The recent Romanian Mission trip was a 13 day trip bringing joy and memories visiting friends again and spreading the word of Christ. This mission trip included Gary Powell, Team Leader, Associate Pastor for music and outreach of the Fairfield Bay Baptist Church, Lueda Towery and Mercie Broyles of Fairfield Bay and family friend John Chippewa, of Michigan.
The team flew into Cluj airport and stayed with families in villages in the Transylvania Providence of Romania which borders Hungry and Ukraine.
“We often thought at times, how can we afford to undertake this challenge but once we did, it was how can we not afford to do these mission trips and try and go as often as you can. The last couple years we’ve had teams of 4 and 5 people. The ministry is part of the Maranatha Missions and we minister with Romanian Baptist Pastors and Missionaries who are ministering to 20 -25 villages. The plan is the plant an Evangelical Church in Villages that have none. Orthodoxy is the predominant religion in the region.
The other purpose of the mission depends upon the gifts of the individuals going on the mission trip. In this recent trip, we had two Ladies from the Philippines, Lueda and Mercie. Mercie was a cosmetologist for 30 years so she cut hair for the children prior to school starting. They had lines of children and Mercie just loved working with the kids. Lueda cooks asian dishes and she taught the women how to cook the asian dishes. There was an outdoor cookstove and it was arranged for a ladies outreach cooking class. The class was held under a vined arbor and even ladies invited their friends who weren’t interested in learning about Christ. This was one of those opportunities where we were able to think outside the box due to the giftedness of the team,” said Gary.
Much of the ministry that Gary does is concert ministry. Even though he is not fluent in Romanian he is familiar enough with the pronunciation rules which allows him to sing in the language. Some of the hymns were translated into Romanian like “How Great Thou Art,” so when he sings that, they can identify with it. Each year he adds more and more which can speak to the heart. They have been able to build a repertoir over the years to bring a very nice concert of worship.
John Chippewa, Gary’s nephew from Michigan, is a pastor, young and on fire. He is a great asset to the team. He has done youth ministry for a long time. John would help with sermon preparation and he would help young men to learn about pastoring.
Making a decision to follow Jesus is a huge step and undertaking. It can take a long time before someone publicly declares their faith.
Baptism is a huge decision because your crossing cultural boundaries, heritage and belief. It’s a great celebration when they do. It’s usually proceeded by music and singing, the person gets in the water and they are baptized in name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. When they come out of the water they are wrapped in a towel and escorted off to change and the music begins to play again. When they come out they are greeted with a bouquet of flowers and kisses from family and friends.
The itinerary can be quite hectic at times with lots of challenges each day. They hold open air meetings under the grape vines which makes a great shaded cover for a church service. Several churches came together and each preacher shared along with music and song. They would hold VBS meetings and hold food parcel ministries. Food Parcels are 50 pound bags of non perishable food items for families in dire need.
“The language barrier can be a frustration and sharing the love of Christ overcomes the barriers. People receive it freely and they sense it from you and just loving people and giving them the opportunity knowing that Jesus loves them. It’s a feeling that goes beyond words. Of course they did have translators which helps do the ministering.
There are so many things that make you cry in seeing the struggles these people go through every day. It gives you a whole new perspective of your life and how lucky we are,” said Gary.
They wore team shirts that read ISUS TE IUBESTE which means Jesus Loves You and of course the shirts were the colors of the Romanian Flag. Wearing these shirts certainly makes a statement.
There are several teams that visit the villages throughout the year from other areas that do other types of ministries.
“The next time we go we’d like to bring team members that know how to do handy man work because so many families are in need of work to be done around the homes. It’s very hard to leave and we always look back with fond memories and can’t wait for the next trip,” said Gary.