The following is an email sent by Jessica Shapiro to HeartCry administrator Kevin Hite after her recent trip to Romania. Jessica is a student at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, an extension of Ligonier Ministries. She journeyed to Romania during her 2014 summer break, hoping to witness the Lord’s work among believers there. It appears she was not disappointed, as the Lord enabled her to spend time with several HeartCry-supported evangelists and church planters. What a great encouragement to receive such a positive “third-person” account of the lives and ministries of our Romanian partners!
Yes, I made it back safely Saturday night. My time spent in Romania was a grace from God. I am so glad that I went, and I find myself sad to be home; but I am returning with a clearer perspective on ministry and missions, which I pray will continue to develop as I meditate more on my trip. I hope that this personal account of my encounters and thoughts in Romania will be an ecouragement to you.
I went on this trip hoping that I would gain experience on the mission field while also receiving insight and wisdom from people with whom I might serve. I definitely got all of that and much more. My school is such an incredible blessing, and I find my desire to serve God on the mission field fed by the wonderful teaching that I receive here. Yet, at the same time, I know that I live in a bubble here in Florida and am surrounded by comforts that can easily distract me. For this reason, my time among the passionate saints in Romania was a time of both refreshment and encouragement to follow the call I feel towards missions with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I was challenged daily to love God more, to serve Him in love, to seek Him in love, and to do all this because He first loved us.
I was incredibly blessed my first week there to serve with Dana and speak with Ruxi about ministry, counseling, missions, and life. Sitting in a room with Ruxi and Dana, asking them questions about their greatest challenges in ministry and life, and gleaning advice in missions was extremely beneficial to me. While speaking with them, I was overwhelmed by their humility, gentleness, care, and wisdom. They are women that I aspire to be like, and I was humbled to be in their presence and to receive insight from them on missions and godliness.
As I traveled around from Bucharest to Fieni to Brasov to Pucioasa to Sinaia, I was privileged to meet many pastors and families of HeartCry church plants. When meeting these people, no matter where I was in the country, I was impressed by a few common characteristics: an active zeal for sharing the Gospel with the lost; a deep, compassionate concern for the people within their church; and a sacrificial servant’s heart towards me and all who proved to have a need of some kind. In Fieni, I was struck by the beauty of the excitement of the pastors gathered around one table as they prepared to spread the Gospel in that town. That experience of three days in street evangelism brought upon me a sobering realization that I was in the presence of giants. I was humbled to be eating, speaking, and praying at the same table as these men who have sought to serve their God so fervently; and this realization continued throughout my time in Romania.
In Brasov, I met many wonderful people and friends and was blessed by conversations about God’s grace and life lessons learned, all of which stirred my heart to praise the Lord. Meeting and learning from people like Sorin and Trisha Prodan, Adi Augustin, Ion Tomeci, and Alex Palade as we went street evangelizing in the park and hearing of the Lord’s work in their lives felt like an honor I did not deserve. I was encouraged by them to live a life of excellence for God, to seek Him wholly, and to be active for His Kingdom.
From there I went to Pucioasa, a small town in the hills, where Pastor Nicu Vulpe and his family serve the body of Christ. My experience in this town with these people deeply impacted me and my impression of the ministry in Romania. Pastor Nicu stretched and pushed my ability to share the Gospel through my testimony by giving me opportunity after opportunity to share with people, both one-on-one and in groups, about what the Lord has done and is doing in my life. I was continually impressed by the amount of ministry that is done through that church, particularly through Nicu and the leaders there. Nicu’s watchful care of his flock was striking, and it was a great encouragement to me. I was extremely blessed by how he and all the leaders I met in Romania sought to stretch me and use me in their ministries while I was there. It was amazing to me that they would seek to challenge and give wisdom to me, a girl from another country who they did not know, so that I might develop and grow in my faith. It was truly an honor to serve in each church.
I was grateful that my last Sunday was spent with the people in Pucioasa, because I had grown so close to them. As we shared in the Lord’s Supper, I was holding back tears at the uncertainty of ever seeing these people again; nevertheless, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful reminder that even if I never see them again on earth, one day we will feast at the Lord’s table together as His Bride. I pray that I will never forget Nicu’s simple advice to me to desire to be used of the Lord and to go forth in humility. Those words impacted me because they were a personal testimony of his ministry, and I was able to see how God honors those who desire to humbly serve Him.
From Pucioasa I traveled to Sinaia, where I met pastor Moise Marin and helped at a Gypsy camp. I learned so much from his care for the youth and his love for the Gypsies, who are outcasts in Romanian society. His display of the love and care of Christ for the “outcast” was an honor to witness, and his immediate acceptance of me was a true blessing. Although, once again, I often felt as though I was in the presence of spiritual giants and was humbled by the opportunity to learn from them, there was also a strange paradox of realizing just how ordinary they were. I was blessed to see these people, not only in ministry, but also with their families and friends. Seeing how God is pleased to use such normal people for such a glorious task made my trip all the more humbling, hopeful, and awe-inspiring. I was impacted and encouraged to see God using “ordinary giants” to further His Kingdom in Romania.
I think the one word that would summarize my trip best is “overwhelming.” I was overwhelmed by the blessings of God in allowing this trip to happen and in answering so many years of prayer. I was overwhelmed by the blessing of meeting saints from another country with whom I will worship in eternity. I was overwhelmed by their zeal for sharing the Gospel and their continual labors in ministry. I was overwhelmed by their acceptance of me and their love for one another. Most of all, I was overwhelmed by the honor and privilege it was to meet and serve alongside these worthy contenders for the Truth. Sometimes during my trip I felt somewhat foolish for having desired this opportunity, not because I wished I had not gone, but because I was amazed and humbled at the blessing that had been bestowed upon me.
I am so grateful for the assistance you and Sorin provided in helping me organize my time in Romania. I am blessed to have seen and participated in the work being done there, and I have returned with a deeper and clearer understanding of what “missions” truly is because of the example given in the lives of those serving in Romania. I pray I will serve God as faithfully as they in my studies here in Florida and on the mission field when He provides a time for me to go. I am having a hard time expressing how grateful I am for the time I was able to spend with these saints, but I trust you believe me when I say it was a great honor.