Kaylah Smith, Senior Nursing Student
I left for Romania excited at the thought of being able to learn more about the medical profession and hoping to put my limited “medical knowledge” to use while there. I hadn’t really thought about the trip much other than that. But God had much more important lessons in mind for me to learn.
The first lesson that God had me learn was the importance of seeing people the way He sees them. On the first full day of our trip (Saturday), the missionary gave us the opportunity to visit a church plant, and I gladly agreed to go along. This church plant, located in a Gypsy village, met in the open air because there was no church building. There were many children running around—and many of the little children’s parents seemed to be barely past childhood themselves. The children were filthy from playing in the dirt and not having running water in which to wash. The children wanted me to play with them, so I did so as best as I could follow along, and when we got ready to leave, they all wanted to hug me. Later, I learned about the Gypsy people: they are the poor people in Romania and the target of discrimination. I began to pray (and still pray) that, even though we could not speak these people’s language, gospel seeds were sown by us showing that God’s love does not discriminate against different people groups. God taught me through this experience that I am not better than someone else just because of my geographic birthplace, my education, my financial status, etc. He taught me that all people are precious in His sight—souls created in His image and in need of Him.
The second lesson God taught me was the universality of the church. On Sunday, we attended another church plant (this time, one with a building) in a different Gypsy village. The church service there was different than the typical U.S. church service I was used to. As soon as we walked into the church, the missionary’s wife politely pulled us aside and informed us that the women sit on one side of the room while the men sit on the other side. When one lady from our team used Google translate to interpret and tried to have the lady to whom she spoke read the interpretation, the missionary’s wife again quietly informed us that many people in the church, especially the women, cannot read. Also, for this reason, the church does not have song books. Consequently, the song leaders play a video through a speaker, and whoever knows the words sings along. Another thing that the Roma church did differently than churches here in the States was having many people pray during the service. (Usually, everyone in the church prays, but our team basically doubled church attendance that day, so we would have been in church for a very long time!) One other thing that the Roma church did differently was that, during communion, everyone drank of the same cup. (That seemed to me a picture of the unity in the church.) It was such a blessing to attend church in a different country! God made the fact that He will ransom people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9) very real to me as I worshiped Him with my Roma brothers and sisters.
Throughout the week of clinic, God helped me to see how there is unity in the universal church. Seeing God bring together brothers and sisters, who live in five different countries, to further His kingdom was amazing! The brothers and sisters from Romania were the very important “behind-the-scenes” people who fed, encouraged, and interpreted for our team of medical professionals from U.S. and Canada. Our team used medicine to attract the people to the clinic, and the Romanian brothers preached the gospel to the patients as they waited for their medicine. We had missionaries to Croatia, Hungary, and Romania help and interpret at the clinic. All of us working together showed unity of the universal church.
The final and biggest lesson God taught me during my time in Romania is that all of life is ministry. During my “down time” during the week, I was able to converse with missionaries and national pastors about how God called them to ministry and how God uses them to minister to people where they are. I loved hearing the different stories from everyone, but one story especially stands out to me. My interpreter from one day was a missionary from the U.S. but a self-proclaimed Romanian. She told me how she teaches English to children as her ministry and explained with different examples of how that plays out every day. Eventually our conversation turned to the declaration that all of life is ministry. No matter what we are doing – whether it’s teaching English, using our professions, helping in various church activities, or just being a friend – all of life is an opportunity to share the gospel. Every moment of life should be spent praying, meeting people, and telling them about Jesus.
When I got home from Romania, God continued to teach me the lesson that life is ministry. God wants all of us to share Him whatever we’re doing and wherever we are—whether we’re overseas or at home. The most important thing in all of life is God’s glory, and one way we can give God glory is to share the Good News with others. Yes, God calls people to be overseas missionaries, and they have many opportunities to share the Good News with others. But God calls everyone to be a missionary—one who shares the Good News of Jesus with everyone.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.