From ministering in Guatemala to South Dakota, John and Kathy Stubblefield, owners of Mr. John’s School of Cosmetology, have been veterans of short-term missions trips for the last decade. Through Heartland Community Church in Decatur, IL, they annually travel across the US or around the world to minister to people in need. Their destination this summer? Romania.
In Heartland Community Church, Kathy says, “We are very blessed to have a pastor that is on fire for missions… Because of the success of these trips, our base of people that want to go is huge.” They planned on assembling one team, but because of the enthusiastic response, they assembled two teams of around 16 individuals each. Even then, they had to turn 16 people down.
During their two weeks in Romania, beginning on May 28th, John, Kathy, and their teams will partner with missionaries Ruben and Karen Popet. Karen, a former resident of Jacksonville and a graduate of Millikin University, is in Millikin’s Sports Hall of Fame as a basketball star. Today, she resides with her husband in Romania and cares for 22 orphan children ranging in age from 3-15. Together, the Popet’s work on a farm that supplements food to the orphanage, care for ten local widows, minister in the surrounding villages, and run a medical clinic.
During the trip, the teams will work to support the Popet’s ministry in multiple ways – helping with several small-scale construction projects, working on the farm, visiting the widows, and visiting the surrounding villages.
In addition, the teams have prepared programs to present and gifts to give during their visits to the villages. In a ministry structure similar to a Vacation Bible School, they will focus on encouraging Romanian children to seek the Lord.
The nation of Romania has a huge population of orphaned and abandoned children. But this team has a message to share with them – “They’re not throw-away kids. They’re not forgotten. They have a Heavenly Father that will never abandon them.” They anticipate tearful partings from the children – thus proving Kathy’s point about people being more involved in church ministry and missions – “If you can hug, you can make a different in the world to someone who doesn’t have hope.”
Knowing that the truth that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and give them the hope of eternal life is man’s deepest need, the Stubblefield’s are giving the senior years of their lives to spreading that message – in word and deed. Kathy shares, “Doing missions for us has been such a huge blessing…. We will do this until we die. We will never stop.”
As she prepares to travel to Romania this summer, Kathy’s message to others in her community is this, “Our culture is so inward-focused. Step out in faith and become outward-focused.”