Metamorphosis in Romania

| Susan Johnston

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God…” 1 John 3:1a

Watching a nature show in which the film crew does not intervene to rescue wildlife is agony for me. The starving creature dies. The baby creature lost from its mother is never found. Nature groans in our fallen world.

Arriving at the Romanian sports camp last July, I first heard about Mattei. He had arrived for an earlier week and had broken his bed. I could tell by their stories, that the counselors were finding him a difficult youth with whom to deal. When I met him, I felt sorry for him. He was close to his adult height, but as an early teen, he was soft around the middle where everything seemed to be stored temporarily for future growth spurts.

He was not the retiring sort. In fact, he was quite bold which did not work in his favor either. Camp’s theme was “Metamorphosis” and divided the campers into two teams, the frogs and the butterflies. Challenges were issued for feats each team felt they could dominate, basically a talent contest. I observed Mattei’s repeated volunteering, insisting he could perform an activity only to fail to the dismay of his team, leading to their embarrassment, frustration, and eventual ignoring of him.

It was difficult for me to watch. He pushed so hard only to repeatedly fail. Like the nature film, I saw brokenness and felt heartache because intervention was limited. I began to pray. I did not know how to pray for Mattei, but I trusted the Spirit would understand his needs. Opportunities to engage Mattei materialized. Very mature for his age intellectually, he was knowledgeable and interesting. Perhaps because I was older and motherly, he began to seek me out. He spoke English quite well, and it became clear that he was outside of Christ, but he loved having a new friend.

Midweek he made a profession of faith in Jesus. While it is hard to gauge the sincerity of camp professions, we must trust that seed which is Spirit-planted and Spirit-watered will take root with the Spirit’s help. We are His workmanship.

Mattei was not the athlete during the week’s sporting competitions, nor the singer, or the gifted musician who shone during the talent contests. However, he was chosen for an important role in the camp week’s skit finale. His boldness and skill on the stage was amazing. I am delighted that God intervened for Mattei giving him an opportunity in which to display his natural talent! I thank God for Mattei’s delight when the team displayed their pride in his thespian accomplishment. The finale was a blessing to watch as these young people portrayed spiritual truths from God’s Word. We watched as God brought change, spiritual metamorphosis, before our very eyes.

Unlike those bleak nature shows, God loves to intervene in man’s brokenness creating a good ending. I watched a young man seeking acceptance from men find it in God. God gave him a new heart and new role, not as a thespian in a skit but as a beloved son, which is better than anything he had imagined!