Everything we do is connected to partnerships with church plants across the country. Imagine these tiny one-room churches with enough space to hold 40 people. These churches have faithful, dedicated, yet exhausted part-time pastors who do their best to minister to and reach their community. Most of these small churches do not have any ministry specifically dedicated to the youth. We seek to help these churches by ministering to their youth so they can be poured back into the church. Let me explain…
The Cycle of Camper to Youth Leader
Our goal and hope for every young person we come in contact with is to begin the cycle of camper to youth leader. First, we partner with these small churches across the country and provide them with scholarships to come to our camps. Here many of them hear the Gospel for the first time and choose to follow Christ. Afterward, we continue the relationship through our follow-up program and encourage them to take the next step to develop spiritually. We do this through discipleship, joining a Bible study, and attending MIA College. Eventually, they are trained and equipped to serve in their local church.
Our Partnership with Sinoe
But what does this look like in real life? We thank God for our partnership with a small church in Sinoe, a village in the eastern part of the country and its pastor, Mihai. We have been partnering with this church for many years and we can see the growth of this church! Every summer Pastor Mihai brings youth from His church to camp for a life-changing week of camp. This last weekend, a team of us went to their church for a youth meeting. However, when the church heard we were coming many adults chose to show up to which was fine with us! The tiny village church was completely full with many people having to stand in the back because there was no more room to sit. Who were these young people attending the youth meeting? Past campers who have come to our camps! They are taking what we have instilled in them and invested in them and they are serving in their church and seeking to reach their peers.
Why We Invest in the Church Plants
Do you see why this is so incredible? We minister to these campers through camp and our ministries like Bible studies and discipleship, but it is never about just merely having more participants in LIFE Romania’s ministry. Everything we do is to strengthen the local church. The local church where they have a faithful pastor to encourage them daily and challenge them to serve within the church. This cycle is why we choose to invest in the local church.
New Partnership: Busteni
Sinoe is a great example of one of our long-term church partners we have had for years. However, we are also beginning to develop new relationships too. This last week another team headed north to Busteni, a mountain town two hours from Bucharest. We have three counselors who are the leaders of two different Bible studies that attend a church in this town. Two counselors lead a study for older students and the other counselor leads another for children. We visited this church to encourage the leaders and also introduce ourselves to the church and their pastor.
At the beginning of the meeting, the pastor was excited we were there but slightly apprehensive to figure out who LIFE Romania is and what our goals and purpose are. However, by the end of the weekend, he was so encouraged by us. He was excited that we are seeking to not replace the church or steal their students, but truly come alongside the church, partner with them, and support them in any way we can. Now, we look forward to a future partnership with this church!
Our Goal for these Partnerships
Our goal for every church that our counselors attend is to continue to develop partnerships. We want these counselors of these churches to be leaders within their churches where they are able to plan and run the youth meetings each weekend. These counselors are the ones who are leading online Bible studies, but eventually, they will be able to begin meeting in person at the church. Lastly, we want each church to have a girl and a boy disciple-maker who is discipling the younger youth of their congregation.
Young people can surprise you sometimes on how mature and dedicated they can be. These pastors are beginning to see the value of using the youth to reach the youth. That is why our mission is this, to reach the next generation for Christ by equipping them to impact their local church as disciples who make disciples.
You can learn more about why we choose to invest in the local church here.