Romeos IN Moldova: Trip Report

God is good, all the time and in every way. This trip has been a blessing for our family.  We want to thank everyone from our church family in North Carolina (Redeemer Community Church) and all our friends and family from around the world for your prayers for us during this time. God used this time to teach us many things, things we will take with us for the rest of our lives.

We are back on the ground in North Carolina now, getting re-adjusted to East Coast time. This post is my trip report for our time in Moldova. I’ll never be able to capture all the things we experienced, there simply isn’t enough space on Google’s servers to hold it all…

Our time in Moldova flew by very quickly. As we prepared to depart, it felt as if only a few short days had passed. We are very grateful to Emanuel Church for accepting us and treating us as one of their own. The bigger “church”, the fellowship of believers around the world, exists. We experienced it first hand. We love the people of Emanuel Church.

We do not want to say goodbye to our church family here, so we will say instead “until we meet again”. I (Chris) will be returning to Moldova, Lord willing, July 16th – 24th for Martial Arts Camp. Also Lord willing, we will return as a family for another ministry visit here.

Pastor Anatol has been a wonderful mentor for me during this time. He has placed me in many different ministry opportunities. I’ve had the opportunity to preach, do youth ministry, prison ministry, school visits, a funeral, and many other things. We praise God for Anatol and Nadia’s ministry here in Cahul.

Pastor Anatol invited me to join alongside him in ministry. Two days after we arrived he invited me to deliver some Christmas boxes to his son David’s school. I was thinking that I would carry boxes, smile, perhaps offer Christmas greetings and we would be done. As we were walking into the classroom, he leans over to me and says “Brother Chris, please share the Christmas story with the children for 5-7 minutes”. This might seem scary without any preparation, but God carried me through. It was here that I understood Is. 12:2, that my strength is found in God and not in my own abilities. This was the push I needed to start my ministry here! I learned to be ready in season and out of season, because ministry is something that occurs all around us. It isn’t always something we plan and think about in advance.

For the first time in my life, I stood in front of a church and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. I stood in front of a body of believers and was able to experience the blessing the Lord provides for those who share His Word. I preached the Christmas morning sermon at Emanuel. This was my first sermon ever, and met a goal I had set for myself during a previous visit to Moldova. I also had the opportunity to preach in big and small churches, at Emanuel, in Brinza, in Gotesti, and in Pascani.

From the day we arrived in country until the moment we left, Nicolae and Natalie have been beside us helping, teaching, and counseling. They took care of the details before we arrived, which made our transition here very smooth. We look forward to the day that they will visit us in the USA. We are not sure when that will be, but will be praying for the opportunity for them to visit. We are so grateful to them for the sacrifices they made to care for us here.

Nicolae was my primary translator, especially for public events. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know Nicolae  and Natalie and their two sons since we have been here. We have enjoyed the time together and look forward to praying for them and knowing they are praying for us. We love them as if they are part of our family (because they are).

We participated within Club Dynamic for the three months we were here. Daniel took part as a student in Nicolae’s classes and I participated with the black belt training and visited many of the other classses around the city as a guest instructor. We thank God for Nicolae and Natalie’s ministry here with Tae Kwon Do. I enjoyed the training time, sharing short messages with the club, preaching the gospel to them, and visiting their classes.

Irina was a huge blessing to our family. I praise God for Irina. She befriended our children from the day we arrived, and provided a mentor for our girls for what it means to be a Christian young woman. She is a sweet young lady. Our girls loved on her from almost the beginning, and she was gracious enough to stay with us and help with them and around our house. As we prepared to depart, it felt like I had one son and four daughters. We love Irina and are excited for what God has for her in the future. If we could have put her in a suitcase and taken her home, we would have.

We served in the various youth ministries at Emanuel, including the Teen Club and Kids Club. We lead the Kids Club for the last few months, doing a weekly Bible lesson and game time. This was an enriching time for the whole family. Our children played games with the kids and just loved on them. Deb was the primary teacher from our side, and Daniel shared his first lesson on the last week of Club. Deb and I both spoke at the Teen Club for the older teen and early 20’s group. Deb shared her testimony and I spoke on how and why to study the Bible.

While we did not act as primary teachers for the English classes here, Deb came pretty close to working a full time schedule. She was the English substitute, filling in when teachers were traveling or sick. She was able to bond with a specific group of young ladies in one of the beginner classes. This group of young ladies came for extra classes to have Deb teach them some of the basics. We feel that this is Deb’s calling here in Moldova. For our next trip we will look to get her involved in teaching her own classes.

We were able to visit various schools and youth groups. We went to the village of Crihana and visited with their English classes. The kids were interested to ask us all the questions out of their text book. We shared about our lives. Sarah and Lauren got in on the discussion and answered some questions from the group. We visited two schools that the son’s of Pastor Anatol attend and had a chance to visit and address two different youth groups.
 One of my fondest memories is of our time wandering the streets of Cahul caroling at Christmas time. We went out as a family with the group a few times, visiting the University dormitories and outside of apartment buildings. At each stop, we shared the birth and gospel of Jesus Christ. My favorite stop was in front of the medical school dorm. A group of about twenty students came outside to listen and another twenty were standing on their balconies. I was asked to address them and shared about Christmas and Jesus Christ. My second favorite caroling memory was in the village of Rosu. Sarah and I were the only Romeos on that journey. The temperature had risen that day and everything was muddy. The group started up a steep hill to sing for some houses at the top of the village. Sarah and I weren’t waiting at the bottom of the hill! We started up, and one of the ladies from the village grabbed Sarah by the arm and guided her up the hill as I was stumbling behind them. We made it — and the gospel was preached!

I’ve only written a  few of the memories and things we’ve experienced here on our inaugural trip. I look forward to sharing many other experiences with people directly over the next few months, and next few years as the Lord makes it clear what our future ministry here will be!

As I sat down to prepare this trip report and a presentation for Emanuel, I came up with five conclusions from our trip here.

  1. The Romeo family has been blessed by God and by the people of Emanuel Church during this visit. We have all experienced spiritual growth. We have seen a growth in maturity in our children. Our children will not forget this trip as long as they live.
  2. We love the people of this church and truly feel at home here.
  3. The Lord has used my time here to show me what it means to be a Pastor; first time someone called me Pastor Chris was here. 
  4. When I left from camp this summer, my goal was to return and preach my first sermon at Emanuel church; my new goal is to preach my first sermon in Romanian here. 
  5. Our ministry as a family is not finished here; it has only just begun. Lord willing, we will return.

Redeemer Community Church offered this blessing over our family on our last Sunday prior to departing for this trip. I shared this blessing with Emanuel church as we prepared to depart for North Carolina.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 

To God Goes All the Glory: The Story of the Camp

I had a chance to visit the new camp that Emanuel church is in the process of building. Summer camp for Emanuel over the past years has meant renting a space. With this new project, Emanuel and other churches will use the camp to reach the maximum number of children in the southern region of Moldova.

This is a view from the street onto the land. All of what you see in this picture is the new camp. The border for the property is at the base of the hill you see in the background.

Ruslan explained that when Emanuel began to consider building a camp, they did a poll of their membership. 63% of the members at Emanuel had been saved by Jesus at a summer camp. This was a major driver for building a Christian camp.

God’s hand was very much on the planning and building process. Ruslan began the negotiations to buy the land for the camp, including the buildings. The buildings are the key here in Moldova to buying the land at a decent price. I don’t begin to understand the details on why that is. I am just repeating the facts I know.

This is the last standing building on the property. It will be used for storage and an indoor gym in case of rain. The materials from the other buildings have been stored in here also to be reused for the new construction.

 As he negotiated, the two men who owned the buildings refused to budge on their price. Over many months, Ruslan continued to be in prayer for the land and to be persistent with the owners. He finally invited them to meet him in the village near where the land is located. He told them that he had been praying that God would provide with this land. They laughed at him at first, but after some time, they decided to give him the buildings instead of making him pay for them. This resulted in many thousands of dollars that the church did not have to pay out. When God moves, He moves in both mighty and small ways.

I am looking forward to the first time I visit this camp after it is completed. The vision that Ruslan has is big, so please pray for this ministry here in Moldova.

This guy is the guard at the camp land. There is a guard there 24/7 to watch over the materials.

Romeos “On the Way Home From” Moldova

At this point the family and I have hopefully made it to Chisinau and are boarding our plane for the long journey back home.

Please be praying for safe travels for us as we make our way from Chisinau to Munich, Munich to Newark, and Newark to Raleigh / Durham.

God Bless!

Miscellaneous Reflections

At the end of this week we will be departing Cahul for the United States. I’ve had a running list of reflections based on our time here and I’ll share them over the next few days in categories.

  • Dirt works better than salt on sidewalks.
  • I can live life as a die hard Red Wings fan without watching every game.
  • I need to learn Romanian (DUH, I’ll be studying in anticipation of our summer trip here for camp.)
  • Translating from English to Romanian must be hard — it certainly sounds like it is when someone is translating for me.
  • It is possible to purchase all of a soda commodity within a five square mile geographical area (see Ashley’s post on the search for Coke Lite).
  • Childhood is universal — kids just want someone to love and listen to them.