‘Love’s Chain Cannot Be Broken’

“If I fear to hold another to the highest goal because it is so much easier to avoid doing so, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” (Amy Carmichael)

I have been thinking about different women in the bible, women whose love knew the cost of emotional sacrifice; who, despite deep trials, loneliness and pain, possessed an inner beauty with a sweetness no fragrance could portray.  I think of these servants of long ago and feel privileged in knowing and supporting the special women who serve in Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed. They are set apart in a service that certainly demands sacrifice. 

In this age of uncertainty, thousands of Ukrainian refugees, displaced marginalised children and orphans, the families of Casa Grace, the Roma families of Iochebed and the patients of Emanuel Hospice have choices to make and many fear the outcome where there may not be a tomorrow.  Their future has been taken from them, replaced with a hidden fear.  For them, it will take courage to love again.  Love has caused them to sacrifice all they once held dear.  I write with a startling accuracy that disturbs my peace; I have had to stop writing on occasions as I couldn’t continue. As I wrote, I felt the weight of despair, the sense of banishment and I wept. Real people who fulfilled the role of a son, daughter, husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, babies … they are treasured by someone.  Elizabeth Prentiss wrote:  

‘If you could once make up your mind in the fear of God never to undertake more work of any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry, and the instant you feel yourself growing nervous and like one out of breath, would stop and take breath, you would find this simple common-sense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish’.  

A little boy of seven has been filled with fear these past months knowing that life will never be the same without his beloved Mummy. He is afraid to attend school in case his Mummy would be gone on his return.   Since my last update, Mariaora’s condition continued to deteriorate and a few days ago the Lord called her Home. They have no father as Mariaora raised her children alone after the death of her beloved husband.  There are four young children now alone, left without a beloved Father or Mother.  Mariaora’s daughter, who has carried the burden of knowing her Mum would not recover, will soon celebrate her eighteenth birthday and will resume the full and total responsibility of caring for her three siblings.   Two brothers who suffer from tetra paresis, one who is permanently confined to a wheelchair and the youngest brother of seven.   Four young children sit in disbelief, the pain on their little faces is deep as they try to focus on a future without the security of a loving Mother.  They are comforted knowing that their Mum remained close to the Lord and has no more pain.  The reality of days, weeks, months, years ahead seem insurmountable just now.  We will carefully monitor this situation in a life that will be so different for these precious children.  We will also continue to ensure food is available from our Feeding Programme.  All that ever was will never be the same again.  Mariaora loved her children dearly and wanted to live.  It was not her choice.  The children mattered to Mariaora; they matter to the Lord; they should matter to us.

Today, I was reading the feeding of the five thousand and how there was still enough remaining to fill twelve baskets. I know the baskets were filled with crumbs but they were full.   The aim of my Feeding Programmes is to keep the baskets full to feed the hungry but also to feed the hungry with the Bread of Life.   I am challenged as I read: ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered’.   I never cease to give thanks for those who share my passion.  Children left without parents, elderly grandparents still mourning the death of their precious little Daniel and many more left only with the fragment pieces of what once was; the best is gone.  Help me to help them find the One who will never leave them.

Timotei diagnosed with cancer. Timotei’s brother (Florin) was in our care for many years; he has now relapsed. The family are totally broken. The mother is lost, no words would describe the level of her personal pain. Another family engulfed in the darkness of sickness, poverty with no hope to hold on to.  We know there is a hope that can lift a weary head and a hope that strengthens the weak.  ‘Hope in the midst of shadows. One of my husband’s publications.

The results from Kevin’s scan confirmed he has relapsed. There has been no positive response from the consultant as the team of doctors need to assess the next level of treatment which will involve a difficult procedure in the future.

A little boy of seven and a little sister of four hold the hand of their precious little sister.  They do not fully understand the reason Vicki (3) is unable to play with them.   The petals continue to fall from this tiny, fragile rose. Her tiny body knows only pain.  Vicki is unable to walk as the stages of advanced cancer attack this small and fragile frame.   Her condition is getting worse every day.  Her young parents are devastated, knowing the parting will be unbearable.  A young mother’s heart is broken, as her precious Vicki will never become an adventurous teenager; all that will remain will be three years of memories for her alone to hold. 

A message from Estera: Thank you for giving to these precious people through the Feeding Programme who have little or (sometimes) nothing to eat. 

As I try to continue to write, my heart cannot comprehend the disappointment, the testing, the weariness of the journeys of these adult patients.  Methinks:  I wonder how many tears have fallen?  How many tears remain undried?

Ramona (41) was diagnosed with cervix cancer one year ago.  She prayed that surgery would save her life. In consultation, it was confirmed that due to the growth of the tumour, lifesaving surgery was not a possibility. Ramona has five children, three girls and two boys aged between ten and twenty-one.  Ramona did commence chemotherapy, believing the Lord would heal her. Sadly, Ramona has lost her battle and was called home into the presence of the Lord two weeks ago, leaving behind her husband, and five children.  She prayed until her final breath the Lord would heal her.  The family are broken.  ‘Until that day’.

Florian (45) is a patient with tongue cancer. To sip a glass of water is virtually impossible as he has difficult in swallowing.  Florian is cared for by his mother who has many health issues herself.  The patient was raised in a family dedicated to the Lord, but always hesitated in making a decision to follow the Lord.  After this diagnosis which came suddenly and unexpectantly, he decided to surrender his life to the Lord. His mother is amazed how he rejoices through his pain and suffering.  I ask you to pray that Florian’s end of life will be without pain and the he will be promoted to Glory peacefully.  May his precious mother know strength. 

Ioan (90) is a patient with an exulcerated sinus tumour.  Ioan also suffers from dementia which is now in a very advanced stage. He has no living relatives with the exception of one niece who takes care of him. This elderly gentleman is in a state of unconsciousness and is mostly alone in his apartment.  The only people who visit are his niece and our Hospice team.  At times our team try to communicate with him but it is difficult to know the level of his understanding. We accept as a team this is one of the cases where it seems little can be accomplished but we know that Ioan is precious in the eyes of our God. As my tears fall for this precious elderly gentleman, please whisper his name in prayer.

Elena is a patient with gastric cancer, currently under chemotherapy. The treatment is very harsh; she has days in which she vomits most of the food she is able to consume. The Hospice team supported her during the treatment, trying to control the symptoms of both the treatment and the illness.  She is now fed mostly by perfusions which takes approximately three hours each day; her body is now refusing to process food.  

A message from AdrianaPray for our adult patients that we may minister to them with the love of the Lord.

Many of us are unacquainted with poverty and, for some, even suffering. The apostle Paul penned: ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities.’ My adopted son, Andrei shared a case study with me; it moved me to tears: Andrei writes: ‘One of my students, Alex (16) is living with his mother and younger brother of eight and grandmother in Vigna, a village near Arad; the father left his wife and children. The elderly grandmother is ill and the only one working is their mother. Alex has hearing difficulties with a disability of being unable to wear hearing aids.  Their financial and social status is extremely poor. Alex is very careful with money; he purchased a photo printer to enable him to print photographs to assist in the financial running of this small village home.  He also works in the village cutting grass and helping where needed. Alex is meticulous and with every leu he spends – he does not spend money on what is not urgently required.  They live in a gypsy neighbourhood where their windows have been broken on many occasions.  They have had to replace the windows (yet again), invest in the building of a high wall with a video camera for protection.  This was not a luxury but an urgent requirement of safety for the family.  They have been forced to take a loan from the bank in order to proceed.  The father refuses any contact and does not contribute to the welfare of his children.  A gift we can offer is the promise of our gracious Lord that His grace is sufficient.  Pray Alex and his family accept this gift into their lives. I pray every day ‘Lord, teach me to love’.  If I am to truly serve, I must serve even the paths not of my choosing.  Let us show this young man the true meaning of love. 

A message from Pastor Andrei As the work in my home church continues to grow, the work of ‘The Farm’known as the Ferma Church weighs heavy on my heart.  Two young ladies and one young man from the church are working with children.  Every Wednesday approximately fourteen children gather. Their interest and enthusiasm to participate in the leisure time, learning Bible verses, singing songs and listening to the Word of God is encouraging. Thirty children also attend our weekly children’s meeting in Sofronea.

Last month I updated you regarding Andreea.  I quote: 

Andreea (20) lives in fear as a storm of oppression continues to sweep through. Iochebed paid for a recent scan which confirmed she is twenty weeks pregnant with twin boys.  Her tears were uncontrollable when she received the news as her boyfriend is refusing to support her. Andreea does not know how she will manage now that she has been scorned by one, she trusted and loved.  Yes, fear is real!  The following days were filled with oppression resulting in Andreea becoming ill and hospitalised. The doctors are now fearing the risk of an early labour which could present complications

Andreea now has given birth to twin boys, born prematurely with a lower weight than normal.  The condition of the babies is one of concern and they will remain in hospital for a long period of time.  Andreea sits alone in a dark corner of need.  Please pray that in her spiritual darkness she will find the One who can remove all darkness and give her a new beginning with her twin boys. 

Sorina has two children and suffered a miscarriage at the beginning of May.  She confessed on hearing the news of a third pregnancy she became upset as she didn’t feel ready for another child. The last child was born prematurely and had several health issues. Dark clouds of fear are covering her path as she feels the miscarriage is a punishment from God because in her heart it was an unwanted pregnancy. Sorina needs to be released from these thoughts that torture her weak mind.

 Claudia is Mum to two little girls aged seven and six. They are homeless and at present living in a shelter for homeless people.   She came to Iochebed totally desolate and two hungry little girls by her side.  Claudia had no means to feed her children.  As our team listened to her story, a hot meal was provided. The father of the girls deserted them; Claudia initially moved back to her parents.  However, they have only two rooms where her parents and her ill grandmother live with one of the girls.  We advised her to go to her village to search for a room or a house and we will pay the rent. After searching for a long time for even one small room, she went to the mayor who was unwilling to assist, refusing to become involved.  Please pray that God find them a place to stay together.

 Tabita (37) is a faithful mother to her four children aged nineteen, eighteen, nine and three.  She is now twenty-seven weeks pregnant, having previously suffered a miscarriage.  Last week, she had an ultrasound where it was confirmed that the fetus has malformations in the heart, brain, feet and a suspicion of Trisomy 18.  The consultant told Tabita there it is a high probability that the baby will not survive after the birth. Tabita is in total shock. Her trust is in God alone, praying and trusting the baby will be normal. 

Alexandra gave birth last week to her first baby.  A healthy baby girl weighing 7lbs 4ozs. Unfortunately, she has lactation problems. Alexandra wants to breastfeed but has serious pains caused by the wounds and feels overwhelmed. May God give her strength and heal her both in body and mind.

A message from Gabi: Everything is in His hands; we are glad to be together in this ministry with you.  May the Lord guide us together so that His name be glorified.  I am touched and I thank God for you and your heart that is always ready to help. 

As I share my next case study, I find myself asking the Lord to intervene in what speaks to me of ‘hopeless situations’.  Where shall I start?  Where do I begin?  During the month of May the poverty soared throughout the Roma villages.  Hard issues of life sadly are a day-to-day reality for these families who huddle together just to keep warm with little or no food or indeed furniture.  Perhaps a Mushroom field is as soft as a settee?  Monika felt so overwhelmed, Casa Grace transported food, hygiene, clothing, furniture, toys, pushchairs; the list goes on. The level of poverty is unspeakable. We decided to go a little further even into the neighbouring villages where many Roma families also reside. The poverty had to be seen to be believed.  Lack of employment but more importantly, the lack of the Lord Jesus in their pale faces and searching eyes.  We have also been contacted by families who were on our programme previously.  They are struggling with rising costs, medical problems where great expense is incurred.  No money for medication or much needed medical examinations.  As I think on these things, I feel uneasy and must continue to possess the awareness that there are those who know hunger and who live in fear of eviction.    Please pray that I may know godly wisdom and guidance as we together as a team prayerfully consider our next step.  

A message from Monika:  I wish I could greet you once again and feel your heartbeat.  I miss the light you spread to our families; you tread so softly. You are missed. We long to meet again.

A new family was recommended to our team at Casa Grace by a schoolteacher of the oldest daughter.   This family is comprised of two girls aged eleven and one.  Both girls have two different fathers. The mother drives her oldest daughter to school as she is unable to walk or be left unattended.  Her recent partner displayed signs of drug abuse. Therefore, the family were forced to move to another town where they were given the opportunity to live with a cousin of the mother.  A wise decision where both families could share the expenses of the rented apartment.  Sadly, the oldest girl is being abused at school by other children owing to her disability.  The team at Casa Grace have stepped in and funded Psychology sessions.  The reports have been encouraging as the young girl is making progress and beginning to feel better about herself.   In fact, we feel the mother would also benefit from Psychology treatment, as she maintains a distance from our team even though we are sympathetic to her situation. The father of the oldest girl is in contact but the father of the baby wants no communication whatsoever.  The mother was forced to use the majority of her maternity allowance in order to pay for rent and bank payments on a car.  The car is not a luxury, it is a requirement, as the oldest girl suffers from a severe back disability and must wear a special corset to enable her to walk.  Last month the family could not afford to change the garment as they had no surplus money. The support of food and hygiene products is a blessing to them. We pray there will be a change in attitude and that their hearts will come to know the Saviour.  

A message from Neli:  We miss you a lot, Mari and I send our love and entrust you into God’s hand. 

Dana, supervisor of the Vocation Training Room, is both imaginative and inspirational.  We have many students studying our three modules yet one girl has entered Dana’s heart.  Debora (17) comes from a large family of girls.  The family are modest in their dress with impeccable behaviour. Dana soon recognised Deborah’s ability and has made quality time for this young student.  Through her intense training Deborah is now able to make her own wardrobe and has assisted her family by making each one of her sisters a personal dress.  I received pictures of all the dresses and I was amazed at her ability, displaying modern designs of frills around the hems of the dresses etc. Sisters Berta and Dana are dedicated to train the girls and ladies.  All who enter the tailoring course are taught with attention to detail.   I pray as they minister practically and share the gospel over their ‘break time’ the Lord will be glorified.

A message from Dana:  I am thankful to the Lord for all our students.  I thank the Lord for using Sister Berta and I to impact these lives for His glory.  God bless all those who through Tell Romania maintain the successful running of this ministry.

I close with a heaviness of heart, all these pages represent real people, real lives.  I look back on my own life. Yes, there have been shadows, pain, loneliness, but I have known unfailing love and sustaining grace.  I know the One who is Saviour; Redeemer; Comforter, Healer; Provider and most of all – Friend.  Can we be a friend to One today?

‘Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger. Let it be so with us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in spirit to resist.’

(Amy Carmichael)

Shirley, May 27, 2022.

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