GOD’S CALL TO ROMANIA
In early 1998, during Sunday morning services,
Pastor Bill Welsh, at Calvary Chapel in Huntington Beach, California, asked that all persons committing to go on a summer
missions trip to Romania come stand at the front of the congregation. Renee McDannel stood up and walked forward.
Later, she would laugh about how “shakily” she made that walk, and Luke McDannel would
laugh about wondering if she had accurately heard what Pastor Bill had said …. ROMANIA!?!
But God had already told her, “Come to
Romania and see …”
went to Romania during the summer of 1998, part of a team that took orphans from Bucharest to summer camp on the Black Sea.
She came home and shared with others about her experiences, about the children, about the love, about Jesus working in their
precious lives, and people said, “Wow! What an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience.” But it was more than
that. More than just a one-time visit. Her dreams were now filled with the children, the people, the pain, and
the hope and love she had encountered ministering to the Romanian children that first summer. She returned in 1999,
again for summer camp on the Black Sea.
Renee beamed as she talked of Romania, but at the same time her eyes often filled with tears as her heart broke for
the children she had met and fallen in love with so quickly. Luke decided it was time for him to “Come to Romania
In 2000, Luke and Sean (at that time 10 years old) made the trip with Renee. While
on the “Metro” in Bucharest, a young boy kneeled in ritualistic prayer at both ends of the car, a prelude to his
begging for money or food. Luke had nothing in his hands, or pockets, to give. He hesitated, wondering if the
boy spoke English. What the boy really needed was to know the love of Jesus! But the metro quickly stopped and
the boy bounded out of the car. Luke still wonders about, and prays for, that boy that he let get away empty-handed.
Camp was held that summer in Snagov, about one hour north of Bucharest and God immediately and powerfully placed Romania on
two more McDannel hearts.
The youngest McDannel son, Dean, joined
Luke, Renee and Sean for the 2001 and 2002 trips. Deep friendships were made. Little Dean’s heart broke
as he hugged his Romanian friends goodbye. Saying goodbye was getting harder and harder to do. It was becoming clearer
and clearer that God’s call was upon the family and that the time was drawing near to leave Southern California and
establish fulltime ministry work in Bucharest, Romania.
One of the Romanian children had once said to Renee, “You really love us, don’t you?” Renee answered,
“Yes, I do.” The little boy then asked gently, “Then, why aren’t you here all the time?”
to Romania and see …”