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Easter(n) Europe

by Ken Sutton

Easter(n) Europe

I just spent the last two weeks in Eastern Europe, where I had the opportunity to take 7 men to do an outreach and help facilitate the Calvary Chapel Romanian Transform conference. Because of the date of the Romanian Easter, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ twice this year! Once at Calvary Everett and a week later in a city called Cluj, Napoca. Let me share with you why this was an Easter I will never forget.

On our first night of outreach in Cluj we noticed dozens of young people coming out of a building nearby. We could instantly tell that they were Christians (it was written all over their faces!) so we spent some time fellowshipping with them in the middle of the darkened street. Within a few minutes, a smiling brother walked up to me and introduced himself as the pastor of the nearby church. As we talked together we were graciously invited to their Easter service which we accepted. As I walked away I pondered in my heart why God had setup this divine appointment, little did I know that God wanted to deal with some unfinished business in my life.

“Eclesia” church meets in an upper room of what appears to be a large house and Easter morning it was completely packed full of people. The church had constructed an incredibly realistic empty tomb on the stage and the worship team began to play in front of it. The band was worshipful, the scripture reading was powerful and then a dozen children in costume came forward to perform their Easter play...I loved it! I couldn’t understand Pastor Virgil’s message very well but his daughter came and sat with our team and she graciously whispered the translation. All in all, it was a glorious morning!

After the service, the chairs were stacked against the side walls and people come forward with trays of coffee. I spoke with a number of people for about fifteen minutes and then I excused myself, as it was very hot upstairs and I wanted to get some fresh air. As I turned around to leave though, a man appeared in front of me and looking me right in the eyes said “do you remember me?”. Standing in front of me was my Easter divine appointment, someone I hadn't seen in almost two decades. His name was Nicu.

You see, Nicu was my landlord in 1994 when I lived on Strada Suceava in Cluj. Calvary Chapel Cluj was started in the small house I rented from Nicu with about 50 wild teenagers. Our weekly meetings resembled punk rock concerts with a Bible study at the end (no we did not have a mosh pit, we were a church)! Our neighbors had never seen anything like what was happening on Suceava street and it created quite a stir. Half of our attendees played in metal bands with names like “Spasm” and “Black Death” but for some reason, God had given us an open door into their lives. Many kids got saved there but needless to say our presence (among other things) seriously tested the landlord-tenant relationship! Now God had clearly orchestrated our reunion and an overdue conversation...17 years later.

If there is one thing I have learned about the Lord, He places a far higher priority on relationships than we do. The Father gave His only son for us, that we may have an eternal relationship with Him. Therefore He expects His children to be tender hearted toward one another and to love each other. He greatly desires us to be unified and to be “one” in Him. Jesus prayed for this in John 17, ”And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”.

“Do you remember me?"

As I looked at Nicu, I told him that it was apparent that God Himself had personally scheduled this meeting for us in Cluj. So, we grabbed a couple of chairs and sat down. It’s interesting, but issues between brothers seem less significant in hindsight than the strong feelings attached to them. As I spoke with Nicu (who has been wonderfully used of the Lord these last years), our feelings toward each other changed. As we sat just a few feet from the stage where an empty tomb had been erected, the significance was not lost on us as we bowed our heads in prayer together. We asked God for fresh mercies and we received them in that upper room. When we were finished we hugged each other, exchanged emails and then I walked out of the church pondering how I had been beautifully “setup” by God. God had called me 6,000 miles away from home, to see a relationship raised from the dead. So, let me say...Blessings upon your family Nicu, it is good to be your friend. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.