His arms underneath

‘When God places a burden upon you, He places His arms underneath you’
(Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

‘Enough Lord, please, no more pain, I can’t …’ Suddenly my prayer was halted, Deuteronomy 33:27 captured my thoughts.  ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’.   Weighty letters, emails, telephone calls seriously impacted my thoughts, things I didn’t really know and couldn’t see first-hand had entered the overtaking lane, when all the time the cruising lane was free, available to share my burdens for, what is now, the hundreds of forgotten little ones, those who have suffered loss, needing comfort, assurance.  Proverbs 17: 22 ‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones’.   I shared with a precious friend that a ‘night’ season has entered many lives. I pray for morning to come, knowing that the Lord is the God of all our morningsthe only one who knows our circumstance and with one word, one touch can change our direction.  Isaiah 43: 1. ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’.  The everydayness of life is a struggle for many, they long for morning to come, to know they are chosen, they belong.  The Healer of broken hearts can mend all shattered dreams.  I pray they will come to know the Man of Galilee, hugging this four-letter word to their heart  ‘MINE’.

Since receiving my previous blog ‘PENTRU COPII’.  (“For the children”) you will have detected my change in direction.  At times I feel I cannot survive the brokenness of my heart as I see the faces of my patients, families, children, case studies.  They have collapsed from the weight they carry.  Colossians 3: 2. ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’.  Will you make their load a little lighter by taking one moment from your day to whisper the names of:

Joseph (41) a new Hospice patient.   Joseph is lovingly cared for by his mother. They are an extremely poor family, lacking in so much yet possessing the greatest gift of all, love.  Food is scarce, medical bills take precedence. BUT their love is in abundance.   They will receive support through the Tell Romania feeding programme. 

Ioan is the grandfather of Lucas; his wife was a Hospice patient but sadly lost her battle with cancer. Ioan is suffering from family related issues, he has requested prayer in order to be able to forgive but more importantly to take responsibility for young Lucas.

Cristina is in deep sorrow, devastated by the loss of her young husband to cancer.  Her heart is broken.  Her daughter, Claudia (10) misses her father so much. 

Timotei, is a little boy who is in our care. It is now suspected that his brother Florin is suffering a relapse of cancer. Florin was in our care a few years ago. The family are anxious as they wait for pending results.

Kevin celebrated his twelfth birthday on 29th July.  Excited it was his birthday, but knowing deep sorrow in his wee heart, as his father was not there to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. A first birthday without ‘Dad’ who was his hero. In my mind I still hear Robbi and Kevin, saved by grace with all the family, singing to me on my many visits.

Alexandru (46) another patient with an advanced stage of cancer who has a son (14).  His beloved wife is already devastated, mourning the loss her sister also to cancer a few months ago. They really need our prayers, that they meet the One who can heal the broken heart.

Estera writes:  Shirley, there is so much suffering and pain, please pray for us as a team.   Thank you for working alongside with our patients, the situations are so hard to bear.  God Bless You and we Thank You.

Elisa (28) was diagnosed one year ago with cervical cancer. The consultant fears the cancer has spread throughout her body (especially her lung area). No further options are available as the chemotherapy has been unsuccessful. She has a 2-year-old son, Elias, and the father of the baby left Elisa when she became ill; they weren’t married. Elisa’s mother and brother take care of her and her baby son. Her mother does not want to tell Elisa that she will not survive and is facing a premature death, she feels her daughter could not cope with the fear of death.   Elisa is now on morphine to control the high level of pain.  

Tabita (40), (June blog) passed away at the beginning of July. The future of David, her son, remains uncertain. His father is still refusing to take responsibility, stating he doesn’t know how to take care of a child. David remains with his grandmother, who is elderly and ill.  She is not physically able to take care of him in a proper way; yet, she wants to keep him so that David can take care of her. A boy of his age (15) who recently lost his mother, having grown up in a dysfunctional family, needs all the love and attention now not to be left with the responsibility of his elderly grandmother. An aunt from his father side expressed her wish to adopt David, there are many conflicts within the family resulting in the fact they are unable to reach an agreement. 

Sister Szabo is staying with her children, in Budapest. Partially blind and heartbroken, she misses her beloved Emrico, but she has the consolation that her husband is now in heaven, with his Lord whom he loved and served for over sixty years. On recent visits, Emrico would sing and preach to me, he never was caught up with this world or his illness.  He loved to tell me the story of his days as a young Romanian soldier, persecuted for his faith. This soldier has been promoted to Glory and is now a member of the Army of the King of Kings.

Adriana writes:  Your beloved Caterina is constantly asking me when will you be able to visit her again?  Her neck tumour is stable at present.  Tell Sister Shirley I miss her smile; tell her to come.  As I think of my elderly patients, Caterina, Magdalena, Elizabeth, to name but a few, I pray the Lord will fill their empty hearts with the bounty of his grace.

Iasmina (16) thirty-five weeks pregnant is suffering from a liver disease that can cause intrauterine fatal death. She has undergone many tests. The consultant has recommended a treatment but it is highly expensive. Iasmina’s father died; she lives with her mother and an older sister of seventeen.  Iasmina’s mother suffers from diabetes and struggles to support the girls. The father of the baby is refusing to take responsibility for the baby or recognise that Iasmina is pregnant.  Iasmina is frightened and needs our prayers so that she can give birth to a healthy baby!  Pray for a safe delivery, whisper ‘Iasmina’ – we need to cover her in prayer.

Andra (31) married with a beautiful baby boy of two weeks is suffering from postnatal depression.  She so much wanted this pregnancy, as she had lost twins in a previous fifteen-week pregnancy. That loss has affected her deeply. This pregnancy was risky; she had to stay in bed for a period, but eventually gave birth to a baby boy. She was in pain, had lactation issues, tiredness; she feels overwhelmed and feels that everything she does is unacceptable. Pray the Lord will release the chains that bind her and give her the joy and blessing of his gift of life in this precious man child.

Ana has four children and asked us to support her in prayer for a pending surgery for her little boy. He was operated on two weeks ago as he had urinal issues. Ana asked us to support her with food, as she had no food to feed her children and they were hungry.  May God work in Ana’s heart so that she can experience the Bread of Life, Christ himself. 

Camelia (21) is married with a fourteen-month-old baby and is twenty-five weeks pregnant with a baby girl. She has requested support as her husband who worked abroad has been diagnosed with a hernia and is not allowed to work where physical effort is required. He is currently unemployed.   They were able to ‘exist’ from the husband’s salary, but now they barely survive through the child allowance which is minimal for a baby. This family needs God’s intervention and our help.

Monika writesSergiu and his mom visited to say ‘thank you’ for the support that was provided at all levels.  Sergiu finished his first year in high school, they want you to know that this was only made possible because Casa Grace was beside them with the ongoing food, hygiene support and the counselling and prayers of our team.  To our beloved friends and faithful supporters of Tell Romania – Thank you’.

Alex Toma’s sister expressed thanks on behalf of the entire family for the ongoing monthly support – sadly, Alex remains in a coma, his body continues to grow weaker – we pray for God’s peace and strength for the whole family!

Our beloved Mariana continues to remain positive in her approach.  Mariana has one remaining treatment of chemotherapy (booster) which will be administered this incoming week.  Although very weak and unable to eat, she is managing to tolerate the nutrition food administered in liquid form.  Following the final session of chemotherapy, the consultant will carry out a deep analysis to project the way forward, as further surgery is imminent.  The children are overwhelmed with the prospect of moving to a home they can call their own. So different from living by the roadside or in fields.  At present a team are carrying out major repairs, painting etc.  Two disused sheds at the back of the property will be rebuilt to offer bedroom accommodation to the seven children, as we feel Mariana will require the privacy of the one bedroom within the village home.   Mariana has come to the end of her wilderness journey of nearly forty years.  May she come to know that her refuge now is in God and God alone.  Pray for the young pastor who continues to visit them. She needs only to lean on the everlasting arms when she will clearly know the meaning of the line of a well-known hymn: ‘What have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms?’. 

Taking a deep breath, it is time to refocus:  When the pain comes and I embrace the suffering, the endurance of children and elderly, I must strengthen myself and keep walking.  It is not possible to hit the ‘stop button’ for still they come:

One of poorest families of Casa Grace, yet they are so happy as they receive food from the feeding programme, their little son suffered a broken leg due to an incident in the school playground.  A decision had to be made.  ‘If I take my little boy to hospital, there will be no money for food’. Our support makes this possible! 

Another lady nursing her elderly husband who is suffering from cancer is in the same situation. Medical tests, treatment and medication take precedence over food. There are many days the cupboard is bare and the table is certainly empty. How can we stop? 

A beloved wife requiring dialysis twice weekly, faces the dilemma – treatment or food?

A lonely widow in the depth of despair and sadness.  Her beloved husband died three months ago.  She was refused assistance from the State owing to the fact her husband had received sickness benefit, therefore they would not assist with funeral expenses.  She is unemployed but would be willing to clean offices etc.  Each day is a constant struggle, many days without food for herself and her young daughter, plus rental expenses.  She is so thankful the feeding programme has placed food on their table. 

A single parent family consisting of a mother, son and daughter. The mother has just undergone spinal surgery, leaving her unable to move.  They live in a small rented room.  Hospital costs were high as they involved surgery and ongoing treatment.  There was no money remaining for food and they were hungry.  They are so blessed to receive also from the feeding programme.  The son is trying to find a summer job during school vacation.

Single fathers come, embarrassed, they too are struggling each day to provide a better life for their families.  The pandemic has robbed them of employment.  These men are willing to work even in fields but the fields are empty as are their tables. 

A father suffering from a heart condition after working in a mine for many years.  He has a very large family and is prepared to travel a very long way once weekly to bring one of his daughters to our sewing class.  His daughter is being trained by our amazing team, Dana, Berta and Stefan.  Three modules are available from beginner, advanced, distinction.  As a reward they leave with many bags of food for a very large family. Please pray the Lord will send finance for ten tailoring chairs urgently needed.

Pain is real and when it comes it is not easy to stop, yet for many their only choice is to endure. These are real people with real needs and I ask ‘Have we ever known the dilemma of hunger pangs?’  I should never identify any case study by rank or identity, but with the recognition that there go I but for … Jesus made his way through crowds, multitudes and he ministered with a compelling love.  I must keep focused and keep making my way through the endless case studies that continue to come.  Food for thought!

Yesterday, after long conversations with Monika followed by Dora.  The core of our conversation was compassion, promising love, generating hope for a little one who asks, ‘Who will love me?’ or ‘Who will take care of me?’.  A little boy who has never tasted a ‘Big Mac’.  I have taken a close look at where I am and where I stand.  In the words of George Muller:

We should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried. The more I am in a position to be tried in faith, the more I will have the opportunity of seeing God’s help and deliverance. Every fresh instance in which He helps and delivers me will increase my faith. The believer should not shrink from situations, positions, or circumstances in which his faith may be tried, but he should cheerfully embrace them as opportunities to see the hand of God stretched out in help and deliverance. Thus his faith will be strengthened.

Shirley, July 31, 2021

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