His Lamp Am I

His lamp am I, to shine where He shall say,
And lamps are not for sunny rooms,
Nor for the light of day.
And as sometimes a flame we find,
Clear, shining through the night,
So bright we do not see the lamp,
But only see the light;
So may I shine – His light the flame,
That men may glorify His name.

Their expectations are minimal; covetousness plays no part. When we pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, do we think of those who search in desperation for just enough for today, a lamp lit path as they continue to walk aimlessly their path of darkness. Fear is real, burdens of the unknown passed down from generation to generation. Life has been unkind bringing change for both young and old. Life holds no purpose; they are tormented by the past. The elderly is tired of fighting for survival; the young, already scarred, become objective, developing behavioural problems, children entering adolescence prematurely and alone. The unexpected is frightening and many have simply given up. Ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances, forgotten people without hope. As you read the background to my case studies, pray that the transforming grace of our gracious and compassionate Lord will be present throughout every season. We need to link our hearts with the broken.

Many of our Roma girls avoid or hide the truth; they feel ashamed of their shortcomings even failures. D.L. Moody wrote: ‘Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter’.

Greetings from Iochebed:
Dear Sister Shirley, we are so glad to be serving together, we want everything we do to be for His glory. We are so thankful for His love and care, we see His work in the lives of our clients, we help them through God’s power that was manifested through you…together we work in God’s ministry, may all the praise, all the glory be to the Lord. We praise the Lord for the five healthy babies born this month, we pray they will develop and that their parents raise them well, so that they can grow and know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. May God bless you and reward you for everything you have done for these people in need. We are together in this ministry.

No day is ever ordinary in Iochebed; hurts never go away, one becomes resilient and conditioned to life as it is. My colleagues are kind, gentle as they listen to backgrounds of brokenness, faithfully and patiently making known the path of life (Psalm 16: 11).  

Daniel and Ani are the parents of four children. They shared with Gabi that they wanted to change their lifestyle. Our prayers for transformation in those who knock the door of Iochobed is seeing small beginnings. Daniel and Ani surrendered their lives to the Lord. In January of this year they were married, officially legalising their relationship. On Sunday, August 20th they were baptised in one of our local churches. The old has passed away, the new has come. All the praise and glory be to God who moved their hearts!

Valentina (37) has four healthy children; sadly, she lost a five-month child born with a serious malformation. During her fourth pregnancy Valentina was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. She is seventeen weeks pregnant with her fifth child, family and friends are recommending the possibility of an abortion. Valentina is fearful regarding her pregnancy; she does not want to have an abortion. May her heart be redirected towards the Lord’s greatness in creation. Nothing is impossible to God; we pray Valentina’s faith will be strengthened and that she may give birth to a healthy baby

Mia (21) has an adorable one-year-old baby girl. It has just been confirmed she is pregnant again. Mia needs support as during her first pregnancy she encountered many health issues, making it difficult to maintain a normal pregnancy. Difficult days for Mia; we pray she will rest in the nearness of the Lord who will carry her through these remaining months. 

Denisa (20) is a young mother who gave birth prematurely to her second baby – a baby girl (34 weeks) weighing only 1.8 kilos. This precious little one struggled to breathe and was quickly moved to specialist oxygen unit. Denisa was distraught when she had to leave her baby behind on her own discharge from hospital, but now understands the baby must remain in the specialist nursery unit until she attains the appropriate weight and can breathe unassisted, in order to be discharged. The little one was unable to be fed properly as her tiny body kept rejecting the milk. We pray Denisa will find peace turning to the One who formed this precious gift of life.

Casa Grace Summer Camp: 
The mountain retreat was ‘hidden’ at the bottom of a five-kilometre dirt road. Children stared in amazement at the perfection of the cloud formation in a sea of blue sky as the coach transported them to the centre nestled at the bottom of overwhelming mountain peaks. ‘Hidden Work’ perhaps as my colleagues showed love by small tokens of kindness. As night fell, exhausted little ones were covered with blankets of love. The theme this year was: ‘Rescued by Jesus’. ‘Where there is injury’, yes, we had naughty children who were very violent towards one another, their inner anger was real and personal where caution had to be displayed during such episodes. The team felt broken as they watched the tiny ones in particular parade their anger. My two words ‘BUT GOD’ saw the ‘hidden work’. Week one came to an end with Sebi (8) one of the naughtiest children asking the Lord Jesus into His life. The final day arrived; the change in Sebi was amazing. ‘Please tell me, how can I sort my anger without fighting with my fists’. This has been his way of survival. Sebi needs our prayers now more than ever before.

Dan (11) longs for a father figure as his father committed suicide. He is a good boy but filled with anger and resentment, questioning God ‘Why My Dad?’ Although only eleven, Dan displays a strong character, at times is loud and disrespectful. He loves his Mum and accompaniers her to church every week. Hidden work? Methinks not, on the third night of camp, Dan too asked the Lord Jesus in His life, the change during the remainder of his time in camp was amazing as where once was injury there was a calmness, a joy and an overwhelming peace on his troubled little face. But he has to return home!  
Circumstances surrounding our desperately poor families are already included on God’s curriculum but they should also be part of our agenda. Darkness becomes personalised, they literally search for daily bread, a small portion of food would be enough. Your faithful support has cultivated a seed of trust, without our monthly food and hygiene support many would go hungry. Your act of kindness is a source of nourishment to them.

Alina, is a young lady with three children. She never had the opportunity to attend school and is unable to read or write. Occasionally she will find work as a cleaning lady. Alina is forced to live in a state-run shelter for the homeless where I visited many times. Her husband was an alcoholic; his violence was displayed to her and his children. Her two youngest children attended our summer camp – a life-changing five days. Tears flowed as they boarded the coach at the end of their five days. An overcrowded homeless shelter is somewhat different to a mountain retreat filled with love and a lovely soft bed.

Anto (6) suffers from anxiety. He continually searches for love and simply wants to belong to someone to be accepted and genuinely loved. The only smile during summer camp was during fun time. For a single moment Anto mattered to someone. This breaks my heart. Anto commences school in September; without our monthly support he would not have sandwiches to take to school. Aunty Barbara was God’s messenger sending him a filled backpack otherwise he would have been rejected. Hidden work? I repeat, methinks not.

Ale (9) is close to his sister. She will soon become a teenager but her mind is tortured with sorrow and sadness. She is totally withdrawn and lives in a quiet world of make believe. We ask you to pray for Ale and his sister who struggle with who and where they are. They are without purpose, security, but more importantly, love. Their mother recently started to attend a local Baptist Church where her cold heart was challenged. She asked the Lord Jesus into her heart and has since been baptised. You ask: How? This single mother was warmed in her heart to receive monthly food and hygiene from ‘strangers’, questioning when we delivered: ‘Why are these people doing this? Why do they care?’ The answer is simple: We give out of a love that gave all for us. This lady too never had the opportunity to attend school and is unable to read or write. But she can listen and listens intensely as the Word of God is being read.  

Tabita has two children: Maya (7) and Alex (9). Tabita’s husband deserted her and his two children, leaving them totally desolate. She suffers from serious health issues and has no finance to have investigations, treatment etc. Her disability is debilitating and she can only work part time. Although physically unable to work, she has no choice as she needs to provide for her two young children. Both children behave impeccably; they know they are different in appearance but long to be accepted by the other children. Alex and Maya through lack of nourishment are exceptionally thin and very pale; they are unable to sleep. Your monthly support is vital; it is their lifeline as they are unable to pay rent. If they did not receive from our food and hygiene programme, they would go hungry. 

How much is enough? Our children and families are unknown to you, you will never meet them. Yet your love and support enables us to form a bond of trust, friendship, encouragement and restoration. Food and hygiene programmes for our three foundations, Medical Assistance, Kingdom Kids Therapy Programme, Vocational Training Room, reaching lives through the art of sewing. I must stop, I am homesick for my home in my beloved Romania. 

I do not know, nor can I say, ‘I know’ the pain many are going through. I can say from my own personal experience, it was in the depth of deep suffering I learned to know the Lord in the midst of my pain of loss. All of us need to linger long in His beautiful presence where we behold astounding beauty, gain the assurance that the Lord is with us throughout all our earthly journey.

Grief Camp in Emanuel Hospice is a time when one learns that suffering is never for nothing. Many have suffered, many continue to suffer. ‘It is in these very situations which are so painful, having what you don’t want, wanting with all your heart something that you don’t have, that thanksgiving can prepare the way for God to show us His Salvation’. (Elisabeth Elliot).

Kevin and his mother joined us in Grief Camp. Gabi shared her pain of losing Robi so suddenly and Kevin expressed his sadness in growing up without his dad. I smile as I remember Robi and Kevin singing a duet; small things, insignificant happenings are all part of our memories.

My visits with young Damian were always precious to me, he was such a special boy. Robbed of his sight owing to his brain tumour he would shout, ‘I know it is you Sister Shirley, I smell your perfume’. His three siblings, Alexandra, Pria, and Marco benefited from the therapeutic activities in Grief Camp. Their young hearts are still broken, they miss their brother so much. Their faith in the Lord has eased the pain of longing and brokenness.

Please continue to pray for Ianko (14) diagnosed with tetraparesis. As you remember, he had a brother in our care who passed away some years ago. Now he too is in the terminal phase; his grandmother is exhausted. He is a beloved grandson; it is heartbreaking for her to watch him deteriorating every day. Grandma’s tears are real, pray for her.

Alex Toma has been very much on my heart; his family are struggling as they watch his frail body deteriorate every day. Year after year he lies unconscious, oblivious to everything around him. The family have suffered such chaos yet remain steadfast in the everlasting peace in the everlasting arms of love. Many years of hope seem to be fading just now.  

Bogdi is our patient with muscular dystrophy; his mother has been quite unwell lately, causing her to go through a series of investigations. Her main concern and agony of heart is that she would be unable to care for Bogdi if her health fails. She requested prayer.

Delia (16) diagnosed with a brain tumour, also benefiting from the feeding programme, needs our prayers. Her condition is deteriorating. She has four siblings who are living with the family who witness her pain day by day. Hospice children with an overflowing cup of pain, sorrow and suffering. We are not there; we do the next thing, we pray for them.

Aurelia, mother of five children, three under eighteen; her husband died two years ago. Seven months ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This week she will have her last round of chemotherapy; she will then have a mastectomy. The children are very anxious, as they fear they will lose their beloved mother. Aurelia is determined to fight with the illness for the sake of her five children.

Zsoltan is the father of five children, recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Unfortunately, the tumour has spread to the abdomen; therefore, surgery is not an option. He has made inquiries regarding the possibility of chemotherapy. He agonises over the youngest of his girls as she has serious development issues caused by family trauma. This family have not been adrift from suffering; they witnessed one of their sisters dying in an extremely distressing manner.

Janos is a patient with stomach cancer who lives alone. His wife died from cancer eight years ago. Janos and his wife never had children; a very kind neighbour takes care of his day-to-day needs. He has one sister who lives in another city, she would visit periodically. Janos can only tolerate liquid food and feeds himself through a gastrostomy system.

Another month, another blog and yes, I am broken inside. Those who know me well, know writing my prayer requests month by month leaves me feeling helpless. I confess, at times I cannot understand why there is so much pain, suffering and poverty. But this one thing I do know, my first step to accepting these situations is turning the key of faith in my heart. Will you open the key of your heart with me?

Love keeps me walking on

Shirley, August 30,2023
42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ