and the peace it brings. Please add Campus Crusade Moldova to your prayer list.