‘Is This for Me?’

Not merely in the words you say, not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile, a holy light upon your brow;
Oh no, I felt His presence while you laughed just now
For me ‘twas not the truth you taught, to you so clear, to me still dim,
But when you came to me you brought a sense of Him.
And from your eyes He beckons me, and from your heart His love is shed,
Till I lose sight of you and see the Christ instead.’

(A.S. Wilson)

‘Is this for me?’ she whispered as tears filled her weary eyes, an elderly widow without the necessary resources for medication. Feeding the hungry; helping the helpless; giving hope to the helpless are but a few of the principles taught by our Lord Jesus.  Crushed and broken by devastating emotional loss, this life had been totally squashed as trampled grapes, and yet as I left, one tiny flower was placed in my hand. 

 I thought of the widow whose most precious possession was held securely in her hands, two copper coins, all she had, vital for survival, yet she gave it all. The size of the gift is of no consequence, it is the reasoning behind the heart of the giver. As I think of my families, I reflect on the price of love and the price of their sacrifice.   Those who watch over the dying and weep behind a closed door; the suffering and weary without shelter; the abandoned orphan, stripped of love, longing to belong to someone; the homeless of Dunbrava Rosa without the will to live.  One precious young life (18) who will spend the rest of life never knowing what it is to be loved, he behaved impeccably during therapy knowing the reward at the end resulted in a ‘treat’ provided by Tell Romania.  How little yet how much to this precious life.  This morning as I prepared breakfast for Hamilton, my thoughts turned to hundreds of children born into poverty, where the crusts of our toast would fill a ‘Basket of Crumbs’ for perhaps ten, fifteen hungry little ones huddled in the corner of one room.  We smile at this image but the reality is the pains of hunger are real.  Barriers of race or culture should not matter.   I thought of the words of Oswald Chambers ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly’.  I wonder what have I accomplished in my ‘quiet’ hours?

The storms of COVID-19 are unrelenting, the Romanian summer nights are but a distant memory.  The pandemic has brought cruel consequences of sickness, death and unemployment. People are passing into eternity; factories offering work to minimum wage people have closed; work in the fields or chopping wood for the Roma men is no longer a requirement.  The light is fading, in fact gone and despairing eyes, empty hearts search aimlessly to survive.  Darkness has fallen.  Light is powerful and we are drawn to wherever we see light.   John 8: 12 ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’. It is impossible to rescue the entire human race, but we can love one another. We, as brothers and sisters can radiate this light knowing that one act of kindness can penetrate the darkness of brokenness.   Love should always be patient, kind, giving, serving.  My heart melts remembering searching eyes looking into my face, whispering: ‘There is no love’.  The power of the cross can break the chains of suffering.  Lord, ‘Teach Me to Love’.

I felt as though I was facing a platform of obstacles, the stumbling blocks kept mounting. I had received another urgent request from Dr. Beni, Emanuel Hospice, to supply vials of BUSCOPAN AMPS 20MG/1ML injections; the rising numbers of terminally ill and dying is causing concern to the small team who minister twenty-four hours each day. Obviously, the pandemic has brought limits on medication here in and in the mainland and supply was difficult, in fact an impossibility.  How can I know the power of prayer unless my faith has been tested? God worked in a miraculous way in supplying the ampules and prompted the heart of a sister to meet the need. The violence of the storm or day to day struggles can never stem the waves of blessing that come ‘new’ every morning.  ‘The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself’ Prov 11: 25.  My heart was filled to overflowing when my friend Tom brought boxes of wooden toys and games for ‘My Children’.   During ‘lockdown’ Tom could be found in his garage ‘carving’. Tom and Mavis have had strong links with Romania for many years.  One game evoked memory when Dad and I played Solitaire together.  I did ask Tom if I may have one as a keepsake.  My friend Ruth, who through months of pain and loss took time to think of ‘others’.  As a child, Ruth’s grandmother taught her to knit cotton dishcloths.  Knowing £5 will feed one family for one week, Ruth’s project has been two knitted cotton dish clothes – £5.    We all fit into God’s plan and experience a great sense of peace even in the midst of our own personal storm.  The secret is God gives us the grace to make it through.

I have been struggling this month to write, simply because as I receive the case study files daily, my first thought is ‘Lord, we need a miracle.’  There are those who suffer the pangs of illness, disease, depression, alcohol, domestic abuse, poverty, self-esteem, psychological issues.   Above all, the ultimate miracle of eternal life is our mission.   I must never forget the aim, the goal of our ministry is to rescue those who are perishing, to offer a life of hope and purpose.  As I try to put pen to paper let me introduce you to one young girl thirsting, in fact desperate for answers. Ana-Maria is only fifteen, she never knew her father; her mother left the village six years ago leaving Ana-Maria to care for her brothers.  These children are helped by an aunt and a neighbour who share food and clothing when they can as they too are extremely poor.  The neighbour became concerned as she felt Ana-Maria was gaining weight, she decided to bring her to Iochebed for investigation.  After scans it is concluded she is in her twenty-second week of pregnancy, the boy is unwilling to accept responsibility or to assist in any way.  Only fifteen, classed as a minor, Ana-Maria will be unable to care for her brothers and her baby, she faces the decision of adoption.  What miracle will you give to Ana-Marie today?

Ana still continues to pray the Lord will send rented accommodation.   Gabi continues to visit the family, taking dried milk, pampers and hygiene products for her baby, food for her other three little girls. Ana had incurred debts and we were able to sort also.  We continue to encourage Ana to ask the Lord for guidance.  These are only two case studies within Iochebed, young girls who have lost their way, a nobody to many, our love can give them hope for the future.

A look into loveless faces where one quickly recognizes the need for love. Four to five hundred Roma people live or should I rephrase, exist on the hillside of Tinca. Cast aside and rejected they shelter under plastic or cardboard covering, washing in the nearby rivers, wearing clothes until they must be discarded.  This is the heartbreaking reality of children born into poverty or into the home of an unwed mother. The little ones are beautiful with dark curly hair and piercing dark eyes and they run to hug you.   Casa Grace have been shaken by the staggering numbers who knock daily asking for ‘bread’.  Neii spent hours sorting clothing and Monika travelled many hours delivering supplies and clothing to Roma villages, Orthodox families, a single mother whose young husband died from cancer and whose small village home was destroyed by fire. A grandfather suffering from cancer, his wife suffering from severe mental disability, left to raise his only grandson after the death of his daughter, yet witnessing that in the midst of loss he found the Lord. The Toma family surrounded by tragedy, their young son Alex will never regain consciousness as a result of a ‘hit and run’ car accident, three years ago and breathes assisted by the aid of a machine.  Their younger daughter Larisa is recovering well after losing part of her leg also as a result of a ‘hit and run’ two years ago. 

Sister Toma wept as Monika arrived, as a family they had been praying, asking the Lord to meet the need of the electric bill.  Their trust was in God alone; what an example.  May the Lord continue to grant provision and strength to minister into the lives in hopeless situations.

Roma people are hardworking and every day the local market in Oradea welcomed the farmers; the village ladies brought luscious fruits and fresh vegetables every morning.  This was their only source of income.  Elderly village ladies sat with arms filled with flowers ranging from the tiny Lily of the Valley, Poppy or the huge Sunflower.  The proud Bee Keeper whose honey often graced the breakfast table in Room 7, topping the toast of a certain Professor. Fire ravaged through the entire complex and hundreds of villagers are now left without income.

Ana has been through deep trials in her young life, now discharged from hospital she is anxiously waiting on results following her recent surgery.  The surgeon will confirm if treatment is an option.  

A new family, a single mother and her daughter (4). The father abandoned the family and is unwilling to contribute financially.  They live in a village with meagre support from their family as they struggle to survive.  On occasions, the mother is offered work; sadly the little girl is left alone.  The mother loves the Lord and continues to serve in her village church. Thirty-three pounds is the state allowance they receive.

The world measures loss and gain, saving for a moment yet losing for eternity.  The number of patients passing into eternity continues to rise in Emanual Hospice Homecare Team. The team is serving to the point of exhaustion in dark corners of great need.  They find strength through their love for the souls of mankind.  It is a privilege to serve alongside my colleagues in Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed.  Their service humbles that of my own.  Day by day they minister into frail vessels of clay. Who are they?  Will they be remembered?  

Two new patients:  Mariana, suffering from advanced liver cancer.  Her spirit is low and she is without hope as surgery or chemotherapy is no longer an option.  The signposts clearly state a standstill.  Pray for Adriana as she visits Mariana that she may have the opportunity of assuring her God has not forgotten her and that she is loved.

Another little one, a young girl diagnosed with a stem cell tumor (stage 3).  

Ana (60) suffering from colon cancer.  The furrows on her brow are deep with sorrow.  Ana has been raising her nephew and this young man is going through deep turmoil of mind.  Hand grenades of sorrow keep falling on ploughed fields – we must try to reap the harvest.

Kevin will require further investigations at the end of August.  Kevin is constantly monitored, is walking well now, but still the cancer finds a way to travel.  Remember this precious family who recently came to know the Lord.  The father also awaits surgery.

The church in Sofronia is progressing under the watchful eye of Andrei.  There were many weddings during the summer. Andrei is encouraged as during vacation attendances remained steady.

Many new cases of COVID-19 are reported in Suceava.  Pastor Catalin faces many challenges, currently pastoring two churches.  The needs are many, resources are few. Pray for wisdom and guidance for the way ahead.

Hamilton is now reaching completion of his latest publication: ‘Hallelujah, what a Saviour!’  As I have been proof reading, I have come face to face, in fact deeply moved at ‘What a Saviour’ is mine.  Motivated by compassion for others.  I thought about the word compassion for a long time this morning and to me it spoke of love but more importantly of help.  As I close, I trust the Lord to help me make the right choice and to make a difference.

‘Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim, Thy being and Thy ways:
So shall no part of day or night from sacredness be free,
But all my life in every step, be fellowship with Thee’. (Horatius Bonar)

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