WEEK 1 | Team Romania
Something feels special about this trip to Romania. Our team is small, so small, in fact, that the trip should have been cancelled. But we were given special permission to move forward and with that permission came a sense of intentionality and purpose. Small, but mighty.
After smooth travels we landed in Romania, tired, but full of anticipation. Adi Pop, our host and the overseer of many churches here in Romania, picked us up and took us through a scenic route through the villages and countryside of Romania. The land was vast and full of rolling hills and winding roads. Farmers had just recently tilled their fields revealing acres of rich, dark soil. The houses we passed ranged from beautifully manicured homes to old wooden farms.
We settled in on Friday and then Saturday morning we ventured out to get groceries where we got our first glimpse of gypsies. Two women stood examining the fresh carrots, their clothes vibrant and flowing, bold colored ribbons woven into their braids.
Later that evening the girls on our trip joined in a woman night at Adi’s church. We were pleasantly surprised that in Romania, International Women’s Day is a widely celebrated holiday comparable to how we celebrate Mothers Day. Mia, Adi’s wife, is very passionate about empowering women in the church and uses this holiday to embolden women to speak.
This was the first night that we were able to start to connect to the people here and they received us with such warmth. It was particularly impactful for Emily Phillips, one of the leaders on the team, as it was a bit of a homecoming for her:
"I went to Romania last year and fell in love with it. The people, the churches, the architecture, the land. After returning home I kept praying and praying that one day I could go back because it became so dear to my heart. Sure enough, the Lord opened up the door for me to not only come back but lead the trip, and when I heard my eyes filled up with tears of excitement and anticipation. I could feel that the Lord was going to do amazing things there again and I was so excited to be a part of it. What has blessed me so much is coming back to familiar faces and friends who feel like family. I did not know what to expect but people remembered me and ran up to me telling me how glad they were to see me back, and giving praise reports from things that our team did last year. It has been so amazing to see the fruit of things I helped partner with last year. I am seeing the fruit of relationships from last year, and now more than ever I feel so extremely close to the people here. Getting to build deeper relationships with the people of Reghin and Târgu Mureş has been so much fun, and to grow closer to the pastors who have such wisdom and vision for their churches and city. Now I realize that this is not just an outreach to Romania, but a bridge of relationship being built, a partnering in love and friendship for God's future over Romania, and I love that the Lord is letting me be a part of it!”
Sunday morning Erica Roman shared her testimony of God weaving His kindness into her tragedy. There were few dry eyes in the room when she was done.
Here is her experience in that moment:
“I started sharing my experience through my blog a week after my husband died. For nearly two years I have shared written snapshots of what it is like to be a young widow and all of the trials and triumphs that come with being forced onto such a journey. Because of my experience at SOSL I have been able to find healing and restoration of my faith. Choosing to tell my story through the lens of God’s kindness was a challenge. I’ve shared my story in pieces, but never as a whole and never from a mic. It was a healing moment for me. At one point, I had to pause and catch my breath as I explained the harder part of my story. When I confessed that it was the first time I was sharing publicly the congregation began to clap. Their gentle applause wrecked my heart in the best possible way. I was able to make it through my message and before my eyes I saw people connecting to the idea that not only is God great, but He is good. Seeing the people respond during ministry time and thank me afterward, brought purpose to the pain that I had endured. Not only can I see God’s goodness in my life, but I’m seeing God use my story to reflect His goodness to others.”
Wednesday we took the morning to rest and then Jennifer Tomczak spoke at Adi’s church. She taught on the Father Heart of God. It was a powerful teaching an a breakthrough night for many.
“Speaking was something I knew I would have to do at some point but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. In worship, before I spoke, God gave me this vision of Him standing behind the podium and waving for me to come up. I knew in that moment He would be with me the entire time. It was this sweet sense of assurance that He had my back and that I had His “stamp of approval”. I had been terrified of public speaking my entire life but in that moment there was an ease and a peace to it. I was worried how my message would translate but Holy Spirit needs no translator. The beautiful people of Romania are hungry for more of Gods presence and they dove right in with me. Many of them came up at the end further confirming to my heart that what I had to share was caught, that my story crosses cultural lines, and that God is so faithful. Love needs no translators. When I was praying about Romania I felt like God said to love! That prophesy, teaching, miracles were all second to love! I’ve seen the power of a smile and the lasting impact of a hug. More than anything people just want to know that they are not alone and that there’s hope! It’s amazing to see the power and connection that happens when we open our eyes and ears and allow our hearts to connect! The people of Romania are so loving! Each time I go to minister to them they minister right back to me!”
Thursday night we were invited to another home group. Laura Watson had the exciting privilege of teaching a group consisting wholly of brand new believers how to hear God’s voice.
“The evening was beautiful. Through rolling hills, we drove deep into a village where we captured a new facet of Romania’s culture. A family from the church hosted the evening inside of their home. They honored us in their hospitality and were eager to receive the Jesus inside of us. As I sat across from well-lived faces - faces that had seen things I hope I never have to see - I gave all I had. Everything God’s given me, I want for them and more. Many experienced the love of the Father directly from Him that evening; For those who didn’t feel personally connected with the Father, they directly experienced Him through our team. Oh the joy that came when we practiced listening to God’s voice and many heard from Him! Oh the healing that flowed when people received prophetic words from our team for the first time! I left having a knowing in my heart: I am made for this very moment. What an honor it is to serve the One who gave His all for us! What an honor it is to have teammates that walk confidently in who they are and who freely give all they’ve been given. We are grateful!”
Friday, one of the members of the Rehgin church gave us a tour of the instrument factory where he works. It was amazing to see the process of crafting all sorts of stringed instruments. Two of our team members left with an instrument of their own. After the factory the pastors Adi and Levio took us to a beautiful restaurant up in the mountains for dinner. The only thing better than the food was the view.
It was great to have some fun before going into our final night of ministry at the Gypsy church in Rehgin. It was a powerful evening that began with a time of blended English and Romanian worship.
Chris Bontempi shares what it was like to worship across cultures:
“Laura and I had been invited to join the Romanian worship team to lead for the service. Neither of us knew what to expect, but we said yes knowing that God would show up. With my new guitar in hand, we walked through the doors to a group of smiling faces. This... these people are the reason why we were here. God had trusted us with His most treasured possessions. I felt extremely unprepared as we met with the two women we would be leading with. They had picked songs that we knew, but the catch? We would be singing in English and Romanian. Every other verse and chorus we switched languages and God showed up in a way I’ve never experienced before. His Spirit was so very heavy to the point that my hand was shaking and I had trouble playing my new instrument. To stand in His glory as two nations joined together in unity to declare His goodness is indescribable. Heaven descended on earth that night and I will be forever humbled to have had that experience. I walked into the evening feeling so weak, but when we are weak, He is strong. And His strength and His presence goes before us always. There was a moment during worship that I just stood back and felt his goodness. I could barely stand under His glory and presence. We had joined the angels in the throne room and not a life in the building wasn’t impacted.”
The night continued with Hunter Phillips, our other team leader teaching on Hope and then we prayed for nearly every person in the church to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So many hearts were touched, so many stories we could tell. One that stood out was when a pregnant woman came forward. The doctors were worried about the baby’s development. When a hand was laid on her belly for prayer the baby immediately kicked hard. The mom jumped in surprise and excitement. It turns out, the worry had been that the baby wasn’t moving enough. So we prayed that the baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit too.
After the first week, we are already in awe of what God is doing here. There is so much more to come and we are looking forward to seeing what else God has in store for us as we fall in love with the people of Romania.
Love, Team #Road2Romania2018
- Written by Erica Roman