If I had to give a title to the mission’s trip I just finished in Moldova it would be:
“Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
I have been on several missions’ trips and have traveled to many nations but it was on this trip to Moldova that my soul was rocked and challenged to look at my own spiritual life on a much deeper level. I knew I would receive blessings on this trip; all missions trips end up blessing us so much we often wonder if what we received was more then what we gave.
Our team attended and helped Operation Mobilization (The Freedom Challenge’s parent organization) with their vulnerable girls’ conference that they hold once a year at the OM headquarters in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city.
Vulnerable girls' conference
Fifty-seven girls aged 10-16 who live in some of the most vulnerable areas and situations are invited to attend this very impactful weekend.
At the conference they hear stories and testimonies, hear about the love of Jesus, and are challenged to break the chains of dysfunction and generational sin that have been cast onto so many of them. They are challenged to rise up and become leaders. They are challenged to forgive the most horrendous family members and situations so that they may find true freedom and healing. They are challenged to serve others and look for ways to serve the elderly and those who suffer in their villages.
It was incredibly convicting and overwhelming to hear what these young girls’ lives have been like and to see OM teaching them how not to be victims, but powerful survivors who can use their pain to transform their homes and villages.
In the villages of Moldova they do not have a foster care system, family counseling, or a program that can rescue these children from some very abusive homes. Teaching these girls and educating them on what is right and wrong and more importantly about a life that can be theirs knowing Christ is what OM’s mission is. It was an honor and privilege to take part in this conference for our whole team.
Seeing their homelife firsthand
After the conference ended and all the girls went back to their villages, we were on the road with Tamara, an OM project worker. Now it was time to actually go and stay in a village and see with our own eyes and hear for ourselves what these girls’ home lives are really about. I didn’t think our trip could get deeper than it already was, but it did.
This was the first time I have seen or been to a country that was left in ruins after the fall of the Soviet Union. Not only was Moldova left in despair with incredibly corrupt politicians, but they went from every decision being made for them by a communist government to complete abandonment.
No hope, no rest, no help
With 80% unemployment so many working age adults have left the country to look for work leaving behind the most vulnerable, the elderly, and children to fend for themselves. Perfect conditions for predators and abuse to ensue. It seems that in these villages there is no hope, no rest, no help. Alcoholism ravages homes with their toxic home brews and many young people are left to raise themselves and their siblings. The suffering is daunting and dark.
We visited the village where Tamara was born. Tamara had a rough life from birth. Her story is a mirror to so many others in her own village which gives her a heart full of compassion for the children and elderly there.
Using her pain
After she met some Christians as a teenager and received Christ, she never dreamed God would call her back to her own village. It’s not what she wanted, but she knew it’s where God wanted her. She is using her pain and damaged soul to not only show Christ’s love to her village, but to transform it. Tamara has built a church and a care home for the elderly. She has plans to build a girls’ home so that she can take in girls who live in horrendous and abusive situations.
What was most impactful for us as a team was the forgiveness and servant-heart that Tamara taught us. The forgiveness and love she has for those who treated her so badly as a girl is a true testament of her heart. She truly understands Christ’s love and forgiveness in a much deeper way than I can comprehend.
A powerful prayer meeting
The other extremely touching moment was a prayer meeting we attended in a village home. Nothing fancy, very basic. No food, no music, no fanfare of any kind. Our team entered the home and covered our heads and sat in the tiny home packed with wall-to-wall Moldovan Christians.
The prayer meeting was in Romanian but that didn’t seem to make a difference to our team. The presence of the Holy Spirit was powerful as the people sang, wept, bowed down on their knees and cried out to the Lord. I don’t remember there being a dry eye on our team.
During this prayer meeting that I could not understand, I felt utterly poor. Here I am, an American. I have so much! Everything and anything to take care of my every need. A spa day if I had a rough month, weekly pedicures if I so desire to pamper myself, binge watching Netflix just to escape a hectic week. A warm home, nice cars, amazing health care and as you can imagine, the list went on and on in my head.
Rich in Jesus
These people just have JESUS when they are sad, JESUS when they are lonely, JESUS when they have a bad day, JESUS when life is hard. I had HOLY JEALOUSY if there is such a thing. I felt utterly poor in my relationship with the Lord. These Christians were rich in Jesus because it’s all they have.
Coming home from a trip like this is always hard. You really have to take some time to process and articulate all you saw and learned.
The richness of God's presence
Again, I come home broken and beyond blessed by people who have so little but are so rich. I want what they have! What will I turn to when I have a rough day? What will I long for when I’m feeling sad? I will forever take myself back to that most blessed village home and remember the richness of God’s presence and the beautiful and authentic relationship those people have with Jesus because He is all they have and He is all they need. And that needs to be the same for all who claim Christ. Jesus first in everything is all we need.
I challenge those reading this to go on a mission’s trip. Be prepared to have your soul rocked and stretched. Yes, we are able to bring help and blessing to so many in this world, but see for yourself how much Jesus is alive and well in some of the darkest areas of this earth. His light shines brighter in the darkness and it is something all believers should see for themselves if they have the opportunity.
Roxanne lives in San Diego, California. She has been married to Brian for 24 years.
Brian works for Secure Works and manages the West Coast sales team. Brian participated in the 2015 Kilimanjaro Freedom Challenge Corporate climb.
They have 3 daughters: Kaylin is 21 and works and lives in Australia; Kendall is 20 and is currently studying at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Kendall also participated in the 2016 Wyoming Freedom Challenge and went to India with Freedom Challenge; Kirra is 9 and is a 4th grader and enjoys ballet and her friends. She’s also a great hiker and has participated in our local Freedom Challenge events.
Roxanne is a stay-at-home mom and has been active with The Freedom challenge since 2014 when she did her first challenge in Colorado, 7 summits event. She also participated in the Wyoming challenge in 2016. She has also been to India and Nepal with the Freedom Challenge.
Roxanne is currently an OM Volunteer and loves to challenge women to step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves by hiking mountain’s or going on a missions trip. She hopes to lead many more mission’s trips in the future.