Summer in Romania

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This August we were blessed to have three teams from the United States come to Romania to encourage and serve alongside our national missionaries. 



Pastor Bryan Tema and his wife Tammy from Gracespring Bible Church in Richland, Michigan came to see his long time partner, Cornel Fogorosiu. Pastor Bryan and his church have been supporting Cornel and his ministry for twenty years, but this summer was the first time Pastor Bryan has been to Romania. Together we were able to celebrate the work God has done in Sibiu,  and visit the two churches that have been planted in this area.



The southern region of Romania is referred to as a “graveyard for missionaries.” The people of this area are suspicious of outsiders and the prevalence of the Orthodox Church weighs heavy. The weight of religion leaves little room for the transformative power of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Despite the challenges our missionaries face here, God is moving and we are seeing lives changed. lThe Bible tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 Under the leadership of our National Director, Raul Costea, our nationals have begun working in a variety of ministries throughout the region. One ministry God is using to speak His word to the people of this region in through evangelism. Teams visit local parks, plazas, and neighborhoods to build relationships with people and pass out New Testaments to those who are interested. 

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On August 4, our friends from Hillside Fellowship Church in San Antonio, Texas arrived ready to spread the love of Jesus to the people of Craiova. On their first day, a few members of the team met a young woman in a nearby neighborhood. She was excited to talk with them and and graciously accepted the New Testament they offered her. She soon opened up about her life and the hopelessness she feels from her divorce, the death of her sister, and the darkness her mother brought into her life by practicing witchcraft. The team was able to share the love of Jesus with her and the hope we have in Him. Please pray with us that God would use these conversations and New Testaments for His glory and for the furtherance of His kingdom.




Our teams also had the opportunity to visit local Roma villages with Daniel Davidescu. The Roma people have long been seen as less than and struggle in their bondage to sin. Violence, cheating, and stealing are common values in this community, but God has given Daniel His heart for these people and is doing a work in the hearts of the Roma people. 




This week a team from Calvary Chapel Long Beach in Southern California visited these precious people and witnessed first hand the door God has already opened here. Daniel brought the team to encourage a Roma family of believers and together they broke bread, prayed, shared testimonies, and praised God for His faithfulness. Before they left, the mother of this family shared her desire for a church to be built, and even showed the part of her land she has offered to build on. Join us in praying that the Lord will bring a pastor to teach, encourage, and minister to His people here.

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Pastor Andrew Cochran from Calvary Chapel also led a two-day conference for our national missionaries where he encouraged and challenged them in the work God has called them into. 





“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10





Thank you for your continued prayer for the people of Romania and your support for our national missionaries.





Building Connections between an American Team and National Missionaries

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This July we came to Romania with a team from Liberty Bible Church (LBC) in LaPorte, IN. Although short-term mission trips such as this one are typically oriented around specific tasks, this trip has been designed specifically to bring encouragement to the Nationals working in the Southern part of Romania. Most of them work very hard in a touch region with limited resources and few rewards, and they can become discouraged and drained. We strive to be a listening ear, an open heart, a comforting embrace, and a lifted prayer to nourish and replenish their souls for the work they feel compelled to continue.

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We have been blessed to be hosted by Mark and Florina Darvell, and Alexe and Veronica Costea. Octavian Berechet and Florina Darvell have arranged the schedule for our trip. Florina is one of the nationals who supports local women who need income by providing employment at Spero Designs. One of the LBC team members, Amy Paarlberg, met Florina and the girls last year, and felt God speaking to her to order hundreds of back sacks from Florina to put in boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This year she has returned, and when we took the women for an outing to the park, she shared how deeply she feels her connection to the work that they are trying to accomplish. We hope that the relationship that Florina and Amy have cultivated with these women can lead them to the feet of Christ.

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Our team has spent time visiting with other nationals as well, listening to their incredible testimonies and providing encouragement. George Bulfan and Sorin Caragea talked about their growth through the E2E (Equipped to Equip) program. Ion Vlad and his wife Christina spoke of the violence in their past and how God has freed them from that lifestyle. Florin Sfetcu and his wife Alina shared how the persistence of a coworker brought Florin to Christ, and the provision of God allowed them to return to Oltenia from Italy to fulfill their passion for reaching the lost in that region. We prayed for spiritual protection for Daniel Șerbănescu, who battles with a culture where witchcraft is prevalent. We praised God along with Traian Chilău and his wife Cornelia over the miracle of the liver transplant and medication that he received. As we stay longer in Romania, we look forward to spending time with Mircea Dumitru, Alexe Costea, and Raul Costea. Samuel Ilies, Alecs Tudoroiu, MIHAIL GEABOU

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The team from LBC has also been a part of great works in the region of Oltenia. After Ion Vlad spent 3 years in prayer for the village of Vilcele, which has zero presence of Christian ministry, we were privileged to begin the task of planting seeds by placing New Testaments on the gates of almost every house on the main street. In the city of Craiova, we met up with Raul and Ana Costea (our National Director), Lucian Brinceanu, Adrian and Donna Jurge, Veronica Palcau, Emanuel Serban, and another American team to do some home visitations with the Roma people and have a picnic with non-Christians. This is part of an initiative that Raul is heading up to begin a church in the city of Craiova. We were also blessed to spend time with some special needs adult orphans in Curtea de Argeș, who gave us more encouragement and love than we could ever give back.

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While we are here, we are planning to hand out food bags with Alexe and Veronica Costea in order to create relationships with non-Christians in the community. We will do street evangelism with Mircea and Cornelia Dumitru, and later with Mihail Geabou. We have prepared to do some children’s ministry with Samuel Ilies. Don Peiffer (whois an American upholsterer on the LBC team) will be doing some much needed repairs on the nationals’ furniture. We will also be serving the missionaries’ wives with an evening of encouragement. We are looking forward to hearing the testimony of Alecs Tudoroiu over dinner. On Sunday, we will split the team as we did last Sunday and visit several house churches, including the one in a shipping container. Towards the end of our trip we will have a picnic will all of the PIE missionaries and their families.

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Please pray for all of the nationals working in the region of Oltenia. The area has almost no Christians and is in desperate need of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The nationals daily face the forces of darkness that have taken hold of the southern part of Romania, and many of them do so without full financial support. Please pray for their protection from the Evil One, and consider supporting them financially so that they can conduct their mission with a peace of mind for their families.

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God has the power to change lives

It’s been almost three years since I sold my business in Chicago and started to serve in full time ministry.  However, it was my business that has enabled me and my family to get deeply involved in the ministry in the first place, to take regular short term mission trips and invest in the ministry long term.



I have just returned from a two month ministry trip in Romania, and I would like to share with you what keeps me motivated to keep going, and what is the main factor that encourages me to do what I do, where there is no financial nor any other personal gain from the work that I now do.  This is the other side of the same coin!



Why supporting national missionaries makes a world of difference and is the fuel that keeps me going?

I hope this story is just as encouraging to you as it was to me this past trip to Romania!

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Meet Nicu. Here is his story. For all his adult life, to the age of 40, he’s lived at home with his parents, just drinking, and drinking, and being drunk all the time. His parents were fed up with him, his violence, his lack of work, his alcohol abuse. They called the police to have him removed from their home, but he came back. Where should he go? Missionary Ion Vlad tried multiple times to witness to him but he was always drunk.  One time he showed up at a church gathering at the local church in Perieti and the phrase that God loves even the drunkards resonated in his mind. On that day he said that he was done with his old life and that he wanted God to change him, he believed that God can and will change him. The missionary shared the Gospel with him, prayed with him, and Nicu accepted the Lord Jesus as His Savior.

The fascinating fact is that from that very moment he no longer had any desire to drink.  God truly changed him according to his faith.

When I hear testimonies such as Nicu’s, it is all worth it!  A changed life that now is productive for God and for the community is all worth it.  Nicu was known by everyone in the village. His transformed life has become known by everyone.  He now works for an attorney who wanted to hire an honest man to take care of confidential paperwork in a professional manner. However, satan is not pleased, and Nicu’s family is still unhappy.  They did not like Nicu drunk, and they don’t like Nicu as a believer either. They do not understand his conversion and abandonment of the Orthodox religion. Perhaps we can leave this explanation for another time.

I talked to this man Nicu, now a brother in Christ.  He shared how Ion Vlad, the missionary is pouring in his life, he is being discipled and growing in Christ.

My wife and I have recently helped Ion Vlad who does not speak English to write a support letter and create a prayer card, these are a few things we can help them to connect and create partnerships and relationships in order to ease their financial burden and ministry needs. We do a little, God does the rest.




Missionaries Retreat





As we visited and spent time with the missionaries in their own homes and mission fields, we came to  realize that they get burned out with doing so much work, serving, projects, and sometimes so few results, that they need a time to get out of their surroundings, relax and refresh, and just have a happy time when they can have fellowship with each other.

This spring we had a three-day retreat for all of them, whole families, wives, children, from all the locations in Romania.  And, why not, we’ve invited the missionaries from Ukraine to drive down and join in!

We’ve met May 2nd-May 4th. Everyone gathered on Thursday night at the PIE Center in Alba Iulia and we started with a time of fellowship around some good old-fashioned Romanian sausages and fresh bread.  Our PIE national committee did an outstanding job in housing everyone with wonderful accommodations and we had a very colorful group of 108 people, from babies, small children, teens, to grand-parents missionaries bragging about their grandchildren, such as my wife and I!






The picnic on Friday was a big hit!  Our missionaries Tani and Lili Nemes were wonderful hosts in the village of Telna, at the village church large front yard where everyone found something fun to do.  This is the village where the Stef family had an evangelistic meeting back in 2006 in front of the Culture House when back then there was no church and no believers. Now we have a missionary family and a thriving church where we had the picnic. There were lots of activities from volleyball, table tennis, chess, or just talking and sharing with one another.  Lunch was a delicious combination of grilled chicken and Romanian lamb stew with best ever Romanian fresh bread and mamaliga (corn meal) and fried Romanian donuts. Gabi made s’mores for the kids with American marshmallows and Romanian chocolate, a true partnership!

One of our missionaries who just celebrated his 48th wedding anniversary and has been a PIE missionary for over 25 years, said that this was one of the best days of his life, to spend his special day with his wife in fellowship with other fellow workers from Romania and Ukraine and be spoiled like a prince!

After lunch we met inside the church for a time of worship and testimonies, what a sweet, sweet time!

Saturday we were back at the PIE Center for a fabulous breakfast and an uplifting message from a local ministry speaker. Our meeting ended with a luncheon at a banquet hall with the most delicious three course Romanian meal that prepared everyone for the long ride back home.  

It was such a blessing to have the group of missionaries from Ukraine, some of which came to Romania for the very first time.  They were all housed at the PIE Center where they could interact and fellowship the most with the missionaries from Romania.

My wife Gabi and I were so happy to know these families, we came to care deeply for them, they are family to us, and we are honored to be representing them to our friends and church family in the U.S., as we are all part of the body of Christ.

Prayer Requests:

  • There are several missionaries who are still in much need of regular financial support.

  • The Missionary Intensive six month training program E2E is also in need of financial support

  • Missionaries have projects that need partners

  • This summer programs are in need of much help: camps, VBS, construction projects, etc.

Please contact me Cornel Stef if you are interested in giving a helping hand this summer or on a regular basis. cornelstef@gmail.com







Responding to God's Call- 2019 Overview

We thank God for the opportunity that Gabi and I have been given to be a part of His work in Romania.  We are called to be obedient to the Lord, just like Abraham:

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“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”- Hebrews 11:8

We travel from the US to Romania to share the Gospel, work with missionaries, listen to their stories, and pray with them.  We bring teams from the US to work with the Nationals in Romania through kid’s programs, women’s ministry, evangelism on the street, and more.

Spring

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This Spring I will be working primarily with Raul Costea for 2 months, bringing Americans to help him with his ministries in the southern part of Romania. In particular, there are several projects that I am excited to be involved in:

  • Equipped to Equip- Oltenia is in need of dozens of missionaries and workers to serve the massive spiritual need of the southern part of Romania. E2E is designed to train and prepare students to become missionaries in a six month time period. It is a daring program that we earnestly bathe in prayer so that it will produce laborers into His plentiful harvest.

  • A Fishing Rod, Not A Fish- One of our desires and projects is to strengthen and expand micro-businesses for our missionaries and the lay workers and poor families in their surrounding areas. We aim to provide training and resources for our community members to build their own micro-business. These businesses allow people to receive the education to sustain their work and generate a small income. 

  • A New Testament For Every Home- There are approximately 700,000 people in Oltenia who do not have Bibles. God has placed the desire in our hearts to provide each household with a copy of the New Testament. This ministry goes out into the surrounding villages and hands out copies of the New Testament with Hope Church’s address and phone number.

Summer

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July-August

This summer there will be 3 different teams going to Romania to work with the Nationals. It will be a great example of how churches from all over America are coming together to support our missionaries, since the teams will come from Indiana, Texas, and California. We are designing these trips around the strengths of each team to make use of their abilities and talents and best serve the Lord. Some of the projects they might become involved in are:

  • Children’s Ministry- Work closely with several of our dedicated missionaries who share our heart for children through teaching, singing, crafts, games, and more!

  • Home Visits- Taking the gospel to the people; visiting and encouraging them, praying for them, sharing the hope that is in us, and spreading the love of Jesus.

  • Intercessory Prayer- Every morning, teams will have the opportunity to participate in intercessory prayer, praying for the people who desperately need the gospel.

  • Youth Programs- We focus on relationship building and discipleship, with teams helping with music, teaching English, playing soccer, and many additional activities.

  • Street Evangelism- We strive for open discourse with people who wouldn't normally come to a church, speaking the truth in love, ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.

Fall/Winter

November-December

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The last trip of 2019 will allow me to revisit the ministries that were served throughout the year, following up on projects and bringing even more Americans who desire to fill needs of the people and Nationals of Romania. Our ultimate goal is to encourage and assist the missionaries, visiting their houses and spending time with their families.

I am looking forward to seeing what amazing things God has in store for PIEI-Romania this year.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21

In Christ,

Cornel and Gabriela Stef

Disciples Called Into Ministry

“None of us is beyond the task of missions...The question is not whether or not we will be working to spread the gospel around the world, but what role we will play in this.”

Francis Chan, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples



I have been very excited to be a part of the Equipped to Equip program in Romania.  This is a six-month training program to train people passionate for evangelism and church planting to become missionaries.  It was amazing to see our first graduates take on leadership roles as they move into the various areas for which they were called.  In particular, I was blessed to be a personal mentor for Lucian Brinceanu, keeping in contact with him from across the ocean in order to encourage and pray with him.  I look forward to seeing how God uses him in his ministry.



Seven of our E2E graduates have moved on to become fully-fledged PIEI missionaries.  However, with the addition of so many at once, it has been a struggle for them to find the support they need to begin their ministries.  I have shared their stories below, where you can see how much financial support each one has been able to find. In addition, every one of them needs dedicated prayer partners.  Please contact me if you feel led to support any of these new missionaries.



Lucian Brinceanu

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Lucian was called to ministry in his youth.  At age 18 he started volunteering to evangelize, preach, and lead other students.  Years later, that experience and passion for students has led Lucian to plant a church in a University town.

Support Raised: 70 % out of $700.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24266 from the donation form


Alecs Tudoroiu

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Alecs’ experience growing up in an Orthodox family showed him nothing but pain, strife, and abandonment.  When his own mother threatened to put him in an orphanage, Raul Costea took him in and showed him what it was like to be loved and accepted by God.  Now Alecs dedicates his life and livelihood to the God who loves him unconditionally.

Support Raised: 40  % out of $800.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24209 from the donation form


Emanuel Serban

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Emanuel grew up familiar with church and going through the motions, but it wasn’t until he was 17 that he felt convicted of his unbelief and chose to truly follow God.  He feels that he has the gift of discipleship, and desires to use it to call other to Christ.

Support Raised: 0  % out of $850.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24267 from the donation form




Veronica Palcau

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Veronica lived at first as a rebel, with unsavory words and behaviors towards everyone.  Through the youth ministry that Raul’s family started in Oltenia and then Slatina, Veronica accepted Christ and put away the old self.  Now she is drawn to children’s ministry and hopes to pass on what she has learned.

Support Raised: 80 % out of $400.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24208 from the donation form





Gheorghe Bulfan

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Gheorghe was involved in the church for a while before God specifically called him into ministry.  God showed him the lost and the hopeless and inspired him to show them hope, grace, and love. He is certain that he has a role to play in Maruntei.

Support Raised: 0 % out of $650.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24231 from the donation form






Sorin Caragea

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Sorin was one of the people involved in the 9,000 Souls movement to spread the Word throughout the southern part of Romania.  He now feels that God is leading him to the village of Balanesti to evangelize and plant a church there.

Support Raised: 0  % out of $650.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24266 from the donation form







Mihail Geabou

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As the son of a pastor who served in the midst of Communist persecution, Mihail felt called to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor.  However, he has seen that his true passion is in evangelizing to those who do not yet know Christ as their personal savior.

Support Raised: 40  % out of $800.00/mo. Important: Select Fund: ROMANIA MINISTRIES, Sub Fund: 24280 from the donation form




Meet the PETRUȚ FAMILY

Meet Pastor Daniel Petruț, his wife Rahela (Rachel), daughter Teodora, and son Filip. 

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They were our closest partners in ministry on several occasions this year, both in ROMANIA as well as in UKRAINE.

 

We spent some time with the Petruț family last year also, visiting their mission field in the village of Mihalț Alba District, where pastor Daniel works with the village children and youth as well as surrounding villages.  We were delighted by the group of children who gather on a regular basis in their front yard for a weekly bible club and it was then when we were thinking of taking this family along with us to Ukraine for our annual summer camp.

ALEXANDRA

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She is a very gifted teenager, who has a beautiful singing voice, and she is using her spiritual gift to serve the Lord with her family.  It is so rare and so precious to see a young lady serve alongside her parents and also be so tender and kind to her little brother.  We also got to see Alexandra be herself around other teens at Camp in Ukraine, happy, social, and very friendly.

The most amazing was to see how loving she is toward her aging widowed grandmother, taking the time to play table cards and spend quality time with her!

FILIP

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This is a very unique five year old, who has the vocabulary of a grown up, an amazing memory for Bible verses, who also loves to sing and praise the Lord, who in one minute acts and speaks like a grown man and in the next has a temper tandrum and is just a little boy!  Filip is a totally delightful young boy who will entertain you for hours in a long car ride from Romania to Ukraine and back (10-12 hours each way) and will not complain much, but make the ride so much more enjoyable!

RAHELA (Rachel)

We enjoyed getting to know Rahela, and seeing the interaction between her and the children.  We could see the investment she is making in Bible memorization and singing and in keeping the family unit serving together.  She is also a lot of fun, her charm and personality so vividly seen especially in her little boy! 

DANIEL (PIE Missionary Pastor)

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Such a talented servant, full of love, passion, care, tenderness, lots of talent!  Pastor Daniel has extended himself so much, giving of himself so much to the point of becoming physically sick and ending up in the hospital!  The needs of the people are so many and the workers are so few.  Even among the believers there are so many issues, and pastor Daniel wears many hats.  From working with children at the public school in town and driving the school bus, to pastoring several churches, to couseling and taking care of several congregations of believers in several locations that are spread out.  Yet he and his family took the time to go to Ukraine with us to invest in the young children’s lives over there during the Summer PIE Camp.

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We were also so blessed to visit several of the churches pastored by Daniel, and go on home visitations together.  Our hearts are kneat together and our partnership in ministry has been lifted to another level of friendship and trust.

We give God all the glory, and we thank the PETRUȚ FAMILY for serving God by serving others.

Cornel and Gabi Stef