This story is based on actual events and first-hand accounts of pastor’s lives in Romania; the characters, however, are fictional.
The sun won’t rise for another hour, but already Mihai, a Romanian Pastor, and his two sons, Ion and Vasile, have cleaned out the stables, milked the cow, and fed the chickens and ducks. His daughters, Mariana and Elena, have spent the morning cleaning and collecting fruits and vegetables from their garden to bring to those of their community in need. They will share whatever is left between them.
As they head back to their house, there is already a crowd of people waiting by the front door. Some request blessings for new family members or animals, others seek prayers for the sick. Most are just hoping for food.
The crowd is welcomed inside, and immediately conversations develop around the latest soccer news and the Romanians playing professionally throughout Europe. After blessing the food, Mihai distributes it among the needy. He prays with those who are sick or suffering. He makes appointments to bless newborn babies and animals. He gives the last of his gas money to an elderly woman who cares for her neighbor’s three children.
Once everyone has left, Mihai gathers his things, mentally preparing himself for the day ahead. As he grabs his hat, his eldest, Mariana, hugs him and whispers, “We’re out of flour, Papa.”
He nods and steps out into the blinding first rays of the sun, quiet tears racing him down the front steps.
As he climbs into their horse-drawn cart, he tries to hold back the well of emotions threatening to break free. He knows there is only one moldy onion left for the five of them to eat tonight. He knows he gave away more food this morning than they have eaten in a long while. But he also knows he has a job to do. And so he clutches his Preacher’s Outline and his grandmother’s Bible to his heart—gifts more dear to him than his home —and sets out down the dusty road.
Mihai is the only Pastor for over 100 miles. He is responsible for three church communities, and does his best to split his time equally between them. Each day he rides to his neighboring farms and villages, bringing what foodstuffs he can, blessing any who ask, praying with those in need, and telling all who will listen, “Jesus loves you!”
Like more than 85% of evangelical pastors, Mihai has no formal education. Collectively, he and his family make $250-$350 a month, and with five mouths to feed, seminary classes are a luxury he cannot afford. His Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible® was given to him by an American ministry that translates and donates pastoral resources to church communities in developing nations. They are the only educational materials that Mihai has access to in order prepare his sermons, and answer faith-based questions from his community. His ministry is entirely dependent on his children’s income and other aid donations. His congregations do not have the funds to support him. Like today, Mihai often has to choose between feeding his family and ministering to his three churches.
If you were to ask him why he continues on in the face of hunger and strife and poverty, he would simply reply, “Someone has to remind people that God wants them. So until someone better comes, I guess it’ll be me.”
Later that night, as he lay in bed, road-weary and hungry, Mihai recites to himself his wife’s last words—the reason for his ministry—“Don’t forget God. Without looking up to something true, none of it holds together.”
And he closes his eyes to prepare himself for tomorrow. And tomorrow’s tomorrow.
 From a report on Romanian pastors by Bob Patty
 Paragraph paraphrased from the same report by Bob Patty
 Paraphrased quote from Dr. Peter Augustine Lawler.