Final post guest blogged by Pastor Jeff Gravens.
I typically don’t dress up in costumes. Yet, my pirate outfit is starting to show signs of wear. I purchased it after reading countless Amazon reviews in order to preach the “Arrrmor of God” last year at preteen camp. I donned the eye patch once again for the kids in Peñitas during our Break for the Border mission trip. The third time as Captain Jeff proved to be well worth sailing the open seas. Errrr. I mean the flight to Romania.
We concluded our three day kids club with the belt of truth and sword of the Spirit. KeLe did an amazing job as the ringleader of the puppet show. Penny made an appearance as the parrot. KeLe and Penny can “squawk” with the best of them. After the puppet show, I shared the story of the Apostle Peter. I included his call, his denial of the Lord, and his major comeback as the preacher on the day of Pentecost. Peter is a testimony of what one can do when obedient to the voice of Truth.
The images that remain the most vivid after a trip to Romania are the smiles of joy on faces of the little ones we met. Despite difficulties, their wide smiles and wide eyes communicate more than spoken language. They are happy to see us. They are sad to see us go. In between “hi” and “goodbye” we get to have fun and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. On the final day, Laura and Marvin led the kids in relay races ,and Penny and Trae helped the kids create a sword of the Spirit using popsicles sticks and rhinestone jewels. They responded with “WOW!” when they laid eyes on the jewels.
In our final moments of kids club, I shared once again the offer of salvation provided each one of them through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and future return of Jesus Christ. I encouraged them to invite Jesus into their hearts (the preferred language in Romania when sharing the gospel to kids). Slowly but surely a large number in the group stood up and joined me at the front in response to the invitation. It is my prayer that one day each of these precious children will develop a mature and powerful relationship with the One who died to set them free.
Before lunch we made our final few home visits. You have not experienced hospitality until you have been served coffee, hot corn on the cob, dessert, and popcorn on the front porch of a Romanian home. We arrived at each home with a large bag of food but departed with a glimpse of biblical community and hospitality. There is nothing like it!
We had lunch at Cha Cha’s home. Maria provided a wonderful spread of potatoes, green beans, pork chops, chicken, and more. I love Romanian food … but I’ve had enough to last until the next trip. Or longer.
Our final event on the schedule of this year’s trip was a church service in the village of Simpetru. It is a group of faces I have come to love over the course of three trips. I know who will hug me. I know who will kiss me. I know who will carry on a conversation with me for 5 minutes without me understanding a word or syllable. I love them. I especially love to worship with them.
Marvin started us off with prayer followed by music from the kid’s orchestra. Our church helped fund some of the instruments with a gift we made last year. It is special to see how faithful giving from FBC Crawford can impact kids in a village half way around the world. Laura led our group and the entire service in “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, How I Love Jesus.” My eyes get misty in a hurry when I hear the congregation join us in song. There is nothing like hearing two different tongues sing to one Lord. I don’t know how to sing “Oh, How I Love Jesus” in Romanian but it sure does sound beautiful.
KeLe shared her favorite verse. I preached on the call of Peter and encouraged the people of Simpetru to not settle for anything less than being fishers of people. KeLe and Penny then asked the kids to stand and called a few to the stage. The kids worked hard over three days to prepare a skit to show their parents what they did during kids club. One read Scripture. Three worked puppets. And all the kids acted out the various pieces to the armor of God. It was a fantastic conclusion to our time with the kids.
After the kids performed Trae preached the application portion to the message I preached earlier in the service. She built on the relationship she has with the many women in the pews but did not let a single man off the hook (unintentional pirate joke!). Penny concluded the service in prayer.
As a team we memorized Philemon 6-7 prior to the trip. Here’s a taste: “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.”
I know the people of Simpetru have done this for me. I pray that we have done the same for them.
And a closing note from me… My thoughts are still a jumble, and there are still stories to be told… especially the story of Ioanna. It’s one you need to hear, and one I’ll write in the days to come. Thank you for journeying with us. Thank you for every prayer you prayed. My hope is that through our journey your faith has been increased. May we all continue to Know Him and Make Him Known.