Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
This week we have the honor and privilege to celebrate the extraordinary, miraculous, yet ordinary life of Ioan (pronounced E-wan) Dambeanu. Ioan was a Romanian refugee to the United States, escaping the then communist régime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Ioan told me he had a price on his head and actually escaped death a number of times. Through God’s amazing grace he was able to relocate to Southern California and lived on seeking to be all that God created him to be. See, Ioan had come to a faith in God many years ago and sought in all he did to be a faithful servant of the Lord.
I met Ioan as our church custodian and maintenance man. He was incredible. There was nothing he could not or would not do, from painting, to carpet cleaning, to fixing holes in the wall made by rambunctious students. He actually loved fixing those accidental holes because he was glad those students were coming to church! He lived by that old Proverb:
Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
In other words, if you have a thriving student ministry or active church, the church facilities are going to need to be cleaned and a busy church is a good thing! Ioan loved his job and not only kept the place reflecting the beauty of the Lord, but also donated his time to build tables, kneeling benches, and our simple but useful podiums. If we needed it, he would try to make it. He was amazing at woodworking.
There are so many stories I could tell where his kind words encouraged me, or his passion for God inspired me, or his humble spirit was an example to me, or his consistent hard work motivated me, or his dedication to please God moved me. I could fill pages of the stories of this miraculous, well-lived life, a life of faithfulness. Ioan’s faithful life was not handed to him or even part of his DNA. Ioan lived a miraculous life because he chose to live life God’s way.
Ioan chose not a self-centered life, but a God-centered life. He chose to put his faith in Jesus Christ and did the best he could to know Him and follow Him.
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
It was an everyday choice to put Jesus at the center of his life, to hold Him as Coach, Leader, Boss, and Lord. It was also a choice to align his life to Jesus’ way, not his own. He discovered this by reading his Bible and seeking do what Jesus did.
Ioan’s choice to be faithful was also a choice to actively love. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, that we are to love God and love our neighbors. This teaching was taken from the Old Testament Bible book of Deuteronomy 6:5-6. The ‘love’ talked about in both these passages is an active love. It is not just saying ‘I love you’ but to show that love in honor, respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, care, doing our best, striving for excellence, obedience, diligence, perseverance, and more. Ioan loved actively.
Ioan also expressed his faithfulness to Christ by the choice of humility.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
No task was beneath Ioan. He humbly served. The word humble in these two Bible verses means ‘to place ourselves under’. Ioan saw himself, yes, under Christ, but also humbled himself under those in authority and truly saw that his sin, like all our sin, makes us no better than anyone else. Ioan used to call himself ‘Bad Boy’, and I never liked that name because it can describe someone who is defiant, with an edgy pride on doing what every we please. Yet, for Ioan, ‘Bad Boy’ was a reminder of his humble, sinful state where because of his sin, he deserved NOTHING and was NO BETTER than anyone.
Oh, I could go on…Ioan’s choice to be a faithful servant was also a choice for joy, a choice to focus on God’s goodness over what he did not have, a choice to persevere and not give up. The point is…he chose. So the question comes to us: What choices are we making in life? Will we make the choices that when our time comes, when there is a memorial service for us, it will be said: ‘A miracle life well lived’?
Ioan loved church, for that is where he not only served God, but grew in faith. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We are continuing our teaching series called “Living Proof”, a biblical study of God’s miracles.
Seeking to follow Ioan as he followed Jesus,