This post is a journal of the mission work that my son Jack and I participated in, along with five other people from Harvest Bible Chapel Pittsburgh North. This trip took place during the last week of August, 2015 in Arad, Romania.
Where is Arad, Romania?
When the discussions about missions in Romania began at our church, I knew little about the country. I knew it was in Eastern Europe but probably could not correctly identify it on a map. Romania is to the east of Hungary, south of Ukraine, west of Moldova and the Black Sea. To the south are the countries of Bulgaria and Serbia. The historic city of Arad is in the Western part of the country, about a half-hours drive from the Hungarian border.
When God calls someone to a task, He gives them the means to do it.
Our church is part of Harvest Bible Fellowship, which plants churches all over the world. Harvest Metanoia in Arad, Romania is also part of this fellowship. In order to expand the influence of the gospel in Eastern Europe, Harvest Metanoia is building a training center outside the city, which will be a ‘home base’ for pastors who will be trained to plant new churches all over Eastern Europe.
We started our week worshiping the Lord on Sunday with Romanian Christians who take their faith seriously. It was a most beautiful service as we sang songs that were familiar to us, but were being sung in a language that we did not know. It gave me a preview of how every tribe and tongue will sing around the throne in heaven. It was an amazing sound that brought tears to my eyes.
Our job on this missions trip was to assist in the building of office space and storage areas within the structure, specifically drywall and insulation. The expectations for our team of volunteers was to put up two layers of drywall on three to four rooms. By the end of the week, we were able to exceed the expectations by putting up two layers of drywall on six rooms (with insulation), framing another area for an additional three rooms of storage and partially dry walling those framed areas and part of a hallway.
On the initial tour of the construction site, the director of the project pointed out the new neighborhood across the street where many new houses were built in the last year. He said that the new neighborhood asked the church if they would make enough room in the building to conduct kindergarten classes for their children.
This was especially exciting for me as I envision the church growing in the years to come, simply because they reached out to their neighbors to help educate their children. My mind raced ahead five, ten, twenty years from now and I saw those kindergarten children coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I saw parents attending church and hearing the message of forgiveness. And across the other side of the construction site I looked down into the empty concrete box that would soon be the baptismal pool where many of these new believers would declare their allegiance to Christ, going down into and coming up out of the water: a symbol of new life!
We spent a busy five days putting two layers of drywall in what would soon be the training center offices and storage areas. Our team worked well together. Some of us had construction experience and some of us did not, but after screwing a few sheets into the metal framing, we fell into a groove. We were able to cover the walls in 6 rooms with double layers and also single layers on an additional 3 storage rooms and a partial hallway.
In the grand scheme of the project, spending a week drywalling in a few rooms is not a huge deal on the surface. But as the week wore on, I started to see that more than just a building was being built. New relationships were being built. Our new Romanian friends were greatly encouraged by our church standing with them in this project. The missions team however, received much more encouragement than we were able to give. Someone on the trip adequately summed up this thought by saying, “when you do missions, you take home much more than you brought”.
when you do missions, you take home much more than you brought
Beautiful People. Beautiful Country.
In the evenings we spent some time with our hosts and the members of the church in Arad on various tours of the vibrant city and beautiful countryside. Romania is a country with many stories to tell. It is said that the Apostle Andrew and his followers from Jerusalem settled there. We saw Corvin’s Castle in Transylvania, where Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) was held prisoner, which dates back to 1446.
We visited the Densus Church which dates back to the 7th century. The paintings on the walls of early church figures had their eyes gouged out by enemies of Christianity.
We toured Timisoara where the 1989 Romanian revolution against communism was born. You can still see bullet holes in the facades of many of the buildings there. Several of the nights we spent in downtown Arad where an annual street festival was being held. As great as the sightseeing was for us after a hard days work, what I enjoyed most was riding in our minibus, listening to Romanian Christian music and getting to know our hosts. They rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us like royalty.
Our team and our sending church was also profoundly changed. We grew in our respective faiths as we faced challenging questions like: How are we going to get the funding to go? How are we going to do construction jobs with no experience? How are we going to maintain the stamina that we need for such physically exhausting work? How are we going to overcome the language barrier?
We saw God do amazing things: He provided exactly enough funding for each of the participants through generous people who saw this as a worthy missions project. He provided us with expert builders who trained us quickly on what to do all week long. And he provided the energy and strength necessary to do the job with excellence and enthusiasm. The driver who took us back to Budapest for our flight home said it very well, as I mentioned to him about getting home very late after dropping us off: he said, ‘God called me to this task. When God calls someone to a task, He gives them the means to do it’. He is right. That statement speaks about God’s involvement in the whole trip from its conception. He called seven of us to a task, and despite our insecurity and fears, He gave us the means to do it.
Our Mission is not Over
Even though we’re home now, the mission is not over. There will be a “Phase Two” in the summer of 2016 as Harvest Metanoia is planning to move their church services to the new facility. Our church will be in prayer and in discussions on how we want to proceed to help them in this effort.
Check out this 9 minute video which summarizes our fantastic week in Romania: