A Romanian evangelical highlight took place between April 26 – 29 at Sinaia, where two of the most renowned Christian apologist lectured, namely Ravi Zacharias and Michael Ramsden, who arrived at the invitation of the organization BIG Impact, of Metanoia Baptist Church from Arad and the local branch of RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries).
Ravi Zacharias, president of RZIM, headquartered in Atlanta, was born in India and emigrated to Canada in 1966. He studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois and at the University of Cambridge in England. He is the author of many success books, some translated into Romanian, distinguishing himself as a formidable polemicist who discussed the issue of God’s existence in many universities in the world, including Harvard and Princeton. He lectured in over fifty countries and the issue of Let My People Think is broadcast by over 550 radio stations worldwide.
Michael Ramsden is also one of Europe’s foremost apologists, being the director of RZIM Oxford branch, England.
Organizing the conference, which was planned over a year ago, did not take place smoothly. The interest was major, enrolling about 550 people to participate; also many have opted for online access to sessions, a channel web streaming being hired for this purpose. However, only a few days before the debut, no one knew if it will still be pursued. The volcanic ash cloud interrupted the air transport and seemed to compromise the main speakers’ arrival. I said no to a plan B, sending an email to participants, to urge them to pray for this problem and God was with us!
The hall of mirrors from Sinaia Casino was like a swarm on Monday, April 26. A large group of volunteers arrived first hour in the morning, to carry out stage, the scenery, for the installation of light and sound, and video cameras for live broadcast on the Internet. In parallel, at the reception set points, the participants began to arrive in waves. A significant percentage was represented by pastors and ministry leaders representing all evangelical denominations in the country, but also by participants from Moldova, Bulgaria and several American missionaries from Romania.
Since the first session Ravi conquered the audience. With a well-grounded biblical message he explained what it means to defend your faith in these times. Using the example of Nehemiah, he asked a burning question, which was intended to be rhetorical: Is Your Church Ready?
This was the starting point by which listeners were advised on what was to come. The following sessions were conducted on the same pattern, taking as a starting point a biblical example that would extract very deep applications. For example, in another session Ravi started the confrontation between Felix and Paul, showing that the moral argument alone has power. True apologetic is the life lived in Truth, seen and heard, who joins the mind to heart.
Michael Ramsden seconded his illustrious colleague with honor, showing a remarkable grasp of the Scriptural truths, with clear and healthy applications for the life of who ever wants to be a contemporary apologist, wherever God placed them.
The two special sessions where the guests were subjected to shooting the incoming questions from participants constituted an attraction. Although they were not spared, they offered true samples of wisdom, reinforcing the assistance with extremely viable arguments for field dialogue with skeptics.
A claim for flawless translation provided by Dani Popa, the moments of worship provided by Metanoia church group, the technical team that irreproachable did the complex mission, for Cristi Barbosu and Vlad Crîznic who acted as hosts, for the organization team that stood behind this event, working hard away from the limelight, with special mentions for Claudia and C?t?lin Chiciudean who coordinated the application process, for Marius Fersigan which provided IT infrastructure for application and organized the book stand, and for Cristi Voaide? who proposed and implemented the live broadcast of dedicated web streaming on internet channel.
One last detail: Ravi Zacharias, challenged by Gelu Paul-Faina, BIG Impact strategic coordinator, has promised to return in 2012 in Romania for a major evangelistic event in the capital, targeting the political class and the academic world.
For all these blessings, God alone is the One who deserves all the glory!
Some impressions from participants:
Nicu Capusan, Cluj-Napoca: Around these people I felt a peculiar safety, a kind of spiritual protection, from someone who finally answered my questions that lay in the depths of my soul since childhood, questions that I always had restraint reaching, fearing of being condemned by others or even by my conscience.
Petrica Dragusanu, Braila: This conference was like an oasis of spiritual refreshment, it aroused the “apologist” within me and strongly motivated me towards defending and proving the truths of Scripture to the current generation, so indifferent and ignorant of God.
Virgil Achihai, Bucharest: In light of what I heard these days, the truth is that we got used both to preach and to hear the Gospel scrap, but we wonder why people do not return to God. We look for reasons and justifications on anyone and anything, apart from us, and the answer is so simple: The word has not changed, people are the same, but we preach the gospel so full of ourselves, little knowing the Giver of the Gospel.
Florin Mitra, Rupea: I feel like I was invited to a feast prepared by Ravi, the servant of God, being fed with a wisdom arising out of Scripture, designed to reveal behind each response a face of King and Redeemer.
Mircea Mândru??u Arad: The Apologetics Conference in Sinaia confronted us with the determination to answer anyone who asks us account for the hope that is within us. I received an enthusiastic approach and a rich content of evidence to prove the faith and biblical truths.