Moldovan pastor continues grandfather’s legacy
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
March 28, 2011

Moldovan pastor continues grandfather’s legacy

Moldovan pastor continues grandfather’s legacy
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
March 28, 2011


— There they sat, the people he loved most in the world, staring at him with no

idea who he was or why he knocked on the door and wanted to come into their


It’s hard to blame them for not recognizing him. Ten years

had gone by since they last saw or heard from him. Ten years ago he sent a

friend racing to his home to give his family his Bible and to warn the family

that they must hide the Bible and any other books or literature that talked

about God. They had to act quickly because soldiers were on the way.

The soldiers did come and they found everything — except the

Bible. That Bible is the very one he bought at age 20 and used as he preached

the gospel among villages in Ukraine.

The police eventually put an end to his village preaching

and sentenced him to 10 years in a Serbian prison. This was during the time

when Ukraine

was part of the former Soviet Union and such preaching

was not allowed.

While in prison he became physically weak and unable to

work. One day he found himself on death row, literally in a line of men about

to meet death. He cried out, “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you can save

me!” He’s not sure exactly how it happened, or how it was even possible that it

could happen, but as he walked in that line of men he felt someone grab his

hand and pull him out of line.

The man was a doctor who took care of him and hid him for

one month until he was ready to work again. God saved him and brought him out

of that prison alive.

None of the letters he wrote from prison ever made it back

home. His family assumed he was dead. He looked around the room and there was his wife, his two

sons, his daughter born shortly after he went to prison, and his mother. “Don’t

you recognize me?” he asked again. The lump in his throat now prevented him

from saying much else, and he told them who he was.

“She shouted, ‘Children, your father is here,’” Alexander

said as he told the story to the team from North Carolina

gathered around the lunch table.

Alexander couldn’t hide his excitement as he told the story

of how God saved his grandfather’s life and reunited him with his family: the

daughter his grandfather had never met — Alexander’s mother. The Bible his grandfather so desperately wanted to keep safe

— it’s now 110 years old and Alexander held it in his hands as he told his

grandfather’s story.

BSC photo

Alexander Goncearuc holds the Bible his grandfather used 110 years ago. Goncearuc’s family has protected it through much political upheaval and religious persecution.

Alexander Goncearuc is pastor of Gethsemane

Baptist Church

in Chisinau and vice president of the Baptist Union of Moldova. His

grandfather’s story is really his story, and the story of his children and will

be the story of his grandchildren. His grandfather’s example of faith, and

God’s protective, redeeming work in his life, is making it possible for more

generations to know about God.

Using that Bible, Alexander’s grandfather taught his

children and grandchildren about God. Alexander remembers as his grandfather

got older that his hands shook as he tried to hold the Bible. The day came when

he needed help from a magnifying glass to read the print. His grandfather

eventually had to let someone else do the reading. Alexander read scripture as

his siblings listened.

“Now, I can teach,” Alexander said as he pointed to his baby


Alexander is not only bringing his family up in the ways of

God, but he is pastoring other Moldovan believers. In 1992, Alexander helped

start Gethsemane Baptist Church where he still pastors today. The church is a

plant of Bethel Baptist


Alexander served as a deacon in Bethel

before coming to Gethsemane and had no intention of

leaving Bethel. “I was

comfortable,” he said. Yet, the church leadership kept insisting, and Alexander

knew he had to be obedient.

One of Alexander’s friends knew the principal of a Russian

public elementary school who agreed to let the church meet in the school

building. Before long the Communists in that area began meeting at the school

and wanted nothing to do with the church. The Baptists and the Communists even

came and went through different entrances in the school.

Week after week Communists tore down the poster on the

building advertising information about the church and when the church met.

Finally, the church moved the poster inside a window and the

Communists left it alone. “It’s still there,” Alexander said as he pointed at

the window. On this Sunday morning Alexander took a few minutes before worship

started to share about the church.

Alexander said the congregation never backed down. They

committed to serve the school and the community. On the church’s fifth

anniversary the assistant principal, who had not wanted the church meeting at

the school, got up on stage and said he wanted the church to stay. He had seen

the difference the church made in peoples’ lives.

The worship service that morning lasted nearly three hours,

but it did not feel as though that much time had passed.

From singing to prayer to preaching, this Russian-speaking

congregation truly worshiped God.

This congregation, and its pastor, remembers the day when

such public worship was not allowed. And it seems they will not soon forget.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is the first in a series

about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s new partnership with the

Baptist Union of Moldova. The Convention recently sent a team to Moldova

to kick off the partnership and to lead in conferences for pastors, women and

youth. Stories and pictures will be available soon at the BSC

website, www.ncbaptist.org, and in the Biblical Recorder.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical

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