Monday, June 28, 2010

Planting Seeds – A celebration. A challenge.

"After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames."1 Corinthians 3: 5-15

Yesterday I was honored to join Pioneer Drive Baptist Church as they reflected and celebrated our recent trip to Romania. What a blessing it was to sit through three services and hear trip participant testimonies regarding this trip. Each participant obviously had different experiences. However, as I listened and observed each participant several things stood out in my mind.

A Time of Celebration – My heart jumped with joy as I heard the stories of lives changed, both in the participant and in the children we served. We obviously had much to celebrate. Our trip was a huge success. A number of children came to know the Lord. We were able to deliver bags and bags of groceries, medicine, and cleaning supplies. Doors were opened for future ministry opportunities. The foundation was laid (literally) for the House of Joy. Pastor Stan Allcorn said it best when he said, “I cannot imagine this trip without each and every trip member.” Every trip participant played a key role in the success of our trip.

Planting Seeds – By the second service I noticed a theme: Seed Planting. I don’t know why, but it seemed almost every participant talked about seeds being planting. No doubt seeds were planted, some were watered, and some were even harvested. What pleased me the most was the talk of planting seeds and the desire to see those seeds cultivated!

A Challenge - I remember the first time I visited Romania. I observed some of the most fertile soil I had ever seen. What disappointed me the most was seeing how much land sat barren. Even worse was the number of orchards that had been abandoned over the past 10 years. They were neglected and consequently not bearing fruit. Our lives are no different than these barren fields and orchards. If someone does not take the time to plant the seed, we will never see the harvest. I cannot count how many times I’ve been told by Romanians that they waited 50 years for America to save them. Greeted with open arms, we now have an opportunity to slowly plant seeds within the people of Romania. Like Robert Coleman once said, “If you want a harvest in one year, plant corn; if you want a harvest in 20 years, plant trees; if you want a harvest for eternity, plant people. Obviously, the future of Romania will depend upon the seeds that are planted today. The true hope for Romania lies in the hands of the Romanian’s themselves. Our greatest impact is not to “save” Romania, but rather to empower them to impact their own country. I was honored to team with 43 Americans as we worked alongside 20 plus Romanians in an effort to do just that; empowerment.

Our Romanian Team – I cannot think of a more powerful team to empower than Ovidiu, Adina, Ruben, and Dani. One other thing that consistently stood out yesterday during team testimonies was Ovidiu Patrick. Ovidiu and his team made a huge impression upon the American team. I have no doubt we’ve picked the right team to partner with in the future.

Moving Forward – As we go forward I have very little idea as to what the future holds. What I do know is that God is challenging me to continue to connect American churches and individuals with my friends in Romania. He’s challenging me to facilitate the empowerment of my Romanian brothers and sisters. I’m honored to answer that call. In response to that call I’m going to co-host an interest meeting with Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in July. During this meeting we will discuss the future of our Romanian partnership and determine how we will proceed. I have invited several individuals and churches. If you have any interest in attending or inviting leadership from your church shoot me an email at

Thanks again for following along each week. Seeds are being planted and I can’t wait to see them grow. Until then, aspire to new heights.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just Bee Cause (A Message from Pastor Ovidiu)

I asked our dear friend and brother Ovidiu Patrick if he would be so kind to guest blog this week to give his thoughts on the recent Pioneer Drive Baptist Church trip to his village. Here are his thougths.

Last year I sold my bees. A pastor friend of mine came to me and asked me to help him and I said I cannot because I am busy with the bees. He said “People are more important than bugs”. Those words followed me until I put people first. Last week something small but miraculous happened to me. In the last four years I was the one sharing the honey from my bees with people from America. This year the team that came from Abilene had no clue that I used to raise bees. Guess what happened? Two separate people in the group offered me a bear full of honey. It was unbelievable.

When you put God first and people as a high priority, God honors you. He honored me in little things, through that small gift of honey and He also honored me in big things through people like those in Abilene, Texas, that impacted the Romanian local community in several places. Lots of children from the orphanage in Gavojdia village were blessed because of their work, more children in the VBS from the Susani surrounding villages were touched with the Gospel and those that served on the House of Joy construction site shocked everybody by how fast Americans build. As a result, on Saturday we had around 250 people that came to touch the walls (people were actually sitting on bricks, little walls on the House of Joy building).

What a great testimony for all the people that saw and heard about what happened to Susani, Romania last week because some people from Abilene were ready to put God first and His priorities for their lives. All they did was indeed a real success spiritually, relationally, materially. The leaders of the group from Pioneer Drive Baptist Church are courageous, hard working people. It was a blessing to be around them, to see how they encourage each other, how they motivate their team. I believe with all of my heart this is the beginning of a huge partnership that we will build one bit at a time.

The vision that God has for this partnership is bright and powerful, it is a saving vision, a joyful vision. The House of Joy wants to bring the joy of salvation to as many people as possible in our generation. Last week, together with our brothers and sisters from Abilene we were able to make a huge step in reaching this goal. The abundant joy will flow.

What a joy it is to hear first hand the impact our mission trip had. Thank you Ovidiu for sharing from your heart. (By the way, I still miss that wonderful honey you and your bees made!) Also, another thank you to our wonderful team for the impact you had and the seeds you planted. Have a blessed week. Aspire to new heights.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I do my best thinking when I’m rested. In college I much preferred getting a good night’s rest and then studying in the morning. Therefore I ask that you forgive me in advance if this trip reflection doesn’t make perfect sense. I’m writing during my last leg of the trip home on very little sleep. However, so many wonderful memories and thoughts are flooding my mind.

I could best sum this 10 day trip up in two words: INSPIRATIONAL and GRATITUDE. God did amazing things on this trip; things my simple mind was not even capable of dreaming before our departure. We do so much planning and preparing for our trips but it is hard to plan for a miracle. God took 41 Americans from all walks for life and combined them with 19 Romanians to make one of the best, if not the best, teams I’ve ever worked with. He used each person in a mighty, mighty way.

Upon our arrival the House of Joy community center was nothing more than a dream, a partial foundation, and a pile of rocks. By Saturday night we were able to host a community wide celebration “Texas style” with 250 guests on a solid concrete foundation with the first floor being 70% complete. Just three weeks ago Ovidiu feared we would not be able to do anything because of three weeks of continuous rain. Yet perfect weather and hard work eased all our fears. Only those in attendance will truly believe the efficiency our construction team worked. You would have had to see the progress to truly believe the miracle. I want to take a second to say thank you to Nathan, Stan, Jay, Danny, Dale, Mike, Darrell, Tim, Don, Greg, Kevin, and John for their long, hard hours this past week. You started an hour before the rest of our team and you worked several hours after everyone else in the blazing heat. For those of you that completed your jobs and joined the construction team in the afternoon to lend a helping hand thank you for your sacrifice as well. Your work has laid the foundation, both literally and spiritually, for thousands of lives to be changed. Before the first brick was laid, I snuck over to a corner of the foundation and wrote “Pioneer Drive.” I think this is a warranted tribute for the work you have started.

For the orphanage team, I truly cannot express how grateful I am for your hard work. Thank you to Meredith, Brooke, Chad, Heather, Paula, Judy, Alexa, Tim, Alex, D’Leesa, Barbara, Jackie, Kylie, Angela, and Elya. Many of you reading have worked in orphanages before; therefore you know the changes that take place over five days. I appreciate the flexibility with which this team worked. Many plans were changed; however, I saw so many smiling faces our last day. As I delivered the humanitarian aid to the director he confirmed what I saw by extending an open invitation to return. Lives were changed. Seeds were planted. I know of two that were impacted for eternity. A special thank you to Delia for opening the door to allow us to work with these children. Thank you for the foundation you have laid and the follow-up you will continue.

Very few of you have travelled to Susani. This is one of those places you have to be going! You don’t just stumble upon it! However, this village has become a place of hope for 2,800 kids that live within a 25 mile radius. Thank you to our VBS team for building upon this foundation that Ovidiu and his team have paved. Thank you to Chelsea, Brian, Annelle, Jimmy, Morgan, Payson, Tracy, Krisi, Erin, Lacy, Patsy, and Nelson for all your hard work. A special thank you to Adina for opening her home to our team and allowing us to serve out of it. The children obviously had a blast the entire week, otherwise they would not have returned for our party Saturday night and brought friends and parents with them. One would have to observe the children eagerly waiting for the van to pick them up each day to understand how much these children get out of these events. I think the record this week was 39 kids in one van!

I didn’t intend on this being a blog of thanks, but how can you reflect on a successful trip without saying thank you? With that said I want to say a special thank you to Pastor Stan Alcorn for joining our team. What a testimony to have the senior pastor on your trip. Personally, I want to say thank you to Stan and Pioneer Drive for taking a chance on a young guy (somewhat young I guess) with absolutely no infrastructure in place but a heart for a country. You could have travelled with hundreds of others but you took a chance on me. I will never be able to repay you for this trust. Thank you to our numerous translators. Many of them took time away from school and other special events to join our team. You are a testimony to the work Ovidiu and Adina have done over the past five years. Thank you to Alex Hyde for spending the past five months in Romania assisting me in making all the preparations for this trip. Thank you to Nathan Adams for working with me on this side of the ocean. Thank you to Gigel for helping us in so many ways, especially for opening your center to our team so we would have a comfortable place to stay. Thank you to my best friend Todd Long for accompanying me on this trip. I could not have done it without you. Thank you to my father (Nelson) for going as well. Your support means so much. I never would have even heard of Romania if it were not for you. Most of all thank you to Ovidiu, Adina, Alex, and Ruben for what you did before our arrival, what you did during our time in Romania, and the follow-up you will do after our departure. Ovidiu you've inspired so many people, me included. I'm honored to work with you. I'm honored to call you my friend. I'm honored to call you my ministry partner. May God bless the future of this ministry.

Now we move on to the next chapter. I just wish I knew what it was. God obviously has many great plans for the future. We will be sorting through many of these plans the next few months. I hope each of you will join us as we follow His lead. If you want to know more shoot me an email at Blessings. Aspire to new heights!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not the end, just the beginning

Many wonderful things have happened the past few days. As I briefly mentioned in my previous blog, we had a wonderful celebration on Saturday night at the House of Joy construction sight. Over 250 adults and children from 10 plus villages joined our team to celebrate the work that had been done and to commemorate this marvelous project. It was so great to dream with our Romanian brothers and sisters about the day we can actually dedicate a completed House of Joy. This “community center” will serve as a beacon of hope to over 2,800 children and their families from 20 plus villages around Susani. Ovidiu and I have dreamed of the day we will complete this facility so that we can host VBS and Medical teams to serve these communities. We will also have a place for the children to play soccer and basketball and to receive educational support from our computer room and classrooms. We will be able to provide family support via a social worker that can teach life skills to the parents and assist them with vocational skills that will assist them in meeting the needs of their children. The sky is the limit as to what we can do with this marvelous facility.

On Sunday we were able to stop at Timisoara with the team on our way to Budapest. We spent several hours touring the city center and seeing where the revolution began. We shared a meal together and then we continued on to Budapest. Today marks our last official day of this trip. The team will tour Budapest and spend some time fellowshipping together. Tonight we will celebrate with a traditional Hungarian meal and one last time of sharing as a group. I’m sad to see this trip end but so excited and optimistic about what the future holds.

I left America not knowing exactly what God would do with this trip and what His plans were for this ministry. It was wonderful to pray, dream, and plan with a number of my friends and fellow servants the past few days. I have no doubt God has great things in plan for this ministry. I trust He will continue to do great things upon our return. I have no doubt tomorrow will not be the end of something great but rather just the beginning of something even bigger. I ask that you join me in praying about this future. I welcome you to send me a personal email at if you have any questions or would like more information.

Thank you again for following this trip through my blog. What an honor it has been to provide feedback. I’ll continue to provide updates via this blog in regards to Ovidiu and Adina and the wonderful work that will continue in Susani. Thanks again. Until we meet, aspire to new heights.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A full House of Joy

Tonight will be a short night so I'll make my update quick. We had a wonderful celebration tonight at the House of Joy. Over 250 adults and children, not counting our team of 50, joined together for a Texas style party. I wish time allowed me to fill you in and share pictures. I promise I'll post in the next few days. We will be getting up very early tomorrow to travel to Budapest. On the way to Budapest we will stop for a few hours in Timisoara. It will be nice to see our old home town. If you have not had a chance to watch this video interview of Pastor Stan Alcorn from Pioneer Drive Baptist Church I encourage you to give it a look.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. I look forward to visiting with you more in person. I promise to post more pics, blogs, and stories tomorrow and the next few day. Until then, aspire to new heights.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A day to celebrate

What a glorious day the team had. We began by allowing our village team to observe our orphanage team in action. What a joy it was to see them in action. The children responded so well. Relationships have obviously been forged the past five days. This was never more obvious that when we heard two separate stories of salvation that took place at the orphanage today. Praise the Lord! At the conclusion of our time we were able to gift two large suitcases full of medicine and humanitarian aid. We were also able to gift a large amount of cleaning supplies at the director’s request. Director Teodoru response was one of extreme appreciation. He went on to extend an open invitation to the team to return any time they want to work with the children. He said, “Our children obviously love your team. We welcome you bank any time. Please come back.” How do you respond in any other way but to say “We will return.” I broke my first rule of missions. Never make a promise unless you can guarantee to keep it. So my challenge to each of you is to help me keep that promise. I’ll be accepting applications soon!

Upon our return to Susani I was blessed with the chance to travel with Ovidiu to the numerous villages to pick up children. During our ride he told me that there are over 2,800 children in 20 plus cities within a 50 mile radius of Susani. What a mission field. We would drive down the dirt streets of these villages and children would run out of their houses to catch our vans. Ovidiu and Adina obviously have a following and our desire is to reach as many of these 2,800 children as possible. Think of the lives that could be impacted for His Kingdom with that many new missionaries in Romania.

After VBS in the village our VBS team decided they would walk around the corner and assist the construction team. It was so awesome to watch men, women, and children all carry brick. Our team worked in unison as the exterior walls continued to rise. Our time is soon ending but this team is determined to leave their mark.

Tonight we had a special time of sharing. It is always great to hear stories from each team. After our sharing time we shared the Lord’s Supper together. What a blessing it was to do this with Romanians and Americans. After that we presented each translator with a gift. Finally we were able to show our appreciation to Ovidiu. Three members of our team washed Pastor Ovidiu’s feet as a sign of humility and appreciation. They then placed a brand new pair of West Texas cowboy boots on his feet. I’ve seen Ovidiu smile, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him smile that big. As happy as he was to receive these boots I’m not sure they can even come close to show him our love and appreciation for the work he has done, not just with this team, but in years past to pave the way for this ministry. Ovidiu, you inspire me. I truly hope you inspire those reading. Aspire to new heights.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just the right tools for the job

“Don’t arrive with your spear if you need to be plowing.” Michael Watkins

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. How often do we try to put a round peg in a square hole? We think we have all the answers, just move out of our way and let us show you. I’ve been honored this past week to work with 40 of the humblest, hardest working Americans I’ve ever worked with. Each member of the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church team brought the exact right tool for the job, as well as the perfect servant attitude to put that tool to use.

I made a big mistake packing for this trip. I did not pack near enough comfortable work clothes. I definitely did not pack the appropriate work shoes. These guys and gals on the other hand came completely prepared, armed with a can do, flexible attitude. I was honored to spend the afternoon with our construction team. After 15 minutes I had my shirt off (don’t worry I had on a t-shirt under it). To be honest I had to wrap it around my head to catch all the sweat! It was approximately 95 degrees today without a trace of West Texas wind. Our job today was to move large brick (by hand) so that our brick layers could erect the exterior wall of the House of Joy. As time progressed we developed an assembly line with 10 plus guys passing bricks from one person to the next in an effort to keep up with our six brick layers. In 12 hours we moved and the brick layers placed an entire truck load. It was the perfect example of teamwork. I’m please to say that over a fourth of the exterior wall was erected today!

Prior to joining these guys we took a group to tour a private Christian school in Lugoj and to take a brief tour of the city. Upon our return the Susani VBS team continued to do marvelous things with the children. We were blessed again with a great turnout. As expected the orphanage team continues to build quality relationships with the children. Several older kids are even participating and attempting to build relationships with the team. What a reason to celebrate.

We are sad that tomorrow will be our last day of VBS. We will make a presentation of Humanitarian Aid and cleaning supplies to the orphanage director. Saturday will be a special day of celebration. I’ll fill you in tomorrow. Thanks so much for praying for our team and for reading the blog. God has blessed us with a wonderful trip. We could not have asked for better conditions and a better response. I look forward to sharing pictures and stories with many of you in person over the coming weeks. Until then, aspire to new heights.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A blessed day

As Pastor Stan was preaching tonight I was reminded how much I enjoyed it when an American pastor would preach at our church in Romania. As I looked around my good friend Gigel Olariu’s church in Resita I saw many familiar faces. Faces I’d seen change over the past 10 years. What a joy it was to return to this church to set it completed after being under construction for 10 plus years. The last time I was here we were having a medical mission trip in what is now the finished sanctuary. It just makes me realize that time moves on regardless of where we are. It makes me sad. Sometimes I wish I could pause time in Romania when I return to American until I can make it back to Romania. I always hate to miss things. I’m always humbled when I visit a Romanian church. They always treat me as though I’m the most important person in the world. It just reminds me how gracious and inviting my brothers and sisters of Romania can be.

We were so blessed today. The orphanage team continued to build solid relationships with the children. I love mid-week because that is always the turning point with relationships. The ice has been broken, was are being torn down, and friendships are being built. I’m glad to report that the concrete finally arrived at our construction sight. Slava Domlui! We were able to complete the House of Joy foundation. Our men worked their fingers to the bone. The rocks and dirt and hours of moving buckets of water are beating them down but the joy of building this beacon of hope is strengthening them beyond understanding. Today we were told a member of the community complained that the children were attending Vacation Bible School at the village. This was the last week of school and they could not understand why the students would choose to spend time with us rather than enjoy field trips and the pleasures of the last week of school. I’m not sure I completely understand their decision either. However, I do know 100 children can’t be wrong!

Last night we shared our dinner with the mayor and regional director for the Baptist Association. As I addressed the group I told them I had no doubt we were right where God wanted us to be, doing what we were supposed to do, with the people we were supposed to be doing it with. Why else would men of such influence stand before us and express such gratitude and extend open invitations to return. God is moving in a mighty way in Susani, Romania. He has blessed us to work with Ovidiu and Adina. He has blessed me to have the support of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. I still have no idea what the future holds. Right now I’m not worried. As Stan read to us from the book of Philippians I scanned across the page to verse four of chapter two which read, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Sounds like a good idea to me! Aspire to new heights.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A note from a trip participant

Danny Barefield is the Minister of Music for Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. This is his second trip to Romania.

What an awesome experience to come to Romania for this mission endeavor. Today we completed the prep work to lay the remaining concrete slab for the “House of Joy” in Susani. The concrete was supposed to come but was delayed by a failure in electricity at the plant. Hopefully in the morning things will move faster and more work can be accomplished. Though we were dissapointed, we were able to observe other members of our team hard at work. We watched the children play, observe Bible stories, sing and do crafts. Over the day the team hosted more than 100 children. I was able to sit down at the keyboard with Sammy (15) who plays drums and Raul (13) who plays guitar and have a little jam session. The most enjoyable part of the day for me.

The people are amazing. There is such a sweet spirit among the people of Romania and they have been so receptive. This is a relationship that will not conclude after this trip, but will continue for years to come.

While this is not the type of work I ever do, it has been fun to work with those who do. It has also been a joy to work alongside my other church members all together for the same cause. I am thankful for a mission hearted church.

We appreciate your prayers and support. Blessings, Danny Barefield.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 1 in the books.

It is 11:15 P.M. in Romania. Our team had a wonderful day. Our 45 member team split into our three groups and dispersed to begin our work. Group 1 headed to the orphanage in Gavojdia. Group 2 headed to Susani to do VBS with the local kids and Group 3 began construction of the House of Joy in Susani.

The orphanage team had a great day that primarily focused on building relationships with the children and planting seeds for the remainder of the week. The Susani VBS team had close to 60 kids. We’ve been told to expect even more tomorrow. The construction team made huge strides to the foundation for the House of Joy community center. Only a few hours of work are required tomorrow before the cement trucks arrive to pour the foundation. Our hope is that we will be able to begin working on the exterior walls on Wednesday.

God has been so good to our team. We finished the night with over an hour of sharing time. It was great to hear why God moved so many to join this trip to Romania and to hear how he has already begun doing great things with the kids! I cannot wait to see how tomorrow will go.

Thanks for your prayers and support. Aspire to new heights.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

They're here!

I'm happy to report the team made it safe to Budapest and then to Romania. They had great flights and only had one bag not make it. We were able to eat lunch and take in beautiful Szeged, Hungary before crossing into Romania and making it to the Precept Training Center at 11:00 p.m. This was approximately 35 hours after they loaded the bus for Dallas so they are exhausted. However, they are ready to go. Can't wait to post updates and pictures each day. Thanks for your prayers. Aspire to new heights!!!!

Airplane Time

Airplane time has to be good for something, right? I mean suffering through 10 hours in coach on a completely full plane, elbow to elbow with a complete stranger has to pay off. I’ve done so much of this international travel the last 10 years I’ve compiled hundreds of stories regarding air travel. Like the time the mom, not my wife, just the mom of the kids sitting next to me, allowed me to monitor her kids while she slept and watched movies. Not sure why I did this. Guess I just felt sorry for them. Anyhow, they climbed all over me, flipped through my books, stole my headphones, pulled back my eye mask when I tried to sleep, and best of all puked all over my shoes. The worst thing was the mother didn’t even attempt to help clean up the child. That was a good one! Another favorite was on the first of two 10 hour flights home from Africa where the guy behind me yelled and kicked every time I tried to lay my seat back. Said he couldn’t see the T.V. Well pardon me! To avoid a national (or world) crisis I slept upright all 10 hours. I’ve paid my dues! Surely some good can come from flying.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t written in my journal or wrote for that matter in over a year. This is one of my favorite things to do. I also love a good book. Another thing I rarely find time to do. I actually have two books I plan on reading during this trip.

But, you know, more than anything, travel and time alone are good for reflection. Just inside my notebook I keep a statement I wrote after my last job change. “Drive by a desire to succeed. Motivated by a fear of failure.” I’ve never really read between the lines of this statement but it probably symbolizes all the good and bad in me. I am a very driven person. I hate to fail. Failure is not an option. I think about my work as a salesman and how hard it can be to live the daily rollercoaster of sales. One second you are high, the next you are as low as a snake’s belly (to quote my dad).

You may wonder what any of this has to do with my trip to Romania. I did after all promise to blog on the trip! Well guess what. I want this trip to be a success as well. I promised Ovidiu the day I moved home that one day we would work together to fulfill His will for Romania. Upon my job change from Buckner I was freed up to do just this. I promised God I would be ready the second He wanted me to use the experiences and resources He gave me to serve Romania. Shortly after He took me up on that promise when Pioneer Drive Baptist Church came calling.

Ten months later, here we are! I don’t know what’s next. Gotta see how this goes first! I know there are other churches and individuals interested in working in the villages of Romania. And I know the needs are great. The rest of the puzzle I’ll just leave up to God.

Regardless, failure is not an option! I figured that out on an airplane!

Thanks for taking this ride with me. Aspire to new heights!

Friday, June 4, 2010


It’s been a long road to get to today. You’ve had a chance to hear from both Todd and Ovidiu. I hope it is very obvious how excited the three of us are about this trip, as well as the future. We are still in the “wherever He leads” phase of this ministry (if you want to call it that). We have no idea what the future holds. However, we are super excited that Pioneer Drive has chosen to join us in Romania. Our prayer is that God will continue to reveal His plans during this trip and guide us towards the future. We appreciate your participation either as a trip participant, financial supporter, or prayer partner. I’m off to the airport to head over a day early to make sure all the details are ready for the trip. For those of you leaving tomorrow, I’ll see you at the Budapest Airport on Sunday.

For those following along from home, I'll do my best to post updates as often as possible.

Until then, be blessed. Aspire to new heights! Jon, Todd, and Ovidiu

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Total Surrender

“There are certain burning questions every Christian must answer in total candor. Do you hunger for Jesus Christ? Do you yearn to spend time alone with him in prayer? Is he the most important person in your life? Does he fill your soul like a song of joy? Is he on our lips as a shout of praise? Or has he been smothered by distractions, nullified by pride? Do you eagerly turn to his memoirs, his Testament, to learn more of him? Do you thirst for the living water of his Holy Spirit? Are you making the effort to die daily to anything and everything that inhibits, diminishes, or threatens your friendship with him?... that will happen only when we break away from the lives we have grown accustomed to living, lives ruled by our desires for security, pleasure, and power. It is these desires that hold us back from recognizing the truth of our need for God’s mercy. It is these desires that prevent us from peeling off the filmy residue of our lives without God and prevent transparency.” Compiled from The Importance of Being Foolish by Brennan Manning
What exactly do you hope to accomplish on your journey or mission next week? Why are you going on this trip? Was it to make a difference in the life of a child; a community; maybe a country? Or, was it to make a difference in your life? In all honesty, I hope your desire is for all of the above. I hope and pray that while you are impacting those around you that this trip will be a time of spiritual revival for you as well. I hope this trip will be an opportunity for you to find yourself, to grow closer to God, and to renew your spiritual strength.

For me, a mission trip always serves as a chance to re-visit my priorities in life. What things are controlling my time, my energy and my passion? Each morning during our trip, as well as the days leading up to the trip, I hope you we will take a hard look in the mirror to determine more about yourself, as I do the same. Remember, before we can show His love to others, we must fully understand what His love means to us.

Be blessed. Aspire to new heights!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A friend for life

One of the many advantages to starting a new life in a new place as far away as Romania is that you meet wonderful people from all over the world. We met people in Timisoara from India, Africa, Australia, the UK, the US, and many other places. Odds are you never would have met those people! Kacee and I are so lucky to be able to call the Long Family our friends. Shortly after we moved to Timisoara we were invited to a lunch after church. Todd, Lisa, Mikie, and Emma were at that lunch as well. Over the next few weeks we got to know each other really well. The Longs happened to live just a few blocks away from us. Over time we included each other in our ministries. Todd helped me teach my classes on several occasions and I was fortunate enough to spend time with his high school students as well. Most important of all, I introduced Todd and Lisa to Ovidiu and Adina. Once we moved home, Todd and Lisa were able to remain very close with Ovidiu and Adina.

Time and circumstances usually draw friends apart. However, our bond over Romania (especially our love for Susani and Ovidiu and Adina) has kept us close. As I returned on more than one occasion to Romania with mission teams I always included Todd. He was right there by my side to assist in leading the groups. He’s a wealth of knowledge and a joy to be around. For those of you going on our trip, you will truly enjoy your time with Todd. I must say he is one of my best friends. We are blessed to be partnering together to help Ovidiu and Adina. Only God knows what the future holds.

I’ve linked several of Todd’s blogs on Susani for your enjoyment. They will help you get to know him better. Until tomorrow, aspire to new heights!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Message from Ovidiu

Hello again from Romania. Let me share a few things about our ministry that God gave us here in the western side of Romania. After my wife and I graduated in 2004, God opened a door for us to work for Him in this area in the village of Susani, a very small village of just 250 people. In the last 5 years and a half we were able to share the gospel with lots of people in our village and in the surrounding villages. Our heart is for the young people of Romania that desperately need Christ. During this time we saw young people coming to Christ, being baptized and now are following Christ in faithfulness. Our greatest joy in the ministry is represented by our disciples, a group of young people that took the responsibilities that we had 5 years ago. Because of them and the biblical strategy of discipleship we were able to reach more children, teenagers and young people in the whole area where we serve.

We have a Thursday night church service with our people of Susani. Every Friday we meet with the teenagers in our area. A team of young men that my wife and I invested in are responsible for conducting this meeting. Every Saturday there is a meeting in Susani with many children from many villages (approximately 12). We pick them up in our vans and bring them here where they learn about Jesus, sing, play, are doing crafts, having fun. God gave us a vision that is bigger than our potential and possibilities. We are amazed of how God leads us and brings people on our way to be a part of this vision that we love to call the House of Joy, because where God is there is joy. Our vision is to take the Gospel’s message to many people around us during this generation through the specific ways He gave us for these times . Christ brings joy to the world and by grace we are His instruments in this generation that needs the joy of his Word.

The visit of the people at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church of Abilene, Texas, in the second week of June is a tremendous blessing that can be considered a miracle from God. We are anxious to see them serving God in Gavojdia orphanage (25 miles away from Susani), working on the House of Joy property (building the walls of the House of Joy Center) and having VBS with the children in Susani area (more than 12 villages).

As my good friend Jon always says to end, “aspire to new heights” and we will see you soon.

Ovidiu Patrick