Journey to Romania: Part 9

We spent the next twenty months praying for clarity, timing and direction, all the while watching as God blessed and raised finances for our move.  (The church came behind us in full force and we left for our return journey to Romania on July 5, 2011.)

During the remainder of our time in Southern California my relationship with my aunt continued to be on her terms.  We were never invited to family gatherings (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.).  I continued to send invitations to the whole family for my kids’ birthdays, but only my uncle and aunt would make appearances.  We were invited to a couple of birthday parties for their grandchildren, but were clearly given the cold shoulder when there, so that wasn’t going to be resolved.  God has His purpose in, and uses, ALL things…ALL. (Romans 8:28)

God continued to remind me of JeJe’s sharing the story of Joseph with me.  The LORD told me to weep in private, not to communicate with them.  I destroyed many drafted emails outlining how hurt and upset I was.  He wanted me to trust Him and allow Him to deal with everyone and everything in His time (Joseph never sought out his brothers, even when he was second in command in Egypt).

When we arrived in Romania we faced much opposition as we began to plant a church.  Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther were (and continue to be) greatly used.

I was now “the Pastor’s wife.”  Oh Dread! (PLEASE NEVER, EVER, call me that…I struggled with that designation the first two years we were here.)  I am just “coleen” (with a small “c”); this works perfectly because JeJe just wants to be known as “JeJe.”  Anyway, I found myself in isolation (no friends or extended family support) which brought on a lot of tears; but the isolation also brought with it good changes and a closeness with my Lord.  It was through this isolation that I learned…”Don’t despise the very thing that drives you to the presence of God.”  I actually have a tendency to be too introverted at times.  I know…, you who know me are thinking, “What?  She has such a BIG personality!”  As a child I grew up alone with my thoughts and imagination, hiding from life in my room. That can be a habit which is easy to revert to.  However, I do highly value “alone time”, especially with Jesus.

He has taught me many things these past four years.  The biggest: Forgiveness.  I always wanted to forgive, especially my aunt, but I didn’t know how to do it in a way that would completely free me from the stronghold our relationship had over me.  I have learned the kind of forgiveness Jesus had when He washed Judas’ feet and no one in the room knew it was he that Jesus was referring to as His betrayer.  Jesus had the perfect “poker face,” because His heart was right.

God brought an American woman into our church who had gone through a big healing process in her own life.  Her ministry was helping people get rid of hurts…bitterness…strongholds…and defensive walls built as protection…by getting into the presence of God, seeking His truth and giving it all to Him.  Sometimes the enemy still rises to toss it back at me, but I just say, “Thank You Jesus that You enabled me to forgive that and You died on the cross for that.” The LORD showed me that all these years I wanted so badly for my aunt to be my “mom” and she couldn’t be.  I had to ask God for forgiveness for wanting my aunt to fill a void only He could fill, and for expecting my aunt to be someone she couldn’t be.

I visited my aunt when the children and I were in the U.S. in January of 2014.  I could sense something was amiss, but didn’t know exactly what.  I knew she had health issues (and ongoing cancer treatment) and we met with her and her family.  Unfortunately, some of the family members had done a lot of hurt that I had not yet dealt with and I wasn’t ready to meet with them.  My aunt insisted we all get together.  In an attempt to “do the right thing,” the children and I attended the gathering.  We couldn’t help but be “cautious,” with walls built up around us.  This upset my aunt; however, I did ask to pray with her and her husband before we left.  As I walked out the door, my spirit told me that it was the last time we would see one another….

She didn’t communicate with me very much in the months following our return to Romania.  In mid-November, 2014, I received an email notification that she had passed away.  The email was sent to “All” and stated she spent her last weeks “surrounded by her family.”  No one called me to tell me…no one told me about the memorial service…until after it had taken place.  When one of her sons called at 5:00 am the day after the service, JeJe was gracious and kind in speaking with him.

When I first opened that email, I sobbed.  My son and daughter were sitting close by and knew what it probably was about.  James said to me, “Let them go, Mom; you have us.”  God often uses my children to speak to me.

I spent the next couple of hours sobbing and praying “in my private chamber.”   I was comforted by Isaiah 61:3

“…To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.”

God also reminded me to be like Joseph and forgive, and allow Him to deal with everything.  He has a purpose in allowing things to happen the way they have; and I can emphatically tell you now, “It is Well With My Soul.”

As I close this letter of testimony, I am overjoyed in the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD…for blessing JeJe and me with this time together, as a family, serving the LORD.  I have watched each of us grow spiritually (my family says I have grown the most, which is the best compliment EVER).  I know this would not be true were it not for Him bringing us here…for such a time as this….

It is the deepest cry of my heart for people to know and love Jesus…to find healing and forgiveness at the Cross.  There is not one ounce of rejection, hurt, pain, or sin that He did not experience Himself on our behalf.  My heart especially aches for healing and forgiveness for the people of my husband’s homeland, Romania.  They have truly “become my people,” Ruth 1:16.  May He continue to use us as His vessels to preach this GOOD NEWS in such a time as this.

Each day, I am living out my Happily Ever After, in a land Far-Far-Away, having a “ball” with my Prince Charing…a man I never even dreamed I would be blessed to have as my husband…and two incredible children.  God’s purposes and plans for us are truly best.  Why, oh why, do we often tell Him we know “better?”

Now, I plow and serve for Him as I await for my King to take me one day on His chariot to His Kingdom that awaits….

To God Be The Glory; Great Things He Has Done (and continues to do).

(You can follow Coleen on Facebook at )

Journey to Romania. Part 8: Head of the Family

JeJe asked me for the checkbook and control of the finances…a very brave man was he! I was so upset!  We had both recently listened to a couple of good sermons on financial responsibility by Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley.  JeJe had developed a plan of action and it started with taking the leadership of our home back into his authority.  It meant he would be calling the shots with the finances; decisions would be discussed but he would be making the final call on them.  I fought him so badly on this…to the point where he left the house to go be alone with God and allow God to deal with me.  He did.  Was I a hearer of the Word only and not a do-er?  Did I really want to fight and disobey God by disobeying JeJe?

JeJe developed a budget and we stuck to it, tough as it was.  Within nine to twelve months bills were paid off and God was blessing our finances.  Two years earlier the LORD had resolved the situation with our pastor in Romania by taking him out of ministry for good.  He was found guilty of many things, some much worse than I previously mentioned.  God had used us in that situation with the supporting U.S. church and we found Romania would never leave our hearts.

Someone asked us, “Do you guys ever think about moving back to Romania?”  We both quickly responded with an emphatic “NO!”  The very next day that would all change…

I dropped the children off at school early that June morning. I was off to do my list of errands when the LORD clearly spoke to my heart, “I need you to go home.  I want to talk to you.”  I had such a sense of “urgency,” and I began to shake uncontrollably.  I went into our apartment, sat down alone with God and began to weep.  He spoke clearly to my heart that He wanted us to go back to Romania.  I was both excited and scared all at once.  I stayed awhile silently weeping, then texted JeJe at work to tell him what the LORD had spoken to me.  A few minutes passed before he responded. “I think you may be right.”  He came home shortly after and we prayed together.  We picked up the children from school and told them what we were praying about.  Both were excited.  We couldn’t believe it.  This had to be God because neither one wanted to ever go back to Romania after a family vacation there in 2006.

A couple of weeks later doubt and fear entered in.  What about my children’s futures?  What city did You want us to live in?  The old one, filled with hurtful memories? Many people were angry with the sin and deception of the American pastor and the church was no longer together.  One hundred twenty people were all scattered.  Thoughts of doubt and fear continued…What about this?…What about that?

These thoughts haunted me until early September when Pastor Bob preached a powerful message from Acts about how Paul was called first to preach to his people.  JeJe was so excited about our new calling; he shared his excitement as we prepared lunch at home and asked me, “Aren’t you excited? “NO,” I replied.  A look of shock and disappointment crossed his face.  I continued, “But I know He wants us to go.  I heard His voice…clearly…and I am going to obey His call; but I am asking Him to help me be excited about it.”

We prayed together.  The following Thursday I began attending the Women’s Bible Study at CCEA.  I didn’t know anyone in my group…I had asked God to “put me where You want me.”  They said it was time for prayer requests and I thought we would just write them on a piece of paper and be done.  Oh, no! The leaders wanted us to go around the table and share our requests. My heart was so heavy, when they got to me, it broke.  Every lady immediately got up from her chair to lay hands on me and pray.  What a blessing.

The next morning I drove to CC Costa Mesa to begin the Women’s study there.  I had been asked to help my friend with the Romanian Language Group.  I knew God had something special just for me because we were going to be studying Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.  I knew God was preparing me to return to Romania.

I sobbed during the entire drive there.  As I was pouring my heart out to the LORD a Casting Crowns song played on my radio. “…Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary; nevertheless, we lay it at Your feet…”  I parked, took some deep breaths, fixed my face and went into the main Sanctuary for the opening lesson.  Cheryl Brodersen came out and taught on Jeremiah 29:11 and how God had given that verse to her for her oldest daughter when they first moved to England to be missionaries.  Everything she said went straight to my heart and I cried in thanksgiving to the LORD.  That verse was no longer just on a coffee cup or note pad.  It was MINE! His plans were perfect for me and my family; they were for a hope and future.  That’s MY PROMISE KEEPERS PROMISE !!!

by Coleen JeJeran, Missionary to Romania

Journey to Romania. Part 7: American Sojourn

We moved to America with two small children, seven pieces of luggage, about five hundred dollars in JeJe’s pocket and a credit card debt for our airline tickets.  The LORD immediately blessed JeJe with a job doing electrical work (he is a licensed electrician).  Dear friends opened their home to temporarily provide a place for us.  About six weeks later we were able to rent a small apartment in Yorba Linda.

Shortly after we moved in, my aunt called.  She wanted to let me know this was her family and I wasn’t a part of it.  She called because my grandmother’s sister had passed away and there would be a family funeral.  We attended the service and saw just how “outside” the family they had decided to put us.  Hurt as I was, Jesus said to keep loving…and my husband said, “let it go.”  He often spoke of Joseph and his brothers and how both Joseph and God had handled that situation.

JeJe and I moved into the American “Grind” of working, spending, working and spending.  We purchased our own home and nice cars, went on great vacations.  About four years later it all began to change.

JeJe came home from work and told me he was not satisfied with our lifestyle.  He missed serving God and someone had asked him that week, “How much money do you need for it to be enough?” That remark caused him to stop and consider things.  There was no amount of money that brought him the happiness that serving God and being in fellowship with Him brought.  He told me that he was praying for God to do a change in us.

I thought to myself, “Don’t pray that!”  After all, we were going on vacation to Hawaii in a month, we both drove nice cars, owned a home and provided good things for our children.  Who wants to change that?  I think I feared more what might come, and that it might mean my giving up control.  You see, I had brought many fears and qute a bit of baggage from my past into our marriage.

As I went to bed in the stillness of the night God spoke to my heart.  “Coleen, how much is enough?” He had my attention.  He had been trying to get it for quite a number of months, but I was too busy to hear His voice any more.  We had been through a leukemia testing/scare with James and I had been called in for an extensive biopsy just a month or so before. Was I not grateful my son’s test came back revealing nothing more than a serious allergy? Was I not happy to have my health and an amazing husband who loved God? That night I prayed, “Thank You for all I have.  Forgive my ungrateful/unsatisfied heart.  You are enough for me, God.”

That was the beginning.  Within a month, the Real Estate market I worked in as a buyer/seller crashed and all the sitting/pending deals I had fell right through my fingers…over five million in sales.  We sold our home to get out from under the payment and moved to a smaller house to consolidate our debts and pay our bills.  One night my fight for control came to a crashing end.

by Coleen JeJeran, Missionary to Romania

Journey to Romania. Part 6: Family

About seven weeks after our wedding we learned our first child was on the way, so we planned a trip to the States for my family to meet JeJe.  We returned to Romania and I gave birth to Elli Grace JeJeran in Cluj, Romania (three and a half hours from our town) because it was the “safest” city in Romania in which to give birth.  After over thirty one hours in labor I still could not dilate.  If I had attempted to have her in our town, both Elli and I would have died.  The doctor in Cluj did a great job with an emergency C-section and we were now parents.

Life went well until we visited my family in the U.S. when Elli was eighteen months old.  My aunt explained to me what Elli’s position was to her.  One of her sons and his wife had a daughter about a year after Elli was born and, well, she just wanted me to understand where her priorities lay.  Ouch! Our stay was very uncomfortable as I watched my aunt unable to love my daughter; with harsh looks and dealings.  All I ever wanted was for my aunt to be like a mom to me and a grandmother for my daughter.  That would never really be.  We were left feeling like a “burden” our entire visit and felt no desire to return.

When Elli was a little over two years old we received fantastic news that we would be blessed with another baby.  Unfortunately my family was not in agreement with our ministry decisions and by this time were no longer speaking with us.  We went to the U.S. for a visit while I was expecting.  One of my aunt’s sons sent an apologetic email explaining the family had gathered to gossip about us and judge us.  He said he was truly sorry and asked for our forgiveness.  While I didn’t understand his decisions or actions, I respected his owning up and asking for forgiveness.  It spoke volumes to his character.

I experienced serious, life threatening medical complications with my C-section delivery of our son, James.  This required a quick trip back to the U.S. for a couple of surgeries.  Again, no communication from my family. We were in the States for 6 months when I told JeJe that I was “tired” of Romania and ready to “come home.”  He kindly responded he had not heard that direction from the LORD, but would keep it in prayer.  We returned to Romania a few weeks later.

Very shortly after our return, we noticed suspicious behavior on the part of our pastor (questionable money dealings, lying, etc.)  Others had reported similar observations in the past.  We knew it was time for us to leave there and we prayed about possibly moving to Cluj, where the children were born.  We prayed for several months, but the doors never opened for us to move to that city.  So we returned to America on September 11, 2003.  Elli was just over four years and James was 17 months old.

                                                                                      by Coleen Jejeran, Missionary to Romania


Journey to Romania. Part 5: Love Story

When I originally moved to Romania, JeJe was then a part of the ministry team (and an Assistant Pastor).  Monday through Friday he mentored a group of teen orphan boys, helping them to learn construction. Our ministry team met every Friday, but in the entire first nine months of my stay I think we said maybe a few words only a handful of times.  He was very careful around American girls…he thought they were “too friendly,” hugging people all the time.  He was also very careful around any girls so as not to wrongly encourage anyone.

In the Fall of that first year he had approached me about some construction work I needed done on the large house I had purchased as part of my plan to help the teen orphan girls.  JeJe said he would oversee the work crew if I would be willing to trust him and the teen orphan boys to do the work.  I needed help; people were cheating me left and right.  Our communication became just a little more frequent for the next month, but it was always “just business.”

When I returned to Romania after my grandmother’s death I slowly got back into the swing of ministry, and in late April I attended the wedding of some friends in the church.  I, personally, had been asking God to remove my desire for a husband and family if that wasn’t His will for me (I was now 31.) The whole church was at this wedding and, at the reception, I somehow ended up standing next to JeJe. As the music played, I pointed out a good friend (Romanian) to him and mentioned what a nice girl she was.  He replied, “I am sure she would say you are a nice friend, too…Anyway, I am already praying about someone.”  I smiled and said, “Oh, that’s great.  I will be praying for God’s will for you with that.” I went home that night and asked for God to bless JeJe with that girl he was praying for, if that was His will for him.  Little did I know….

A few days later it was time for mid-week Bible study.  I was NEVER late because the Pastor had asked us missionaries to always be on time and be good examples to the nationals.  BUT, the Doctor at the baby orphanage invited me for coffee and it was by her good graces that we were allowed in to spend time with the babies, so I went.  I walked into church just as worship was finishing and slid into a chair in the back row.  JeJe was sitting in front of me.  He had been telling the LORD that if He wanted him to talk with me (as he thought the LORD was telling him to do), then He needed to bring me to the study.  If I didn’t come to the study, then he wasn’t going to talk to me.

When I came in and sat down, He knew it was me without even turning around.

After the Bible study, I was talking with a friend about moving to another town four hours away.  Some American friends had asked me to pray about moving there since I had good relations with the teen girls at the very large orphanage.  JeJe overheard this conversation and turned completely around to leave until God told Him, “Go tell her.”  He came back and asked to talk with me.  It was very strange to me.  “JeJe talk with me?”

He said, “I have been praying about you for many months and watching your life.  I know God told me to come and tell you now. I don’t want you to be my girlfriend…I want you to be my wife.  Take as much time as you need to seek God in this and let me know when He gives you an answer.  If you feel you need to go to Valcea (the other city), I will wait.”  Mouth wide open, chin dropped to the ground, the world was spinning.  “Um, what did you just say?”

As if it wasn’t hard enough for the poor guy the first time.  I was completely stunned and caught off guard.  He started to walk me home and explained that he began praying about me seven or eight months earlier.  He was standing at his window and praying one afternoon, asking God for a wife, when I came walking down the street.  No one else was around.  That’s when he first took notice of me.  I had come to get his help back when he was working on the house.  He continued to pray and, while I was back in the States, he knew that, if it was God’s will, I would be back.  He explained he had been watching my life and how I responded to different situations, especially when I agreed to sell the house to be used as the church building.

I went home that night, prayed and fasted a few days. I poured out my heart to the LORD.  This guy was such a humble servant, really loved God, was cute and I was attracted to his proposal.  BUT…marrying a Romanian was not on my radar, at all!!! Lets just say that they are waaaayyyy culturally different for this Valley Girl, and I just didn’t see me and a Romanian guy “meshing.”  Most importantly, I asked God what was His will for me…for Him to make it known, because I did not want another broken heart.

God gently said to me, “Coleen, he loves ME, more than he will ever love you.”  That was exactly what I needed to hear!  So, we began a courtship, with boundaries from the start.  We were never alone in private.  We always met in public, we chose not to want to kiss (and we didn’t) until our wedding day, and we did not hold hands until we were officially engaged (after 30 days of courtship).  We continued those boundaries, including keeping curfews with the teens we were examples to.  We were married four months later here in Romania.

No, my family didn’t come to my wedding.  I received letters from them telling me how they did not support my marriage to him and they did not want to come and meet him (he couldn’t get a Visa at that time so we could visit them).  But, everyone on our ministry team approved, and one of my dear friends (like a mom to me) wrote a letter to my aunt telling her what a great man of God JeJe was and that, if she had a daughter, she would love it if she married JeJe.  God eventually worked in my aunt’s heart and she called me a couple of days before the wedding to tell me she wished me the best.

Our wedding day was amazing.  It was filled with the presence of God and even non-believers commented on how much they felt/saw God’s presence.  God was glorified, that’s what we wanted.  He even provided an American woman, who came to serve in the ministry for five weeks that summer, as a seamstress to make my wedding dress.  (The only dresses available locally were “poofy”…think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).