I grew up in a Christian family in Romania. Romania is 98% Eastern Orthodox, and though they are Christians, I feel there is often a lack of a personal relationship with Christ between the people and God.
My grandfather is a first-generation Christian, and then my dad is a first-generation Christian because he converted from an Orthodox faith and has a personal relationship with Christ. I grew up Baptist, but it’s a different type of Baptist than you would know here. We grew up with the beliefs that wearing makeup is a sin, drinking is a sin, dancing is a sin—all those do’s and don’ts. Still, I felt like I had a lot of freedom. My sister and I would dance in the house. My parents were very in tune about what Scriptures said and would talk about David dancing before the Lord.
When I came to the States, my first landing spot was Alabama. Obviously, it was a culturally different place for me, but it provided helpful “guardrails,” so to say—they live conservatively from the drinking aspect, and that really helped me as a young man on my own in a foreign country. I really loved it.
But as I’ve studied Scripture and matured, I understand God differently than when I was a teenager. That’s why God sometimes puts us in certain circumstances to help us grow.
I got married in 2006, and Patricia and I wanted to set up good habits of reading the Scriptures and praying together. I think we’ve become more dependent on Christ—or perhaps our awareness has grown that we ARE dependent on Christ. A lot of people may think they are in the driver’s seat, but they are not. They think they can do life on their own. But God is in control.
In 2014 we moved to Tennessee. That’s when I was in my first small group: a group of five guys that met weekly. We studied God’s Word—working to establish a foundation rooted in Scripture. I have strong convictions about social things. But I believe in marrying them with the love of Christ—so that even when I disagree with someone, I can show them love. Christ’s love and Scripture have really guided my life and grounded me.
I think God opens doors for us to share the Gospel.
It might be through our actions or through words and phrases we use, and sometimes He lets us take the whole bag out and put it on the table. It depends on the circumstances. But I feel that through all the moves I’ve done through work (ten states so far), all the relocations, God has put at least one person in my life that I was able to fully share the Gospel with—to say this is Christ, this is what God has done for me, this is what we can do to respond.
I work in construction, and it isn’t the easiest industry to work in—lots of moving, especially in the industrial sector. People work weekends, they travel a lot. It’s hard to have family life or even a church life. But when the time comes to share, God makes it clear: Look, no one’s around. Or, we’ve got two hours to spare, we can talk. Can you give me a ride home? Sure, that will take an hour and a half. We’ll be trapped in this vehicle, and we’ll have a lot to talk about! But a relationship was built first, and then we had the time to talk.
I remember that it’s not me doing the conversion—I am just putting down a seed, and God will do the planting and make it grow.
I used to say a lot: if I’m wrong, maybe I’m considered crazy. But if I’m right, you have a lot to lose—for what the future holds, the life after, and the life now—not just after. So yes, I’ve had some interesting conversations.
The difference God makes in my life is that He gives me grace. I have freedom from guilt. But my story has evolved over time, and it’s still a process. I worry a lot about certain things. If I’m destined to be a sculpture, I’m still a rock! But I am changed by the freedom God has created in my life and the grace He gave me.