Walking the Camp…

We’ve been blessed with some visitors over the past few days. Don and Josh arrived from Redeemer (our home church) to spend time ministering and seeing the ministry here in Moldova. They arrived late Saturday night, getting to Cahul after midnight. On Sunday, Josh preached three times (Androsu, Emanuel, and Pascani), and Don was able to share his testimony at each spot.
Participating in the ministry is a big focus of this trip. Josh and Don are also here to help understand how Redeemer Community Church in Fuquay Varina can partner with Emanuel Baptist Church in Cahul. This partnership is formed in a love of the Gospel and seeing the message of Jesus spread far and wide

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to visit the Emanuel Camp with Ruslan. Ruslan told the stories of how God has worked in the different needs of the camp, from the buildings that were given to the camp to the money that has been provided at all the right times. God has provided the resources for the camp, and we pray that He will continue to provide. The goal is to have this camp ready for operation full time within three years. 

I appreciate the advice Josh and Don have for us, as we wrestle with what God has for the Romeo family in the future. Thinking through the time line for the camp has caused us to think and pray about what the camp ministry will mean for us. We are feeling the tug to come here full time, and three years is within the time line we imagined. Three years gives me time to finish a Masters of Divinity from Shepherds. My time at Shepherds has already paid off many times over, as I have had the opportunity to teach the Bible and preach God’s Word in different locations here in Moldova and USA.

Please join us in praying about our future. Pray that God will call us to Moldova, and that all the details that will be required will work out.


Reflections at the Half Way Point

We have already passed the half way point of our trip, and time is flying by. It feels as if we just arrived in Moldova, and we are already starting to feel our departure date creeping up on us. We are all saddened by the thought of returning to America. As we were preparing for the trip here, the kids expressed no concern with leaving America. Not a single whine or cry about going to Moldova. That made the trip here quite easy.

The strange thing is that Cahul is starting to feel like home. We are engaged with a strong Church family and we have many friends here now.

We continue to feel the tug of Moldova that God has placed on our hearts as a family. We have already begun speaking about “next summer”, planning for another few months of time spent here consecutively. God has placed the kids from Club Dynamic specifically on our hearts, and we realize that being here in the summer is a great opportunity to minister to them. We’ve had some of the older kids to our house and have been able to engage more deeply with them. We also continue to feel the tug of a longer term trip here.

Being here in the summer has been great for us. When the summer is done, we will have spent four weeks at camps (Daniel and Sarah will have five weeks). The camps give us a great opportunity to preach the Gospel in what we say and in what we do.

I pray that God will provide us the opportunity to be here again next summer, and in the future that He will bring us here for a full year.


Revival at Camp

We had a mini-revival during the Martial Arts camp. In four years of coming to Moldova in the summer,  I had not yet seen the Lord work in this way. We saw Him work in 30 young people’s hearts, as they were broken by their sin and they called upon the name of the Lord.

Moldovans in general are not emotional people, but the Lord brought many to tears that night as they confessed their sin. We had the opportunity to pray directly with them and counsel them about what it means to love and follow Jesus.

It was a beautiful thing to watch as other kids from Moldova and America that love the Lord ministered to these new believers. Many sat and hugged them, shedding tears as they shed tears. The Lord used two young men,  preaching the Gospel group by group, answering questions and explaining the things of God. I was able to lead two young people in giving their lives to Jesus. I was able to watch as other American team members, through translators, shard what it means to truly follow Jesus, and led young people into a relationship with Him.

Praise God for His work in Moldova! We thank Him for letting us be a tiny part of God’s plan for Moldova!

Watching God Work in Other People

One of the blessings of being on the mission field is watching God work in other people. I’ve had the opportunity to watch this happen over the past few weeks, both through the teams that assembled in Cahul to support the Martial Arts ministry, as well as through watching my children and wife minister.

I do not share these things to glorify these people, and knowing them, they would not accept any glory for what they did. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I had the opportunity to watch some people doing all for the glory of God over the past few weeks, using the gifts and talents that God has given them to serve.

I watched those that could sing and play music, do these things for the glory of God. I watched as an artist used his talents to glorify God. I watched as children ministered to other children, all for God’s glory. I watched as a man’s heart melted for young children, for the glory of God.

The teams that assembled in Cahul encouraged me greatly, with their focus on the Gospel and their desire to serve Him, even in the little things.


The Skit and “Limba Sus”

On the last night of camp the leaders and some of the kids put together a skit to poke fun at the American team. It is all in good fun, and is based on events of the week.

In the skit to follow, you’ll see a few of the events played out in a comical way. Much of the “poking fun” is aimed in my direction, and I”m okay with that.

“Limba sus”:  While leading exercises on the field, I began to use some of my most excellent Romanian language skills. I had the kids in a stretch with one hand in the air.  I yelled out “draptea sus”, which means right (hand) up. When it was time to switch, I yelled out “limba sus”. The kids stared back at me, and some started to laugh a bit. I could not figure out what was going on. After we were done, it was explained to me that instead of telling them to raise their left hand, I said “tongue up”, or “limba sus”. Meant to say “stinga sus”. Oh well. They also had fun with the fact that when i said “jos” or down, I kept pronouncing it like “juice”. Nicolae even joined in the fun on the field and leaned over to me and said “they would like some juice”.

We had one discipline issue that was also lampooned in the skit. The girl with the stick is playing the part of Deb. We had an issue where three boys decided to get mud on Caity after they had been playing soccer in the rain. In the moment, we were angry with their behavior. There actions resulted in them doing 500 pushups. It was a lighthearted moment to see the events from the kids perspective in the skit.

Cannot forget the Starbucks song. Each morning, Eugene would play a Russian song that translates “Wake Up”. To us, it sounded like the words were “Star Bucks, everyone needs Star Bucks”. Chris B. and I sang this song as we walked around the camp all day long, and the actors in the skit picked up on it.

This is the Russian wake up song.

Last thing from the skit (especially for those from Redeemer), have you ever noticed that Chris Whary sticks his tongue out all the time?

Without any more delay, I bring you the camp skit…


Being a Clown

During the first VBS that we were a part of, Emanuel Church used two cartoon characters as the “hook” for the week. Each day, the music would start, and the characters would come dancing and singing into the church, and the children would all stand up and dance around with them.
On Sunday night, before our Martial Arts VBS began, Peter and I were sitting in Nicolae’s truck waiting for him to return, and the idea hit us to use “Ninja Clowns” as our hook with the kids. We gathered some supplies and the plan began Monday morning.
When we first ran out, to the song “Eye of the Tiger”, the kids did not know what to do with us. They all stared at us. But by the time our first “bit” was complete, they were laughing, cheering, and giving us high fives with each appearance.
Nicolae’s TKD leaders and Nicolae himself got in on the fun. They each took a turn performing with us on the different days, and we had a “Grand Finale” on Friday, where we all went out together. We threw water on each other, splashed pies in faces, and threw candy to the kids.
This mission was a success: to connect with the kids and let them know that we love them. We come to Moldova to love these kids and show them the love of Jesus Christ. We showed that love by looking foolish, and I’m okay with that. I would not trade this for the world.

Caity put together a video of the clown antics throughout the week. Please watch and enjoy.


The Legend of the Panda

The Panda… where do I begin? The Legend of the Panda began the first night of camp. We split the leaders and kids up into groups and each team separated to choose a team name and put together an “opening night” skit to introduce the team. Levi’s team came up with a skit where each person was playing some famous warrior. They had the Terminator (Big John), Chuck Norris (Peter Walker, hey, you have to admit there is a bit of resemblance), and Super Man. The idea was that each of these warriors was not as great as this team. They also had a group of kids come out dressed up in their TKD uniforms, with the idea being the TKD kids were tougher than any of these other “warriors”. When they announced Levi, he was named the “Kung Fu Panda”, and a nickname and persona was born for him. He took this nickname with no problem, and the kids referred to him as Panda throughout the week, and it just stuck with our team.

It was a blessing for me to have Levi on this team. Panda was a ball of energy, going in every direction, playing with any kid who wanted to play. Levi showed the love of Jesus by just loving the kids here. He didn’t preach a long Gospel sermon at any point; he didn’t lead the camp in prayer, he just loved these kids.

During VBC, Panda jumped in to be a clown. I could tell that this was out of his comfort zone, but the Lord lifted him through it and he was awesome. He brought energy and humor to our clown bit.

When the pool opened up at camp, he was in both days, dunking kids and being dunked. I think he stayed in longer than anyone else at camp.

On the evening where the Lord was calling many kids to faith, Levi walked around hugging kids and putting his hand on them while others prayed. It was a beautiful thing to see. I had tears in my eyes watching our kids minister to these kids who were so broken by their sin.

Panda’s attitude, approach, and love for these kids was a spectacular thing to see, and I thank God for Levi. I pray that God will bring Levi back to Moldova for years to come, and that he will continue to minister to the children here in his own special way. Next year camp would not be the same without PANDA!

Martial Arts VBC

Our second week of camp for this year was a martial arts VBC. We decided to split the kids up this year, and instead of having very young children at overnight camp, we invited them to the church for a week long VBC camp.

The clowns are covered in another post, so I’ll leave that to explain itself.

In this VBC, we studied the story of Joseph with the kids. Each day the kids would do GTF TKD training with Nicolae and some of the Black Belts. Then we would gather to worship, sing songs, and hear a Bible story about Joseph. The rest of the day was spent rotating amongst different stations: English, games, crafts, exercise, etc.

This was a rewarding time for us, as we were able to interact with the younger kids without having the stress of them being away from parents for a week. We look forward to growing this ministry next year!

Caity assembled a video that shows the daily routine of Martial Arts VBC.


Post-Camp Bible Study at Emanuel Church

Each Tuesday at 5:30PM until we leave, Nicolae, Natalie, my family, and I are hosting a Bible Study for the kids from camp. We invited anyone from camp to join us. We play pool and ping pong for a bit, and then gather to consider a study from the gospel of  John.

Please join us in praying that the Lord will use this time to grow these young believers. Pray that many will attend and hear the gospel preached clearly, and that God will change their hearts, to turn away from their sin.

Preaching at Emanuel on July 7: Psalm 27, Invincible and Intense Faith

This is an abbreviated copy of my message from Sunday, July 7th, 2013.

Psalm 27: An Invincible and Intense Faith
         The BIG IDEA as we examine Psalm 27 this morning, is that as a Christian, we have the same protections as King David. Psalm 27 is clear that God protects and cares for us. King David is the author of Psalm 27 and he had much to be afraid of as well. King David was not a man hidden away from adversity; he had much to fear, but he was a man of invincible and intense faith in the power of God.
         Invincible faith (Credință Invincibil) David reminds us that protection comes from The Lord; we have no need to fear. (Verses 1-3) David asks a rhetorical question twice, one for which there is only an obvious answer. David asks whom shall I fear; who should I be afraid of? The answer that he expects is that because of God’s strength and power, David fears no man. There is no one stronger than our God; The Lord protects, there is no need to fear.
            David refers to the Lord as his stronghold. A stronghold is not a place of weakness. It is the vision of a heavily fortified castle, with controlled access and protections against those who would attempt to cause problems. God is the stronghold of our life, because He is our Protector. We do not think of a stronghold and then imagine a building protected by walls made of paper. Walls made of paper could be passed through with no effort. A stronghold has walls made of brick, piled up high.
            A stronghold is something that people take refuge within. It does little good to take refuge outside of the stronghold. If you are outside of the stronghold, you are without protection.
            Salvation is the stronghold of the Christians life. We put our faith in Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection. That is the gospel, the Good News of Jesus. The Good News is that we as men and women can take refuge in knowing that our sin is forgiven. Our refuge is the Lord Jesus Christ who provides our salvation. Our sins are taken away in Christ. Christ is the stronghold of the Christian.
         David describes how The Lord’s protection blocks his enemies. The evildoers who try to bother David, to assault him, they stumble and fall trying to consume him, as an animal consumes its prey. God causes them to stumble and fall; God protects David and God protects His people. God protects us as Christians.
            When we consider God’s protection for us, we have an advantage from the Bible. We know that Satan is waging war against this earth and us as Christians. We know that we will come under attack. Our advantage of believers is that the Bible has the complete story. We know who wins in the end; we’ve read the Bible all the way to the end. We know that in Genesis Satan tempted Adam and Eve and put the world into the chaos of sin. We also know that in Revelation, God wins. Our God is triumphant over the powers of evil and sin, and that winning extends to us. We can know that God protects us and cares for us, because we know the outcome of life.
         David was a man of military knowledge. He had entered into battle with many different foes. David finds his strength in the Lord; and not even an army can shut him down. This verse speaks to great adversity and the fear of an army camped outside your city, preparing to destroy you.
For most men, facing across the battlefield would cause some amount of fear; but David is saying that he does not fear armies or war, he is confident in the power of our God.
         The Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, summarizes the care for us by God when he says:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
            There is no one who is more powerful than our God. Who could possibly challenge our God, the Creator of the universe? This is a crazy question to think about for those of us who believe in and follow Jesus. I pray for those who do not know Jesus as their Savior; I pray that they recognize who Jesus is and what He has done for them. I pray that they will bow their knee in front of Jesus while they still have a chance.
         David’s faith is invincible because it relies upon the power of God. Do you have invincible faith? We must truly believe in the power of God, and the fact that He cares for us. We need invincible faith as well; and we must rely upon the power of God. On our own, we are not invincible. It is only through the power of God that we are invincible. We must remember that the stronghold of our God backs us, and His walls are not paper thin, but are thick as stones. Our faith must be invincible.
         Faith in the house of the Lord (Credința în Casa Domnului) David’s wish is to dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Verse 4-5). It is a beautiful picture to imagine dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. David’s prayer is that the Lord will draw him closer and closer, with each breath. David is asking the Lord to provide him the passion to grow closer. David is praying to God that God will put this within him, cause him to seek after the Lord.
            Each of us has some form of dwelling. We have a house where we spend time eating and sleeping. The concept of a dwelling is not foreign to us. Our house is different from the description of the house of the Lord. Our house is not fully focused on God’s glory at all times. Some times we focus on eating, or other times sleeping. To dwell in the house of the Lord is to focus on God’s glory for eternity. The prospect of eternal life is to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord forever. To be in His presence for eternity can be equaled by no other place.
            We are also called to seek after the Lord, to place our eyes upon God’s glory, and to always keep His glory in focus. We must seek after Him by seeking what His Word has for us. We must seek after God’s Word with great attention, reading and understanding what God has for us. God’s Word should change and influence us to be more like Jesus. We must consider what God says, and then consider how God would have us to change. We seek after the Lord through a consistent prayer life. God is not unfriendly; God wants us to call out to Him, offering praise and thanksgiving for His care of us. God listens and God cares, so seek Him in prayer. We also seek after God by living in community with God’s people. We enter this community with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
            I enjoy going to different camps and having the opportunity to speak with the young people from Cahul. Many of these young people are not believers, so I enjoy telling them about Jesus. Each year at camp, I try to ask a question of my group regarding Heaven. Dwelling in the house of the Lord for all days is a picture of Heaven. Being in the presence of God is described in Psalm 27.
            I ask my group what they think Heaven is. Many times the answer that I receive is based on perceptions of Heaven from television or cartoons. They think of Heaven as sitting on a cloud, wearing a white robe, and playing a harp. The problem is that this is not a correct perception of dwelling in the house of the Lord, and being within God’s presence for eternity. Eternity in God’s presence, when God will dwell among His people, is the promise of Heaven. Heaven is not as portrayed on television, but is as portrayed in God’s Word.
         Worshipful Faith (Credință deplină de adorare) Our reaction is to worship (verse 6). God is the one who lifts David’s head up over his enemies; David has been acknowledging the Lord’s protection of him. We are called to worship by singing and making melody to the Lord; praising Him for the great things He does for us; for protection that He places on us
         The focus of our worship must always be on Jesus Christ. Our salvation is and will always be through the spilled blood of Christ. Jesus came to earth as the God-man, lived a perfect life, was put to death on a cross, and was buried. The grave could not contain Him! He rose again, as proof of the fact that He is God, and proof that we who follow Him will experience eternal life with Him.
            Every song we sing is focused on Him. Every time we pray we pray to Him, because He saved us. Every time we open and read the Word, our focus is what His Word has to tell us. When someone stands here to preach, the focus must be on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters! We are creatures created by our Heavenly Father to worship Him. Our hearts are pulled in many directions, to worship anything in our path, but we must focus our worship on God! Idols tear at our focus, but we must focus on Jesus.
            Intense faith (intensă de credință) Seek and wait for the Lord with an Intense Faith (verses 7-14). David cries out to the Lord, asking God to hear his prayer and answer. David is a man of massive emotion. We see proof of his emotion as we read through the book of Psalms. We feel the emotion in David’s cry; not just simple speech, but emotionally crying out to the Lord. He is a man who has an intensity of faith, a man who believes that God is true and worthy of praise.
We seek the Lord in relationship with Him. We do not serve a God who hides behind curtains or buries His head from His people. Our God is a God of relationship. As a believer, we experience a relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our relationship with God is one of worship. We worship God as our Creator and Provider, and we worship Him because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit within us. We seek the Lord in relationship. Lord, continue as our salvation, for those that believe, repent, and enter relationship with You. Please do not hide your face from us.
         David asks the Lord to teach him God’s ways and lead David. We learn God’s ways through the study of Scripture. The level path is the process of sanctification, as Jesus transforms us to be more and more like Him. This is a process that the believer experiences. David calls to the Lord for help in staying strong; even though false witnesses rise against him and breath out violence, David calls to the Lord to protect him and to stay away from the will of the evildoer.
            To wait for the Lord is to be patient in the Lord’s timing. We are to be strong and have courage based on what the Lord will do for us. God answers our prayers. Sometimes He answers yes, other times no, and other times not yet. We have to be willing to wait for the Lord’s timing. God does not answer to us. We worship Him. It is difficult to wait patiently for the Lord. We are not patient creatures by design. Only through the molding by our Lord, can we wait patiently for what He has for us.
         Brothers and Sisters, our protection comes from The Lord; we have no need to fear. Put your trust in the stronghold that Jesus provides for us as Christians.
         As Christians, we must live out the invincible faith that David has. This faith is anchored in the power of God; He is invincible, and we live within His power. We must live our Christian lives with an intense faith like David, loving the Lord Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Be intense in your pursuit of the Gospel, sharing Jesus through your words and actions daily. The Gospel is the “Good News” about Jesus, and is not to be kept under a basket. Share the Gospel in the power of God; I pray that God will provide us an invincible and intense faith.