Andreea and the Life of an Evangelist
Andreea's two week visit lasted three months. Within a week of her arrived she and Stan were dedicated and two weeks later they were betrothed. We couldn't believe how quickly she settled in. Dorcas was happy too and didn't want to go back to Romania though she missed her grandparents from time to time. That, indeed, had been Andreea's greatest worry. By extending her two week vaccation she had effectively terminated her job, a final way to burn her bridges but one which left her parents in somewhat of a dilemma since her meager income had also partly supported them. Pensions had been slightly increased by the socialist government but they still weren't adequate. Stan also was worried about them and felt we somehow had a duty to help them. But how? We were living on the edge ourselves, and with two extra mouths to feed, what could we do? Andreea was an only child and other relatives weren't in a much better position to help. Stan wanted to bring them to Poland.
"How do your parents feel about our lifestyle," Stan asked Andreea one day. "Have you told them?"
Andreea looked up at him in deep thought:
"They're Baptists, you know, just like I was. Yes, I've talked with Pappa about polygamy in a roundabout sort of way, and he accepetd that the principle was blessed by God. But like all Baptists of his generation he's a traditionalist and believes that so much of God's truth was done away with on the cross, or later after the apostles died.
"I am not sure what to do. I think I have said as much as I can. If I invited them to come and live in Poland I don't think they would come. They have their life there. There's still a small Baptist Church in Giurgiu and they get visitors from Bucharest. He is in a wheel chair but he can still get about. Mamma is in good health still. And they do help each other out. But if you agree, I'll invite them to come here, and just say that I'm getting married. They'll want to be at the wedding, or for us to at least have it in Romania. What do you think?"
Stan asked us about her parents. We had never asked any of our parents to live at Raj because they were all relatively well off and there was an extended family to take care of them. We knew our scriptural duty and would have wanted them to come here but knew none would. Most were vehemently hostile. The thought of having some elderly people with us was appealing and would have been a great blessing for the children. It was one of the patriarchal ideals we aspired to. Families should stay together, young and old, but what can you do if they are hostile?
"I would be perfectly willing to have a wedding in your local Baptist Church in principle," said Stan, "but what about the wedding vows? I'm not one who goes in for any sort of pretense. I couldn't promise to be faithful to you and to no other woman, could I?"
Andreea nodded. "No, I see it is impossible. We could invite them here, but I don't think Pappa would want to travel. I see the kinds of problems which all your other wives have had, now. My father is a faithful disciple of Christ and has suffered for his faith, even if he still holds on to the gentile traditions. I know he is saved and will receive his reward. But still, I don't know what is best, Stan."
Neither did Stan. We all knew what she was going through. The same old questions went round and round our minds each time a new wife came into the family and each time we came up with a less than satisfactory answer. The simplest was to be completely open about it, and as adults we wouldn't have minded the consequences. It was our children we worried about the most and we always came to the same conclusion: we would have to keep our polygamy back from the world for their sakes.
"I am going to trust the Lord," said Andreea resolutely. "I will tell them that I am getting married here in Lublin and invite them over for the wedding. If they come, then we'll just have to work it out from there. But I don't think they will, especially as we are planning to get married in such a short time."
And they were. It was set for one month's time, seven weeks to the day she had arrived at Raj. Andreea telephoned home and told her parents the good news. They were overjoyed, of course. But would the couple come to Romania for the wedding? It was the custom of the bride's parents to arrange the wedding, which for the Pascu family was in any case financially impossible. They were relieved to hear that the Królewiec family was taking care of the arrangements in accordance with their customs. They couldn'd afford to visit. Would the couple spend their honeymoon in Romania? This Andreea hadn't thought of.
"What do you think, Stan?" she had asked. "I know your wives all had their honeymoon's at home, but this might solve all our problems. It would make my parents very happy and I would feel much better as well."
Stan asked us what we felt. This was a privilege none of us had enjoyed and we knew Stan was reluctant to show the least form of favouritism. But we had left the matter open to the Lord and He had answered with this suggestion. What about the cost of it?
"I have some money saved up," Andreea said, "which would cover at least one air ticket though I wanted to make a present of this to Mamma and Pappa because they are so poor. But I know Stan has to be fair and I don't want any special treatment. I would be willing to do twice as many duties for a length of time you wanted me to do this..."
Our consciences were pricked. "No, no, never!" Kryztina cried. "You and Stan must go!"
Kryztina was one of the most selfless women I knew in this regard - she was always offering to sacrifice some privilege or other for the rest of us if it would solve a problem. Now we all felt guilty. Suszana interceeded:
"It seems to me that Yahweh has shown us the best solution. It's also the most loving. We've got to be prepared to sacrifice for each other, otherwise what's the point of patriarchal marriage? I think I speak for the others when I say it's right that you two go to Romania for at least a couple of weeks - we'll manage without you for a while!"
Everyone nodded in agreement and Stan spoke: "Alright, if that is your sincere sentiment, we will go to Romania for our honeymoon, but only on condition that we make a preaching tour of it at the same time."
Andreea was all for it. "I know Pappa will want you to preach at his church and you'll get invitations from Baptists and Pentecostal Churches in Bucharest as well! That is a wonderful idea, Stan! That would be a perfect honeymoon. All that would be missing would be you," she said looking at us, with total sincerity.
The full marriage ceremony was postponed by five weeks so that all the necessary arrangements could be made. Brother Pascu was thrilled to know that he would have a son-in-law who was a fellow pastor though of course knew little about our Messianic beliefs. Stan knew he would have to tread carefully, which he had done before, having many times been invited by Protestant Churches when ministering in former communist lands. He was persona non grata in Poland, at least amongst the Catholics, but his fame had not yet spread to Romania. Besides, this was an Eastern Orthodox country, and the eastern orthodox had no love of catholics. Stan didn't meddle too much in Protestant affairs in Poland because he felt they were doing a useful job, at least for now, in bringing the simple message of salvation to people, which no-one else was ready to do at this time. They were, as far as he was concerned, God people in that land, even if he believed they were teaching a corrupt form of Christianity. The important thing was to get the basic message of salvation out.
Stan was right when he said Andreea joining the family would change us for ever and the honeymoon was the first indication of that. We secretly envied Andreea, but not too deeply, because we knew the Lord's will was being done.
Two days after the wedding the three of them flew out to Romania and stayed in Andreea's little home in Giurgiu. They took lots of photographs for us so that we could share in their experience as best we could, and friends in Bucharest video-filmed some of the evangelistic meetings. Stan's greatest joy was always in preaching the simple message of salvation, something he could not often do on a large scale because of his polygamy. But here in Romania he was not known and so he made the best of it. In actual fact, he had had little energy for intimate moments with Andreea whilst abroad.
After two days in Giurgiu, there were evangelistic meetings in Bucharest almost every night, including two days in Turnu-Mâgurele west of Giurgiu and and another two days in Constanta by the Black Sea. Stan had left Andreea with her parents during the Constanta trip so that she could spend some time alone with them. We received a tape of the Bucharest meetings before they got home and were very excited - Stan had preached in English with the help of a translator. Andreea had helped in Turnu-Mâgurele though it had been a struggle. Dorcas had stayed with her grandparents for the whole trip except in Bucharest where she, Stan and Andreea had been bundled around to different people's homes. We feared for Stan's health and he was as exhausted as we knew he would be when they got back to Lublin.
We had agreed that Andreea should have him to herself for another week because it hadn't been much of a honeymoon for them in Romania. But they were happy for they were satisfied that they had brought glory to Yahweh's Name. This was, in any case, the way we had wanted things to be. If only polygamy was accepted - Stan could have done so much more for the work of Christ. We didn't think it was fair.
"We had invitations from Brasov, Tirgu-Jiu, Timisoara, and Galati," said Andreea excitedly as she told us of their experiences. "We would have needed three months to visit all the places we were invited to. It is a pity, in a way...."
Stan butted in. "The problem is, my love, that I could not preach the whole Gospel and that is what lies deepest in my heart." She nodded. "It is wonderful leading souls to Christ, but it is even better knowing that they are being discipled in the whole truth. If we ever go back, it will have to be within the context of the Messianic movement. We can no longer conceal our dislike of false doctrine."
Andreea understood. "I know. But I'm so grateful that we did what we did. It meant so much for Pappa, and Mamma too. At least if Pappa ever discovers that you're a polygamist he'll know you're a true believer in Christ. He won't be able to deny that. And if you ever do go back to Romania to preach, darling, the Baptists and Protestants will remember you, and respect you, and hopefully listen to the rest of what you wanted to say."
"Yes, you're right, Andreea. Thank you," said Stan affectionately and squeezed her hand.
We all wanted to go on evangelism tours after that and Stan had to remind us that we had other callings too. Messianic, Patriarchal Christianity was now growing and that was where our undoubted call was. We were New Covenant Christians and preparing for a time when the present denominational teachings and practices would be marginalized in the new spiritual wave that was imminent.
After the Romanian trip Stan summonsed us together for a special meeting one night.
"We must always be sensitive to what the Lord wants us to do. When doors open, we must seriously consider going through them. These last weeks with Andreea's arrival, our marriage, and two weeks of evangelism in Romania we have had new possibilities shown us as far as our outreach is concerned. Up until now we have been pretty low key but I think we must be prepared for a higher public profile."
"But what of our polygamous lifestyle? That's always going to be a stumbling block, isn't it?" asked Kasia.
"Things change. Sooner or later the United States and some European counries are going to make polygamy legal. The Christian polygamy movement has been making inroads over the past decade and will expand its influence. True, many former doors will close but new ones will open. I still don't intend to let the world put a spotlight on our family unless the Lord gives a very definite OK, and you all agree, but I cannot hide my belief in polygamy for ever. The word has got to get out, along with the rest of our message.
"To step forward at the wrong moment could be disasterous and mean our extinction. God has His times and seasons. It doesn't ultimately matter how right you may be in what you believe and practice if you don't follow Yahweh's timetable. Christ had to be born when He was, not a century before in the Maccabbean period and not a century afterwards when the Jews had been dispersed. Timing is critical. It isn't an easy lesson, and indeed we have in many ways nearly gone mad waiting for the right time. You all recognise that. Some polygamists have gone out with their message and got their heads cut off, especially as they haven't been armed with the whole millennial Gospel. The puzzle is too big for us to see at any one time, so we must listen to the Lord."
We listened seriously.
"Could that mean we might have to move from Raj, and if so, when?" asked Sarah-Jane.
"I think we all know we have to move from here before too long. Andreea and Dorcas have literally filled us to the top. We have a full house! And Poland will not acept us forever, especially as my public profile increases, even if polygamy is not necessarily a part of that profile. You know what they say about Catholics: "When they're in a minorioty, they're like lambs. When they're equal in numbers, they resort to trickery. And when they're in the majority, they'll tear you to pieces." Catholic Poland can never be our ultimate home. We have to leave. The question is where we should go."
I could see the sad looks on a number of faces, especially Suszana, Isabel, Kryztina and Anna. Even Kasia, who was Russian, seemed a little sad.
"I am convinced that we have to go to Scandinavia, England, or northern Germany. Another possibility is Canada or the United States although Catholicism is strong in Canada, as Sarah-Jane knows, and is getting stronger in the USA."
"I don't know for sure yet, but I think we will be safest in Sweden. We have many friends there too. Unless the Lord gives a clear directive otherwise, then I would say that Sweden is likely to be our destination."
We all looked at one another, trying to guage one another's reactions.
"But to move such a large family of different nationalities will have to wait until Poland and Romania become members of the European Union. It won't be long, a couple of years at the most. I don't quite know how we're going to work it out for Andreea and Dorcas yet, but the Lord will provide a way."
Kasia had already gone to the library and returned with a large scale map of Sweden and we began to discuss where we might go. We had friends in Jönköping and Stockholm but these did not seem to us to be the right places to be. They were too large.
"Sweden is a completely different world to Poland, or even North America, for that matter. It's a secular state, nominally Protestant, and very New Age. But it is a tolerant nation, and the people are by and large gentle. There are violent elements, as anywhere, but they are largely contained. My personal interest is Öland, the long cigar-shaped island south of Stockholm but it's a bit off the beaten track. The southern and central parts are a bit densely populated, unfortuntely, and yet we need to be near an international airport to reduce the amount of traveling that we may need to do. I am not as young as I used to be!"
Stan let the matter rest there but urged us to start looking around the house to decide what we needed and what we didn't. We would take as little as possible. Long-term planning was essential. The next day we began throwing out and collecting to sell unwanted things.
"What about the Baltic States?" suggested Suszana. "Latvia and Estonia are Protestant, they're poor, and it might work out better for us economically, don't you think?"
Stan shook his head. "No, I don't think so. We might be able to buy property cheaply but surviving would be another thing, They are very, very poor, politically and ethnically unstable, and they're right on Russia's doorstep. And they're languages none of us know."
"What about Bornholm, then?" she sugested, as this had been one of her former homes.
"Too provincial, people all know each other in a small space. Besides, I can hardly understand a word of spoken Danish. And it's too far off the beaten track. I'm also concerned about changes in sea level which we know are going to happen. That may, incidentally, wipe out Öland as a consideration too.
"No, we are just going to have to put this one on the backburner. We need to consolidate what we have and start planning how to move and what to move. We must keep our eyes on the housing market so that we can get a favourable price for Raj and work out how much money we'd need to move. Moving such a big family is going to be very expensive."
"Will this be the last time we move?" wondered Anna.
"I think so...I hope so. If we keep growing as we are, we'll need to charter a 'plane!"
We all laughed, sang some hymns, prayed, and went to bed. The thought of moving both excitied and troubled us, like all new changes, even if they are for the better. We asked Suszana to help us learn some Swedish but she told us Danish and Swedish were too unalike and that it would be better to get help from Swedish friends in that area.
I lay awake thinking for a good hour that night, wondering at all that had transpired. What would have happened if I had stayed in Kansas City? I would still be at College, probably doing my final semester. Still attending Grace Baptist Church, wondering about the future. Maybe I would have dated some guy from the Church by now. In the space of two short years I had changed and matured beyond recognition. There was never a dull moment at Raj, and as it turned out, it was going to get even busier.
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Last updated on 5 March 2009
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