I am so very happy to introduce our newest “living stones,” from Danes, Romania.
David McGuire moved to Romania many years ago, met and married Rodica, and now they have a daughter, Sabrina.
David is an elder at Mana Church in Sighișoara, Romania and has built many houses for the poor in that area. In addition to being an elder and builder, David serves several village churches and leads men’s meetings. Rodica serves in the worship ministry. In the pictures below, you can see recent building projects and a village outreach.
Stoneworks has sent individuals and teams to serve alongside them, and we are glad to deepen this relationship as God leads.
Rather than give a lengthy introduction, I’ll let David tell a story that exemplifies his life of faith and obedience:
A Restraining Hand
A Testimony by David McGuire
“We don’t want you to go down there and help them other people,” a short, dark man stormed. His wife, brothers and cousins echoed his words. On a warm Monday afternoon in the spring of 2000, my construction crew and I had finished work on their homes in this poor Gypsy settlement called the Valley, at the edge of the village of Albesti, Romania. “If you go and help them people at the far end of the Valley, like you been helpin’ us, we’re gonna beat you up,” the Gypsy man told me through my interpreter.
My name is David McGuire. I’m an Englishman born in Manchester and raised in Glossop, a small town nearby. I had been working in Romania for four years, first helping to encourage and to evangelize with a church in Sighisoura. Since last autumn we had come weekly to share the gospel with the Gypsies of Albesti. We especially felt compassion for the women and children because they were without proper housing and often abused. The men didn’t work much, often getting into fist or knife fights, especially when drunk on cheap, blue sanitary alcohol. Their wives and children lived in fear, for if the men beat them their neighbors turned a blind eye to the bruises. So we rebuilt their cabins or built them new ones. We brought gifts and preached through fun-filled children’s programs, doing what we could to change hearts.
It shocked us that these people could now be threatening us. Just a few months ago, this man, like many of his relatives, lived in a meter and a half tall lean-to he had built of scrap lumber and tree branches to shelter his family from the rain and snow. Today he had a sound wooden cabana with a proper roof, as did his brothers, cousins and their families on the near side of the Valley. When they thought of their neighbors at the far end of the valley enjoying the same decent housing, jealousy and anger had filled their hearts. But, in spite of their threats, we determined to help every family there.
So the next day I came back in the morning with my Romanian workers, Relu, Florin, and Fernando, and we started on the first new house in the lower part of the Valley. At about four in the afternoon I drove the men back to our house in Sighisoura and met our international ministry team. Sarah, on a six month term, and Mike, on a short-term missions trip, were Americans. Christina and Alina, two young Romanian women, and Relu completed our team. Relu rode with me in my old blue Volvo, and the rest of the team followed in an orange Volkswagen mini-bus.
We drove the few miles down to the middle of the valley. Then we rounded up the kids for the outreach time. Everything went smoothly, but during the program some of the kids warned us that the men were threatening to beat us up and smash our cars. So after the program, while the rest of the team packed up, Christina and I crossed the stream and followed the path in front of the houses we had built. Hidden around a bend, out of sight from our meeting in the middle of the settlement, the men had built a roadblock with three big tree branches. Two of the men were on our side of the stream, and I tried to reason with them. Christina translated for me. In an attempt to diffuse the situation I made the leader pose for a picture with me and his family in front of the cabana we had built them. But still they shook with anger and kept repeating, “We don’t want you to help them people down there!”
Christina and I went back to the others and told them what was going on. We prayed for wisdom, safety, unity, and clear-mindedness. Then I felt peace in my heart and thought, Well, this is one for you, Lord. We got in the cars, Relu riding with me, and drove slowly up the muddy, bumpy road. After about 300 meters we came to the roadblock and stopped just two car lengths from it.
Right in front of us were four drunken, angry Gypsy men. Their wives and children stood on the far side of the roadblock, waiting to see what would happen. Relu and I got out of the car and told the others to stay in the mini-bus. I walked toward the men with Relu behind me. The leader of the group held an axe, another had a stick, and the other two waved clenched fists at us as they shouted, “We don’t want you here. We’re gonna beat you up.” They pointed towards the far end of the village and said, “We don’t want you helping them. We don’t want you there or here no more.”
Relu translated for me and I replied, “But we’ve done everything we can for you. It’s time now for us to help the people at the other end of the village.”
“No, we don’t want you to help them!” they shouted. “We don’t want you coming here any more. We’re gonna beat you up and smash your cars!”
The biblical verse about turning the other cheek came to mind, and I knew in my heart that if they struck me on the cheek, I would offer the other. Even though I was scared, boldness flooded my heart. These drunken men were standing in the way of God’s blessing. But I was determined to attack this evil God’s way. Now I’m a big bloke, six feet four inches tall and 16 ½ stone [100 kilos or 220 pounds]. I walked up to the man gripping the axe, and looking down into his face, yelled, “Well, I’m gonna put my hands behind my back.” Relu translated for me. “See I’ve done it. I’m not gonna take them away from there.” Then I went to my knees and put my head down and said, “Okay, do it… Do it… Do it… Now is the time, do it!” I thought, Oh God, I really hope it doesn’t hurt too bad.
They still shouted, “We don’t want you coming here,” but when I didn’t feel a blow, my faith strengthened. I stood up. “Why have you not hit me?” I asked the man with the axe.
“We won’t hit yer because we know God is watchin’ us.” This gave me even more courage. Then he was silent, shaking in his drunken anger. “But we don’t want you comin’ here no more!” he said.
“Yes, we are. We’re coming here tomorrow!”
“If you come tomorrow we’ll beat you up and break your cars.”
“You can do it now, but we’re comin’!” I told him in a loud voice. “We promised God, the town mayor, and the people to help everyone. And if you don’t like it, then tough, because we’re gonna come. Now shift those trees or beat us up, because I don’t want to wait here any more.”
After they moved the tree branches, Relu and I got back in the Volvo and we left Albesti. At home I learned that everyone in the mini-bus had been praying, especially when they saw me drop to my knees, because the man had raised the axe high for a blow. Relu, just behind me, could see the sweat on his face and his anger as he violently trembled, trying to strike me. Relu heard the venom in his voice as he shouted again and again that he was going to do it. But something had physically restrained him and he couldn’t hit me. In his drunken rage, no sudden mental or spiritual revelation could have stopped this man, whose body bore scars testifying to the violence he had practiced all his life. No, he must have physically experienced God’s restraining hand. That’s how he knew that God was watching them.
We didn’t return on Wednesday, but let the men cool off. On Thursday morning we held a meeting with all the people of the Valley. I told them how shocked and upset I was by their behavior and asked if anyone was not happy with us. The families who had not yet had housing built, about two-thirds of the people, said that they were indeed happy for us to come. Then the men who had threatened us said that they were sorry and asked forgiveness.
We continued building and ministering in that village until every family had new or rebuilt housing. During that time 17 people professed Christ as their Savior and began attending church.
That year I learned a lot about God’s power to get you through battles in life, especially how to stand up for what is right, even when people want you to give up. And I’m very grateful for God’s restraining hand that afternoon when He showed me He really could protect me when I am about His business.