Mike and I are appointed AG missionaries to Romania, a country from which we miraculously escaped communism in November,1981. On the night of our escape, Mike took my younger brother and me through a military guarded entrance to the port, in order to hide us on a ship headed towards Greece the next day. We walked right through the gate without being seen or stopped by the armed soldiers!
Once we approached the ship, Mike asked us to step onto an adjacent speed boat while he went to the top of the ship. Once there, he threw down the ropes that we would need to be hoisted to the top of the ship. We had to tie the ropes around our waist and jump into the freezing water. I jumped first. As my husband began to pull me up, I only reached about 15 feet above the water when we both saw a search light from a patrol boat projected our way! At that very moment the rope snapped and I fell back into the water! Coming back to the surface, I quickly looked to see if we were caught but instead I saw the patrol boat turn another direction and go away! It was so clear to us that God was fully involved in every detail of our escape! Mike immediately threw another rope and pulled me to the top, then he pulled my brother up. He took us to a small closet on the bottom of the ship that he had planned to be our hideout.
Before the ship left the harbor, there was a final search by a military regiment. For that, Mike took us to an oil tank that was empty at the time, except for a layer of thick grime on the bottom of it. We had to hide there until the search was done. We could hear the soldiers walking on top of the tank and we could see the beams of their flashlights penetrating through the cracks as we were laying quietly in that layer of mire. After they left, Mike came back and gave a whistle, our signal that it was safe to come out of the tank and return to our more comfortable wooden closet.
We then sailed to Greece, a trip that took eight days, or I should say eight very long nights, as we didn’t see the light of day, or any light for that matter, during that trip. Once we reached Greece, we got off the boat by night fall so we wouldn’t be seen by the crew. We did not want to ask the Greek government for asylum for fear of being sent back to Romania with the ship.
From Greece, we crossed the border on foot into Yugoslavia. There we were caught by the police because we did not have legal passports. We were sentenced to three weeks in prison for crossing the border illegally. They later helped us reach the border of Italy and instructed us to ask for political asylum, once we arrived in the nearest Italian town.
The Italians were very kind to us. We were placed in an immigration camp while we went through the process of being interviewed by the American Embassy. Finally, we were graciously granted permission to fly to the USA, our home for the last 33 years!
Along our journey, we have been telling our story to anyone who would hear about our amazing Heavenly Father! He is close to anyone who trusts Him! He gives us the courage and the strength we need to live a life according to His plan and He gives us the power to overcome any obstacle that blocks our way! Mike and I have been affiliated with and have been serving at Glad Tidings Church in Reading, PA, since 1989.
Since the fall of Communism, we felt compelled to take the Gospel of Jesus to the people of Romania. Year after year we took mission teams all across Romania, preaching the Gospel and seeing many people saved. Needless to say, after the revolution Romania was lacking ministers, places of worship and leaders to help integrate and disciple new converts. Seeing this great need, we were prayed and fasted, waiting on God to show us the next step. When the answer finally came, we left behind our jobs, our three married children, and our grandchildren to answer the call to full-time missions. We returned to Romania with the objective of planting churches, training leaders, and serving in the unreached region of Southeast Romania. For the first two years, we worked at the Missions School where young Romanians studied to become missionaries to the unreached people groups and countries.
Last year, we moved to Baneasa, a city in the region of Dobrogea, where there is not one evangelical church in a fifty mile radius of the city! Baneasa is surrounded by tens of villages that do not know Jesus as their Savior. We have joined a team of church planters in the region and together we are envisioning that the entire region will be evangelized by the year 2022! We see the need of building a ministry center in the city of Baneasa which will serve as a base of operations from where we will reach the surrounding communities with the Gospel. We have already found favor with the local authorities and we have been offered facilities to start a medical clinic, helping to meet the medical needs of the community. Through a recent medical outreach, we were able to serve over 800 local people! Before Christmas, more than 1200 children, parents, and teachers attended our Christmas outreaches in the public schools and theaters. As a result, we are now conducting services on a weekly basis in a village public school.
The Baneasa Community Center, once built, will help hundreds of abandoned and neglected children through feeding, literacy, and after school programs. The Center will also offer adult literacy and job training. The ministry center also serves as a temporary shelter for trafficked victims, discipleship and ministry training. Those participating in these programs will be assisted by the national leaders, students from the Missions School, short term mission teams, and missionary associates. The ministry center will also provide housing for ministry workers in rooms assigned for this purpose.
The building phase will cost $150,000.00, but more than the funds we need the prayer support of every missions minded partner! The building lot has already been purchased, the plans are already drawn, marked and approved. All that is needed are the funds to build!
Thank you for your partnership in helping us to reach the lost of Southeast Romania!