DARKE COUNTY — In May, Lee and Shannon Helton will be joining her parents, Sandie and Bruce Tanner, to work for their mission, Tanner Romania Mission (TRM), in Romania.
“A few years ago, Mom and Dad asked if Lee and I would consider moving to Romania and working with them at the mission, the end goal being to ensure the mission would continue on when they were no longer able to serve as the leaders,” Shannon said. “I was open to the idea but was unsure of what Lee’s response would be. He was a new Christian at the time and the leap from new Christian to missionary is a big one. He immediately said he would be interested. Since that day, we have been praying and discerning if it was what God wanted us to do. Over the last several years, we have had the opportunity to learn and serve through our church in Tipp City. As we grew in our faith, we are able to see it is God’s plan for our life to be a part of TRM and to ensure those that the mission helps will always have a home and refuge.”
Helton said there are 23 orphans who live at the mission in Nicoresti who will always need care due to their disabilities that range from mild to severe.
“We have been to the mission many times over the years and we feel everyone of them are our family, we could not say no,” Shannon said.
Helton said she has worked at the distribution center for Meijer for the last 17 years and noted that husband Lee is an over-the-road truck driver.
“We will quit our jobs at the end of April and move to Romania May 11,” she said.
Her family moved to Greenville in 1986 and Shannon graduated from Greenville High in 1989. Her husband was born and raised in Dayton, and today they reside in Tipp City.
The Heltons as well as the Tanners will be working together in the mission.
“My parents have no plans of ever leaving Nicoresti until the Lord calls them home,” Shannon said. “Lee and I have so much to learn we are praying for many years of working side by side.”
In addition to helping with the daily activities of the 23 orphans living at TRM, the Heltons plan to expand the outreach into the community.
“We will work with the village children in an after-school program as well as hold community events where food, clothing, Bibles and prayer will be offered,” Shannon said. “The mission will also be able to take in more orphans because or our addition to TRM.”
The Heltons were married in 2005.
“We are thrilled to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in Romania this summer,” she said. “We met at work (Meijer) in 2003. I have one 19-year-old daughter, Rachel, from a previous marriage. She will be staying in America.”
The Heltons’ home church is Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City.
“We have served in many roles there over the last 10 years,” said Shannon. “I am a care pastor there and Lee serves with the children’s ministry. Our true passion is mission outside of the church walls. I have worked for years with New Path, serving clients in need of food and assistance. Lee and I have also led a mission team to Chicago each December for the last five years. We have a lot to learn but feel God is equipping us for each new step He asks us to take. TRM will be celebrating 25 years this year and has been able to help 49 orphans onto better lives during that time. TRM took in a new girl this past September and she is all smiles, finally having a family to love her. We have no idea why God called our family to be His hands and feet in Romania, but we feel so blessed to be able to be His servants in this way.”
Her parents, the Tanners, were called to Romania to care for the disabled and abandoned children who filled the orphanage in this small village. Forty-eight children have passed through the homes, some to adoption, many in local foster care, which the Tanners support and supervise.
Tanner Romania Mission was built by God in 1991, in Nicoresti, Romania.
Twenty-one young adults remain, three in high school. These youngsters will always call Tanner Mission home and Bruce and Sandie, “Tata” and “Mama,”respectively.
The mission also assists the widows and widowers and young mothers with children in Nicoresti.
Everyone is kept busy in workshops, making and selling their crafts, helping Sandie with assisting the poor with food and clothing, as well as keeping their own homes neat and tidy, even the yard work and gardening.
The Daily Advocate March 22, 2015