About a month ago, my brother put up a post titled “Our Top 10 Reasons We’re Moving To Romania.” So, what about me? Why am I moving to Romania?
These may not be very spiritual, and they’re not in any particular order, but here are a few of my reasons for moving to Romania:
1. An Opportunity Arose
In the future, I’ll probably say something like, “God opened a door for ministry in Romania.” But right now, it’s simply, “an opportunity arose.” That’s how I started working here in Spring Green, how I ended up on staff in Madison, how I became a substitute teacher… Nothing spiritual about any of it. No divine messenger. No heavenly vision. No burning in my heart. Just a simple opportunity that arose and seemed good.
So the opportunity showed up, I didn’t sense anything wrong in taking it, and now I’m just over a month away from leaving the country.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” I truly believe that if I’ve submitted my life to Jesus as my shepherd, then he knows just how to guide me. There may not be anything spiritual about it.
2. Eastern Orthodox Believers Need Jesus
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot going for Eastern Orthodoxy. They’ve got a crazy cool connection to God through art. Historically, their roots run deep, deeper than the Protestant or even Catholic Churches. And they’ve somehow been able to survive through governments unfriendly to their practices, Islamic governments in the Middle Ages and Communist systems in the 1900s.
But, with that said, the average Eastern Orthodox believer is taught that God is unknowable, that sin is just a minor deviation from the correct path and so nothing to get too upset over, that grace is bestowed on a believer through completing various sacraments, and that a follower can never truly know if he’s acceptable to God until after his death.
With 96% of Bucharest claiming to be Eastern Orthodox, this means most are living tangled in sin while attempting to earn the favor of the God they do not and cannot know by completing enough religious duties to get his attention and so some day hopefully end up in heaven.
I’m sure there are true radical, set-free, Jesus-loving believers in the Eastern Orthodox church. But based on what I’ve been learning, I’m also sure that most are clueless about what is freely available to all who call on his name.
3. I Have Nothing Better To Do
That’s only mostly true. I could spend the rest of my life in Spring Green, working with the youth, loving teenagers, following God and getting to know him deeply while helping others to know him, too. I could get buried here, having left behind years and years of work as well as thousands of lives impacted by my witness. I could spend myself here, working for revival in Spring Green, and I could have seen it come like a flood. I could have dove deep into the knowledge of God and really pursued union with his heart, so that when his beat, I felt it, and when he breathed, my lungs moved in. All worthy, noble pursuits I could live or die for right here in Spring Green.
But the reality is I’m young, unmarried, have no debt, and haven’t gotten sucked into a career path, either. Do I really have anything better to do? I mean that. Do I really have anything better to do than to serve Jesus in a place where most people don’t know his kindness and his power?
Jesus said in Mark 8:35, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” He wasn’t primarily talking about martyrdom but about living for him each and every day rather than for any of the other millions of choices we have. To live for him is truly the most worthwhile, noble pursuit ever, and there is nothing better that I could ever do.
4. Romania is One Step Closer to India
Last year, after a trip to India, I was pretty convinced I’d be spending this upcoming summer there. I had already met a pastor who would gladly put me to work, and the tremendous need in India is indescribable. (But, of course, I will now describe it: the population of India is 1.2 billion, and it’s steadily rising so it will soon comprise nearly 1/4 of the world’s population, and of those 1.2 billion, nearly 75% practice Hinduism and some villages in the country have never even yet heard about Jesus. So, yeah, there’s a big need.)
But I never got the open door I had expected and hoped for. Instead, God opened a door to Romania. (I told you I’d start describing it like that!)
Although I’m planning to plant myself solidly in Romania, I really do see it as a stepping stone and a place to learn what it’s like to be in a culture unfamiliar to me. But who knows, maybe I’ll stay there the rest of my life. (After all, I expected to be in Spring Green only a few yeas, and here it is 8 years later.)
Regardless of how God ends up using me, I know his heart for the nations. It’s so clear in the Bible: Psalm 2:8 – “Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance and the very ends of the earth as your possession”; Numbers 14:21 – “As I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD”; Mark 24:14 – “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
5. I’m Too Comfortable, and That Makes Me Uncomfortable
Here in Spring Green, life is comfortable. I live rent-free in a house with more than enough room. I have two vehicles and no debt on either one of them. I have a freezer full of food, cupboards that have never been empty, and a fridge that’s often empty only because I eat out a lot. I make more than enough money subbing to take care of not only my needs but the needs of others, too, and then I get to do a lot of fun ministry as well. The crime rate is low here, and I have often left all my doors (front, back, garage, and car) unlocked; once I even left my GPS and my laptop sitting right on the front seat in plain view; another time, I not only left my van doors unlocked, but the driver door was ajar and the window wide open… for a week! I have lots of favor with the students and teachers in the high school. Everyone (or nearly everyone) knows I am a follower of Jesus, and most think I’m hardcore devoted in my faith simply because I talk about God outside of church and offer to pray with people.
In short, it’s really good here. It’s comfortable here.
But the good is often the enemy of the best. And comfort kills dreams.
Although I don’t want to run into difficulty or intentionally seek out hardship, there’s something in me that knows I won’t be truly alive until I’ve truly died. I want to know Jesus fully, but that means I need to get out of my comfort zone and follow him into difficulty.
I came across this awesome picture in Psalm 77:16-19 of our relationship with this God who fearlessly and intentionally leads us into the storming seas:
The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were in anguish;
The deeps also trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
The skies gave forth a sound;
Your arrows flashed here and there.
The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea
And Your paths in the mighty waters,
And Your footprints may not be known.
You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Even if it means I have to run into the storming ocean, I want to know Jesus deeply and fully.
6. I Was Asked
This is a huge reason for why I’m heading to Romania. I don’t have an especially strong burden for this country in particular, but I do have a huge desire to help anywhere I see God moving.
And, besides, it was my brother who did the asking, so I really couldn’t say “no” unless I had a good excuse. (And with point #3 above, you already know I didn’t have one available.)
We’d get so much more done in the church if we all simply did what we were asked to do. What if instead of making excuses the next time the pastor asked for volunteers to clean the church, everyone just rose their hand? (Okay, seriously better not or you might give your pastor a heart attack.) Or if instead of bailing because we feel unqualified, we just went for it and became foster parents? Or if instead of blowing our money on entertainment, we committed to support that kid through Compassion International?
I’ve made plenty of excuses through the years, and I know we aren’t called to do everything that someone asks of us, but I also know this is one way God often leads us. He asks us through another person to serve in one way or another.
In Luke 19, Jesus told a story about a nobleman who left his servants in charge of his household while he was away. When he returned, to one who was faithful, he said, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.” I just want to be faithful to do the things I’m asked to do, and then I know God will reward me.
7. Jesus Said to Go
In reality, this is probably the primary reason I’m heading to Romania: plain and simple, Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He didn’t specify where to go (unless you count “the world” as a specific location…), but he did clearly say to go.
Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Matthew 28:18-19 – “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore…”
So it seems his heart is for we his people to go. For some, that means going to your place of employment as a missionary of the gospel of Jesus. For some, that means going to your school ready to preach to the lost, heal the sick, counsel the wandering, and comfort the hurting. For some, that means going to your family with the healing and restoring power of Jesus’ blood. And for others, that means going to Romania, or to India, or to Kansas, or…