Joyce Stryker, Stonecroft Regional Administrator and Speaker, has traveled to Romania at least 10 times with friends and family since 1991. The country has a special place in their hearts, and God has made incredible connections that continue to this day through her granddaughter. Joyce has also had the privilege of seeing Stonecroft Bible studies reach youth in Romania as a result of God opening doors.
In 2002, Joyce was in the country with friends. One afternoon, while they were sightseeing, she overheard the pastor on the trip speaking with a couple. “I wasn’t really paying attention,” she said. “All I remember is that I overheard their names: Faith and Chris.”
Fast forward a little to when her daughter Suzanne Sheppard and granddaughter Allison Sheppard came traveled with Joyce to Romania. “It’s in their heart, too,” Joyce said. Toward the end of their visit, Allison announced she wanted to stay for the summer.
Suzanne, a former Stonecroft Speaker, and Joyce had already built a passion for evangelism in Allison, who watched them both spend their lives reaching those who do not know Jesus. It was no surprise that Allison’s heart would be similarly aligned.
They returned to the United States, and Suzanne started working on a way for Allison to return to Romania and spend the summer there reaching the community for Jesus. Her search the Internet led to a couple willing to house Allison with their eight-person family in a small home in Romania.
“Allison,” Joyce told her, “you can only stay if I meet them and like them.”
Preparations were made, and grandmother and granddaughter traveled back to Romania to meet the couple. It started with a simple lunch in their home with their family. Their names? Faith and Chris, the same couple the pastor on Joyce’s mission trip had encountered all those years ago, a divine appointment.
After lunch, Faith took them to a nearby park to hand out tracks. Because people want to learn English, they flock to native English speakers and will always engage in conversation. This is the perfect opening to open discussions about faith and Jesus Christ.
Joyce could not have been more pleased. “I was going to let my granddaughter stay with the best people possible!”
The icing on the cake was when Joyce gave Faith and Chris a set of Stonecroft Bible studies, which they translated into Romanian. They then held Bible studies for youth groups regularly. The first book they took them through was “Who Is Jesus?”
Allison stayed the summer of 2017 and is still there, now as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, where she can build relationships with youth and share Jesus with them, just as her mother and grandmother before her modeled because of their love for Jesus.