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!


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