The missionary adventures of the Stimpson family

3 Years and Counting…

April 30th is a significant day in our family. Most importantly, it is the day our Isaac was born, the first son after three daughters. When his arrival into the world came, we already knew we would be heading to Romania in the near future for an indefinite length of time. One year exactly after Isaac’s birth, we boarded a plane in Chicago with our sights set on Bucharest, Romania.

I really cannot believe it has been three years since we said goodbye to family, friends, and familiarity. Goodbye to good burgers, cheddar cheese, and road trips without potholes! In some ways, these have been the most difficult years of our lives, but in so many ways these years have stretched my faith, taught me what “dying to yourself” means, and forced me to be more adaptable. On the difficult side, I’ve cried more, gotten angry more, felt more burnt out and lonely, and been ready so many times to say “heck with ministry life, let’s go live on a farm far away from cities.” But, on the good side, I rejoice at being in God’s will, seeing our family be used by God to bring light into a very dark city, being a part of God’s transforming work in others’ lives, learning what self-sacrificing love really is (being a mother and wife has taught me much in that area, too), knowing more what deep-rooted, unwavering, unshakable faith, hope, and joy truly is, and being a part of discipleship like Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 2:2.

During our short time here–to those who are missing us it may seem not so short, but it has sped by for us–we have gone through so many ups and downs, excitements and disappointments. We started a small meeting with a gypsy community that lived near us, and it grew to where many families joined in. A few surrendered their lives to Jesus, and one man in particular was ready to be baptized and learn to live for God. But, a couple of families had some domestic problems relating to alcohol and domestic abuse. We helped the best we could, but some just wanted sin more than God. After this, the other families we focused on trying to leave the city and find work, and a year after we began, that little church meeting ended.

We had meetings in our home for a while and tried to start up a church that way. Many pledged to help us to the end. This lasted a few months, grew for a while, then shrunk to just our family and one friend.

Finally, we decided to get more official, rent a room for weekly church meetings, and kickoff our official church: Biserica Piatra Vie, Living Stone Church. It started bigger than we’d hoped, but after a month, our meetings shrunk to just our family and a friend or two. We lost friends, gained friends, and we toiled on. One year after our official start, we had a decent church start: three people joined as official members, besides us American missionaries, and other families and visitors came around regularly. Now we have monthly healing and deliverance meetings that bring in extra visitors, opportunities to pray for the sick and oppressed, and see God move! We’ve seen people surrender their lives to Jesus, baptized one of them, prayed for many to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and seen God heal many of physical ailments.

But, there are still ups and downs. We don’t know how long God will have us here, but we’re ready for whatever He says. We feel honored to be used by God, whether we’re just part of sowing something that others will reap or whether we get to reap what others or we have sown. Sometimes we wonder why God chose us, when there are others with more time and fewer responsibilities (We have five children now, are homeschooling, and have one very active 15 month old–yes, we even had a baby while here!), but God knows what this city needs more than we do.

Planting a church is tough (bravo to Cornerstone Pastors Michael and Annie Fisher and Derek and Deb Miller for doing it before!)! Planting a church with a big family is tougher. Planting a church with a big homeschooled family in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language so well in a culture that is quite different than what you’re used to and not getting to see your family and friends in three years is toughest. But God is our strength and our portion! He is our Rock! He is the One who builds His church against which the gates of hell cannot prevail! He is good, loving, comforting, joyful, merciful, just, giving! He provides for us, heals us, empowers us, and guides us! All our hope, life, love, joy, peace, and faith is in Him alone! We are happy to serve and follow Him!

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4 responses

  1. Press on…RUN the race before you. Chuck, an acquaintance of mine, his wife (with several children) who were serving in Taiwan to plant a church and had less success than you’ve described and they almost gave up at the four year mark but decided to press on. After 5 years God moved in the lives of those they were ministering to and an explosion of growth took place. Several congregations were formed over a period of many years. Before they decided to return to the USA, one of their sons married and they decided to stay in Taiwan and continue the legacy of the parents. They are still there. The parents and other adult children and grandchildren are now part of a growing church in Phoenix, AZ. I share this with you with the hope that you too will press on with endurance and run the race and remain faithful, available and teachable. 🙂 HUGz, Roger & Out (point of reference – I’m a colleague/friend of Susie Freeman whom you know.)

    April 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm

  2. Joe Pinzone

    Dear Jesse,

    My name is Joe Pinzone and I’m casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We’d love to film in Romania and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The expats on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. They must also speak English fluently and can be buyers or renters for their homes. If you’d like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at joepinzone@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

    August 5, 2015 at 6:00 pm

  3. Dan

    Not sure what you meant by “bring light into a very dark city”. It’s clear you haven’t been to very dark cities as you describe them. If you think its very dark in Bucharest, I wonder how you’d feel in India , Thailand, Indonesia, not to mention Pakistan or others.

    Romania is more Christian than the US on average I’d say and Bucharest as a city if much safer than most US cities of comparable size.

    I’ve worked & lives in the US for about 4 years and although there are a good number of good heart Christian folks, there’s plenty of evil, “dark” stuff happening, enough to put me of at any idea of ever raising a family there.

    So while Bucharest and Romania in general might not be much of a perfect place, it still has more “genuine” people I would say than most Western countries. The fact that you say you haven’t learnt the language, haven’t made much friends and you are home-schooling is telling me you are trying to bring your American ways into a Balkan country which is not only going to be very difficult but I would say it’s a bit foolish as well.

    Have no idea of what denomination you belong to, most likely pentecostal or as they call it in Romania “pocaiti”, and I’m afraid to say Romanians are very skeptical and wary about befriending those types, simply because instead of accepting them for who they are, you label them as “wrong” or “dark” as you used in your text and hence it will not ever be easy for you to “convert” them. Because that’s what you came for , right, because you believe your brand of Christianity is better than theirs….

    Not sure who directed you to Romania of all places (you probably like to think to yourself it was the Holy Ghost) but if I were you, I’d pack my bags and move on to other “darker” places in true need of Christian fellowship or maybe head back to the us…

    Safe travels,

    August 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    • You made a few assumption in your comments that just are not true. We have made plenty of friends, close friends that I would lay down my life for and vice versa. We have been learning the language…just slower than we wanted, because most everyone we meet wants to practice their English with us. If we lived in a village or other, smaller city, I’m sure we’d be more fluent by now.

      Just because we homeschool, it doesn’t mean we’re keeping our kids out of Romanian society. They play with kids on our street–there are a lot of them–and understand Romanian better than I do. There are many Romanians interested in homeschooling, an we haven’t tried to force or persuade anyone to do it; they come to us. Some of our best friendships began because of this.

      We are not bringing American Christianity to the churches here. We are not trying to steal Orthodox believers from their churches. Some Orthodox people visit our church but want to remain Orthodox. Amen! God is not limited by denomination. We do our services very differently than in our American churches, to be more like the culture here. But they are not exactly the same as other “pocait” churches because people come to us looking for something different. We are more of an international church, with sometimes half of our congregation being refugees (not rich Americans).

      And about “darkness,” every place has it’s own kind of darkness. Romanian may claim to be about 85% or more “Christian,” but, just like in America, just because someone takes that label does not make them a follower of Jesus. The abortion, adultery, and domestic violence rates are very grim here. The racism, the sexual immorality and pornography, and drug use is evident everywhere—and you don’t have to look in hidden, underground places; it’s in your face everywhere. Sure, I feel very “safe” as in I don’t expect to be shot or raped just walking down the street at night, but that doesn’t make a place not “dark.” Darkness comes in many forms.

      Lastly, we didn’t choose Romania. Europe was last on our list of places to go, but this is where God sent us for now, and we just make ourselves available until He says go somewhere else. I’d love to go someday to the Middle East or Africa (my husband has actually been a couple of times and is planning on going again next year). I know America is very dark (we haven’t been back in over 3 years, because we’re poor missionaries, not rich Americans trying to force our views on a different culture, and don’t have the funds–we sometimes barely make our bills here).

      We don’t pick places to live on whether it would make a nice place to raise a family, but on if God said go there or not. Before Bucharest, we lived in Milwaukee, a very dark place, where drug busts and gun shots were common in our neighborhood. Please find out the whole story before you judge someone.

      August 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm

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