It's hard to find the words to describe the amazing 11 days our mission team spent in Moldova. But if I had to sum it up in one sentence, this is it: This summer God showed me how to build relationships with my community to show the love of Christ with others.
I am utterly amazed at everything God did and how many prayers were answered before we even arrived in Moldova. God uniquely and purposefully selected this team. We all instantly became close. It was an interesting team, but God knew what he was doing when he chose the Americans and Moldovans for this team.
One thing God put on my heart this year was to embrace the culture and simply to be content and satisfied in every moment—to listen to the struggles of the people in Moldova as we built relationships with them.
Moldovans are the most humble, hospitable people, and they're not even believers. They have nothing materially, but they easily give all that they have. They are not believers, and they are better at showing Christ's loving servant's heart than we often are. They opened their homes to strangers from America and wanted to do everything for us, not letting us lift a finger. When we got home late, they waited up to talk, or to offer us dinner, or give us boiled well water for us to wash. And they give so much, that when they are given something, they do not know how to receive it without giving something back.
Near the end of our trip, we piled into vans after lunch and went to the Nistru River between Ukraine and Moldova to swim and have a team cookout for dinner. When we drove back to the village around 6:30, the ladies in the village had prepared a Moldovan feast for us at the school. Even though we already ate dinner, we couldn't say no—even when they brought out dish after dish after dish. And that night, when we went back to our host homes, my host home had prepared dinner. She had killed one of her chickens that day for my housemates and me to eat on our last night.
The people of Moldova are searching for hope. And we're not the only ones coming to share our faith. Jehovah's Witnesses are big in Moldova. But what made us stand out from the Orthodox Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses was that we actively lived out our faith and served them. Because we worked on the well at the school, invested our time loving on the kids, played soccer with the teenagers, went to their homes and met their needs and listened to them, served women at the ladies' tea and served more than 200 Moldovans at a cook-out, we stood out. It's not telling people about religion—Moldova has a religion. It's about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It's actively sharing the love and hope we have in Christ by reaching out to the community and building relationships with the people. It's love that wins people to Christ, not religious traditions and rules.
It's about serving the Lord wholeheartedly and focusing on people's needs and not about your comfort. When you focus on others and embrace their culture, you will be surprised at what you do to share the love of Christ. God will bring you out of your comfort zone and give you the words to speak and break your heart for the people.