Previously, I have written about my trips to Berlin and Romania during the ‘80s. However, after these trips, not much happened for nearly 20 years, with respect to journeys into Eastern Europe.
In 1991 I changed jobs and began working for a large engineering company – I was repairing industrial and marine gearboxes. I was involved in local sales support in the Netherlands but soon after that, I was working in international business development too. My background is mechanical and in this new job full of technical challenges I felt like a fish in water! I started to explore new markets for the company and this brought me to interesting places such as Singapore, Dubai, Oslo and many other countries around the world. It was a period where it felt as though almost everything that I tried, turned into a success. I enjoyed my job so much and found that I was easily absorbed in my work, spending many hours travelling away from home. My career was developing nicely and I really felt that God had blessed me with an eye for new business opportunities – a pioneering spirit in me was beginning to develop too.
I enjoyed a good salary and the many extra benefits that come with this. It could not get any better! However, deep in my heart, I began to feel that something was not quite satisfying me. It sometimes felt that I was wasting my energy and talents in an organisation that had a single focus only – to make money – and every year, it had to be a little bit more.
In April 1997 I asked myself if pursuing a career with this company was what God really wanted me to do. Why do I spend all this time, effort, talent and energy on a pursuit that is not His! Deep down, I wanted to use the talents that God had given me for His Kingdom and not for man’s.
Eclessiastes 2:26 tells us “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind”
This is how I felt – I was chasing after the wind! In a journal I kept at that time, I noted that I wanted to use my talents to set up small scale businesses in deprived locations, supporting local Christians so that they could make a living. I wanted to use my talents among the networks of relationships that I had developed in Eastern Europe – in particular in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Ten years later, my new adventure began – in Tirgu Mures, Romania – but long before this, God was stirring my heart!
Right there in the midst of a great job with many successes, God was speaking to me about something more. I began to have discussions with my local elders, sharing what was on my heart, praying and making myself accountable to them. The process was long and full of challenges and unknowns.
It was an important time for me – God was shaping me on the inside before I was to begin shaping anything on the outside! I knew what God was calling me to but not how to begin making the changes and so more to follow, in my next blog!