“Will you bring a mission team to Moldova?” The words came through the phone as if from God, Himself. My response, “Where’s Moldova?” Little did I know this invitation ten years ago would radically impact my entire life. This small country between the Ukraine and Romania has grown into a special place in my heart and woven herself into the very DNA of this young church plant, Rolling Hills. At the time of the invitation, we had 15 people meeting in an apartment clubhouse. When we took our first trip, 8 months later, we had 18 people go. And, so it began…
Tonight I am packing for my 12th mission trip to Moldova. The motivation that first called me to go help, in some way, make a difference in this country where 60% of girls trafficked into prostitution in Western Europe originate, still draws me today. We must make a difference in one precious orphan child at a time. As I look over the years, I am still in awe with what God has done in this short amount of time:
- Over 225 orphans now have a sponsor who prays for them, supports them and gives them hope for the future.
- Over the 250+ people from Rolling Hills have been on a mission trip to this country. I am so thankful for God’s church!
- The creation of JMI (Justice & Mercy International) to address the growing needs of the thousands of orphans in this country as well as throughout the world.
- Transitional Living Homes for girls and boys in Moldova who graduate from the orphanage at the age of 15 and have no where to go.
- Inga, who I remember meeting as a young teenager in Moldova, now an active partner at our church, graduating from Lipscomb University and marrying to an amazing guy this fall. Every time I see Inga, I am simply know it is all worth it.
- John Koon, from our college ministry while he was at Vandy to intern at our church, then goes on one of our Moldova mission trips and now lives and serves full-time in Moldova working at the same orphanage! One of my heros!
- Stas & Eugene – my first translators on our first trip. They were 14 & 12 years-old respectively, and we were the first team for which they had ever translated. By God’s grace, they were able to come to Belmont University, graduate and Stas has returned to make a difference in his country. Eugene has one more year at Belmont, and though he can make more money in the States, has sensed God’s call to return to Moldova to impact his home country for the glory of our great God.
- Precious children like: Elena, Igor, Edward, Illie, Jazgul, Diona, Mariana, Dema and the list goes on. Kids who God has drawn to Himself and who I absolutely love. What a joy to see these kids who had no hope become people who share the Hope of the world with others. It brings tears to my eyes simply to thinking about all our God has done in their lives.
I stand in awe of God’s grace and His invitation! All glory to His Name! And, God’s call continues to me, to Rolling Hills and to many, many others to join Him in what He is doing in this special place. Since day one in Moldova, my prayer has been for God to turn this sending country for human trafficking into a sending country for missionaries. We have a long way to go, but I celebrate all God is doing. So, here we go…