Journey to Romania, Part 2, Surrender
At eighteen I said “goodbye” to my aunt’s house (and her church); I moved in with a high school girl friend who lived in the North Hollywood area. We loved going to concerts, clubs and the whole Hollywood scene. I worked two part time jobs to provide for myself and soon landed my first full-time office job near Beverly Hills, working in the finance community for the “rich and famous.” I went to clubs and bars with my friends and eventually met an “older man” (he was 25 and I was 19). We spent four years together, breaking up when he broke my heart after having an ongoing relationship (just one of many, I learned) with another woman. Naive me, during this time I had even followed him north to live in San Francisco. My aunt graciously helped me move back to L.A. where I again repeated the life style of going to parties and bars and entering into unwise relationships. I was twenty two years old.
BUT, this time Jesus started pursuing me and searing my conscience. Unbeknownst to me, my grandma had been praying for this very thing. My aunt said she had prayed for me, too. She hadn’t wanted to see me self destruct.
That’s what I was doing, self destructing. I had a great job, my own apartment, a sports car, a good looking boyfriend…and I could attract just about any guy when I went into a club, but I was empty and desperate.
I was trying to control my life with an eating disorder. I had high levels of anxiety accompanied by periods of heavy depression. I went to a Twelve Step Program…I went to a psychologist, who wanted to put me on a prescription drug…I didn’t go through with that.
Then, one day someone said, “Coleen I can’t fix it, but Jesus can.” That is the moment when I fell on my knees in my bedroom and called out to Him to save me. I confessed my sins, asked His forgiveness and told Him I was done doing it my way. I needed Him. His peace completely washed over me. I went to bed that night and woke up to a new day and a new Coleen. Complete peace filled my heart which was now totally on fire for Jesus. A couple of weeks later I ended up at a Raul Ries Bible Study where I loved the open preaching of God’s Word and the on-fire time of worship. I began attending a Calvary Chapel near to my home.
Oh…, the boyfriend. Well, I broke things off with him right away. I told him we were “unequally yoked.” He said he was okay with it and I thought that was the end of our relationship. Less than a week later he began pursuing me…my friends and family said he was “stalking” me. I thought it was my duty to evangelize him–Big Mistake! He eventually told me he had found Jesus and just wanted to be with me. As a baby Believer who didn’t know better, I made the mistake of not seeking God’s will. A few years later he found someone else and left our relationship. Being with him quenched my fire for the LORD. The guy hadn’t given up his friends or worldly lifestyle and he had pulled me back into it with him. But…the best part is that I went back to church regularly and my fire grew again.
In 1995 I worked close to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and went to a Wednesday night Bible Study taught by Pastor Chuck Smith. He was teaching on Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”
Pastor Chuck said that we will never be able to repay Jesus for what He did on the cross, but we can live our lives as a “thank you” by offering ourselves wholly to Him for service. I prayed with him as he led us in the closing prayer, surrendering my life to Him for His use. Within a couple of weeks, I sensed a stirring in my heart to “go somewhere.” I didn’t know where or for how long. I just started praying and seeking.
Someone at my home church (CC Pacific Hills) shared some information and photos of the CC Bible College (aka Castle) in Austria. My first thought was, “Oh, a castle! I want to go there!” However, no doors opened.
Shortly after, our church High School group shared about their trip to Romania. We were supporting some missionaries who had gone to a really poor town there in 1990, following the revolution; they had a large ministry to orphans.
Hmmm…,I really didn’t even know where Romania was on the map but the LORD was stirring my heart. My missions pastor encouraged me to step out in faith, so I did. I asked my boss for the time off to go on the trip, but he said, “I’m sorry, it’s one of the busiest sales times for us…I just can’t let you go.” I was so disappointed and called a good friend. She prayed with me asking if it was God’s will for me to go on the trip to Romania, God would change my boss’ heart; then I would know without a doubt that I was meant to go. Next morning at work my boss called me with a change of heart. He told me I could go!!!
by Coleen Jejeran, Missionary to Romania
(look for Part 3 of Coleen’s story soon)