God At Work: 2017 Arad, Romania

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The trip to Arad, Romania expanded my vertical view of God and my horizontal relationships with fellow believers.  God’s provision and guidance was evident throughout the preparation, the time on the ground, and our return to the States.

 

Mutual Ministry

In preparing for the trip, our team budgeted time to consider our personal attitudes and the overall presence we wanted the team to reflect while in Romania.  This was not a trip where we were going to “fix” anything or bring in a well-structured, fully resourced solution to big, hairy, audacious problems.  Our mission was to support the Romanians wherever they needed an extra hand.  Marius and Andreea, who were in charge of the camp, sent us a spreadsheet (there’s a huge smile on my face as I type this) with areas for us to plug our team and activities into, giving us free range to figure out different games and opportunities to share our testimonies and God at Work stories.  Once we were on the ground we quickly recognized how Christ and the gospel bridges cultural differences. The hospitality showed to us by the Romanians was incredibly welcoming.  We instantly got into the swing of things and it felt like home, just with more protein and better tea!

The Team

Nate and Amy had the joy of wrangling diverse spiritual gifts together to get the job done; thankfully everyone pitched in and didn’t claim particular activities were “not in their spiritual gift repertoire.” The packed schedule ran from 7:30AM to Two Dark Thirty (I’m a morning person who avoids making big decisions after 9PM) and whenever I or others felt emotionally or physically exhausted, another teammate stepped up to provide encouragement or a boost of energy at just the right moment.  There were situations when team members fell into place just like a puzzle piece, illustrating how God prepares every individual for His purpose, no matter what obscure skill set is required.  We knew we had a good team going into the trip, but God clearly demonstrated His ability to take an eclectic group of believers and mold them into a unified body for serving His church.

Jump In For Impact

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

You’re never fully prepared. Leading up to the trip, we studied Daniel and every time we read about the various trials Daniel and his friends went through, we observed that they had to step out in faith before God intervened.  The rescue always came after they jumped off the diving board.

In preparing for the trip, I mentally ran through how to share biblical information and participate in small group time. With a high percentage of the kids being familiar with English this was a legitimate approach.  However, God used the trip to confirm that personal relationships can be more important than a mere transfer of information. Talking about World War II and martial arts while hiking in the woods, letting a young aspiring photographer borrow my camera for a few minutes, and spending several hours in the back of a dump truck filled with sixty kids were moments which forced me to trust God to use me as a channel of His love in ways that I hadn’t planned on or anticipated (Isaiah 55:8). 

Coming Home

This trip drove home several key elements to having an “on mission” mindset which applies to serving at home and abroad:

Be There:

Be present in the moment (Not having any internet connection for a week was amazing!)

Don't Wait:

Initiate contact, even if it means just sitting on a rock with someone watching campfire sparks float into the night air.

Jump In:

If something comes up, dive in, make it work, and trust that God wants you to be in that particular situation.

There is a certain clarity and sense of purpose when you work with a close knit team (both Americans and Romanians) to surmount obstacles in a compact time frame.  It gives a taste of how things should be and is a compelling factor which encourages you to reach out to others in the church, both within and beyond the walls of Indy West, to advance the gospel.

Finish strong.