Funny. I thought when I got back from my recent missions trip to Romania I’d be writing a ton…but I haven’t felt particularly led to. Quite honestly, I’m still trying to process the whole trip because it’s all been just a bit overwhelming to me. Leaving family behind to head to a country where you don’t know the culture, barely know the language, and don’t know anyone was a huge step of faith for me. I was surprised at how hard I actually found that given my usual love of adventure. I think it was mostly the family that bothered me, but there was a big unknown in heading over there too. Would God be able to use me despite the language and cultural barriers? What if I didn’t get along with the group I was not meeting until I was in Budapest–having just completed almost 24 hours of travel, not sleeping, and just being generally tired and stressed? I had to just trust that God knew what He was doing and roll with it. After all, I truly believe He’s called me to the mission field in Eastern Europe–and if that’s the case then He will provide what I need. And He did.
I got my first lesson in that the first night of actual ministry. I was scheduled to preach in a small village church, a bit more than an hour outside of Baia Mare (the village name was Corni). The translator I was originally paired with had something come up at the last minute that prevented her from making it, so her cousin (who had never translated before) volunteered to step in, as did a wonderful woman named Gemma who had moved their several years ago as a missionary and was a HUGE blessing to the team the entire time we were there. So we all went to Corni with Pastor Gabi (Gabriel) and arrived just as service was starting. It was new to be preaching through a translator–I had to speak in a rhythm that we both could work with, stating a thought then allowing her to translate. I also kept wondering if certain thoughts would even translate–or worse, would they translate into something that comes across as vulgar (for example, the word “foot” in Romanian does not mean what you think it does–it’s better left alone). Anyway…after a few minutes my translator and I figured things out and the message was delivered to a very attentive congregation. And God delivered. People responded–including the mayor of the town who sent his farm engineer forward to announce that he had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. God responded to the steps of faith I had taken that first night–and continued to throughout the trip.
Thinking back on this experience (I can’t stop), my first impression is this. We don’t grow spiritually by playing it safe. Doubt that? Look around at the churches that attempt to live by the “us four and no more” kind of model–you know, the ones that are good with who they have and no one new can break through the walls. The one that I have seen are stagnant–slowly dying over time–and they don’t even know it. When you push past that comfort zone though, God responds. His Kingdom grows as we get over ourselves and serve others in a sacrificial way. His people grow as we serve each other. We grow by the new relationships we build and though the challenges that God leads us through. And we learn to lean on Him to get us through the things that we can’t do on our own.
What’s God laying on your heart? Maybe you aren’t involved in a church for any one of various reasons. I’d encourage you to change that. Or perhaps God is nudging you to help teach children in children’s church. Or maybe you feel you need to encourage other individuals or couples as they struggle to follow God’s desire for their lives. The possibilities are endless–but the encouragement is the same. Take a step of faith in the direction that you believe God is calling you. If it’s the wrong direction, you’ll know pretty fast. If it’s not though, hang on–you cannot hope for more excitement in life than following the path that God designed you to follow.
Grace and peace,