Journey to Romania. Part 6: Family

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About seven weeks after our wedding we learned our first child was on the way, so we planned a trip to the States for my family to meet JeJe.  We returned to Romania and I gave birth to Elli Grace JeJeran in Cluj, Romania (three and a half hours from our town) because it was the “safest” city in Romania in which to give birth.  After over thirty one hours in labor I still could not dilate.  If I had attempted to have her in our town, both Elli and I would have died.  The doctor in Cluj did a great job with an emergency C-section and we were now parents.

Life went well until we visited my family in the U.S. when Elli was eighteen months old.  My aunt explained to me what Elli’s position was to her.  One of her sons and his wife had a daughter about a year after Elli was born and, well, she just wanted me to understand where her priorities lay.  Ouch! Our stay was very uncomfortable as I watched my aunt unable to love my daughter; with harsh looks and dealings.  All I ever wanted was for my aunt to be like a mom to me and a grandmother for my daughter.  That would never really be.  We were left feeling like a “burden” our entire visit and felt no desire to return.

When Elli was a little over two years old we received fantastic news that we would be blessed with another baby.  Unfortunately my family was not in agreement with our ministry decisions and by this time were no longer speaking with us.  We went to the U.S. for a visit while I was expecting.  One of my aunt’s sons sent an apologetic email explaining the family had gathered to gossip about us and judge us.  He said he was truly sorry and asked for our forgiveness.  While I didn’t understand his decisions or actions, I respected his owning up and asking for forgiveness.  It spoke volumes to his character.

I experienced serious, life threatening medical complications with my C-section delivery of our son, James.  This required a quick trip back to the U.S. for a couple of surgeries.  Again, no communication from my family. We were in the States for 6 months when I told JeJe that I was “tired” of Romania and ready to “come home.”  He kindly responded he had not heard that direction from the LORD, but would keep it in prayer.  We returned to Romania a few weeks later.

Very shortly after our return, we noticed suspicious behavior on the part of our pastor (questionable money dealings, lying, etc.)  Others had reported similar observations in the past.  We knew it was time for us to leave there and we prayed about possibly moving to Cluj, where the children were born.  We prayed for several months, but the doors never opened for us to move to that city.  So we returned to America on September 11, 2003.  Elli was just over four years and James was 17 months old.

by Coleen Jejeran, Missionary to Romania

(Look for Part 7 of Coleen’s story soon)

Freedom

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“…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.  Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.” Romans 6:22

As I have tried to focus on the LORD instead of the current news reports of doom and gloom for Christians in America, the word “Free” keeps going through my mind.  Although the world is going the way God foretold it would go, He reminds me that I am free.  Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price to set all believers free…free from the power of sin…free to live to please Him.

God reminded me of the early days of my marriage.  My husband and I were in a subtle power struggle and almost daily we would discuss something until it became an argument.  Neither one of us was willing to concede the other might be right.  If he said something was “black”, I immediately said it was “white”.  One day he made a statement about something.  I don’t remember what point he was trying to make, but I do remember what God said.

Just as my tongue started to form the first words of my ungracious retort, I became aware of this thought…
“You don’t have to do this.”
“What?”
You don’t have to do this.”

In that moment I received full awareness that I had a choice.  I had the power of the Holy Spirit living within me and I didn’t have to let my flesh, my self nature, dictate what I thought, said and did.  I was free to choose to let the Holy Spirit bring forth righteousness in me.  That was my “aha moment”, the beginning of the process of change.

We are free.  We don’t have to let anger, fear, envy, selfish ambition and a bunch of other self-serving actions rule our lives.  We are free to live in righteousness and we are free to love and not hate.  We have died to that old life; it no longer has power over us. This is the freedom that matters to God.

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him…Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  Colossians 3:10-14 (NLT)

by Marilyn Allison

You broke my chains of sin and shame and you covered me with grace.
You mend my life with your holy fire
You cover me with grace.
You are the hand that reaches out to save
I am set free…
It is for freedom that I am set free.
And yes Lord, we are grateful for Your Grace and for Your Love…
You are the hand that reaches out to save.
I am set free
It is for freedom that I am set free.

by All Sons and Daughters from the album, Brokenness Aside

 

Journey to Romania. Part 5: Love Story

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When I originally moved to Romania, JeJe was then a part of the ministry team (and an Assistant Pastor).  Monday through Friday he mentored a group of teen orphan boys, helping them to learn construction. Our ministry team met every Friday, but in the entire first nine months of my stay I think we said maybe a few words only a handful of times.  He was very careful around American girls…he thought they were “too friendly,” hugging people all the time.  He was also very careful around any girls so as not to wrongly encourage anyone.

In the Fall of that first year he had approached me about some construction work I needed done on the large house I had purchased as part of my plan to help the teen orphan girls.  JeJe said he would oversee the work crew if I would be willing to trust him and the teen orphan boys to do the work.  I needed help; people were cheating me left and right.  Our communication became just a little more frequent for the next month, but it was always “just business.”

When I returned to Romania after my grandmother’s death I slowly got back into the swing of ministry, and in late April I attended the wedding of some friends in the church.  I, personally, had been asking God to remove my desire for a husband and family if that wasn’t His will for me (I was now 31.) The whole church was at this wedding and, at the reception, I somehow ended up standing next to JeJe. As the music played, I pointed out a good friend (Romanian) to him and mentioned what a nice girl she was.  He replied, “I am sure she would say you are a nice friend, too…Anyway, I am already praying about someone.”  I smiled and said, “Oh, that’s great.  I will be praying for God’s will for you with that.” I went home that night and asked for God to bless JeJe with that girl he was praying for, if that was His will for him.  Little did I know….

A few days later it was time for mid-week Bible study.  I was NEVER late because the Pastor had asked us missionaries to always be on time and be good examples to the nationals.  BUT, the Doctor at the baby orphanage invited me for coffee and it was by her good graces that we were allowed in to spend time with the babies, so I went.  I walked into church just as worship was finishing and slid into a chair in the back row.  JeJe was sitting in front of me.  He had been telling the LORD that if He wanted him to talk with me (as he thought the LORD was telling him to do), then He needed to bring me to the study.  If I didn’t come to the study, then he wasn’t going to talk to me.

When I came in and sat down, He knew it was me without even turning around.

After the Bible study, I was talking with a friend about moving to another town four hours away.  Some American friends had asked me to pray about moving there since I had good relations with the teen girls at the very large orphanage.  JeJe overheard this conversation and turned completely around to leave until God told Him, “Go tell her.”  He came back and asked to talk with me.  It was very strange to me.  “JeJe talk with me?”

He said, “I have been praying about you for many months and watching your life.  I know God told me to come and tell you now. I don’t want you to be my girlfriend…I want you to be my wife.  Take as much time as you need to seek God in this and let me know when He gives you an answer.  If you feel you need to go to Valcea (the other city), I will wait.”  Mouth wide open, chin dropped to the ground, the world was spinning.  “Um, what did you just say?”

As if it wasn’t hard enough for the poor guy the first time.  I was completely stunned and caught off guard.  He started to walk me home and explained that he began praying about me seven or eight months earlier.  He was standing at his window and praying one afternoon, asking God for a wife, when I came walking down the street.  No one else was around.  That’s when he first took notice of me.  I had come to get his help back when he was working on the house.  He continued to pray and, while I was back in the States, he knew that, if it was God’s will, I would be back.  He explained he had been watching my life and how I responded to different situations, especially when I agreed to sell the house to be used as the church building.

I went home that night, prayed and fasted a few days. I poured out my heart to the LORD.  This guy was such a humble servant, really loved God, was cute and I was attracted to his proposal.  BUT…marrying a Romanian was not on my radar, at all!!! Lets just say that they are waaaayyyy culturally different for this Valley Girl, and I just didn’t see me and a Romanian guy “meshing.”  Most importantly, I asked God what was His will for me…for Him to make it known, because I did not want another broken heart.

God gently said to me, “Coleen, he loves ME, more than he will ever love you.”  That was exactly what I needed to hear!  So, we began a courtship, with boundaries from the start.  We were never alone in private.  We always met in public, we chose not to want to kiss (and we didn’t) until our wedding day, and we did not hold hands until we were officially engaged (after 30 days of courtship).  We continued those boundaries, including keeping curfews with the teens we were examples to.  We were married four months later here in Romania.

No, my family didn’t come to my wedding.  I received letters from them telling me how they did not support my marriage to him and they did not want to come and meet him (he couldn’t get a Visa at that time so we could visit them).  But, everyone on our ministry team approved, and one of my dear friends (like a mom to me) wrote a letter to my aunt telling her what a great man of God JeJe was and that, if she had a daughter, she would love it if she married JeJe.  God eventually worked in my aunt’s heart and she called me a couple of days before the wedding to tell me she wished me the best.

Our wedding day was amazing.  It was filled with the presence of God and even non-believers commented on how much they felt/saw God’s presence.  God was glorified, that’s what we wanted.  He even provided an American woman, who came to serve in the ministry for five weeks that summer, as a seamstress to make my wedding dress.  (The only dresses available locally were “poofy”…think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).

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by Coleen JeJeran, Missionary to Romania

(Look for Part 6 of Coleen’s story soon)

June Bugs

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I have to admit, out of all of God’s creatures, June bugs are my least favorite. If you know me, you know that I am normally reserved and quiet, but when a June bug enters the room, my entire nature changes. My family watches in amazement as I begin to shriek and run around, looking for cover.

I am convinced that the noisy bug is going to fly into my hair. I don’t know exactly what will happen when he does, but I’m sure it won’t be pretty.

I have yet to discover why the Lord made these crunchy little bugs. I guess I could google it to find out their purpose in life, but even the thought of looking at their pictures on the computer gives me the shivers. I know parents who lovingly call their sweet little baby “June Bug”.  My daughter was born in June, but not once did I bestow that title upon her.

I’ve noticed that June bugs seem to never have a direction in their life. They speedily zoom along for a split second, then quickly go in an entirely different direction. Just what distracts them, I am not sure. I do know the light seems to draw them at first, but unlike the moth, they never get close enough to that light to make them settle down. They just seem to keep flying around in a light filled room.

I am very happy, however, that they seem to have a short little life. My guess is it’s because they expend so much energy zooming here and there for no particular reason. Quite soon I see them huddled in a corner, wanting to have another go at it, but just not quite having enough gumption to get up and do it.

As much as I detest these little creatures, I do confess that there have been times in my life where I also start off with a bang, but then quickly lose steam and drop to the floor.  I know what I am to be doing, and fly into the light filled room.  However, instead of flying into the light of my Savior, where my strength lies, I begin to dart here and there, losing my focus. Things distract me, and instead of heading in the direction I should go, I start dabbling with this or that.

It’s at times like this when the Lord puts a picture in my mind, of Him staring into my eyes, willing me to only look directly at Him.  I can see his fingers pointing back and forth between our eyes as He says to me, “you and Me – just you and Me”.  It’s time to re-focus and get back to the task at hand, setting aside all the distractions that are buzzing around my head.

Hebrews 12:2  …Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

by Vickie Wright

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