Samuel Rutherford writes: ‘The soul is a castle that may be besieged but cannot be taken.’
‘Besieged but cannot be taken’ – powerful words. The profiles, the features in my mind cause a brokenness within my heart. During the month of April, I have been trying to discover through God’s word, his heart for me as an individual. I need to be a woman of passion but more importantly a woman of purpose. One who will enrich rather than dimmish, one who will never destroy hope but offer it graciously. But, again my famous ‘But,’ do I have these characteristics? The following are not stories but the reality of lives I know personally and love, Remarkable lives who suffer in silence, searching eyes looking through a cot in a lonely room, hoping to be chosen, loved, even hugged. This morning as I sat at my desk trying to place my heart on paper, I retraced my steps through the forest of Cighid where I walked hand in hand with fifty forgotten lives. Perhaps a deer would pass and the excited adult orphans would run clutching a wild strawberry, even a dandelion, to place in your hand. This was their way of saying ‘thank you’ as they are limited in their communication. The mind of a child! The value of a child! My Mum used to tell me I was ‘priceless’ to her and how we laughed together. Yet, these days, I am overcome with a passion to make a child feel indeed a ‘priceless’ gift. George Muller penned:
‘Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.’
The daughter of Pharaoh found a priceless gift discretely hidden and gave him a home; the Lord gave Samuel to Hannah to love and cherish before fulfilling her promise of giving him back to the Lord; Sarah was given the gift of her beloved Issac; Rebekah waited long for her sons. I never tire of reading the story of Ruth, a noble and faithful daughter-in-law whom God rewarded. Naming only a few, yet what a divinely appointed future awaited these children. I have prayerfully set my heart to launch PENTRU COPII (‘For the Children’), and in doing so, my life must portray my heart. I must try to remove unfulfilled dreams, hurt, replacing these with a love that is deep and lasting.
Darkness was falling, but still scantily dressed children could be found wandering the empty streets in search of food; knocking on car windows begging for bread, selling tiny bunches of wild flowers, or wild mushrooms by the wayside. The brokenness of hunger is real, their voice had no need to speak, their hungry eyes and fragile bodies spoke for them. All I could think about was baby Florin who was fed on sugar and water for the first eighteen months of his short life. Children placed in Orphanages for eight years, because there was only enough food for one; love made this choice. Choices to be made, heart-breaking choices, leading to a life of fear and brokenness, where lives never recover. Widows struggling to raise thirteen plus children alone; little one’s longing for ‘Daddy,’ ‘Mummy.’ My ‘quiet times’ were disturbed and I found myself questioning, ‘Shirley, where are your thoughts, what are you thinking?’
I feel I am in God’s classroom, being taught, yet waiting instruction. As a student, one is asked to choose a Curriculum. My skills, though somewhat limited, cry to the Lord to choose the Curriculum for me. PENTRU COPII has been on my heart for many months. I feel I have been in a wilderness, alone with the stress of ‘Am I doing enough?’ ‘Am I willing to go a little farther?’ As I finished my March blog, I knew there had to be a change. ‘Do I love my neighbour?’ I alone can answer! A new day and a new work. PENTRU COPII will care for bereaved and terminally ill children, providing pastoral support, food, clothing, school necessities. Case Studies will be submitted by Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed Foundations. The Feeding Programme will remain in operation.
Serve with me, love with me. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Hundreds of children hunger for bread, help me feed the hungry. George Muller wrote: ‘Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.’ I will continue to ‘walk’, ‘look’ and ‘expect,’ knowing the Lord will never fail to send Fellow Servants ‘For Such a Time as This.’
Tears stained the pages of the current medical report regarding my precious MARIANA. I had no words to describe the inner feeling of my heart and as I prayed, I remembered the words of Elisabeth Elliot ‘Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.’ My mind is in a permanent world of silence where I am unable to find answers. Years of disappointment and suffering is all Mariana has known, she has been severely tried and her future is unknown. Mariana’s body is now overtaken by disease and weakness; her Oncologist plans to continue chemotherapy although it is causing serious side effects. He has a heart for her precious children who are bewildered and fearing separation from their beloved Mama. Let us make them our own children of promise, where we promise to love and provide for them. Talks are ongoing with a young Hungarian Baptist Pastor whose parents serve in Monika’s church, hosting Sunday Bible Study Groups. Although three villages away from Mariana’s village he has visited Mariana and her seven children. There was an evident interest and acceptance as he shared the gospel and read and prayed before leaving. A group of sisters with a heart and calling to serve the sick will call weekly to read and pray with Mariana. Many of you have taken Mariana to your heart. I ask you to whisper her name every waking hour and I pray, ‘Lord, please let Mariana reach out and touch you.’
The staggering number of patients who have died in our care has now reached FORTY-NINE. Broken hearts remain with their memories. Oh, that we could simply be used to show that we do care. These numbers include babies, little ones, young adults and elderly – this terminal illness is no respecter of person(s) or ages. We know where to expect a beautiful flower in full bloom, but the same Gardener also tends the desert.
A young man (41) bereft of family and friends, died alone after a long period of suffering.
KEVIN: Our precious treasure, still mourning the sudden passing of his beloved father. The Oncologist report from the recent biopsy confirmed Kevin’s cancer has returned. Gabi is devastated. Another shadow of darkness has fallen across her path. Taking Kevin on her knee, she lovingly told her little son; they cried together. They are considering commencing chemotherapy again. Kevin is scheduled to have a surgery this Tuesday, 04 May to remove the tumour. The surgery is high risk.
DANIEL (11) a new patient we wrote to you about last month with advanced cancer (glial tumour of the cerebral fossa) known to be one of the most devastating forms of brain tumour when in the posterior fossa. Abandoned as a baby, reared by his loving grandparents; to them he is their ‘Son’ whom they love dearly. His condition continues to deteriorate and his chemotherapy has serious side effects. Eleven years of suffering, abandoned, now unable to walk, his grandparents question the waste of such a perfect little life.
MIRCEA (33) was in our care a few years ago, his cancer has returned and is more aggressive. He and his young wife are devastated. They are aware of the limited prognosis. They have a young daughter and her father is the happiness of her life. They have such a wonderful relationship. It is heart-breaking as they slowly, lovingly begin the process of parting.
ALEX TOMA – his condition remains unchanged and although physiotherapy is ongoing, his body, muscles, continue to waste away. Cosmina (sister) is to be married during the second week of May. This will be a big change for the family as she is the main carer for Alex.
GETA (48) Breast Cancer with bone metastases is lovingly cared for by her son Andrew (17). She is going through her eighth round of chemotherapy and her body is very tired. Geta has started to open her heart to the gospel and her faith in God is growing stronger. She told Daria she had stopped praying to Mary and understands God has a special plan through her suffering, and she is learning to trust in Him regardless of the unknown future with all its uncertainties.
We thank the Lord that Marinela (Director), Dr. Beni and Daria are recovering. The entire team minister to the sick and dying with no regard for their own safety. They are covered.
The situation seemed hopeless yet our faithful, unfailing God turned the situation around. A further four hundred ampules of Buscopan were transported to Emanuel Hospice, making a total of seven hundred in stock. We wish to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Felicity Burnham, Allan Hopper who has been instrumental in obtaining a supply of disposable Face Visors and Face Masks – already a large number of boxes are on route to Oradea and Suceava. Fellow Servants together.
LASMINA (15), 17 weeks pregnant. Tests have confirmed there is cause for concern regarding her liver. This young girl of fifteen struggles; she has not felt the baby moving and is filled with fear and anxiety. Lasminia is very young with no one to care; she longs to hold a healthy baby in her arms – whisper her name?
RAMONA (18) has two children, one aged two and one aged one. She is six weeks pregnant with her third baby. Ramona came requesting a pregnancy test and was devastated to learn it was positive. She did not plan or expect a pregnancy so soon. Her main concern is this third baby will have to be by caesarean. Our prayer is that the Lord will reveal himself to this young woman and give her power and strength to raise her children.
GEORGIANA (18) has a baby girl aged one. Last week she gave birth to a baby boy. Her husband has made bad choices; he was imprisoned for a period of four weeks. She is alone and very frightened as to what the future will hold for her. Her mother-in-law is pressuring her to give her baby to Child Services even for a short period of time. Georgiana loves her babies and does not want to part with them. Her mind is in turmoil and at only eighteen, where can she go or who can she turn to? I know the One who will say: ‘Come unto me…’
JESSICA has two children and came to our centre requesting a pregnancy test. The news the pregnancy test is positive came as a shock. She is facing many financial issues. During the counselling session, she broke down in tears, asking us to support her in prayer to enable her to accept this little life growing within her with joy and acceptance. It is difficult for Jessica to accept this baby as a blessing owing to the hardship that she and her family faces on a daily basis. Another mouth to feed?
NARCISA (22) has four children and will soon give birth to her fifth baby. Narcisa is unwell and has asked us to support her in prayer.
Many young girls are in a net of entanglement where their outlook is hopeless. Let us pray the net will break, offering a new beginning ‘In Him’.
Roma girls and ladies make their way to Iochebed and yet the dreary sound of howling winds and driving rain often ends with a beautiful sunset. An extremely poor young couple came in desperate need of counselling and help. So poor, they could not afford food. Attending counselling on a regular basis, two babies were born during this time, both with extreme sight problems. Gabi has been in consultation with an Ophthalmologist regarding glasses. Through the interest and sisterly love shown by our team, SABINA and her young man are now legally married. They have made a decision to follow the Lord and have been baptized. At times we are called to minister in a different, perhaps a difficult situation. Our interventions are by divine appointment leading us to be blessed and encouraged in the way.
SISTER MAGDALENA has been known to Casa Grace for many years. Food prices are escalating and life is difficult for the elderly, homeless and desperately poor families. Magdalena, although elderly herself, is nursing her sick husband, now confined to bed permanently. She also has a severely handicap adult son who has many ongoing health issues. It brings sadness to my heart to think this precious lady had to walk with the aid of a stick many miles to ask for ‘bread.’
A SINGLE MOTHER who lived a life of fear, owing to violent and alcoholic partners. Two children, living in a rented flat where conditions are basically unacceptable. Her son has many medical issues relating to his heart. Before the Covid pandemic the mother worked as a kitchen assistant in a nearby restaurant. However due to lockdown, restrictions, and the curfew, the restaurant has been closed for many months. There is no income only £180 state allowance monthly.
SOFRONEA has felt the pain of Covid, lately many people from the church and surrounding villages have died, including the former Mayor of Sofronea who was Ligia’s employer. His oxygen level became extremely low resulting in a coma. Sofronea is in Red Scenario as fatalities continue to increase. Andrei is called and occupies a difficult position filled with many responsibilities for such a young man. He is totally committed to his church, witnessing in surrounding villages and teaching English in the village schools. He maintains his interest in Alex, who is well but lacks the courage to come to Church or Youth Meetings. Pray for Alex, as his homelife leaves a lot to be desired and yet he continues to study tirelessly to gain an education.
EASTER IN ROMANIA this weekend and a surprise was awaiting my precious children in the Orphanage Centre in Oradea, where I spent many days with my friend Dora (Therapist). Each child received an Easter Bonnet with a chocolate egg and also a few chocolate rabbits. To Auntie Barbara, Auntie Mavis, to everyone who contributed to make ninety-nine children smile, I THANK YOU. (Some children received one extra sweet as a reward for good progress in Therapy. Yes, ONE SWEET!
In closing let me leave with you the words of Deut. 15:18 ‘The Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.’ I must confess, there are days when I feel overburdened, my mind is filled with responsibilities and yet I know in my heart I am given these for a reason. This blog is filled with heartache and I feel it deeply. Some have a challenging future, some, sadly, have no future in this life. The gospel offers them one in the next. God has called me to serve those I love in Romania, I must listen if I am to know blessing along the way. Walk with me, let us serve together.
Shirley, Friday, April 30, 2021
42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ.