Monday, July 26, 2010


“The greatest gift you can give your children is not your riches, but revealing to them their own.” – Max Lucado

One of the things I love the most about my dear friends Ovidiu and Adina is the fact that that they would give the shirt off their back to help their fellow neighbors. However, what I love even more is the fact that they are planting seeds in the lives of the future leaders of Romania by revealing to them their own gifts and abilities. Instead of giving them a gift that will have a short term return they give them something that will truly last.

Earlier this year Ovidiu and Adina (with the help of Ruben and Dani) began a Bible study in Lugoj. Lugoj is a larger city approximately 30 minutes from Susani. This study began in Dani and Ruben’s apartment. After a short time their apartment was busting at the seams with eager Romanian students. One thing is obvious, whether it is a van transporting students to their house in Susani or an apartment Bible study the Patricks use every square inch available!

I’m pleased to report that this Bible study has now moved to another location that is more accommodating. One day a pastor in Lugoj asked Ovidiu what he was going to do if this “Bible Study” turned into an actual church. Ovidiu said, “Praise the Lord!” What a dumb question!

You see, this “Bible Study” or “Church” if you will is part of the greater vision of this ministry. As mentioned in my blog last week the goal of the House of Joy in Susani is to provide children with educational opportunities, while equipping them with life skills and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. By doing so we will make our best effort to break the cycle of poverty and raise-up a generation of educated, equipped leaders and servants of the Lord. This is a great vision but we would miss the entire point if we planted these seeds in the lives of future disciples and did not continue to walk alongside them while they grow and disciple. Afterall, some plant and some water!

Lugoj is the perfect location for a “support ministry” such as this. Most, if not all, of the children in the Greater Traian Vuia Community (Susani and the surrounding 25 plus villages) where Ovidiu and Adina work will attend high school in Lugoj. After investing years in the lives of these children it would be foolish not to continue this investment while they live in Lugoj. This is where the Lugoj Bible Study comes into play. It is a continuation of the investment we are making in the lives of these children. Think of it as compounding interest! Quiet simply it just makes since.

I’m thankful that Ovidiu, Adina, Ruben, and Dani took the time to continue their investment. I’m eager to watch this Bible study grow. I’m anxious to see what God does in the lives of those attending this study.

I hope you will join me in praying for this wonderful ministry. As you read this there is a team from FBC Euless and Next World Wide in Lugoj assisting in the growth of this Bible study. I hope to be able to provide you some updates of their success upon their return. Until then, keep them in your prayers and keep aspiring to new heights.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What is a house of joy?

As many of my loyal followers (if I have any) know, my dear friends and family members of Romanian decent have suffered from years of oppression (or maybe suppression). They’ve experienced more in a lifetime (especially those more seasoned) than most of us will even read about in our history books. We may read about history, but history they have lived! Though the senior adults have seen and experienced the most, the children of Romania may have been affected the greatest, especially those living in rural villages. Most of these children and their families have never been given an opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty.

So how do you break the cycle of something that has been going on for decades? In my honest opinion the solution is simple: EQUIP.

If Romania is going to break this vicious cycle, parents must be equipped and children must be educated. Providing a safe, stable home environment increases a child’s chance for success. In addition, providing these children with educational opportunities, while equipping them with life skills and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, will be the best chance to not only break the cycle of poverty but also to raise-up a generation of educated, equipped, leaders of their country and servants of the Lord.

This is where the House of Joy comes in to play. Many of you have seen my pictures from the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church mission trip in early June. This team began construction for the HOJ. Much progress was made but much progress is left to be made. Our goal: To see the doors of the HOJ opened to the children of Susani and the surrounding communities. Our timeline: NOW! Well, to be more realistic by August 2012.

How will the HOJ make an impact you ask? Our dream is for the HOJ to be a support center, hub, or beacon of hope if you will, not only for Susani, but for the surrounding communities. The primary goal for the HOJ is to break the cycle of poverty. Lofty goal! Yes, but an achievable one none-the-less.

The essential components for the HOJ are as follows:
  • Location – Place the HOJ in a high need area. What is a high need area? An area with a large number of single parents. An area lacking infrastructure (water and sanitation). An area in need of education (formal and vocational). An area in need of medical care. An area with a high rate of poverty. Most importantly, an area with vulnerable children and families.
  • Services – The HOJ will provide services to parents that enable and empower them to provide a safe, loving and stable environment for their children. Core services - medical, job training and education, humanitarian aid, family preservation and intervention, and foster care and family unification. Specific services - activities for the youth (physical education, life skills development, educational support, and spiritual development) and the adults (parenting skills, vocational skills, and spiritual development). Support services - delivered via local and international mission teams. Teams will be recruited to host camps/clubs (sports, English, life skills, parenting, etc.). These camps can be hosted at the Center or remotely as well. Teams will also be recruited for short time medical care to be hosted at the Center. In addition mission teams will be recruited to provide support services in the local communities via construction (home repairs and home construction). Individuals and teams will also be recruited for evangelical support via Vacation Bible School, Disciple Now, lay leadership training, and pastor conferences.

Why Susani?
Susani is a community of approximately 200 people. It is a very poor community, but a communty with a big heart; a community noted for great leaders. Susani is strategically placed to reach thousands of families. Within a 30 mile radius of Susani are approximately 25 villages with over 2,800 children 18 years of age or younger. Ovidiu and Adina Patrick have already placed themselves in a leadership role at Susani via the local Baptist church. They have spent over six years developing relationships with the children of these 25 villages. They have the trust and support of the local community.

Why the House of Joy
Why not? Not really! The principles behind the House of Joy are built upon the foundation that:

  1. Every child needs and deserves a safe, stable and permanent family. If given this support system a child will develop into a healthy, productive, contributing member of society.
  2. Families are the basic building blocks of communities. Parents are the foundation. Children are the future.
  3. Most children from rural Romania will leave for educational opportunities and rarely return. Some leave to go to the next village for middle school education. Others leave to the next big city for high school education. Some will leave to a big city for college. A few will leave the country to seek employment. Regardless of where they go given the proper tools these children can serve as leaders of their circle of influence and even better, as missionaries.

The House of Joy truly can make a lasting impact in the life of a child. The foundation has been poured. Walls are being erected. Seeds are being planted. The future is bright. All we need now is you. So how can you get involved? More on that next week. Until then, aspire to new heights!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dream Big

August 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famed “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In this speech he exalted “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” These were lofty dreams no doubt, but they were dreams he was willing to sacrifice to see come true.

I have big dreams myself. In my opinion if you’re going to dream you might as well dream big. My dream; that the children of Romania be given a chance to have their own dreams. What a copout right? Maybe. Maybe not. Can you really dream of a dream? Maybe I should explain.

Do you remember your childhood dreams? Maybe you still have those dreams. As a child maybe you dreamed of being an actress, doctor, lawyer, or firefighter. There was a time my daughter wanted to be a princes. In my opinion she already was! However, if that’s really what she wants to be then I would do anything I could to help her be a princess. There is something to be cherished about the freedom to dream big. As American’s we sometimes take for granted the freedom to dream big. Even more than that, we take for granted to resources available to actually make these dreams come true.

Through my years of mission work and worldly travels I have often wondered what a child living in a one room shack with dirt floors and nine other siblings could possibly dream about at night. Was it to be a doctor or a lawyer? Maybe she dreamed of being a princess. More than likely she dreamed of a world without pain and suffering; an opportunity to just be a kid. Her dream might be as simple as a new pair of shoes. Maybe her dream is for a new dress. Maybe it’s just for a warm meal or a bed of her own on top of a freshly tiled floor that is covered with a roof that does not leak. We might consider her dreams simple. I assume she would disagree.

In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of Human Motivation. His thesis was that before a person could seek to fulfill “higher” needs they must meet their most basic needs. This theory has never been more true than in the life of an at-risk child. After all, how can an eights year old that sleeps on a twin bed with six siblings dream of anything but basic necessities?

I have a dream. A dream that one day all children will receive the freedom to dream big. My dream is that they will one day be able to dream of being a prince or a princess not what they will each for breakfast the next morning. So how do we make this dream come true? More on this next week. Aspire to new heights (heights for yourself and heights for others).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebration of Independence

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."
Elie Wiesel, Romanian born American writer. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986

One of the things Kacee and I realized while living in Romania was that life goes on whether you are present or not. So many things changed while we were away from home. At the same time we now realize that life continues in Romania in our absence. We also discovered that our calendar is different than the calendar in Romania (in many, many ways). Many of our holidays do not coincide with those in Romania. Easter is based upon the Orthodox calendar so they only line up with America every once in a while. Thanksgiving in the U.S. is November 25 but it’s not a holiday in Romania. We found this out the hard way as we searched and searched for a turkey (dead of course).

July 4th in Romania is just another day. However, the celebration of our independence always forces me to reflect upon the things I have to be thankful for and to think about my Romanian brothers. All too often we in America read about history while many around the world actually live it. Most of us have no idea the cost that was paid for our independence. Most Romanians still have a vivid memory of what was paid for their independence (many actually paid a price themselves).

As I reflect upon all the things I have to be thankful for, especially my freedom, I cannot help but think about the responsibility that comes with this freedom. After all, didn’t I read somewhere that “to whom much is given, much is expected?” I can’t help but think that with all this freedom I have a responsibility to do something. That’s why I’ve committed to making life a little bit better for my Romanian brothers and sisters.

I’m excited about what the future holds. I find myself having numerous conversations about future opportunities in Romania. Todd, Ovidiu, and I (as well as our families) are truly excited about the future. We hope to have exciting news to share in the near future. Until then, aspire to new heights.

Don’t forget our planning meeting Monday, July 19. We have several churches joining us to discuss the future of Romania. Please pray for us. If you would like more information shoot me an email at