My husband, Ionel, passed away a little over a year ago. I recently spent some time in Craiova, the city where I met him. God gave me an extraordinary chance to minister there within the Gypsy culture. While there, I attended a Gypsy church where Ionel had preached two years ago on Easter. His heart broke watching some of the unfortunate people, but only at first. Once you get to know them, you change your mind and will never forget them. These Gypsies, who have received Jesus in their hearts, have given up their bad habits and would rather go to bed hungry than steal. They really love God!
Even though they live among us, they live according to their own rules, which are completely different from modern society’s rules. They have no IDs, do not attend schools, speak their own language (as well as Romanian), and marry very young (often at age 12 or younger). I visited some of them. I was a little anxious before I entered their houses, but once I went in I felt overwhelmed by their love and care. I ate with them. They asked me to teach them about family life. The pastor of the church also asked me to do that. The FamilyLife® ministry has been my first love and I will never give up helping families to be happy in our Lord Jesus so I said yes without any hesitation.
I know that Ionel is gone. He was my perfect teammate. We felt so happy doing FamilyLife ministry together. What about now? Does the Scripture allow me to teach men? This is a serious issue because it deals with Scripture. But Ionel’s death didn’t take God by surprise. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).
God in His wisdom provided us the opportunity to record all our FamilyLife messages in a professional studio in the US, so I decided to use these video messages. The church began gathering together each Saturday afternoon to watch a video message, and after that they gathered in small groups to discuss and answer the questions in the manual. These video messages are as powerful as our live messages were. The people’s hearts were so touched not only by the message but the fact that Ionel’s ministry can continue in this way and change lives for eternity.
I spent ten days in Craiova working with the HomeBuilders groups, reading for them and answering their questions. Most of them cannot read and write, and their marriage status is another complication. Only one Gypsy couple in the church is officially (legally) married. God stirred the hearts of the Gypsy couples and they decided to go to the government to get their IDs and get married. The first couple that succeeded to finish this long procedure of getting their IDs was Daniel and his wife Fairy. They are 35 and 39 years old and already have grandchildren. They were officially married on February 9th of this year, and I was able to attend as a witness. After the wedding, I handed Daniel and Fairy a Unity Covenant. They shared with the church how FamilyLife teaching touched their hearts and made them understand that they needed to have a marriage covenant. As a result of Daniel and Fairy’s testimony, another Gypsy couple decided to officially marry. They also liked the idea of signing a Unity Covenant in front of the church.
Many non-Christian couples soon joined the initial group of Gypsies with which I started the FamilyLife program. I have never seen so many lives transformed in such a short time.