The business of mission: A Romanian Road…

Apr 5, 2021 | The Business of Mission | 0 comments

The business of mission: A Romanian Road…

Brasov 1985
Onno Weststrate is elder at Elim church, Reeuwijk, the Netherlands and is part of Lighthouse Community leadership. Currently involved in a number of start-ups in post-communist countries to support local church plants.

God has put it in my heart to share my journey in life with others and in particular, my journey to Romania and other post-communist nations.
I was raised in a warm, Christian family where care for others was common. I grew up with an awareness that we are not only here to help ourselves, but to bless and serve those around us too. At the beginning of the 90’s, my father began to get involved in an organisation that was collecting and shipping second hand items to Romania. He made many trips to Romania during that time but it was only later that I was to discover that Tirgu Mures was one of his destinations – the Romanian town where we would one day begin our own business venture.
My very first introduction to Romania was in January 1985 when my wife Diana and I went on a skiing trip – a gift to us from the company that I was working for at the time. We chose Romania because it was the cheapest skiing destination that we could find (how Dutch:) This was our first experience of a communist country. Flying with Tarom – the national Romanian airline – was an experience in itself. The crew disappeared after take-off and were hardly seen in the cabin throughout the flight and arriving in a closed, communist country like Romania was at that time disorienting, to say the least. Immigration was like a military exercise, with armed soldiers staring at you and watchtowers lining the roads. Big brother is watching you – and he surely was!
We travelled on to Poiana near Brasov and the skiing was great but whilst there, we began to notice how little the locals had to live on. I remember queues of people waiting patiently at the bakery for bread. I remember this all very clearly now, but back then, I could never have imagined that one day I would return to the same area many years later with a totally different agenda – with a God plan!
It’s funny to think about where this journey of ours all started – in family and with the caring of others, the example of a mission-minded father and a random skiing trip; and that out of such ordinary things, God has shaped my heart and my life.

Waiting in line for bread in Brasov, 1985


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