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Minister wants to help church in fair — and not-so-happy — land of Moldova

Ken Goodmiller is packing his bags for the unhappiest place on earth.
The minister for the Covington, Va., church plans to travel to the nation of Moldova this month. Between Romania and Ukraine, the former Soviet republic is about the size of Maryland. It’s home to 4.5 million people.
It’s also the least happy country on the planet, according to a new book. Journalist Eric Weiner surveyed people around the globe about their levels of contentment and published his findings in
“The Geography of Bliss,” released Jan. 3.
Other studies of global happiness list Moldova among the world’s most miserable nations, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Moldova is the poorest nation in Europe. Envious of their more prosperous neighbors, Moldovans also have no “abiding faith or culture on which to rely,” Weiner wrote.
Goodmiller plans to visit what Weiner calls the happiest part of this unhappy land. The minister hopes to strengthen small Churches of Christ in the cities of Bendery and Tiraspol, near the Dniester River in eastern Moldova.
People in the region, called Trans-Dniester, have fought for independence from Moldova and have semi-autonomous status. The shared struggles in the region have created a greater sense of unity — and happiness, Weiner found.
John Crosslin, an elder of the Covington church, met a woman from Bendery while teaching Bible in Ukraine in the mid-1990s. Crosslin conducted a gospel campaign in Moldova and baptized about 35 people. He continued to make trips the country, and invited Goodmiller to join him about seven years ago.
The churches in Moldova have experienced baptisms in the past decade, but numerical growth is slow, Goodmiller said. The country’s economy is a contributing factor. Since Moldova became a nation, nearly one-third of its population has left, seeking employment in other parts of Europe.
That’s helped create a leadership challenge for Churches of Christ in Trans-Dniester, Goodmiller said. Few of the country’s church members are adult males. Most are older women. The majority of people in the region claim Russian Orthodox as their faith.
Goodmiller said he’s seen evidence of spiritual growth among the Moldovan church members. He plans to conduct a week-long gospel meeting during his visit and wants to launch programs for the congregations’ children.
Such efforts, combined with lots of prayer, can go a long way toward increasing Moldovans’ happiness, the minister said.

Filed under: International

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