Romanian mission to bring a life full circle
God rescued him and now Daniel Winemiller wants to do the same for other Romanian children — returning to the country where he was orphaned at age 3 to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
He took a big step toward that goal Aug. 13 when Lead Pastor Rob Decker officially recognized him as an ordained minister of the gospel at Triad Baptist Church. Winemiller becomes the fifth missionary candidate commissioned by Triad as the sending church in its 33-year history.
Currently a customer service representative for a Winston-Salem auto dealership, Winemiller, 27, first felt the call to his native Romania when he heard a youth camp message as a teenager.
“The preacher was preaching on surrendering and giving 100 percent to Christ and talked about the pilots in World War II whose fuel gauges had a mark signifying the point of no return — the reading that told them that if they passed that point they wouldn’t have enough gas to get back,” Winemiller says.
“He was talking about surrendering to Christ completely, and the times when the mission was so great and important that people went past that point. Then he asked, ‘Are you willing to go past the point of no return?’ and I knew in my heart I was.”
However, another decade would go by, including studies at Hyles-Anderson College in Indiana and the heartbreak of his parent’s divorce, before Winemiller’s recent ordination. His successful candidacy officially signaled the official start of a process Winemiller hopes will eventually put him in Romania in the summer of 2018 with ABWE (The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) mission agency.
“The burden for Romania has been on my heart for a long, long time,” Winemiller says. “God has brought me through some tough times but I’m convinced that he was using them to prepare me and give me a heart for others who are hurting so I could be the love of Christ to them in their struggles.”
Pastor Rob says Winemiller’s heart and humility are some of his greatest assets.
“I’m excited and look forward to seeing what God will do in Daniel’s life,” Pastor Rob says. “God used his difficult beginnings in Romania to burden him later in life to return to these very same people. His story reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 9:1-3 – that he would gladly be cursed of men if by his life his own countrymen would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord. Daniel returns to his native country with that same heartbeat and know God will mightily use his humility and heart.”
Taken to an orphanage in Oradea at age 3 with his three brothers by a mother hooked on alcohol and drugs, Winemiller remained in the home until age 6 when a visiting couple from Walkertown, N.C., saw him in the city with a college student and fell in love with him.
The university student was doing a research project exploring the socialization of characteristics of orphaned children. The adoption would not be easy — taking from the winter of 1995 to his arrival in Winston-Salem in the fall of 1999 and, at one point, even requiring a nine-month stay in Canada until the U.S. again accepted children from Romania.
Although he has worked in the Awana program for Tim Gerber, executive pastor for children and ministries, taught Sunday School classes, served during Vacation Bible School and held other roles, Winemiller is doing a three-month internship at Triad. Afterwards, he’ll begin making deputation visits to churches seeking support. And next summer, he’ll make his sixth trip back to Romania for a short-term survey trip to meet ABWE’s team.
While his native country did shed its communist past in 1989 with the violent overthrew of leader Nicolae Ceausescu, Winemiller says economic opportunity remains limited and drug use rampant.
“Sadly, a large percentage of Romanian children are on some type of drugs,” he adds. Once in the country, he hopes to help plant churches, serve in Christian camps, train local pastors, and lead outreach efforts to orphanages and gypsy villages to give children hope and a way out of drug use and hopelessness.
Winemiller, mom Kim Hunter, sister Katie and brother David joined Triad in 2012 about a year after his parents divorced.
“The way people reached out to my mom and our family in our pain has been incredible,” he says. “The staff really do care for people and want to make sure the body of Christ is taken care of and to see people who are hurting recuperate and get back to normalcy.”
A recent Pastor Rob message on letting God write your story reminded Winemiller of the many twists and turns in his own life and the new chapters ahead in Romania.
“I am excited and probably wouldn’t have told you I’d be where I am right now five years ago and planning to go back and live there,” he says. “But it shows you how God is in control, and knows your dreams and will write the story He placed on your heart in his time. You’ve just got to have faith and trust Him to do it.”