‘Living to Serve’

‘O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory’.  (Psalm 63: 1,2)

The drenching rain forming floods from freak downpours where without warning, people were swallowed up in the turmoil of reality.  The chaos of earthquakes claiming thousands upon thousands of precious lives, people digging with their bare hands in one last hope of finding or recovering a loved one.  Two little girls longing for their beloved ‘Mum’to return home.  Suddenly and without warning a black curtain has fallen.   I find myself questioning situations such as these, questioning how those without the Lord cope? How does one deal with mornings that are cruel, filled with unrelenting pain and pain that will be unending?

Last month, (January update) I wrote of precious little Florin:  There are choices to be made, decisions to be reached. Days of unimaginable pain as a young mother watches her beloved Florin (14 years old), who is in a terminal condition. It is painful for his brothers to watch him growing weaker and getting worse. Florin is unable to walk. He is missing the joy of simply ‘growing up’. The walls of darkness cannot be penetrated; how does a mother explain the reasons ‘why’. Terminal illness is no respecter of persons; young and old suffer and many suffer alone. May they come to experience the richness of the Lord’s presence; may they hear faint whispers of peace.  The world is filled with hearts that are broken, tired and weary.  Florin’s young mother is worn out in strength and endurance.  This morning she was beaten down, struggling to breathe as she listened to Florin breathe his last breath.  Florin has gone to be with the Lord.  His mum will never see him mature into a fine, strong young man.  Please remember this family, trying simply to exist, as they come to terms with this unimaginable loss. 

Hamilton has three books waiting to be published – a few days ago, I was proof reading one of the titles: ‘Beauty for Ashes’. I was gripped with his quotation from the pen of Tertullian: ‘No soldier comes to war surrounded by luxuries, nor goes into action from a comfortable bedroom, but from the makeshift narrow tent, where every kind of hardness is to be found.’ He must be willing to endure hardship and suffering alongside his fellow soldiers. Be willing to avoid distractions in the work and be single-minded, giving his undivided attention to the mountains looming overhead.  Our hospice team go into battle every day.  May their armour be the knowledge that there trust is in God alone.

Daiana, a young mother of two, diagnosed with gastric cancer, has been fighting this illness for four years. At one point, she was in remission, but sadly last year, she relapsed. It is difficult for Daiana and her husband to accept the fact that this illness is already in advanced stages and that she must face another session of chemotherapy. The little ones are affected deeply. They are too young to understand and look with searching eyes why ‘Mummy’ is sick. The cases involving children and adolescents prove much more difficult because of the amount of suffering incurred by the children.  A healthy father or mother suddenly becoming a carer, thrust into a life without dreams or ambitions only to be replaced with a horizon of darkness and fear.  But fathers must work to provide food, clothe little ones.  No one is exempt from weariness, especially when struggling purely to survive.

Viorica is a patient suffering from breast cancer, now diagnosed with multiple metastasis spreading to her brain, bone and lungs. She is entirely dependent upon her oxygen device; Viorica lives alone with no close family members apart from two nephews.   She has had to come face to face with the reality that her days are few, aware that she needs to make her peace with the Lord.  Please pray in her final days as her earthly struggles come to an end that Viorica will find rest and acceptance in the open arms of a loving Saviour.

Rodica has been diagnosed with cervix cancer; she suffers from severe obesity, making it virtually impossible for her husband or the Hospice team to move her during treatment etc.    Rodica is still conscious; however, the team recognise the signs that her health is slowly declining. The place she and her husband call ‘home’ has unimaginable unsanitary conditions. They have no one willing to assist as their daughter is working abroad. No one calls apart from the Hospice team. Some people have no meaning in their lives, their life is one of struggle and defeat.  I pray the aroma of God’s fragrance will fill these empty, overburdened hearts with His love as He whispers: ‘Come unto me and I will give you rest’.

Irina suffers from breast cancer.  She is beaten down with worry and fear as she fights the severe side effects of chemotherapy. The treatment is harsh with unrelenting results of extreme nausea and vomiting.  Irina’s sickness is so extreme she has to be fed intravenously.  Another lady totally alone most of the time, exhausted with simply trying to exist from day to day.  Weariness is not always limited to our present circumstances; it can be a build-up of emotional frustration in living a life without meaning. What an oppressive existence some are called to bear. 

A note from Marinela (Director, Emanuel Hospice Team).  ‘Through God’s grace, we received in December, the Diploma of Excellence ‘THE MEDICAL TEAM OF THE YEAR 2022’ given by Romanian Healthcare Award which is the first and most prestigious competition with an international jury dedicated to doctors, medical team and hospitals from Romania.  In order to recognise the innovation and excellence in the field of health, which has the objective to identify and appreciate the examples of good practice from the Romanian medical system and the individual and team achievements.  Cover this team in prayer as they minister to the terminally ill.

It is important in this life to appropriate our priorities.  We focus on those we love, our friends, our families.  Jer 31: 3I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.’  Mariana has felt your love and your prayers.  Without your practical and prayerful support, Mariana would not have survived.  She was admitted to hospital as arranged, however, test results revealed surgery could not proceed.  Our precious friend remains very sick with the added pressure of extreme side effects resulting from chemotherapy.  The tumour is causing her body to retain excess fluid which is proving painful and difficult.  As I viewed the latest image of her, life has been cruel, and yet I am thankful we have had the opportunity to adopt this precious family into our hearts.  I pray that the Lord’s strength will be evident in her weakness and that through our love Mariana will come to know and to love the Lord.  Personally, I want my own love to deepen, I need to learn to love more than I do today.  Pray that as Mariana returns to hospital on 1st March, surgery will be a possibility.  Her future, the future of seven little children rests with God.

Betsie ten Boom wrote: ‘The most important part of our task will be to tell everyone who will listen that Jesus is the only answer to the problems that are disturbing the hearts of men and nations.  We shall have the right to speak because we can tell from our experience that his light is more powerful than the deepest darkness.’ How wonderful that the reality of his presence is greater than the reality of the horror about us.

Laura (30) has two children. She is currently going through a difficult pregnancy; she is two thirds through this pregnancy. However, due to serious complications, Laura had to attend the local Maternity Hospital.   They are an extremely poor family with little or no money.  We have financed the prescribed medication as recommended by the consultant.   One look at the two little ones told us all we needed to know.  Food was a very welcome, yet unexpected gift.  We are so thankful that those without identity know where to find love and acceptance. 

Elena (20) has a beautiful bouncing baby boy…news she did not want to hear has brought fear of the unknown to this young heart.  She is pregnant again. This news came during a difficult period in her young life.  Elena needs to feel our love as we take her through the journey that children are a gift from God.

Alexandra – a busy mother of five children feels the weight of an unscalable mountain. She and her five children have covid. The children have been very ill, suffering from a high fever. We continue to support Alexandra with food and other urgent necessities during this time when they feel rejected and unloved.  Yet, they know where to come.  There are people hurting, disillusioned in this broken and cold world.  It is important to show our love in a practical manner, to the point of accepting that the rejected, homeless, unloved, drunkard, broken, may need you, may need me, but they need Christ. Pray for these five little ones as they remain very sick.

Narcisa (27) is ‘Mama’ to six children. Narcisa gave birth to her seventh baby on January 13th after an extremely difficult pregnancy.  The little darling, a precious baby boy weighed only three pounds and survived for only two hours.   He was born with congenital malformations. It is a great loss for Narcisa; she is broken in heart and broken in spirit unable to accept the loss.  This brokenness could consume this precious young lady.  In my mind I am back in my beloved Romania, in the Roma villages where I was always surrounded by the most beautiful children.  The most amazing dark eyes and dark curly hair.  Worry wounds, it hurts, it causes pain.  There is One who is the healer of broken hearts.

Carmen (17) came to our centre last month suspecting she was pregnant. We arranged the various scans which confirmed Carmen was in fact six weeks pregnant.  Our team detected the depth of worry this young teenager held in her heart.  Worry can never produce good fruit, in fact, worry only adds to our pressure and our stress level.  The more we harbour worry, the deeper our anxiety.  Carmen returned sharing she had miscarried her baby of ten weeks.   May God touch this young girl, heal her body and soul and help her make wise decisions for her future!

The cases of Iochebed are varied but all carry burdens, harbour secret corners in their heart.  As I write, I identify ‘worry’ in every case study.  Worry is part of their way of life.  Each morning, I thank the Lord for another day, I dedicate each day to the only One who knows the reasons ‘why’.  There is great peace in committing each day into the hands that will guard us and guide us.  The mountains don’t need to loom over us.  Those of you who know me, know I am troubled as I write, yet as I prove the faithfulness of God, I can truly say that I know:  ‘Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,’ (Lamentations 3: 22-23).

On many occasions we read where the Lord Jesus was filled with compassion, where he reached out his hand and touched. Thank you to each one of you who have a heart for God, and heart for ministry and for making it possible to continue to serve effectively. 

A Hungarian lady came to the House of Grace (Casa Grace) depressed.  Life was not what she hoped it would be.  Our team spoke words of love to her troubled heart telling her that although she received bread from our Feeding Programme that Jesus was the Bread of Life.  We have added this case study to our programme and at present we are looking into the possibility of securing employment for this lady.  A small income would assist in caring for her family and the responsibility of her home.  Her husband, diagnosed with cancer, is unable to work. Sadly, he does not receive sickness benefit for his children. Pray with us that this father, mother and three little girls will have living bread, the Bread of Life.

Our precious Lord enters into every storm we must encounter.  We, as individuals, all differ in personality, talent and achievements.  Entering the doors of Casa Grace are wind swept lives, their possessions are minimal, they possess no earthly riches, they live in an arena of chaos and crisis.  Eternal life can conquer every storm and so by placing our love in action we tell them of a love that knows no boundaries or has no limit. 

Last month we introduced you to Levente, Susanna and their family who recently started attending Monika’s church.  Levente was recently diagnosed with cancer and is now in the final stages.  This precious family have been greatly impacted by the love and support offered through the faithful supporters of Tell Romania.  A few days ago, the oncologist quietly whispered to Susanna that her beloved Levente was within hours of leaving this earthly life.  The prayers of the Hungarian Baptist Church have carried Susanna through these difficult hours and days.  Levente has heard the still small voice whispering ‘peace be still’ and is quietly waiting to hear his call to ‘Come Home’.  He is in extreme pain and yet through his pain you can hear him whisper soft tones of communion with his Lord.  Our level of support will be important as they come to terms that ‘Daddy’ will not be returning home.  The daughter and two little boys are devastated – the little boys are vomiting each day – please hold these precious children in your hearts.   We will ensure all necessities are a priority with personal monitoring of the children. Our support is important but God’s presence is priceless.

Timea and her three little girls are a recent addition to our case studies.  For the next two years they will receive food, hygiene, clothing … Timea will also receive counselling from our highly experienced social workers.  She is a single mother who extended her love in adopting a little Roma girl (9).  Timea has a university degree and works hard but the challenges of being a single mum, without relatives or friends is difficult when trying to meet the demands of a rising economy to include a mortgage etc. The support of the Tell Romania Feeding Programme places food on their table. All school children in Romania must bring their own personal school backpack filled with stationery, otherwise they would not be accepted into the education process.  I find it amazing as I see the Lord, first hand, untie all the strings. Last evening, a dear friend contacted me stating: ‘Shirley, I have three banana boxes packed for Casa Grace filled with ….’  Yes, you have it in one: No words!  Timea needs to be healed from the trauma of past relationships and experiences but Timea needs to be introduced to the One who will love her unconditionally.

On a personal note: Monika and I shared many afternoons together with a precious friend Emese whose young life ended prematurely.  Emese was a gracious, gentle young mother who loved her Lord and loved her two young daughters.  She remained faithful, serving her beloved Sunday School class until her final hours.  Monika and I have kept close to the children who miss their darling mum.  Emese’s oldest daughter has undergone surgery and we wait for biopsy results.  Please whisper a prayer for a father still grieving the loss of his young wife and a little girl longing for mummy to hold her hand just now. 

The Lord invites us lovingly to enter into His stillness where the mere mention of His name will calm our storms. Come to Him with a whole heart, you will find you will never waver off course.   Just now, why not stop and whisper ‘Jesus’?

Shirley, February 25, 2023

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