When He Calls
“I once was lost, and now I’m found. That’s my story. God found me and gave me a new purpose. He restored my life.”
Romeo Djoumessi is the kind of man you want to meet. The day I interviewed Romeo for this story was sort of a rough one - but Romeo is the kind of guy that puts that light in your day and turns it around. He’s the kind of person that instantly makes you feel inspired, motivated, and full of life. He’s honest, open, and exemplifies what it means to answer Christ’s call.
Romeo came from Cameroon, Africa where he was raised up in a very poor single parent household with a family of 10 children. He did not have a father figure around to show him what it meant to be a Christ-centered man. Romeo’s quest for Christ was actually inspired by his 18-year-old cousin who loved God and was a phenomenal wrestler. He modeled what it meant to live for Christ. Through that cousin, the Lord’s Prayer was revealed to Romeo, and that’s when Romeo really looked to his cousin’s relationship with Christ and decided, “I want what he has.”
“I made some mistakes I’m not proud of, and for Jesus to still redeem me through that, to say, ‘I still have a plan for you. I want you,’ is what I mean about being found,” Romeo revealed.
Romeo came to Iowa as an exchange student and was recruited by many colleges for wrestling. Romeo decided to wrestle for Jim Miller at Wartburg College, where he knew he’d have a great role model to look up to. Romeo grew a lot at college, and, like most college students, he didn’t exactly dive into his faith until it was near the end of his college career.
“I didn’t allow God to change me on the inside. I didn’t always treat people right, and I wasn’t always intentional about what I said to people. I considered things to be more of a checklist. Now I ask myself, ‘Is what I’m saying going to build someone up or tear them down?’ Towards the end, it got to be more of a ‘God, I want to know you. I want to be like Christ.’ I’m still striving to become that person that Christ has called me to be.”
In college, Romeo found himself engaged with a woman not right for him. After calling off the engagement, Romeo decided to give up on relationships and women. He planned on being single for twenty or so more years.
One night, Romeo said God woke him up from his sleep at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. After waking up, he kept sensing a call to look up and read Luke 18. He opened up his Bible and could not get past the first verse. It read: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
Romeo said God was telling him, “You’ve given up on searching for the right wife, and, in some way, you’ve given up on me.”
Romeo had the urge to begin writing everything down that he wanted in a wife. He said God was saying, “Hey, okay, what do you want?” so he decided to go big with his list. It began with all the important characteristics and got down to the silliest stuff like having her be blonde with blue eyes, not knowing that God knew exactly what he wanted already.
Out of the blue, Romeo met his now wife, Hannah. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a woman perfectly matched to what Romeo had written down on the back of his Bible that night.
“God had the best for me yet,” he said.
Romeo looked back at his previous engagement and thought, “I was wasting time. I was trying to make it work. Don’t try to change a person. Why try to change that person when God has the perfect person for you? I didn’t expect my wife. She came at the lowest point when I least expected her. God had to remind me that it’s not about my way; it’s about His way.”
After Romeo was engaged to his wife, Hannah, he began to have doubts. He feared that he would never become the man God was calling him to become. He feared that he could not love his soon to be wife like she deserved to be loved. He wanted to call off the engagement.
Romeo was stressed and depressed over it, and he said he was walking outside one day and God just pressed on his heart, “If you go forward with this, I will bless you. I know you don’t feel like you measure up or love the way I have called you to love, but if you go forward, I will bless you.”
Romeo and Hannah now have two beautiful kids, and Romeo just raves about how Hannah has been the most wonderful blessing. In his marriage, Romeo turns to God every day.
“In order to do as God wants you to, turn to Him. Turn to Him every day. Even if I go a day without turning to Him, I can see the result in my family. I am quick to become impatient or say something I shouldn’t or rush through things and miss quality time with my family. The turning point is every day. Each day I tell Christ, ‘I need to pick up my cross today and follow you.’ The cost is too high to go in and out with Him.”
Romeo has learned a lot over the years, and one thing he has learned to do is cherish his time.
“I’m realizing that every single moment that I spend every day is a gift from God, and I want my time to be well-invested. I want to make every single day count. Growing up it was more ‘me, me, me.’ I’m a very driven person, and although that’s not bad, you have to know what is more important. I have these dreams and things I want to accomplish, but for now, I want to focus on what is more important. This is one thing God has called me to do. He has called me to raise my kids to be who God has called them to be and to have a vibrant marriage so that my kids can know what a good marriage looks like.”
Romeo revealed, “When I’m not at peace, God is trying to tell me something. And unless I seek Him, I won’t know the answer. Peace has always been something that God has used to confirm things with me. There’s always a presence of either ‘you are where you should be’ or ‘you are not where you should be.’ This doesn’t mean God is always saying no - it may mean he’s telling me to slow down. It may mean that it’s the right thing, but maybe not the right time.”
Romeo has learned to listen to the call. He has learned to seek after what God wants, listen to what He’s saying, and follow through what He has planned. Whether it is a random verse that pops into his head or a song that God places on his heart, Romeo allows himself to become overwhelmed with God’s love and encouragement.
Just recently Romeo ventured into a new business, and feared the beginnings of it. As he was worrying about this beginning of this new career, out of nowhere Zechariah 4:10 popped into his head, so he looked it up, and it read, “Do not despise these small beginnings…” Romeo said, “Over and over again God will say, ‘I’m placing things on your heart. I’ve done it again, and I’ll do it again. I’ve never failed you. Will I really fail you today??’”
“Faith helps me love my neighbor as myself. Faith keeps me from destruction. Faith helps me be the best I can be. In my faith I find the courage to do the impossible. Faith allows me to step out of my comfort zone. It keeps me grounded. Because God called me to this, He’s going to see me through it.”
Listen to God. Hear His call. Pursue His plans. Find joy in His presence.
Romeo’s Best Piece of Advice: “Don’t neglect your faith. Listen to Matthew 6:33 ‘Seek first His kingdom.’ Whatever you’re seeking or wanting in life, God is putting it on your heart. I have to seek God first and His kingdom and His righteousness. It’s going to be true - that relationship with Jesus Christ. Seek God first. Strive to be in His presence every day. I get it, it’s not easy, but as you strive to seek God first every day, even through the bumps, the ups and downs, the blessings are more than you could ever imagine.”