Q & A Interview with Florin Ion, by Rev. Tamara Mitchell
This article was originally published in PCJH’s Fall 2022 Pinnacle, “Living Our Faith”
Tammy: Thank you for talking with me. Would you share a little about yourself?
Florin: Thank you so much for thinking of me. I came to Jackson in 2006 from Romania. In Romania, it was very difficult to make ends meet and to provide for a family. Over the years I worked many jobs; Kmart, Hole Grocer, etc. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful people. I was soon able to purchase a car after three months. When I told my mother I had bought a car, she thought I was joking. You never know how the Lord will move in your life. I am privileged to call Jackson home for 16 years.
I did spend two years in Texas. In 1993, two missionaries came from the US to Romania right after the fall of Communism. They invested their love and support in me. When I came to the States, I discovered they were here. They asked me to come to Texas to be their worship leader at a Hispanic church. I learned to speak Spanish – all by ear – by reading my bible in Spanish. People later mistook me as someone from a Hispanic origin.
TM: Tell me about being a Christian at work?
FI: Work is a beautiful ministry opportunity to share the love of God. Every time I go through the doors I pray, “Lord use me today. May I have my eyes open to see to whom I can talk today and give me a chance to spread the good news about you. Help me to be kind to someone and in this way, they know that you are in me, you live in me.”
I grew up identified as Roma (pejorative – gypsy). My mom was not proud of this. She never allowed us to use the word, “gypsy.” (Roma people are often discriminated against). However, when the missionaries came to my town, and they learned that I was a “gypsy”, it did not matter. They never saw me as Roma or poor. They loved me for who I was. That made a huge impact on my life. When I’m at work, I believe I’m a missionary. Therefore I treat people out of love and respect. It doesn’t matter their color or nationality or language – to me they are precious souls loved by God.
I am privileged to tell them the good news about God, as long as they allow me to. That’s what I do. I would say 30% of work is work and 70% is ministry. There’s no way I can be different. As long as God will allow me to live on this beautiful planet I will always treat people with love because I’ve experienced that goodness from the Almighty God and from the missionaries who came to Romania.
TM: How has your attitude toward work influenced your co-workers?
FI: I love my co-workers. I’m thankful I can say they love me too. They know I’m a Christian. I always mention I have struggles like everybody else, but having God in my life makes a difference in my heart and mind. My famous motto is “one day at a time.” They all laughed at that. It’s beautiful when they can come to me and ask for prayer. They know I will pray for them. It doesn’t matter the church we go to or the religion we belong to. It’s all about treating people with love and respect even when it’s hard. As with any job, being with people all day long, requires energy. You have to literally pray all the time to go through the day, knowing Christ is with us and empowering us to do what we do.
TM: Are there days you don’t want to go to work?
FI: At times I want to stay home and watch a soccer game.
TM: You just exude joy. Share what it means about
bringing joy into the workplace.
FI: Especially after Covid, people were sad and depressed and were not able to talk freely without a mask. I notice here in the United States (I hope I am respectful in what I’m saying) we depend on our ability to do things – we depend on our work. On the one hand, that’s great because we live in a beautiful country where we are able to provide for our families. On the other hand, we tend to depend on our own strength. When we depend on our own strength, it’s hard to find joy. I know what it means to not have food on the table, etc. It’s easier to find joy and thankfulness in God first and the material stuff second. They are a blessing not an expectation. We tend to depend on our work to fulfill us, instead of our spiritual lives.
TM: The pursuit of wealth and influence is of high value here. How do you see that value being a part of
the Christian life?
FI: It reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3. He said the things that used to be important now he considers them rubbish compared to knowing Christ. We can find purpose in God first. Without faith it’s impossible to approach this and world, money, and position as a second level. Faith gives us hope – not only for this life here but in the life to come. We will be happy and thankful with what we have when the material things come second in our lives. I always tell my co-workers to try and read the Bible, to try to find the time to go for a walk and pray and have a conversation. It doesn’t matter what church you go to. It’s all about faith in God alone. He will show you how to be thankful and joyful. Even if you have to work three jobs, you can still find joy and happiness as long as you maintain a good relationship with your Almighty God. Without knowing Christ, there will always be an emptiness inside of our lives. That emptiness can be filled with Christ. When we do find ourselves blessed with material things, then we can use them to bless others. That’s a great thing!
TM: How do you prepare yourself spiritually for work?
FI: My sweet wife and children pray for me every day. I can’t do what I do without staying in connection with the Almighty God through the Holy Spirit. I ask for Divine appointment in everything I do. It is extremely important to be part of the church each week. I am strengthened and encouraged every Sunday to serve God in our community.
TM: The Lord is leading you in a new direction recently. Can you share about your calling to serve in Romania?
FI: I’ve worked with missionaries all my life in all areas of ministry. In Romania, I used to play my guitar and pass out tracks to share the Gospel. A while ago, I had the thought to go back to Romania to be a missionary. But I put that aside. Yet, the desire did not go away which was crazy because I always wanted to come to the US. Finally, I spoke to Pastor Ray, he was so encouraging and helped us talk to the mission board at First Baptist. They have since voted and accepted us to be long term missionaries and so by God’s grace, we’re going to go to Romania. Our purpose is to spread the good news and the gospel of Christ. We will begin working with the existing churches. We hope to move next April or May (2023). If the Lord provides and things happen faster, we are ready.
TM: If people wanted to partner and support you with prayers or their resources, how can they do that?
FI: You just have to send your support to “Eye On Roma nia” to First Baptist Church of Jackson Hole.
TM: Any final words?
FI: I’m blessed to be in this community. Everyone is so nice. I feel loved and that gives me strength to love others too. When you receive love and respect from others, it empowers you to do better in everyday life. Let’s take Jesus as our example. He loved everybody. He had mercy and compassion. When someone needed help, he would be there. When someone needed to be healed, he was available. There is a hymn that says, “Lord make me a blessing today”. May I have my eyes open to see what I can do today to bless others. With that in mind, seeing people as valuable and having the eyes of Jesus, we can love our community as Jesus would.