Heidi Reger – Bucharest, Romania
When I first moved to Romania I came with big prayers, big dreams and big hopes of what God would do, and God has moved and worked in the lives of people I have met but perhaps not in the way that I first anticipated. A verse that has been a constant reminder to me is 1 Thessalonians 2:8 – Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
This has become something of a mission-statement for me – a constant reminder of what it means to share the gospel with people; it is a lifestyle that I want to live.
We Loved You
Loving people is not always easy especially when there are many differences but God has shown me that every person is beautifully unique with a story waiting to be heard. It is such a joy to meet someone and just ask them to share their stories, about their life, their family, their dreams… something comes to life in them and you see how beautifully God has created them. We cannot love people in a crowd, instead we must invite them closer in to get to know them and hear their stories – and as we do, the love will grow and prevent us from treating people as projects to be worked on rather than individuals to be loved.
Sharing our Lives
Going to the supermarket, walking in the park, a trip to the shopping mall: each of us has tasks that need to be completed and so do the people that we minister to. Some of my best conversations have been whilst wandering IKEA or showing someone how to buy vegetables at the market. Granted, working with International Students who are new to the country gives an easy entrance-point to doing these sorts of life-tasks together, but many others (especially those who are single) would love to have someone to share everyday tasks with. A true friend is not someone who just invites you over for a fancy meal but is there when you need to fix a leaking tap or buy a winter coat. Sharing our lives isn’t just about sharing the day-to-day tasks with our friends, it also involves being vulnerable about what is happening in your life. Living abroad can be a challenge and there are seasons where culture shock and homesickness build-up and all you want to do is sit and cry. In my first few months I was afraid of expressing this to my Romanian friends, not wanting to offend them or show my weakness; and yet I have learnt that it is in the moments of weakness where you allow others to enter your pain and serve you that you build real friendships.
Sharing the Gospel
Sometimes we focus so much on sharing our lives that we forget that we also need to use words to share the gospel! Building relationships with students and sharing my life with them has given me the opportunity to share about Jesus both because He is a living reality in my life and because people feel comfortable around me and ask questions. A student recently said “I don’t know what it is about you, but when I’m with you I talk more freely than I do with anyone else”. This is what the Holy Spirit gives us when we share our lives with people – the opportunity to also hear people’s stories and respond with what He wants to say to them.