December 2022February 6, 2023
June 2023June 21, 2023
When we landed in Cluj-Napoca, Romania on the 4th of April, we were met by a team from "Stichting Netwerk Roemenië" in the Netherlands, led by Dick and Jose Krabbendam. They have been missionaries in Romania for over 20 years and have recently started to help in Ukraine as well.
It was Dick we met during our brief stopover in the Netherlands on our way to the Czech Republic in May last year. He asked us if we’d ever been to Ukraine. When we said no, he wanted to know if we’d ever consider going. Our answer was “Of course!” Then we just left it in God’s hands. Not long after, Dick emailed us and after some discussion, we began to make plans to do ministry in Romania and Ukraine.
Here we were, less than a year later, standing together on Romanian soil, ready to do what God had called us to do in these nations.
At the airport, we were also met by Liviu Tudosie, who runs a charity called “Perspective Daneș”, which does amazing work in their local community. They are an interdenominational ministry and reach out to people in need, including the Roma communities, widows and, more recently, Ukrainian refugees. They not only help them on a practical level, but also share the good news of the Gospel with them. As they live out the love of Jesus, many lives are being changed and restored.
From left: Zach, Kristof, Dick, Kate, Jose, Rachael, Daniel, Charlene, Liviu
From the airport we travelled to Sighișoara and got to see a bit of the country, which to our surprise was covered in snow! The next day we practised our Romanian songs before visiting a nearby village called Daneș, where Perspective Daneș is based. We went to a small local church which is one of the places where meals are cooked and distributed to those most in need. It was so encouraging to meet and talk to people who give so selflessly of their time and energy to share the love of Jesus with the most marginalised.
In the evening we had our first service in another church, in Sighișoara. It is the desire of Perspective Daneș to promote unity among the churches in the area, and instead of holding the concert in their community centre in Daneș, they partnered with the Church of the Nazarene in Sighișoara to make these meetings possible. By God's grace, we were able to sing most of our songs in Romanian and believe that many who came were blessed by the lyrics. Seven people, mostly young boys, came forward for salvation at the end.
The next day, Liviu took us to a local Roma community and we were able to see first-hand the difficult conditions in which they live. Their homes don't have central heating or flushing toilets, and whole families often live in a one-room shack. Many of them don't have permanent jobs and earn their money by sorting plastics, metals and other recyclables at the Sighișoara landfill.
A significant portion of the children from these families drop out of school early, with poverty being one of the main reasons. Young people are tempted by the illusion of working abroad and end up in criminal activities. The government doesn't support them and most Romanians don't want to have anything to do with them, so they are pretty much the outcasts of society.
Liviu and everyone at Perspective Daneș work tirelessly to improve their living conditions, organising various after-school clubs for their children and teenagers, helping them with their homework and encouraging them to stay in school. Most importantly, they share the Gospel with them, telling them that only Jesus can bring lasting change to their lives.
We walked around the small village, talked to some people, prayed for them and sang some songs in Romanian.
From there we went to the community centre that Perspective Daneș was able to build a few years ago. There, among all their other activities, they cook lunch for about 60 people every day. We had lunch with them and then sang in Romanian for the local widows who were there and in Ukrainian for the refugees who find support at the centre.
In the evening we ministered at a meeting specifically for the local Ukrainian refugees. It was such a privilege to minister to these people far from home, many of them women with children whose husbands had to stay behind in Ukraine. Some of them came forward for prayer after the meeting and we sensed that God was comforting all those present.
Early on Friday morning, we woke up to fresh snowfall and set off for Chernivtsi, Ukraine. We were held up at the border for about two hours, but thankfully there were no complications.
After a 12 hour journey we arrived safely at the base of a ministry called "Happy Family". They are part of a church called "God's Family", but due to government restrictions on what Protestant churches can and cannot do (as the country is predominantly Orthodox), they found it much easier to help and evangelise the refugees coming their way by setting up this charity. Chernivtsi is in the west of the country, so when the war broke out, many Ukrainians fled there for safety.
The volunteers of this small ministry found themselves with their hands full and had to expand very quickly. They've been serving lunches at three locations in the city every day of the week except Sundays, when their church meetings are held. They now rent a cinema that seats over 300 people where they hold their church meetings and other evangelistic events.
This cinema was also the venue for our outreach programme over the Easter weekend. When we arrived at the cinema on Saturday morning to set up for the first meeting, there was a leak in the roof due to the snow that had fallen. This was a big concern and we were hoping they wouldn't close the place down for health and safety reasons. Thankfully everything was allowed to continue. In the two meetings we held that day, 56 people gave their lives to Jesus. Most of those who attended the meeting were refugees. When they were invited, they were also given a ticket to pick up a free food package after the ministry.
One lady went to the first meeting but her husband, who was supposed to go with her, was ill. She had brought her ticket, but forgot her husband's. She collected her food package after the morning meeting and then decided to come back in the evening to collect the food package for her husband. At the end of the second meeting she gave her life to Jesus!
When the evening meeting was over, part of the ceiling fell down! Thankfully everyone was outside the hall by then. We prayed that night that there would be no more damage and that the next day's programme would go ahead. We could see that this was a plan by the enemy to stop what was going on, so we took authority in prayer.
When we arrived at the venue on Sunday, we found that nothing else had fallen from the ceiling. We also remarked on how the leak was right between the seats and the stage, so at no point was anyone in direct danger. We praised God that nothing could stop these meetings. Another 40 people gave their lives to Jesus during the two Sunday meetings. Each meeting was different and we felt an awesome presence of God at each one. God's Family Church said that after a year of working full time with the refugees, they felt that our coming to minister to them was a gift from God.
Only God could have brought together four organisations from four different nations to carry out this ministry in Romania and Ukraine. The Body of Christ is alive and well and we praise God for the perfect timing and coordination of this ministry tour. It is amazing that God has honoured our obedience to stay in the UK for two years (when we were trying to leave) by allowing us to meet Dick Krabbendam at our first meeting on international soil since 2020. We can only thank God for His provision, His care, His faithfulness and His perfect keeping combined with His perfect timing. We have met new family members in the Body of Christ and we are thankful that God is using each of us as individuals and as organisations to bring something that He can use for His glory, especially when we work together.
Below are the links for the ministries we worked with on this trip, so you can find out more about the amazing work they do. Should you wish to support them and their work, please follow the links to their donation page. We can vouch for their authenticity.
Stichting Netwerk Roemenië - https://stichtingnetwerkroemenie.nl/
Perspective Daneș - https://perspectivedanes.ro
Happy Family Ukraine - https://www.instagram.com/happyfamily.che/
We appreciate all your prayers and support.
To God be all the Glory!
On behalf of the Vinesong team,
Kate & Rachael