Rob Stader is the Director of Sales for Home Services at Lee Company in Franklin, TN. His life was changed in 2015 when he went on an orientation trip to Moldova with a former Board member of JMI, Jason Cruise. We asked Rob several questions to describe his experience for you.
JMI: Rob, your friend and colleague, Jason Cruise, encouraged you to go to Moldova. How did all that come about?
Rob: With me being in Youth Ministry with the Nashville Chinese Baptist Church for the past 10 years, Jason and I clicked right away when I heard about his work in Moldova. He first introduced me to the child that I sponsor, Mariana Balan, in 2012. From there, God used Jason’s subsequent trips to Moldova to begin convicting me to one day go over to Moldova. After going myself, God put a burden on my heart that has only deepened upon seeing the transformations that have occurred in the lives of the Transitional Living kids there as well as the hope in the eyes of the social orphans that JMI serves.
JMI: How did your Moldova experience with JMI compare to your experiences in Youth Ministry?
Rob: It is a privilege and a huge responsibility to work with our youth here, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in Moldova.
JMI’s Moldovan staff work tirelessly in the TRANSITIONAL LIVING houses and orphanages surrounding Chisinau as well as in the villages. The transitional kids know what God’s mercy means in their lives. To see the hope in the eyes of the orphans and vulnerable children touched by God’s work through the staff and volunteers humbles me to be a part of this amazing ministry. I want to be a part of God’s story there. I also look forward to seeing the continued transformations of the TRANSITIONAL LIVING kids and what impact they will have on furthering the Kingdom in the future.
JMI: What single experience in Moldova sticks out in your mind as the most memorable?
Rob: We (Jason, Alina-JMI’s National Director, and several transitional kids) went to visit a Pastor in a village called Puhoi who has a Taekwondo ministry in a government building there. As we were about to enter the building a man with clear deformities on his feet and hands approached our group. Nina Svici, a transitional student in Grace House, immediately began walking toward him, but being a father of a daughter of my own, my parental instincts were to herd her away. My instincts were to protect her and she respectfully obliged.
Well, about 15 minutes later, I looked over and noticed that Nina had slipped off and was talking to the man. After we wrapped up with the Pastor I asked Nina what she was talking to him about and she told me she was praying for him. At that moment I was clear that I had been doing things all wrong. In a moment she showed me what Jesus would be doing if he were in that room that day.
Later, when Jason and I were departing for the US, Nina was among a few of the TRANSITIONAL LIVING kids who surprised us by meeting us at the airport to say goodbye. As I was getting in line to be checked in she pulled me aside and told me that she wanted to know my wife and daughter’s name again. I asked her why and she said that she wanted to pray for me and for my family.
Only later did I learn that she would walk to church every morning before school so often that her Pastor had to give her a key because he could not physically continue meeting her up there that early in the morning that often. At that moment I knew what power the Cross had in changing lives. She was offered grace in life by her opportunity through JMI to know Christ and therefore she seems to be committing her life to sharing the grace of God and the life of Jesus with anyone that will listen! I am inspired by her faith and am thankful to be a part of the JMI Moldovan ministry.
JMI: In addition to your trip to Moldova you’ve become the sponsor of two Moldovan children. What can you tell us about that?
Rob: We have sponsored Mariana since 2012 in the Orphan Sponsorship and now are a part of a team who sponsors Galina in Grace House. Although writing Mariana and seeing her pictures over the years was very rewarding nothing could have prepared me for the emotions of seeing her in person in June. It was as rich an experience as I can describe as it realigned purpose for our family as we became more encouraged to be a part of God’s story for her life.
JMI: What has changed in your life as a result of your trip, if anything?
Rob: I have been a part of a homeless ministry and volunteered working with children abroad, but all of it pales in comparison to the effect that being in Moldova had on my life. If my life were in black in white before my trip to Moldova, it is now in color.
Nothing has been more rewarding to me than seeing the hope in the eyes of an orphan child or the change that the Holy Spirit has made in the lives of the TRANSITIONAL LIVING kids who are on fire for the Lord and excited to serve.
God willing I will be able to further our company’s involvement (Lee Company) with JMI’s Moldovan ministry. Our primary goals are to pray about an annual mission trip to Moldova to do mechanical work, promote the sponsorship programs and continue our company’s fundraising efforts on behalf of JMI.
If you’d like to give toward JMI’s work in Moldova, you can do so here.