Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm not afraid. Are you?

It’s not too often that I find myself quoting Eminem. As a matter of fact I’m not sure I ever have. However, I was flipping through the radio today when one of his songs (if you can call it that) was on the radio. All I got out of it was “I’m not afraid to take a stand.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this new ministry my family and a handful of friends are starting. At the heart of this new initiative is the desire for change, or to “take a stand,” if you will). You see, this December will mark the 21st anniversary for the fall of communism in Romania. Has much changed? You bet. One does not have to look far to see the vast changes that have taken place across the country. Unfortunately, after suffering for more than 40 years under communist rule, the people of Romania are still struggling to rebuild their nation, hoping for a better future for their children. The greatest poverty in Romania is in the rural areas of the country where:
  • Thousands of orphans roam the streets.
  • A large number of children are exploited and forced to do manual labor to support their poverty-stricken families.
  • Almost half of the population lives on less than $1.50 per day.
  • In the poorest areas, parents are forced to leave Romania to find work in other countries—leaving their children in the care of the government, extended family members, or private institutions. These children have been left behind - depressed, angry, and alone.

I’m not a patient person. Consequently I think I just woke-up one day and said, “Enough!” I will no longer stand by with my head stuck in the sand. I love Romania and I will not let another 20 years go by without doing something. I mean come on, do the math (40 years of communism + 21 years trying to recover = a lifetime). Well in this lifetime I want to see change. One village at a time, we (Red Page Ministries) are going to stamp out rural poverty in Romania!!!!!!

Take a look at these exerts from an article by The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations to validate this need.

Poverty has a firm grip on Romania’s rural areas, where almost half (44 per cent) of the population lives. In 2003 the UNDP Human Development report estimated that 38 per cent of rural people were living in poverty, compared with 14 per cent of people in urban areas. Rural people are particularly vulnerable to the hardships brought by the painful economic and social transition after the collapse of communism.

Who and where are Romania’s poor rural people? The country’s poor people are subsistence farmers, unemployed rural workers and women who are heads of households. The poorest people live in remote areas, where infrastructure and social services are lacking.

Why are they poor? Low agricultural productivity is one of the main causes of poverty in rural Romania. And in rural areas there are limited opportunities for formal employment opportunities, partly because of minimum wage regulations, high payroll taxes and the rigid labor code. Inadequate social services, reflected in the poor condition of rural health centers, long distances to schools and poor sanitation facilities, also contribute to rural poverty.

Two decades have passed since the Iron Curtain fell. America jumped to action given the opportunity. And great strides were made. Unfortunately today it almost seems as though too much time has passed. Many individuals, churches, and organizations are focusing their attention elsewhere, primarily the Global South. I love missions and I’ve left a piece of my heart in so many countries (Kenya, Russia, Romania, Latvia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras to name a few). However, there’s just something about finishing what we’ve started. There’s still a need. I’m not afraid. Are you? Much more to come in the next few weeks regarding the nuts and bolts of Red Page Ministries. I hope you will join us in praying for God’s direction and consider how you can join us in Romania. Until next week, aspire to new heights.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Color me red!

He who wants milk should not set himself in the middle of a
pasture waiting for a cow to back up to him.

I’ll never forget my first trip to Romania sometime in 1999. My parents had travelled to Romania the previous year with a small group to do VBS in an orphanage. My father was once again returning with several friends to explore opportunities for future ministry. At the last minute a spot opened up and I was able to join the group. God really opened my eyes and touched my heart during that trip. I will never forget this trip because it laid the foundation for everything yet to come in my life. Since that trip I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve travelled to Romania, even taking a year to live in Timisoara. Since that first trip I’ve always known God had many great things in store for me and Romania, plans that are much bigger than I can even imagine. As I look back over the years I’m amazed at all the stops we’ve made along the way. Romania has become a fabric of my DNA. Most of my close friends are either Romanian or people I met while living in Romania. Some of my fondest memories have come from Romania. I would trade nothing for where I am today but I will always value the time Kacee and I shared in Romania.

I’ve had a lot of dreams about doing work in Romania. Before we moved to Romania I swore to myself that I was not going to just “do something” in Romania so I could say I “did something.” Consequently, a lot of ideas have ended up in File 13. I guess you could say I’ve spent a lot of time “sitting in the pasture” waiting for an opportunity to find me. What I’ve discovered is that ideas don’t find us, and truthfully we don’t find ideas either. The truth is that when a dream, or idea if you will, is planted in our heart by our Father in Heaven it completely consumes us to the point we know it is not of us but rather of Him. That’s where we are today. When Kacee and I moved home we promised Ovidiu and Adina that one day we would work together to restore the people of Romania to the place God intended them to be. The timing and opportunity just had to be right. Now after years of praying and prompting from the Hold Spirit we are finally grabbing that cow by the tail!

Last week I put in the mail an application for the Articles of Incorporation for Red Page Ministries. You are probably asking yourself where I came up with the name. A little over a year ago Kacee and I purchased our daughter Brynlee her first Bible. To this day she still loves reading her Bible. She will climb in my lap and tell me, “Daddy, read my Bible to me.” Prompting a response from her I’ll open it to the Old Testament. Immediately she will respond, “Daddy, turn to the red pages!”

I guess you could say our name is pretty simple. First, we all want to leave something that will last for our children. This ministry is more than just something for the founders; rather it is a legacy we all hope to leave for our children. As Max Lucado once said, “The greatest gift you can give your children is not your riches, but revealing to them their own.” As we strive to impact Romania we hope we will encourage our children to pursue His will for them. Second, there is no greater place to turn than to the words of Jesus (written in red) to find instruction for caring for widows, orphans, at-risk children, and families.

We’ve been down a long and winding road that has led us to this point. Now our vision is clear. It’s easy to see how the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place for this ministry. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share with you information about our mission, purpose, vision, needs, and dreams. We are new, very new. We don’t have a website. We don’t have a logo. We haven’t even been approved as a 501.c.3 ministry yet. However, I couldn’t wait to tell you the wonderful news. Right now we need your prayers more than anything. So until next week, aspire to new heights, and add us to your prayer list!

Blessings from the Red Page Ministries team.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

God Sized Dreams

Have you ever looked at those strange pictures that have a picture within the picture? Forgive me for not knowing exactly what they are called. All I remember is hardly ever being able to see the picture within the picture. More times than not I think I was just looking too hard to see what was right in front of me. How often do we do that with those God puts in our lives? Many times we are so close to them we don’t realize what is right in front of us. My good friend Ovidiu is like that. I was reminded by a mutual friend how much faith Ovidiu has and how big a vision he possesses. I wouldn’t say I had forgotten that, but rather I’m just so accustomed to seeing this type of action from him that I forgot all about it!

The irony is that Ovidiu would never seek any recognition for anything he does. However, he is doing some amazing things right now. As our mutual friend said a few weeks ago, “Ovidiu reminded me that it is more important to have God size dreams rather than me size dreams!” How true. How true.

Ovidiu has inspired a handful of us to join him in these God sized dreams. Our dream is to see the House of Joy built now, not 10 years from now. How disappointing it would be to miss the chance to reach an entire generation of kids because it took us 10 years to build this community center.

Monday I’m having a conference call with this small contingent of Ovidiu followers. We are going to make some plans for future trips to Romania. We are also going to talk about ways to speed up the construction process for the HOJ. We are also going to talk about a potential organization to aid in fulfilling these God sized dreams. Hopefully I’ll have great things to report next week.

Until that time I’ve challenged Ovidiu to continue moving forward with both the construction of the HOJ and the fund raising of the HOJ. I’ve been amazed at the progress his team has made on the HOJ the past month. I’ve also been amazed at the initiative Ovidiu has taken to personally raise support for the HOJ. Ovidiu has over 800 followers on Facebook. He’s challenged each follower to donate $25 to finish 2010 strong. We would love to have you join us in this cause. If you are interested in making a donation shoot me an email at and I’ll get you information on where to send the donation.

Right now we need your prayers more than anything. I hope you will pray that God will give this team the vision necessary to fulfill these God sized dreams. Until next time, aspire to new heights.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Update from Ovidiu

I’m excited that Ovidiu has delivered me a message to pass on to each of you. I cannot think of a greater person to work with in Romania or anywhere in the world for that matter. His heart (and the heart of his family) inspires me. I yearn to help Ovidiu, Adina, Ruben, Dani, and their many disciples, have the resources they need to fulfill their calling. My yearning is so great I have no doubt it is my calling as well. Enjoy their updates. Pray for their ministry. Consider how you can be involved. We need your prayers. We need your financial support. We need you personally. I do hope this update will inspire you. Aspire to new heights---Jon

Please Come in February
Romania needs Jesus. There is an abundance of religion in Romania and in the midst of it we need Jesus more than ever. We pray for a new generation that will find the truth, grow in the truth, love the truth, and give it to others. People in Romania live in ignorance regarding the truth of God and this ignorance leaves them without hope. Two years ago when Franklin Graham organized a huge crusade in Timisoara they named it The Festival of Hope. Why? Because they realized that the Romanian people do not have hope. People in Romania need hope; a hope that lasts forever, not one just for a season. When people do not have hope they do not rejoice. Their joy is missing. When people find God, they find joy, an abundant joy, as He intended.

As a pastor in Romania, I challenge you to come and help us bring the truth back to the hearts of the people of my country. They can hear it, but they can ignore it. What we want to do is to see the truth changing lives, bringing fruit, making a difference in society, unleash the eternal joy. How can we do that in an effective way? By investing in disciples. We have around 35 teenagers that we consider our disciples and the more we invest with the truth in their lives the more we can see the change in our country. Romania’s hope and only real joy is around discipleship in the Word of God. We want to do that on this side of the country where God called us to work for Him.

We invite you to be part of our work in February as we continue the tradition of investing in the lives of these young people through our Winter Camp 2011. This year marks our fifth year and we want it to be special. Jon, our team and I invite you to join us in this effort of bringing the truth to the hearts of our people in a special environment. We will be hosting our camp in Brasov this year, one of the most beautiful and historical places in Romania. Pray for us as we prepare for this camp. Pray for resources, for people to come, for great weather, for protection, and for a great time in the Word of God. If you would like more information about our camp, contact Jon at

A short update on the House of Joy
God continues to bless us as we build the House of Joy. I will give you very few words to tell you how much progress we make but want to leave you with some pictures at the conclusion of my update. The walls for the first floor are almost complete. We still have two workers that are slowly finishing the first floor. We have joy that we have made this progress but we also have sadness as we wait to raise more money so we can continue the project. Once we have additional money in hand we will be able to put the floor on the second floor or the ceiling on the first floor. Then all we will have to do is purchase doors and windows and we can begin finishing things on the inside. God has blessed this project more than we ever thought he would this first year. We are so excited about the future. We cannot wait to begin using the facility. However, we know it is only a building and it cannot make our ministry. At the same time we are able to continue doing great things in the area while we wait for this building to be finished. Until He Comes---Ovidiu

Monday, August 2, 2010

12 Happy Campers

Twelve; such a magical number. In football you have the 12th man (and yes there is only one 12th Man). Egg crates have 12 eggs. In the Old Testament we have the 12 tribes. In the New Testament we have the 12 Disciples. Eleven just doesn’t look right (looks like sticks) and 13 is an unlucky number. Like the famed movie Twelve Angry Jurors I’m looking for Twelve Happy Campers.

This February twelve of you (if there are actually twelve reading this blog) have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of 35 young Romanian disciples. For the past six years Ovidiu and Adina have poured their lives into the youth of Susani and the surrounding Greater Traian Vuia Area. They’ve drove thousands of miles down bumpy dirt roads with vans full of children eager to worship together. For the past three years they’ve taken a handful of the brightest on a “winter retreat” in an effort to mold them into lead disciples for their youth group.

I’m asking you to consider joining Ovidiu and Adina as they invest their time and energy into 35 bright young kids this winter. The trip is schedule for January 29 – February 6. The team will depart the U.S. on Saturday, January 29 and arrive in Timisoara, Romania, on Sunday. You will spend the following Monday working with Ovidiu and Adina finalizing plans for the camp. The team and campers will then depart on Tuesday for Brasov for four days and nights. You will then return on Saturday and prepare for your flight home on Sunday.

I’ve been asked what you will do during the camp. Though I don’t have an exact answer I compare it to a Disciple Now. You’ll do some Bible studying. You’ll do some singing and worshiping. You’ll do some praying. And you’ll do some playing in the snow! Ovidiu and I are working on the details of the study. However, I can assure you that we will focus on the spiritual growth and maturity of these wonderful kids. Maybe you can help me come up with a theme and name.

The Land Cost is $908. This includes all meals, lodging, in-country transportation, insurance, interpreters, bottled water, sightseeing, and a t-shirt. Included in this cost are scholarships for campers. Each trip participant will help pay for three campers. This is $500 of your cost.

Not included in the land cost is Airfare. I estimate airfare to be around $1,100, depending on your origination. We are willing to help you book airfare.

In addition to the land and air cost is a $100 Administrative Charge. This charge will help cover trip arrangements, domestic and international staff costs, trip orientation, and a portion of the cost for a trip leader.

Also included in your land cost is $20 for Spending Money. Staff will convert money to Romanian Lei and present this money to you upon your arrival so you will have some money in your pocket just in case you need it!

So if you really break things down, this trip is only going to cost you $888 plus airfare and $500 of that is to send three kids to camp! What a bargain.

Applications are due September 29 with your $100 admin fee and 10% of the land cost ($92). We need to book airfare around October 29 so you will need to be ready to pay for that cost then as well. The rest of the expense will be paid out over the following months.

When Kacee and I were considering our move to Romania a friend of mine asked me this question, “If you move to Romania do you think you will ever look back and regret it?” I said, “NO.” He said, “If you do not move to Romania do you think you will ever look back and regret it?” I said, “YES.” So my question to you is this; if you don’t take this trip do you think you will regret it? After all 11 just does not look as right as 12!

I comfort you in the fact that these kids will go to camp with our without you. However, wouldn’t it be so much more fun if you were there with them?
For an application, trip flyer, or additional information, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email at Hope to see you in February. Until then, aspire to new heights.