Iosif (Joseph) has the rugged looks of an athlete, and a deep voice that is easily recognized in each worship service and prayer time at WinterCamp. He clings to every word spoken, every song sung, with passion and conviction. Iosif graduated from high school years ago, and even spent six months working in Australia. But now, at the age of 23, he has returned to his home town of Faget (Fah-jhet), one of the small villages in Western Romania that will be served by the House of Joy.
“If I wanted to make money, I would stay in Australia. But I want to see the presence of God, and I had to return to my Romania. This is my country, this is my language, these are my people. I want to preach the Gospel here.”
His road will not be an easy one. Money will not be plentiful. He will likely face opposition from those who believe that, by not being Orthodox, he is preaching a false doctrine. And he will have to battle a culture that has deep, fearful roots in superstition. But for him, it’s a road worth walking. At WinterCamp, he is at once good friend and concerned older brother. He might be the first to fly down a snow hill on a sled, but he is also the first to bow his head to pray for those in need. He lives each moment of his life intentionally.
Iosif has had no formal seminary training, yet his words are as powerful as preachers and teachers twice his age. “When I contemplate Christ, I see Him as the Prince of Peace. He offers a peace nothing in this world can match. I want to teach others about that peace. I can’t keep myself from sharing the love of Christ.” He plans to travel alone to an area of Romania near the Black Sea, 600 miles from his current home, where he will preach in the hometown of his ancestors.
Iosif loves this country, and he wants others to love her too. Tonight, as we drove to town to pick up water and snacks for our team, he wanted to know how I felt about Romania. But he didn’t want to hear a cursory “yes” or “no.” He wanted to know what it was about his country that I liked, and “what number I loved Romania.” He meant percentage – and anything less than 100% would have broken his heart. He wanted to know when I would be back, and when I would be bringing my family. He is ready to work alongside those who come to visit and fall in love.
If you would, please pray for Iosif. Pray doors will be open for ministry. Pray he will receive financial provision along the way. Pray he will be supported by the country and people he cares so passionately about. And should you journey here, walk with him as he tells others about the love of Christ.
And tell him how much you love Romania.