Relevant Relationships

In November 2014, the United Methodist congregation «Light from Light» was established in Sibiu, the heart of Romanian culture and arts. One of the new members is Sergiu Bolotă. He has an inspiring story to tell. A story of sports, music, relations, and patience. His own story.

It all began in 2007 at the local Skate Park. Having passed by almost every day, I suddenly felt a strong call from God to help the young people gathered there. Although I had no clue what skateboarding and the related lifestyle really meant, I went in and started talking with the kids. Over the course of the next weeks they somehow accepted me as a friend who wants to offer something to them. They started trusting in me.

In order to be able to better understand and help them, I decided to apply for a job at the local skate shop. I was accepted and worked there for 5 years. During these years I traveled the country putting together skate contests or just visiting skate events. I met hundreds of teenagers – and many of their parents, as well. Since I always stayed at someone’s home, we often kept talking about God and our lives till the morning, sometimes even with the parents in the room. And God helped me to build great friendships with a lot of young people. After all these years I am still in touch with most of them. And I can discover that God provided me with a huge opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of these teenagers.

Unfortunately, the people of my religious community did not share my vision. Maybe there was a lack of enthusiasm or time or energy – the conclusion was that they were not willing to invest in these young skaters. I felt like a lonely wolf in the woods. It was my conviction that one person, being part of a team, can «change the world» and therefore I feared that, with no people around helping me, the impact of my ministry on the lives of the teenagers would not be the one expected. But God proved to be faithful.

One day I met Pastor Cristian Istrate who, together with his wife Ligia, had moved to Sibiu to establish a United Methodist congregation here. I still remember how he asked me about my vision for the community – and how he decided on the spot that he wanted to invest in me and to work together with me. What an encouragement to continue catching the vision!

Many of the teenagers I regularly meet live normal lives. However, some of them are in deep troubles. I am not easily scared by terrible stories, because I've been there myself. Having grown up with an alcoholic and abusive father, my childhood was a disaster. Then my teenage years were as sinful as one can get. But I know what it means to be truly saved by Christ. Therefore I decided to use my past to share God with the rest of the world – and particularly with those people whose brokenness is challenging me. I cannot find rest until I see my friends in peace with God and their families.

During the past years I realized that not only sports but also music brings people together in a unique way. Therefore I regularly play music at a café in downtown Sibiu. And, having some experience with recording songs, I recently invited young people from various churches – Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Greek-Orthodox – and also some self-proclaimed non-believers to record a song with me at our church. Maybe we will repeat this encouraging experience now and then.

My vision for «changing the world» by impacting the lives of the teenagers is to let God be visible in everything I do – in my activities (one-to-one counseling, sports, music, discussion groups), but also in my love and patience. God is faithful. Will I also be faithful to His calling?

Source: Sergiu Bolotă, Sibiu (Romania) / Fund for Mission in Europe
Date: January 29, 2015