Grigore Cheptene and his family moved to the United States six years ago. The love for God and for their country brought them to Moldova this year to serve widows and orphans. After listening to the testimonies behind their mission, I decided to conduct this interview with Gregory, to share with you the beautiful work that God is doing through this family.
Vitalie Marian: Grigore, please tell me about your family and about the mission you came to Moldova with.
Grigore Cheptene: We are here with my wife Ecaterina, daughter Mia (11 years old) and son Samuel (4 years old). We initially set out to take the gospel to 160 people, 80 of whom are the orphans we invite to summer camps, and the other 80 are widows. I was largely inspired by the word of Scripture that says:”Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”(James 1:27 NASB). If you are not careful, it is very easy to be defiled by the world; that is why, it is very important to keep our eyes on heavenly things because only then will we have the right priorities. Thus, I decided with my family to encourage other friends, brothers and sisters in the city of Sacramento, where we live, to get involved in the work of helping those in need. The category of orphans and widows is the most unfavorable and vulnerable, as I see in Scripture. Nobody takes care of them and nobody offers them any help.
V.M .: Why did you choose 160 people?
G.C .: The organization I came with was able to sponsor 80 children to come to the camp. Then we made a calculation that if we go every day to at least two houses, 5 days a week, for 2 months while we are here, we can cover 80 houses. When we walk around the houses, we present ourselves as God’s slaves, who love Him and want to fulfill His command to be receptive to those in need. We offer to help them with the housework that has not been done for a long time, such as: whitewashing the walls of the house, repairing broken things, painting the gate, building cement stairs, and we even made cement porches.
V.M.: So, you are involved financially, but also with physical work?
G.C.: Yes, this was the idea – to work with our hands, because in the few hours we are in the home of the elderly, we can get to know them better and we can talk with them more. Most of them are lonely, many of their children are gone, their grandchildren do not visit them and they are very happy when they have someone to talk to. We also want to offer them emotional support, build relationships and ask how we can pray for them. We let ourselves be the ones to whom they can mourn the pain of their souls. Then, after we have done the work, we dine together, proclaim the Gospel to them, share the Truth with them, so that the Truth may set them free.
V.M .: You are now towards the end of your mission. Did you take stock of how many people you reached? What was the effect of this mission?
G.C.: We have 1 and a half weeks left in the country. So far I have gone to 6 localities and visited over 35 houses, including widows, widowers and orphans. There were different reactions. Some were very surprised that we helped them without asking them for any money, and they received us with joy, put us at the table and blessed us. But I have encountered other cases. Recently, I helped a lady cut down a tree that was growing near the house and tangled at the base, but she was not at all satisfied. I felt the hatred and anger she had for those around her, especially for her neighbors, saying that all the time they were knocking on her door, and spoke ill of her and did not let her live in peace. I understood that her problem was unforgiveness. I urged her to pray to the Lord and ask her forgiveness from God, so that she too could forgive others, because only when you understand how much God has forgiven you can you offer forgiveness to those who wronged you.
V.M .: Were there people who refused your help?
G.C.: Yes, there were people who refused us only out of pride, so that the people in the village would not tell him that Baptist Christian brothers had come to help them. Others welcomed us with joy and we had a beautiful fellowship in which they told us about their past, that they had never talked to anyone about before, but they wanted to tell us so that they could be released. Two ladies confessed that they had abortions in the past and this sin torments them until now and that they don’t know if they can be forgiven. A lady confessed to us how at night she dreams of Satan wanting to suffocate her. She confessed that in the past she was engaged in spells, guessing, and reading in books. We prayed with her that God would deliver her from this yoke, from this sin that does not give her peace. Some were warm with us and others colder.
V.M .: Can you tell us a story that marked you as a family and that describes the reality of our country?
G.C.: A sad story of a father and son. In Recea village from Straseni district, I visited a widower for several years. When we entered his yard, we were scared of what we saw. The house is a pile of rubble, and the yard is a wasteland. The poor old man, who was over 80 years old when he left the house, was without pants and in a deplorable condition. As we sat in his yard talking, bed bugs ate our feet; the situation was so awful. And he himself admits that bed bugs eat him up and cannot get rid of them. When I asked him what we could do for him, he kept saying that he only wanted to see his son. After several researches and searches at the Ministry of Interior, I finally came across his son. He is a musician, graduated from the conservatory in Chisinau and lives in the Muncești road region.
I remembered that I had a national music teacher as a child and after all the information I got, I thought he was the old man’s son. I went to vocational school no. 4, where I knew he was working. When we met, he recognized me. He asked me about my health and how I was doing. I found a man with a book, who presented me with several diplomas that he obtained over time: master’s degree in Romanian language and literature, diploma from the conservatory of music, diploma of electrician and besides this, he also wanted to get a degree in math, but his life is a disaster. His relationship with his father is broken, they have not met for more than 20 years. He is the only son in the family and his parents invested a lot in him to provide him with education. He has no wife or children. I preached the gospel to him and told him about his father who was waiting for him and wanted to see him. He changed the subject, showing me his diplomas. After a while, I told him again about his father, that he should visit him. Then he confessed that they had a conflict. We motivated him to forgive him, as the Scriptures teach us, but he could answer nothing. A week later, the shepherd from Recea village, Ion Cotorobai, who is a good friend of mine, called the old man’s son, telling him that his father was in a bad state, he was dying, but he really wanted to see his son before his death. Hearing this, the man agreed to visit him. He said he would come to the meeting with us on Sunday, and after the meeting we would go to his father. We hope and pray that they will keep their word and that this reunion will bring both of them repentance and reconciliation with Heavenly Father.
V.M .: I shed tears at this story. I would like more immigrants to be able to get involved in the countries they left.
G.C .: The situation of US immigrants is different, depending on what service they have, and their social and financial situation. When I talked to my friends and relatives about this mission, everyone was happy. Everyone understands the need and wants to get involved, through prayer or finances, but for many it is difficult to come for a longer period and to get directly involved. People are receptive and open, they have love for their people, and they help.
V.M .: Is this your first experience as a family in missionary work or have you been before?
G.C .: Six years since we left the country, this is the first time we have managed to come with the whole family, not on vacation but to be useful in the work for the glory of God.
V.M .: What impact did this trip have on your children?
G.C .: Mia (11 years old) saw the world with different eyes. Before coming to Moldova, I prepared her and told her that when she sees how the children live here, she will want us to take them to the USA, but we can’t take them all. But if she learns to tell them the gospel then she can lead them to the Kingdom of God, where it is much better. And with this thought we set out to proclaim the gospel to the needy, because it has the power to save any man.
V.M .: What does Mia say about this trip? Did this bring her any transformation?
G.C .: Through her behavior, I noticed that she became more mature. It can be seen that she has matured according to the way she speaks, responds and looks at life. In these 2 months she became more responsible than in 4 years in America. That is why I want to encourage every immigrant to get involved in such services and they will see a transformation for the better, both in their lives and in the lives of their children.
V.M .: Who or what motivated you to get involved in the mission work? All Christians have read the verse in James 1:27, about what pure religion means, but few fulfill this calling.
G.C .: I always had the desire for the mission and I prayed with my wife so that we could go to Africa. I was there 15 years ago and I always wanted to go back. The Lord did not change our plans, but He changed direction. After a Bible study course, I had a discussion with a brother who works in an orphanage organization in Russia in the last 2 years in Moldova. He invited me to join his organization, getting involved in sports, making various presentations and telling me the testimony of orphans. At first, I hesitated, not sure if I could actually be in it, but the Word of God is alive and working and has spoken to me countless times. At that time I was studying the book of Isaiah. It marked the moment when God, after cleansing Isaiah’s lips, asked whom to send and who would go for Him. Isaiah answered, “Here I am, send me!” This was an incentive for me.
Another time, I attended an inductive Bible study seminar, in which I taught a lesson on “How to Get Rid of the Fear of Death?” We talked about what happens to the believer after death. He has no reason to fear because death is only a passage. He goes to a place where he is much better and where he will be comforted. As for those who do not have Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they have many reasons to fear death, because then torment begins for them. I have thought of many who call themselves Christians in our country but do not know the Truth and do not read the Scriptures. Whenever we were in the homes of widows, we spoke to them about sin, about the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and what happens to us after death if we do not have a Mediator. By reading the Scriptures, you can be sure of where you will be after death, with God or not.
This was the motivation and we decided to listen to God, because he spoke to us several times. I bought the tickets and came.
V.M .: Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you a lot of rich fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven in this paper!
Translated by Ina Croitoru