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Ten years ago today, I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Romania.

I was a bright-eyed (naïve) nineteen-year-old heading over to a formerly Communist country. I had very little knowledge of the language. I had no ties with any missionary agency. I had no salary and no way to support myself, except to live off the savings I had accumulated during my year of work between high school and college. I had no close friends in Romania, only a handful of acquaintances. I had no idea when I would be returning to the U.S., only that my place of residence would be a Christian university campus.

Truth be told, I wasn’t scared. The situation didn’t frighten me. Yes, I dreaded the loneliness that would overwhelm me when I said goodbye to my parents. I dreaded the time that would pass before I could speak Romanian fluently. But my decision had been firm. God had led me to this place. No time to look back.

In my journal, I wrote about arriving in Oradea:

“The streets of Oradea were soon before us. The sky was sunny and the weather was lovely. The city was bustling with activity; the leaves just beginning to change colors and surrender from the trees. Looking over the city, I realized that this was now my new home. The excitement, anticipation, and wait of the past few months were for this moment – to be in the place where I belong… to serve.”

The excitement soon turned to sadness. After I said goodbye to my parents, I went to my dorm room and wept. What have I done? I remember thinking. I have left everything I’ve ever known. I have left everyone who loves me. I don’t know the language. I don’t know the culture. I don’t even know any people. And I’m supposed to minister here?

The tears flowed as I seriously questioned my calling. Even now, I choke up when I recall the emotions of that moment. And as I think of the ways God blessed the following five years of my life, I am overwhelmed. He gave me more opportunities to minister than I could have dreamed of. He gave me the ability to speak Romanian fluently within a few months. He gave me my precious wife. He blessed us with our first child.

When I flip through the journal I kept during the first year in Romania, I am embarrassed at my immaturity, my naive expectations and unbridled idealism. My disdain for my former self, however, is kept in check by the thought that ten years from now, I may entertain similar thoughts regarding where I’m at now! If anything, the journal reminds me that life is a journey.

The big story is about God. And this God is the One who calls us, who equips us, who goes before us, and then sends us off into the sunset of his plan, as heralds of his Son and the salvation he has brought to earth.

Thank you, Father, for calling me to Romania ten years ago. Thank you for sustaining me, strengthening me, and using me for your purposes. Please do the same in the next ten years, and grant me faith so that I will continue to follow you wherever you lead.

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7 thoughts on “A 1-Way Ticket to Romania”

  1. Kaylene says:

    I’m a 20 year old living in Hungary. Just got here 3 weeks ago independent of any mission board. I’ve experienced some of the same emotions. I feel like any insecurity I ever had has been magnified x 10. But I know that I know that I know, this is where God has me, and I’m very excited and am taking each new day as it comes. The reminder of the big story being about God was timely for me. Thanks.

  2. Walter says:

    Blessed by your memory. How I love EU. My times of teaching and preaching there have been gifts from the Lord.

  3. kevin says:

    Amen to your prayer… The things I did when I was younger for the Lord also makes me sad… and really thankful! I know that God is again calling His “off mission” people to be Hebrews 11 Christians. To be people like Abraham who the scriptures say; “8By faith Abraham, when called to go…. obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going”!

    Please Lord, help me also in my next 10 years to live a faith filled adventure with you!


  4. Linda Owen says:

    What a beautiful story of faith and grace! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your (past) life.

    My husband and I took a similar step of faith this year, and at 56, we actually feel some of those same things you felt at 20. We seriously pray that we have 10 more years to honour and serve Him! :-) If so, I’m sure He will grant strength, growth, and probably some laughs when we look back. But, hopefully, no regrets.

    Thanks again! Blessings!!

  5. A Catholic Lisa says:

    God bless and be with you and your family for the next 10 years and beyond.

    That was quite a leap of faith you made 10 years ago. Ah, the idealism of youth! God surely does protect the young who are off to do his bidding.

  6. John Gardner says:

    I’ll be heading to Romania for the first time next June! Of course, mine’s a two-way ticket, and I’ll only be there about two weeks, but I’m very excited!

  7. Mary Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! What a wonderful step of faith! Your reward is wonderful too. Romania needs the Lord so desparately. thank you for going there.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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