‘Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this!  Don’t coast through life without a passion.’  (John Piper)

Hidden scars of shame, abandonment and tragedy speak loudly on the faces of many women and young girls who knock on the door of Iochebed.  Their wounds are deep, they carry bruises from the rough road of circumstances they are forced to walk.  They have never known or acquired a comfort zone; rather, they are robbed of potential and bereft of hope.  I am troubled as I write of what I class as a tragic waste of lives lived in dark shadows of despair.  

Again, John Piper wrote:

Mara: a twenty-seven-year-old mother of nine children and pregnant with twins. At the tender age of twenty-seven with eleven children!  Mara contracted a severe form of covid affecting her heart and kidneys, resulting in many complications surrounding this pregnancy.  She is now entering thirty-one weeks into her pregnancy, her consultant has strongly advised constant bed rest for the next three weeks as they predict a thirty-four-week birth. May the Lord touch this young woman, watch over her nine little ones, grant blessing to this family through the gift of life through her twin babies.

 Daniela:  a mother of ten children.  She is facing financial hardship and came to our centre for counselling, requesting help regarding her five children who must have school uniforms and stationery in order to attend school.  Our precious team at Iochebed assisted with uniforms and school materials.   It was a great joy to see the Lord answer prayer through our small efforts. Please pray for Daniela, as her five older children are far away from the Lord, refusing to attend church, refusing to listen to their mother or treat her with respect.

Lacramioara:  also has ten children, nine boys and one girl.  She became pregnant after seven years and gave birth to a baby girl Sara. Lacramioara has financial issues, receiving no support from her partner, she has no other choice than to live at home with her parents. Little Sara contracted covid and Mummy must remain in the hospital with her young daughter.  Three of her boys are in the system. Such need.  Please remember her.

Valentina: a forty-three-year-old mother of ten children.  Valentina requested our prayers for her family.  Her husband is an alcoholic and a gambler.  Every penny he earns goes to feed his addictions.  There is no consideration given to his wife and ten children.   Schools have commenced in Suceava and Valentina could only send five of her ten children.  One child (female) entering high school had to remain at home as there was no money available for essential requirements entering grammar stream education.  We have assisted with clothing, school materials and hygiene products for the children.  Valentina cried with joy for the Lord to regard her with kindness and compassion.  Prayer points for this family: that Valentina may find a solution for the issues in her life; her husband to be released from the addiction to alcohol and gambling; for household salvation.

Sadness and poverty, a strange blending of words.  I find myself having to ‘stop’ to reflect on the grief and sorrow young parents are having to bear.  How can I write without remembering each little one who longs to be ‘at home with Mummy’?  I cannot.

Nico: a precious little boy of three (June update), is very sick.  His illness is progressing and his young mother is devastated. She is at home caring for Nico’s three siblings. All four children are under five years old. The father is constantly by Nico’s bedside, but it is so difficult to watch the little one you love go through chemotherapy. His mum is a gentle young lady possessing a sensitive nature; she cannot watch her beloved little boy suffer.  Broken hearts are part of life in Romania. 

Zente:he is a 3 year old diagnosed with epileptic encephalopathy, currently in hospital going through various tests and investigations. His condition worsened lately and his mother became extremely concerned regarding his condition.  His brother is very affected by Zente’s illness; he is very attached to his mummy and is finding it difficult to be without her every day. ‘I want my mummy’.

Kevin: Estera, Social Worker, Emanuel Hospice, has received confirmation from Assurance House regarding Kevin’s surgery. Kevin is scheduled for surgery on 13th October. This particular form of surgery is not without complications, the surgeon has highlighted certain risk elements.  Gabi (as a mother) is extremely anxious, she has no one to share her fears and deep emotion since the loss of her beloved Robi.  Kevin so needs his dad just now as he is frightened and nervous of what lies ahead.  France, where the surgery will take place, is far removed from a tiny village in Romania. 

Ela‘s mother, Angelina, is in deep sorrow.  The depth of her pain is evident, her heart is so broken she is unable to speak of Ela.   Aurelian and his mum need our prayers. I will continue to monitor this situation, as this family has been part of my life for many years.  There are difficult times ahead for Aurelian as his health continues to deteriorate.  Angelina knows one day she will be totally alone.  We need to assure her there is One who will never leave her or forsake her.  Through your loving support, our monthly Food Programme will continue.  

Sudden storms enter lives without warning.  The stillness of ‘peace’ has been replaced with unexpected turbulence.  Exhausted minds try to comprehend or understand ‘why?’  Clouds gather, weak frames are crushed by the force of an unwanted and unwelcome illness.   Peace has disappeared, in fact, peace is forgotten.   As you read, I ask you to pray that these precious lives will hear the still small voice saying: ‘Peace, be still’.  Writing to you this morning, methinks: ‘Why them and not me?’  One day, we will know the meaning of our tears.

Ildiko: a patient with cervix cancer, often suffering from ascites. Two weeks ago, her husband died suddenly from a heart attack. Besides the pain and the shock she is suffering, she has no finance to cover the funeral expenses. She has three adult children who cause their mother many anxious days.  Her children are in constant need of money owing to their addictions. Totally alone, lldiko struggles to survive. 

Veronica: another patient recently widowed during her battle with cancer. Her husband was in hospital approximately four weeks. During this time, the doctors were unable to reach a diagnosis. Eventually, her husband was discharged with a suspicion of pancreatic cancer. As they waited patiently for the biopsy results, he died suddenly. Veronica is now facing dark days of grief apart from the radiotherapy treatment which is ongoing. Veronica has pulmonary cancer with bone metastasis on her spine. The pain caused by the metastasis is extreme; she can only walk with the aid of a walking frame. Another widow, totally alone with her grief.

Domnica: she also suffers from cervix cancer.  Her husband suffers from dementia and her son is often violent towards his parents disbelieving that his mother is ill.  Domnica is now unable to walk, her daughter in law has responsibility for her care. The family live in unacceptable unsanitary conditions. Domnica is often confined to an extremely cold and drafty room.

Monika did most of the talking during our weekly conference call which lasted longer than usual.  I was unable to remove myself from my desk as I reflected on the case studies and in (everyday language) thought about the families held together like a piece of worn and threadbare string, barely surviving. Yes, you are correct again, I questioned ‘Why not me?’ As I thought of the sixty-one adults and one hundred and twenty-four children on our Feeding Programme, I became more aware in my heart of the urgency to tell the story of Jesus and His love.  So many have never heard, so many have never known. Together let us ‘Tell the old old story of Jesus and His love’.

The elderly: many walk miles (aided by a stick), they are desperate for food, hygiene. Parents urgently needing backpacks to enable their children to attend school.  Without our Feeding Programme, we would be unable to form a relationship with these precious people or have the opportunity to show God’s love to all.  The work of Casa Grace extends to the Orphanages and Therapy Centres.  Children have been reunited with their Mum or Dad, who, because of lack of resources had no other choice but to place their little darlings in an Orphanage. Some, up to eight years.  Monika shares: 

Families have been reunited, children were brought home from the orphanage as in Ana’s case, to live as a happy family once again. To have the support each month for one or two years meant so much to all of them and took them closer to God. We give thanks for those who accepted the Saviour into their hearts.  As I see the changes, rising prices at all levels, my heart is troubled …. but God reminds me to ask from Him. We asked and God answered and He answered through you Sister Shirley and your faithful friends of CASA Grace.  We thank God for you and your commitment to us.


We ask wisdom to help the families God guides us to; wisdom in our conversation: wisdom in presenting His word:  wisdom in displaying and showing the love of God as His children; Pray for each person we are in contact with through our Feeding Programme with Tell Romania.

We testify to the goodness of the Lord as we reflect on many of our former case studies.   Ana who has been reunited with her three children – Robi, Aniko, Micky – God granted us to meet them because of the food support and has been sustaining Ana through her cancer treatment. 

Andrada: she was extremely introverted, but had the courage to say the bible verse (Family supported in the past – dad suffers from schizophrenia). As a family they are encouraged by the relationship with the team of Casa Grace 

Sergiu:  a boy with behavioural problems – changed through his days at summer camp into a gentle boy offering comfort to the smallest child. Until then he was abusing every child at every afforded opportunity. As you encouraged us to support his family, we had the chance to spend a few days with him.   Please, pray with us for wisdom how to talk with his father (dependent on alcohol, stepmother (consuming alcohol) grandmother, who is very calm person just with many medical issues and with Sergiu who is behaving as a child that screams for love, affection and attention.

A letter from Neil (Social Worker, Casa Grace).

Dear Sister Shirley,

Thank you, because you take care of the poor families from Romania. We, at Casa, know that your effort to help them is a larger task now and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.   Your support means a lot to our desperately poor families because without it we would be unable to assist them or more importantly, impact their lives.   All over the world there are difficult situations, even the families who can find menial work, experience the change.  They barely manage themselves as it is now much harder than in the past. Most of them can’t afford to buy wood for heating this winter and do not know how they will pay their electricity.   Receiving food from your Feeding Programme helps save money for monthly bills and other essentials such as medical and utility bills.  We appreciate all you do for our beneficiaries and say ‘THANK YOU’ to those who faithfully donate to the Tell Romania project.  Your friends who donate for our families, thank you for your kindness for us. Thank you because you remember us and keep us in your hearts.

A divorced father of two girls aged ten and seven.  His situation has become untenable.  His former wife who has never contributed to her daughters has now opened a lawsuit against him.  She is unemployed and unable to pay court costs which could result in a prison sentence.   The father is now engaged in unexpected court costs even though he does not have the financial resources to cover essentials such as food, wood etc. Casa continues to supply food for this father and his two daughters.  The girls enjoyed their special days at our Summer camp in the mountains.  The excitement of their little faces was overwhelming as they spend every day at home alone while their father tries to find work. The state has provided social accommodation which is totally inhabitable.  No running water, no electric, repairs required to ceilings, windows … The father has been working hard to renovate the derelict building, a place the girls can call ‘home’.  A gracious man who is responsible, serious and hardworking.  He works hard to offer his girls an education, a choice of a better life that he has never known and never will. How can we forget them? 

As I close, I am thankful for my ‘alone times’ with the Lord.  A time to reflect, to listen and to gain direction for the way ahead.  Three of our Directors namely, David Morton; Freddy Smyth and Allan Hopper are presently part of a six-man work team working in Romania until October 1st.  Please remember them.   This week Hamilton had a one-hour conference call with Brother Paul Negrut, Rector of Emanuel University together with other faculty members. The new Semester, Theology classes and the Emanuel Journal, of which he is the Editor, were all discussed. Hamilton may not be physically in Romania but his heart remains there.

‘Our deeds are not the basis of our salvation; they are the evidence of our salvation. They are not foundation, they are demonstration.’  (John Piper)

Shirley, September 26th, 2022

42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ