‘Loving, Step by Step’.

Concluding a study book on women of the Bible, I was captured by the challenge of their motivation and dedication to serve.  They were women the Lord shaped for a purpose; women whose priority was love.  I thought of the countless lives for whom ordinary moments are fast failing and yet I am secure, sheltered in a love that will never end.  As I closed the book, I quietly asked the Lord to make love my priority, to help me lift the clouds, to help me calm a troubled spirit, to have patience when perhaps it all becomes overwhelming.

This month, you will find my update somewhat different. My focus – my colleagues in Romania where each day is greeted with the testing of mountain peaks of tragedy, pain and sadness. They face days where trials are so deep rooted, where mountains refuse to move.  Yet, they continue to bring comfort to outstretched hands.

This month you will hear from Marinela (Director of Emanuel Hospice) Estera, (Social Worker) and Adriana (Psychologist).  Moving on to Gabi (Iochebed) followed by Pastor Andrei (Sofronea) and finally Monika (Director of Casa Grace).  Pray as they have surrendered their lives to serve, they will be aware that as they rest in the Lord, they will know godly wisdom throughout everything they do.

MARINELA. Greetings and much love from me and the Emanuel Hospice team, dear Shirley.

We are well, through God’s grace both regarding family and the work of Emanuel Hospice.  We continue our mission to provide palliative care, with now three home care teams built around one doctor (one is a specialist pediatric team, two are adult teams). The ongoing work of our building project continues. We are presently in the planning stages for the interior of the new Hospice Centre. We regard you as one of our team and thank the Lord for the ongoing interest and input of Tell Romania.

ESTERA: My role is offering support to the patient and family, advising awareness of local services in order to obtain unspecified social rights. I also provide material or financial support for patients and families who have insufficient income to cover minimum needs. (Food, Hygiene, Medical Expenses).  I offer support to children and adolescents diagnosed with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, as well as for bereaved children and their families, guiding children how to process and accept their hospital experiences, offering support during difficult medical procedures.  I provide emotional and spiritual support to help patients and families deal with questions and concerns about the meaning of life, suffering or death. My role also involves organizing recreational camps for children diagnosed with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, as well as bereavement camps for children who have lost a parent or a sibling.

I am writing here concerning the need for one of our patients. Bogdi is a twenty-one-year-old boy diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. His mum asked if we could help with a special wet chair for bathing use.  The one Bogdi has been using is very deteriorated. They are facing many challenges to adjust to his ‘comfort’.  As he is becoming older, things are increasingly difficult.  (Shirley – Finance was transferred to Estera immediately in order to purchase a new chair.)  

ADRIANA: My role as a psychologist is to offer psycho-emotional support for the patient and their loved ones, when needed.  Often, when children are involved, therapy is offered according to the suitability of their age range, i.e., play therapy, art therapy, or just focusing on developing a close and honest relationship, especially with teenagers. Bereavement support for family members losing a loved one in our care is ongoing.  The pain of loss is real.

A case in which prayer is needed is a young patient namely Diana, (I wrote of her last month). She has kidney cancer and metastasis on her spine. I started therapy with her oldest daughter, who is a teenager. Besides coping with her mother’s illness, she is in a critical stage at school, facing admission to high school. She has many exams to pass, which add to the constant pressure she is facing. Her mother is feeling helpless, unable to be supportive. Her husband is overwhelmed with the number of responsibilities crowding his mind.  The whole team needs wisdom to approach this case in a sensible and loving way, as the entire family is affected.

GABI: As a team of three ladies, we have been serving for twenty years in Suceava. Every day we face different challenges, cases that touch our hearts where we want to get involved more so that every woman, family or child receives help from God.

In recent years the people we encounter are from the gypsy community (Romani community).  Many girls from as young as thirteen plus, come for pregnancy tests and pregnancy counselling. Once their pregnancy is confirmed, we schedule them for a medical consultation and ultrasound test. If there are difficult cases where further tests are a requirement, we finance accordingly.  We provide information surrounding pregnancy, hygiene and pregnancy alimentation. We are trying to advise them to attend school to obtain an education rather than seek an abortion. With your help, we distribute backpacks and shoes. When the women go to hospital to give birth, we give them a birth package which contains- diapers, newborn clothes, hygiene products, blankets for the baby, socks and hats and we help them in the first years of the baby’s life. On may occasions we purchase medicines for the children who are sick, food, dried milk for the babies and wood to bring warmth in the winter

I wish to bring to your attention the case of a client who gave birth to her second baby in January. Her name is Dorina and she is facing difficult times. She lived in a garage owned by a relative. Unfortunately, last month she had to leave the garage and was forced to go with her two children to her parents’ house. It is an exceptionally small house and it is totally overcrowded.  She is barely managing financially; her husband went abroad to work and save money to build a home of their own.  Dorina wants to have at least one room so she can move there with her children. She asked for our help in prayer because at this moment, she doesn’t see any solution to have a room of her own. We encouraged her and prayed for her. I know we are counting on God’s help and He can make the impossible possible. Let us support Dorina so she can see the great miracles that God in His infinite kindness will make for her!

ANDREI: The month of May in Romania began with the celebration of Christ’s death and the resurrection, reminding us about the importance of sharing the Gospel with those around us. It has been a personal blessing speaking to several individuals and to invite them to come to Christ. We continue to work with children and teenagers in Sofronea and with children at Ferma Church. We are blessed to see children responding with joy, showing interest in the Gospel.  However, our heart is sad that no one answers the call of the Gospel. Please pray for us. As a young pastor I pray for wisdom to know the right words that will create thoughts of eternal security.  I pray for courage to preach the message the Lord places on my heart and the energy to continue the ministry here where God has called us to serve.

Please pray for Paul and Alina, a couple who are coming to our church. Paul is unsaved and lately God has shaken their lives in a very powerful manner. We pray that God will speak to Paul’s heart that through these challenges he may come to know the One whose Kingdom is unshakable.

MONIKA:  After graduating, I worked as a loan officer at a Christian nonprofit organisation for two years.   My role involved offering advice to ladies wishing to start their own business, witnessing of the One who could change every circumstance and make everything new.  A former professor of Emanuel University commenced working for Euro Evangelism (now known as TEN) approached me regarding serving at CASA Grace.  I prayed, asking the Lord for godly wisdom.  I look back on that day twenty years past in October 2023.   

My prayer was, and is now, to bring His light into the lives of those who are going through hard and sad days, being close to them, supporting them at all levels. In order to see many lives changed, encouraged and lifted up by the Lord.  I am involved in the daily activities, meeting the beneficiaries, encouraging and guiding our team of caring professionals.  I maintain regular contact with the friends of CASA Grace seeking to be close to each one who is in need of support, by praying for them, visiting them, giving them the bread of life, guiding them to the best medical treatment they require, sourcing a suitable school, the right workplace. I am thankful for the journey with CASA Grace and I can witness that He loves and is close to the hungry, the abandoned and does not forget precious children and adults, and he wants to bring salvation, restoration and joy in each precious baby, child, teenager, young adult, parents and grandparents.  I’m also very thankful for the team I can call family, CASA Grace, who work on a daily basis, prayer warriors who are ready to keep their hands up in each battle we are in, as the spiritual battle is ongoing. It is also encouraging to witness that His grace is sufficient for all of us and has the power to transform and restore each broken life. I’m blessed to be part of this work, and I want to serve with all of my strength as long as He allows me. 

We would like to give thanks for your support for Roxana, a six-year-old girl and Ioana, five years old. The food and all the essential products mean Love for them. They need to continuously be lifted in our prayers; Roxana is a very clever and sensible girl, but she is very sad as she sees the changes in their situation and circumstances.  They lived abroad with their parents for a few years, working hard to buy a small house in their native village; we still don’t know what happened… both girls were abandoned by their mother.  She doesn’t keep in touch with them.  They are totally forgotten.  A difficult transition surrounding their father.  After a few months of medical treatment, it is obvious that his mind and behaviour is dangerous for the girls, and that this man should be permanently in residential care.   Roxana and Ioana’s grandfather, is taking care of him, as he continuously wants to end his life and sadly, he is in a world of his own, unable to communicate with the people around him. The grandmother is working full time, in order to have an income for the whole family. They are also in the process of adopting Roxana and Ioana.  But what future is there for these two young girls with elderly grandparents?  We bow our hearts in thanks that the grandparents have come to know the Lord.

Undetected circumstances, unknown days, fires of sorrow, we safely leave in Higher Hands. The Psalmist penned in Psalm 95:4 ‘In one hand He holds deep caves and caverns, in the other hand grasps the high mountains ….. His hand sculpted Earth’. (The Message).

Love is the greatest gift we can give.  May we all be reminded of our calling.

Shirley, May 28, 2024

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

 I never cease to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness in engineering circumstances just when needed.  Last weekend, sixteen banana boxes were sent to Romania to meet urgent needs, with a further consignment waiting to leave this weekend.  HE IS ABLE.

‘A Prescription of Darkness’

‘There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.’ (Corrie Ten Boom).

  Days passed, I simply couldn’t settle to put pen to paper, my heart was heavy, I felt troubled as I thought of those who are trapped in what appears to be an endless season of poverty, the weakness disease brings and the cruel sting of parting.  Waves of darkness sweep over them, engulfing them in the trauma of an emotional journey. The pit of darkness is deep, there is no place to run, nowhere to hide.  These are the devastating realities of those the Lord sends our way.

A young mother torn between love and sacrifice.  Two sick children where the cost of medication leaves a meagre amount for food; the family would know the pangs of hunger without the aid of our Feeding Programme.   A Roma village based seventy kilometres from Oradea where poverty is causing them to slip deeper into a pit of darkness.  My dear friend Berta and her friend Carmen spend Saturday baking fresh bread for the families, setting off early the following Sunday to minister in this village of darkness.  The gospel is shared as they eat together. Later, over one hundred children attend the Sunday School.  ‘A pair of shoes.’  Two young mothers travel over ninety kilometres to attend our sewing class; one young lady has eleven children, the other lady, eight.  Nineteen children in total!  During coffee break they shared the need of shoes for all of their children but a choice would have to be made owing to lack of finances. Nineteen pairs of searching eyes wondering ‘is it me?’  We were able to escort them to our shoe department – nineteen pairs of shoes were lovingly chosen – indeed a gift from God’s hand. Our actions can touch those who search and long for a miracle.  Our harvest of shoes is still yielding a harvest of hope.

Pastor Andrei continues to extinguish tapers of doubt.  A village situated close to Sofronea is home to many Roma people.  A disused building, formerly the communist party farm, offers a facility of flats to many families.   Andrei writes: Please pray for the Church at the Farm. Last Sunday we celebrated thirty years of Baptist witness. Approximately eighty people combining of children, teenagers and adults came to our special open-air anniversary service.  Please pray for those who heard the Gospel and for the poverty-stricken families living on the farm that in their darkness the Lord will shine the truth of His love.

Quietness is real and at times the silence is deafening.  Many sit alone, afraid of quietness.  In the quiet moments we can hear our heart beat, we hear our voice of conscience and many sit in fear of the unknown.  Our call to serve those emotionally drained can come in differing forms where we need to remove the shades of disappointment and the dark shadows of fear.  All work we do for the Lord is meaningful in its time and purpose.  

Estera shares:  BOGDI continues to need your prayers. He is a young man of twenty-two years who has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. His mother has requested prayer for him as their situation is extremely difficult.  Bogdi is now in a period of his life where he desires to be independent and lead a normal life, but he is totally dependent upon his mother for almost everything he needs, including feeding. Additionally, his mother has health issues which adds further complications.  She has lovingly and willingly sacrificed everything in order to care for her beloved son.

ELENA (10) has been diagnosed with spinal amyotrophy. She is confined to a wheelchair and only has partial use of her hands.  Lately she has undergone multiple surgeries to her spine as well as her hips and is now recovering. Elena is a very intelligent little girl and when able, attends school. She has a strong desire to be able to do things by herself, leaving her mum anxious, as she needs to protect Elena from any form of injury.

MADALINA (8) has down syndrome and suffers from diabetes. She is one of five siblings; her family struggle with the reality of overwhelming poverty. Her parents love and care for her, facing many challenges on a daily basis.  Fortunately, our feeding program provides them with food on a monthly basis, for which they are extremely grateful.

Suffering can be a lonely journey for both young and old. Our terminal patients know the pain of ultimate loneliness living in a life overcast by gloom where the passing clouds are bereft of rain in a dry and barren land.  

Adriana shares: DIANA is a young patient suffering from kidney cancer with metastasis on her spine.  Three weeks ago, the metastasis on her spine caused her to be paralyzed from her waist down. The only option of hope is in the form of expensive surgery where there are no guarantees of success.  Diana has two young daughters, who are her main reason for living and she is willing to face the darkness of this storm.  She is also aware that there might not be a positive ending on this earth for her but holds on to her hope in God and in His promise that she has a home prepared in Heaven.

LAURA. Last month, I shared this particular case with you.  Laura, who has gallbladder issues, is now at home. In the short period of one month, she has had to undergo a series of six surgeries.  The darkness of suffering has caused sleepless nights, as the surgeons are unable to locate the root causing the infection within her organs. The surgery procedure highlighted that her colon was highly infected.  The only resolution was to insert a colostomy.  Laura is now facing new ways for her body to function.  A traumatic and unexpected experience.

ADINA has been diagnosed with cervix cancer. She recently underwent surgery for a total hysterectomy, unfortunately the prognosis is negative. It is expected that her health will decline rapidly within the next consecutive weeks.  Adina is aware the she may die soon, and is at peace.  Her husband however, is heartbroken and unable to accept this. He is greatly affected and is receiving medication in order to calm the inner fear of the reality ahead.  He needs our prayers, as do the entire family during the heavy mist of suffering.  

The dark clouds continue to gather for our beloved patients. The prescription of darkness digs deeper into their pit of hopelessness.  

THANK YOU’ to Ballee Presbyterian Church Afternoon Fellowship who embraced our ‘CHANGE A LIFE’ project.  Six banana boxes were lovingly and thoughtfully prepared with love and amazing attention to detail.  Little faces will light up with a smile.  Bless you for caring for our terminally ill children.

Brother Allan Hopper collected TWO ADULT HOISTS donated in memory of a beloved wife.  The hoists have now arrived in Romania are have been delivered to two terminally ill patients in Oradea.  A ‘Change of Life’ for those families also.

Motherhood is special forming a bond of precious memories. Many of our young mothers have choices to make, struggles to face, the fear of illness, each day brings another obstacle.  Iochebed offer love, counselling and practical help but more importantly, we pray for the Holy Spirit to impact these young mothers causing them to make a new beginning.  

Gabi’s update:  REBECA (29) is mother to a two-year-old boy, she is presently twenty-one weeks into her second pregnancy. Last September, Rebeca embraced the grief of a miscarriage and is now overwhelmed by fear and stress.  Her consultant has informed her that the growth of the baby is delayed and has recommended immediate tests for thrombophilia.  The Lord can touch this little one that development will be normal.

AYAN is the four-week baby boy of Carmen who is only eighteen. The little one developed a cold which infected his lungs. The baby was admitted into hospital, to be later discharged with a recommended treatment of antibiotics.  Carmen had no money to purchase the prescribed medicines and nebulizer, she came to us in distress asking for our help.  We pray the Lord will speak to Carmen and change her young life as she cares for baby Ayan.

MIA has two young children and came to us asking for our help in prayer. Mia is feeling ill and extremely weak after the birth of her baby, her body aches with pain and she is experiencing spells of dizziness.   Mia has tried (unsuccessfully) to make an appointment with her GP, but nothing was available.  We encouraged her to attend the local hospital.  After various tests etc stomach issues have been identified, she has now been referred to a specialist where new investigations, scans etc will take place.  Please pray for Mia, that God will heal her, so she can raise her children!

ANI has five young children and has asked us to pray for her; she is pregnant with her sixth child.  Last year, she suffered a miscarriage and is filled with the fear of losing this baby.   May God help her defeat this fear and may she give birth to a healthy baby!

Fear chases away sleep, offers no comfort, minds trying to find answers in their dilemma.  We have all experienced lonely periods where we wrestled with our doubts, fears, sorrows.  With a quiet heart, may we listen for God’s whispers of comfort, peace and assurance.  

Monika’s update:  LEONARDO is struggling with school studies and absenting himself from school on a regular basis. When attending school he is often without lunch. His teachers were so concerned they contacted Casa Grace. He is a sad, withdrawn young boy unable to interact with his school friends. Leonard was abandoned by his mother and has been reared by elderly grandparents who are rearing their great grandson, Marius (9) who was also abandoned in the hospital by his mother.  The father of Marius will not accept responsibility for him, as he was born with mental disability. He refuses to acknowledge any contact. Sister Terezia (grandmother) loves the boys unconditionally and makes no difference between them.  She is trying to be a Godly example within the confines of their humble Roma home.   She is praying the Lord will save her entire family.  Sadly, the Roma village know only the depth of deep poverty and are steeped in darkness.   Her strength is failing as she is required to care for all of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and her beloved husband who is suffering from pulmonary cancer.  He refuses to come under supervision and continues to consume alcohol and nicotine.  They live in a social apartment with minimal and unacceptable conditions.  Each visit displays such a depth of darkness on all levels.  Sister Shirley, may the fresh bread, food and hygiene parcels, the shoes, backpacks, prayer support also bring the light of salvation to these precious lives.  They are lost, they need the Lord.  Sister Terezia carries a heavy cross and yet continues to smile. To see her leave the Casa Grace office with food, shoes, backpacks …… we give thanks to the Lord.

ALIZ AND HER FAMILY are a Christian family, the father is Nigerian, and they have three boys below the age of eight.  They live in a rented apartment and all three children are in school and kindergarten.  The father works in construction. Sadness entered their lives when Aliz started to have some medical issues, the boys also were very sick resulting in Aliz stopping work.  They are now totally dependent on the father’s salary, sadly his earnings do not meet all the expenses related to the family and medical expenses. There are no relatives who can assist them through these valley experiences and they are very thankful for your presence in their lives. May your love bring strength assuring them others care.

Each month, our prayer update speaks of unwanted and unexpected circumstances where our families, patients and beloved children know the heartache of personal suffering.  We cannot offer a fast formula, there is only One who can ease the pain, mend brokenness and speak the words, ‘Peace Be Still’.    As we embrace each new day, this moment in time matters, we can make it count for the Lord.

In His Rich Grace, Shirley, April 28, 2024. (42B Bernice Road. BT36 4QZ)

AN UPDATE FROM HAMILTON:  Tell Romania is actively assisting in other aspects of need throughout Romania. Ongoing support for the online provision in Emanuel Christian University of their Data base (£2,400 per year since 2020); updating Emanuel University Library (this year £1,500); publication of the Journal, Semanatorul, The Sower, (£350 per edition). Translations of two of my books on the Pastoral Epistles and Galatians continue to be printed in to Romanian, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Russian. Regarding recent publications launched in the UK, 500 copies of ‘Hallelujah, What a Saviour’ and ‘To My Little Children’ (a commentary on 1 John) were donated to Romanian Pastors. Revival Movement received a donation of 1,000 books for circulation throughout the world.  Two further books are currently with UK printers. 

Shirley and I value your prayers; pray we will be used of the Lord in our attempts to show God’s love and to lay a firm foundation in Bible ministry across the world – serving in deed and in truth.

‘A Basket of Blessing’

‘Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store’ (Deut. 28: 5).

Dear Sister Shirley, I have a question about one of our patients. He is a little boy of two years of age who has just completed his chemotherapy, the side effects have left him unable to eat. I would really like to help this family.  Do you think I can use some of the money from the Tell Romania Feeding Programme to purchase a blender to help this little one to eat?  
Yours, 
Estera.

A little darling deprived of fun and playtime, so ill he is unable to eat.  As I thought of this precious little boy where the shades of life are falling, a dew of quietness crowded my mind.  I thought of the countless families running on empty where all sense of hope has been trampled into hard ground.  Lives for whom seasons do not change, all they know is the coldness of ‘winter’.  Here we have a poor yet humble young family; their breadbasket is always empty. Those who have little for breakfast, no lunch, a scanty bite for dinner, living (in the words of a familiar saying) from hand to mouth, living today, hoping for tomorrow’s portion, even a bread basket portion.  Many for whom health has gone, wealth is far removed, character is left wanting. John Wesley said: ‘Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can’.

FABI (22) our patient is suffering from epidermolysis bollosa, an extremely rare genetic skin condition. Recently, she received an oncological diagnosis; treatment commenced last week. The tumour is causing Fabi a lot of discomfort and extreme pain as it evolves in her hand. Please pray for her Mum who is always beside her to care for her.  I have known Fabi since she was ten years of age, I remember driving her home after an Emanuel Hospice Children’s Day Outing where on that particular June day it was 41 degs. (rather hot).  Fabi is an amazing young lady.

DELI passed away in February; now the family are going through deep sorrow. They are overwhelmed by grief; the younger brother finds comfort in doing things Delia used to do and is always asking when she is coming back. Deli’s younger sister cannot understand where Deli has gone.  Both parents express their sadness through crying; they hope they will see her one day when we all meet in heaven.

NEEMIA (4) is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Neemia has five siblings, and his parents must care for each of them. Unfortunately, Neemia has relapsed, and he requires a second round of chemotherapy treatment. Young parents whose hearts are torn apart as they watch their little one suffer.

Sister Shirley, thank you again for your patience and the love you have for us as a team and our patients! I hope you and Dr. Moore are well.  Miss You.

Adrianna.

GIZELA is a patient with cervix cancer which recently metastasised in her lymph nodes in the abdomen. Additionally, she and her family came face to face with another tragedy – part of the rented accommodation in which she lives has been destroyed by fire.  We give thanks to the Lord no one was injured. They are a poor family; there is an urgent need for finance to repair the house in order to make in habitable.

MARIA is a patient suffering from breast cancer. Approximately ten years ago, she went through surgery and received a series of chemotherapy treatments; now she has relapsed with metastasis spreading throughout her abdomen.  Conjointly, she has bilateral lymphoedema (massive swelling of both inferior limbs), which causes extreme pain and difficulty in moving. In order to ease her pain and discomfort. Her husband has to change her position almost every hour.  He is very supportive, loving and caring.

ZOLTAN is a patient diagnosed with pulmonary cancer and brain metastasis. Zoltan’s wife lovingly and without complaint takes care of her beloved husband.  They had a son who died at the age of fifteen; he was suffering from leukaemia.  This precious lady hides her pain behind a smile.  Every day her mind relives those days of pain and suffering as she watched life slowly fade away for her little boy.  The reality of her fear is that she recognises her beloved husband is becoming weaker day by day.  There are days he is unable to speak, other days he does not know where he is and does not recognise his beloved wife.  

LAURA is a young patient who has been in our care for two years. She has liver cancer with multiple metastasis. The initial round of chemotherapy was successful in controlling her illness.  Recently she started to feel unwell. Larua was rushed to hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery as the doctors believed this was the cause of the sickness.  Following the postsurgical procedure Laura developed a very high fever which was unresponsive to medication. She had to undergo further surgery, and remains in hospital, waiting for the fourth surgery. The surgeons are unable to identify why her body is not responding but more importantly, the root cause for the infection in her organs. We wait to receive an update.

Your support and prayers have been a blessing to me along these years of ministry, and by God’s grace, I hope He will use us here in the coming years. May God bless your generosity and your kind heart. 

Andrei.

‘I have served in Sofronea Baptist Church for seven years.  My main focus was always the youth and the children who will be the people of tomorrow.  Our goal is to reach a young generation who are in desperate need for the Gospel. By God’s grace we have a great ministry with children and youth in Sofronea and at Ferma, where in total. (as you already know Sister Shirley) we have fifty children and teenagers who hear the Gospel every week. My ministry expands to secular schools in Arad County where I teach Baptist theology. There, I interact with hundreds of children every week many of whom are not my students’.

‘Last week, we received the boxes containing football kits, sweatshirts, and backpacks. All these items will be distributed in the coming months to children in my village and in the schools (one of the schools is 80% gypsy) to kids who are in need. I am blessed to be able to reach these children and the clothing items are a useful tool to help those with whom I am constantly meeting and guiding’.

As I write the sun is appearing filling the room with light, a feeling each time I meet the One who brings light in dark moments. The visits, bread, food, shoes, backpacks, clothes, medication, treatments, discussions with school teachers, offer light, hope and joy into the very troubled lives of the children and families of Casa Grace.  Sister Shirley, my heart thanks you and your team for your love and care for these precious people. May each loaf of bread, each pair of shoes, each meal, show God’s love and saving Grace! 

Monika.

SEBI (9) his condition remains unchanged. Conflicts continue between his father and his stepmother who has tried to be a loving mum to young Sebi who was abandoned as a baby.   Sebi fears he is going to lose the security and love he has found and is now filled with anxiety, resulting in aggressive behaviour as that of his father.   Sebi has had to leave his rural school and has been placed in a school catering for children with special needs. Please pray for God’s guidance as we talk to him that he will lose his aggression and find peace in his young heart. 

ALBERT (9) another young boy caught in the conflict of aggressive behaviour and a family feud.  The situation became untenable resulting in the family moving yet again.  Albert is struggling to adapt to another new school and with a different method of learning.  The standards of this new school demand higher grades etc. Pray that he will ‘try’ to do better and be encouraged by each minute we spend with him! An urgent prayer request:  Albert’s mum will have to undergo surgery to remove a large tumour; may God grant her good results and quick recovery. This results in a lot of fear and uncertainty for young Albert to process. 

REKA (10) remains close in our heart.  A precious little girl who still mourns the loss of her beloved grandfather.  Reka and her grandmother have been forced to move to a small rented apartment; many changes in such a short space of time.  Reka now has to be within walking distance of a school as the aging grandmother must now find work.   Reka was very attached to her grandfather. She is filled with fear if grandma died suddenly too, saying, ‘who would love me, who would want me?’  This has resulted in her grades dropping during the past month.  Pray for peace in the troubled lives of these children of sorrow.

ZOLTAN (11) lives with his mum and two older brothers.  His father died of cancer and he is very sad. His school results are poor. He has become introverted and is struggling to form new friendships, more importantly, to achieve the requirements of his school curriculum. May the support they receive show His Light and Love for them.

Praise the Lord for all that He has done for us so far. We are thankful that He in His infinite kindness is fulfilling His plan in the fight for life. We are so thankful for you, God through you helped so many children, women and their families. We praise God for the two babies born this month. May God be praised and honoured!

Together in ministry, 

Gabi, Mihaela and Loredana

ANDRADA is a young mother (23) she has two children (7yrs and 18 months) She is now thirty-two weeks into her pregnancy, it has been confirmed the birth will be by caesarean section.  Last week, she developed serious symptoms causing concern and was admitted to hospital. Andrada remains in hospital undergoing treatment. May God be with her to enable the birth of a healthy baby!

NICOLAS is a baby boy of 8 months; he is the third child of Laura. Nicolas has a low immune system and has been admitted to hospital suffering from bronchitis. Laura is overwhelmed, as her husband has been diagnosed with leukaemia and attends the main hospital in Cluj for treatment. Laura is afraid the small baby will develop asthma as has her older son.  Laura stays in the hospital with Nicolas who has bronchitis and chicken pox(varicella). She was advised to go to Lasi for further investigations as the consultants suspect baby Nicolas may be Down Syndrome. May God place His loving hands upon this little darling.


DORINA is a mother of two young children, she is facing hardships because she has to move from where she lives; there is nowhere she can go.   She came to our centre in a distressed state requesting our help in prayer.  We serve a God who makes all things beautiful in His time.   The team of Iochebed were able to secure a rental property.  Tell Romania will fund the rental until such times as a permanent solution can be found.   The children don’t want a basket filled with Easter eggs, they simply want a place to call home protected by the loving arms of Mummy.


RAMONA gave birth to her baby two weeks ago.  She has many issues regarding caring and feeding for her little one.  Fear is real, pray for this young girl. 

When we think of ‘Baskets of Blessing’ our mind visualises baskets of sweet-smelling delicate flowers adding colour; luscious fruits depicting a harvest of plenty; excited children carrying Easter baskets. Yet many baskets are filled with tangled threads, lives broken, knotted by the lapse of years of hardship and disappointment.  The landscape of our lives does not remain the same. It is so important during these days of change to dwell in the secret place.  ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly …’  Col 3: 16.  God’s word brings peace, comfort and the courage to face these changing landscapes knowing we are journeying to a heavenly landscape, our eternal home.  

‘I have looked back to times of trial with a kind of longing, not to have them return, but to feel the strength of God as I have felt it then, to feel the power of faith, as I have felt it then, to hang upon God’s powerful arm as I hung upon it then, and to see God at work as I saw him then’. (C.H. Spurgeon).

Shirley, March 26, 2024. 

42B Bernice Road, Newtownabbey BT36 4QZ

‘CHANGE A LIFE’ PROJECT 

Alison and I have been brought to a place where we have proved God’s unwavering faithfulness. For days my mind was absorbed in thinking of the children’s oncology wards close to my heart.  In a telephone conversation with Estera, I was to know the reason why.  All children’s oncology wards have now been closed and the Emanuel Hospice team are caring for all the sick children in their homes. God’s whispers are always timely. Alison oversaw the first consignment which will reach Oradea this weekend. Baskets of blessing filled with pyjamas, slippers, socks, leggings, T-shirts, anoraks, quilts, teddies. We are overwhelmed by the response which will ease the private fears of young parents as they offer love and care from a heart that is breaking inside.  The Lord never forgets to send the moonlit sky with glowing stars. Thank you for bringing a glow of hope to an overshadowed sky.  

Holding on to threads of hope

THE BELIEVING MAN ACCEPTS A PROMISE OF GOD AS A FACT AS SOLID AS A MOUNTAIN
AND VASTLY MORE ENDURING (A.W. TOZER)

Emanuel Hospice; Casa Grace; Iochebed.  Differing foundations ministering to specific needs.  Yet, all with one thing in common; supporting each individual holding onto a frayed, fragile faith with strands of worn-out thread until in their quietness, fear and disappointment they cry: ‘listen to my heart’.  

The summer has gone where once the buds of freshly planted rose bushes blossomed into beauty, only to be replaced by withered petals falling to the ground.  As I study each individual, study their personality, trying to enter their situation, my heart sinks, my head aches and yes, I struggle trying to process.  Yet I’m grateful for the opportunity of giving a little something that will ease their pain and suffering. 

Entering another year of service, I long to love more than ever before, I long to care for those struggling to survive, to tell them of the One who will take their hand through the hardest of days.  For those facing a measure of suffering, their days are hard; for most of us, our struggles can be resolved, yet for those who live in my heart, separated by thousands of miles in Romania, their struggles are filled with the fear of the unknown, unanswered questions where the complexities keep on rising.  The horizon, the sun is shaded and life is meaningless.  May the Lord grant to each one of us a gentle spirit of wisdom and a depth of love for those without a place to anchor.

My colleagues in Emanuel Hospice enter into unexpected tragedy on a daily basis. During 2023 one hundred and sixty-nine patients ranging from babies to the elderly, lost their battle with cancer. Their unified love and compassion come from their undivided hearts; in moments of profound sorrow, the name of ‘Jesus’ is in every word they speak, as they graciously tell of a love that will soothe sorrow and sadness.  

Delia was a precious sixteen-year-old girl and as all teenagers do, dreaming of her future.  I outlined her prognosis last May in my prayer update.  I quote:   Delia (16) was diagnosed with cancer one year ago. She lives with her parents and her siblings (a sister and three brothers). Delia is confined to a wheelchair and is significantly affected by the fact that she cannot assist her mother in household duties. Her mother and father are devasted seeing her failing health but maintain their hope in God.  Delia’s condition continued to deteriorate rapidly, especially during the past number of weeks. She quietly passed away a few days ago.  Delia, who had just turned seventeen is survived by four younger siblings (three brothers and a sister). Before becoming sick, she loved to assist her mother with household duties and caring for her younger siblings. During this past year as her illness progressed, that was no longer possible as she was confined to bed on a permanent basis. Delia was diagnosed with a brain tumour; she was in our care for the past eleven months of her short life. Her family are in deep sorrow, they are walking through a barren desert of emptiness.  Delia’s passing has left an emptiness in six broken hearts, they will never be greeted by her beautiful smile, never share hopes, dreams together.  May the Lord whisper ‘peace’ in their sorrow.

Cristian.  Another patient I wrote to you about last month.  I quote: Cristian’s (14) condition is continuing to worsen. He is now at home being cared for by his mother and grandmother. His younger sister is grieving inwardly as she watches her brother grow weaker day by day. The whole family share in Cristian’s suffering as they quietly try to find reasons. There was no holiday celebration in this home, Cristian is unable to move, see, speak, eat. Heads are bowed in despair; try to feel their pain and remember them. This precious fourteen-year-old boy passed away two weeks ago. His family are devasted, especially his younger sister (10).  Cristian was very attached to her; her mother and grandmother are deeply concerned as the little girl is so overwhelmed by her sense of loss, she is developing complications causing added worry to the family.  Presently, investigations are in place to identify these symptoms. Her elderly grandmother cannot find the strength to go on. Her heart is broken and she is overwhelmed by grief.   Cristian was dearly loved. He was a treasured son, brother and grandson.  Grief is real, grief is personal, but grief is painful.  May the Lord take their hand through their emptiness. 

Peter (17) has been diagnosed with a rare syndrome and is confined to a wheelchair. He is cared for by loving parents. Recently, his father displayed symptoms confirming all was not well with him health wise.  After investigations, it is suspected he may be suffering from a cancer related illness.   His mother’s health too is very fragile, in fact, another cause for concern. Peter watches in silence; it is very difficult for him as he is totally dependent on his parents for every aspect of day-to-day living.  

All my patients possess a tender heart and a gracious spirit.  Thank you for holding them in prayer as well as providing food and hygiene products which is a real help to them.  (Estera).

Dora is a young patient in her thirties, who has recently been diagnosed with rectal cancer, resulting in a compulsory colostomy. Sadly, there is added pressure on Dora as her body is rejecting it.  Dora is cared for by her mother who struggles alone to provide the bare essentials and medical requirements.  This dear family is one of our social cases as their living conditions and finances are well below the level of acceptance. In fact, the provision of the ‘daily bread’ is secondary, since the ongoing medical expenses bring such an unwelcome pressure.  There is no support in place for these forgotten people.

Marius, another young patient suffering from lymphoma; the tumours have spread throughout his body affecting many organs and bodily functions. He is lovingly cared for by his wife who now has the total responsibility of providing care for her beloved husband. She has to find employment in order to raise finance for medication and utility bills and also care for their young son. They hunger for so much more, pray for them.

Melania is a patient diagnosed with liver cancer. Her body is becoming weaker and weaker owing to the ongoing sessions of chemotherapy.  Melania struggles emotionally and indeed spiritually; she suffers from severe bouts of depression.  Owing to the nature of her nervous disability, there is a lack of understanding and support from her family. In silence Melania suffers mentally; the quietness of a hospital ward is lonely. Owing to the high level of chemotherapy we are unable to visit on a regular basis. But there is One who is waiting in the silence of the shadows, who patiently waits to be invited to enter the darkness of night.  Pray Melania will invite the Saviour into her fear, her loneliness.  He is waiting.

Please pray for the husband and son of Cristina, another young patient who died from colon cancer a few days ago. I plan to commence therapy with her son; the cancer advanced very rapidly, Cristina’s husband and son had no time to prepare for her unexpected death. (Adriana).

 A different ministry is offered within Casa Grace.  Families becoming broken and torn apart by unfinished chapters in their lives.  Deep wounds, misunderstood, suffering shame, they are unable to move forward.  All case studies are individually processed and receive personal guidance over our two-year programme where counselling, food, hygiene and clothing are supplied.  All part of the inner healing process of accepting that although there is no permeance in their lives, God is unchanging and immovable.

SIX PRECIOUS JEWELS:  Rares (12) is the oldest of six children (4 boys/2 girls). He was born with differing mental delays; his learning capacity is limited and he struggles with school work.  While he longs to be able to read naturally like the other boys, for him, it is difficult. Words could not describe their family home; it is uninhabitable. But this is ‘home’ to nine people whose strivings never cease to end. A step-father, mother, grandmother and six children who barely survive. Unfortunately, their stepfather has a chronic alcohol problem. There is no extra-curriculum training offered, living in a small remote village, attending a village school. Mostly problems arise because they come from an extremely poor background, where the family are totally disorganised. Rares goes unnoticed and overlooked in important issues, leading to a lack of maturity. He is a very hard-working boy, always taking care of his two younger brothers, responsible to search for firewood and build a fire every day, Romania is cold in the freezing winter months.  Through it all, Rares still has a smile on his face.  He is so excited to see the arrival of our monthly food and hygiene as he receives chocolate from the food parcel. The chocolate is held tightly in his arms with a very happy face.  He searches for the washing powder, as he too is responsible for the weekly family wash.  May the daily bread supplied by our faithful supporters not only fill his empty tummy, but may his young heart feel your love. May this young boy know someone, somewhere cares enough to show it.  Your love in action goes beyond and more.   Stay close to our children.  

In this family Casian (2) and Marcus (3) are darling little boys, also with mental delays. Rares finds time from all of his household chores to care for these two precious young jewels, as mummy is unable to cope with the children on her own.  She is a very delicate and fragile young woman with many untreated health issues.  Apart from living in the depth and darkness of poverty, many of our families have no identity papers; therefore medication, treatment is not an option.   What lies in store for young Rares?   But as we provide for them from our shoe and backpack project, clothing, food, our prayer is that our Heavenly Father may grant us the wisdom to provide according to His will, God’s timing is always perfect.  I must confess I do stress, I do question, my heart aches as I think of their insecurity and their living conditions.  One fact I know for sure, God is faithful, therefore we can safely place all our trust in Him and in Him alone.  The Lord is the only One to whom I can turn for an overwhelming sense of security. Here I rest.

Larisa (9) is a real sweet little girl, she lives with grandma, together with Abel (5) and Petru (7).  No time for play or for normal day to day activities of a nine-year-old girl.  Larisa’s basket is overflowing with the harsh reality of deep poverty.  From a very young age, Larisa was always thankful for any form of support, yet always willing to share the good things which were minimal in her young life.  A nine-year-old young girl with one burning desire – to learn.   Your prayers and support have been the cornerstone in her crumbling life.  ‘A backpack for me?’ Her fully equipped backpack with the small sandwich box ensure she can take dry bread to school, otherwise she would go hungry and be unable to concentrate on learning. She has a warm place where she can do her homework and yes, because of you, she now has shoes and boots and clothes to go to school. Larisa loves her new fully equipped backpack. Remember, these children do not often know the joy of a new gift, toy or clothes. Thank you for loving my children. You now know why I find it impossible to sleep when writing my monthly update.  My heart is overwhelmed and my mind is troubled.  Thank you for walking with me.

Monika and Neli continue their journey through muddy streets without roads to the next village where another family waits patiently for their monthly food provision.  The weather is dark, dismal, wet, cold as is the atmosphere inside the village home. The food, hygiene, backpacks, shoes, toys are gently touched by two small girls. Sofia (5) and Ana (2).  Their eyes stare at the chocolate bars in amazement. They never see chocolate or sweets, as there is barely enough money for food.  The girls playfully wear a backpack, play with the dolls and doll’s house we brought.  This was a belated Christmas for two beautiful little girls as there was no Christmas in this humble home. The father is a young man of thirty-nine, who suffers from a severe heart condition.  His wife abandoned the family home, leaving him to provide and raise three children alone.  His new wife is a hard-working gipsy lady, the two little girls are born from the second marriage. However, his wife has health issues which creates a heavy burden upon this family.  Seven meals required around an empty table.  The older children are so thankful for the food you provide, our Feeding Programme goes beyond and more.

Here the weather is very windy, cold, wet making harder the life of those who are struggling. As I’m writing these words, my heart is full of sadness as I see and feel the darkness of poverty. It is so painful to see children smiling as we visit them, while their face shows the burden of life. In talking with them, God calms my heart and encourages me, remembering that His Light can change these precious lives, even when as a human I don’t see the future very bright. As a second thought, He is telling us to continue to love and serve them and He is overlooking and will bring out the best. Thank you for being with us on this journey. (Monika).

A.W. Tozer penned: ‘The man who has God for his treasure has all things in one’.  Our team of three dedicated ladies in Iochebed reach out in love to those imprisoned, held captive by a life of hurt and trauma.  They are tired of striving for what seems impossible, all they have known is rejection and poverty.  Our team teach the importance of a balanced life of consistency where they can come to know the One who can cause their striving to cease.  

Coming to Iochebed, Iuliana (25) is ten weeks into her pregnancy.  During 2023, she miscarried, resulting in serious complications. She has embraced this pregnancy with fear of a second miscarriage.  Pray the Lord will speak words of peace to her heart, a heart that is filled with fear and uncertainty.  Pray that Iuliana will be released from thoughts that trouble her longing heart. 

Estera is very young to be a mother.  Baby Dorothea entered this world four weeks ago. She was born with disabilities of hydrocephalus and spina bifida.  Despite the doctor’s prognostics, Doroteea is fighting to survive.  She has undergone an intervention for spina bifida and recently a tube was installed to drain surplus liquid from her brain. Following surgery, Doroteea contracted bronchitis; her breathing was cause for concern and she was moved to a life support machine. Estera is heartbroken, unable to sleep as she faces the unknown with her precious baby daughter.  May God touch this precious little one with healing grace.  Estera will require an inner strength to care for this fragile baby.  Pray for her.  

Mihaela is expecting her second child at the end of January.  She has no one to turn to and needs our support to enable her to give birth without complications. The past months have been difficult for her; with a heaviness of heart, she came asking us to pray for her and to stay close beside her.  The silence of loneliness is a stark reality. 

Sarina (17) has no other option that to raise her baby daughter alone. A young teenage girl with the responsibility of a four-month-old baby daughter.  The poverty is beyond words, as she shared with us we learned she has been sleeping on the floor with her baby daughter in her arms.  Four walls, a space without furniture.   Once aware of the situation, we purchased a day-bed immediately, where she and the baby can sleep. Those who support the work of Iochebed, blessed Sarina and her baby through your love and faithful donations to our various foundations. 

During December you blessed us with so many gifts for children and their families they forgot their troubles and enjoyed the gifts received. We succeeded in blessing seventy families with food and over one hundred and fifty-five children received gifts – this was made possible through God’s help that was shown through your kind hearts. We praise the Lord for all the people that last year were a part of our story.  Please pray for the babies born during January 2024.  It is important to develop a relationship with the mothers and to remain involved in the lives of all the babies born through the work of Iochebed. (Gabi, Mihaela, Loredana)

Thank you for taking time to prayerfully read my January update.  I have shared my heart, introduced you to those who continually wrestle through endless days where nothing seems to change.  They live in a cloud surrounded by a hostile mist of uncertainty. The searching eyes of children without a future; the face of an elderly grandparent who silently wonders ‘am I enough for what is needed?’. Yes, I am troubled then I remember the words of a gospel song sung by The Imperials and the Gaither Group:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear.

 Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

Pray for Emanuel Hospice; Casa Grace and Iochebed as they minister to show God’s amazing grace. I close by quoting the words of C.H. Spurgeon.

‘Praise is the rehearsal of our eternal song.  By grace we learn to sing.

And in glory we continue to sing’.

Shirley, January 26, 2024

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

Little Children

‘Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’. (1 John 4:4).

Hamilton’s recent publication was based on a study of the proofs of life in The First Epistle of John.  In proofreading the contents, I found it informative but more so, challenging.  As we enter another year, perhaps a year filled with distractions, circumstances beyond our control that are certainly not the ones we had planned, let us hide ourselves in the One who is greater than all that troubles our mind, remembering that ‘He who is in you is greater…’  What a promise with which to go forward into the unknown of 2024.

News channels filled with disturbing updates where the reality of ‘loss’ is beyond words.  Lives thrown into turmoil, homes, families gone in an instant.   Reflecting on 2023, I think of the pain and suffering of so many brought on suddenly and unexpectantly – war, floods, earthquakes, tragic loss of children leaving lives forever broken.  Speaking personally as I embrace a new year, I need to really see the circumstances, situations of my case studies as the Lord sees them.  I want everything to be made beautiful in my time, the Lord is the shield round about me, my glory and the lifter of my head and in His time, which is always perfect, the Lord will make all things beautiful, He is the One who knows the end from the beginning and in the silence of another morning methinks it makes things less complicated. This morning I read from Isaiah 46: 8-10: eleven words are engraved on my heart: ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’.  

During the past days, I found myself thinking of the many ‘hopeless sorrows’ filling my mind.  Surely there can be no higher calling than to give the gift of hope to parents bereft of children, to children longing to hold the hand of a beloved father, mother, brother, sister.  When we give compassion, we give love, we bring hope.  Jesus is the greatest gift we can give to a broken world.

My colleagues in Emanuel Hospice have encountered many cases overwhelmed by the failure and sadness of broken relationships, abuse, and loss.  Many of our patients are alone; they live their last days hoping someone will love them even with all their failures.

Andor is a patient suffering from colon cancer. He and his wife have lived a lifetime in the shadows of darkness and personal tragedy.  Fourteen years ago, they lost their beloved son and daughter as a result of a car accident; both were only toddlers, robbed of a lifetime of memories, two precious jewels gone in an instant.   A childless couple who has devoted the last fourteen years to one another.  Andor’s health is deteriorating; his days are short as the cancer is evolving throughout his body.  Another widow who will spend her last days alone with her thoughts of what might have been.  In the quietness of aloneness, only thoughts of those she loved but sadly lost.  Will you bring compassion, will you offer love?

Elisabeta has pulmonary cancer.  She lives alone in extremely poor conditions. She never had the joy of cradling a baby of her own and is a widowed lady with a background of sadness. Elisabeta, abused by her husband throughout their entire marriage, she never knew the true meaning of love; she never heard a soft word of endearment, only harsh and hurtful words followed by abuse.   Now, she is fully dependant on a lady who, for payment will shop for groceries, cook and clean.  She is still longing for love, reaching out for someone to genuinely touch her life.  Elisabeta has no pleasant memories, her last days are filled with a longing to matter to someone.  I repeat, will you bring compassion, will you offer love?

Florin is an elderly patient suffering from prostate cancer who is cared for by his aging wife.  They lost their daughter as the result of a brain tumour; now his wife has to embrace the painful task of caring for her beloved husband who is terminally ill. Florin accepts his illness with courage and serenity, but has expressed his concerns as to how his wife will manage without him.  All these elderly patients are reaching out for love.  Will you love them?

At the end of November, I wrote: Kristof (7) has relapsed for the third time. His family are devastated. The family have two younger children who have had to sacrifice the love and care of their mother as most of Kristof’s seven years have been spent in hospital. These children have been unable to make memories with their older brother. Kristof’s memories are not filled with the laughter of normal playtime; only the fear of treatment and medication. Please think of these special children this Christmas. This precious little boy will spend another Christmas Day in hospital.  Kristof did not see Christmas Day, quietly and peacefully this precious little boy of seven passed away.   His family are overwhelmed by grief.  His father rushed to the hospital to cradle his son in his arms as a frail little boy breathed his last breath.  Kristof passed away before ‘Daddy’ could spend final moments with his beloved son.  It was a quiet Christmas in the home of this precious family.  Let your love reach out and touch this precious grieving family.

Cristian’s (14) condition is continuing to worsen.  He is now at home being cared for by his mother and grandmother.   His younger sister is grieving inwardly as she watches her brother grow weaker day by day.  The whole family share in Cristian’s suffering as they quietly try to find reasons.  There was no holiday celebration in this home, Cristian is unable to move, see, speak, eat.  Heads are bowed in despair; try to feel their pain and remember them.

Fabia (22) has a rare skin disease; it is suspected she is also suffering from cancer.  Fabia has seen many consultants in order to find a solution to her severe problems with one of her hands. A young lady with her life in front of her. Pray for Fabia that she will open her heart and hear words of comfort, words of hope, words of love.

The strains of Christmas Carols have filled our hearts and homes.  As I think of my families on our Feeding Programme, Goodwill to men can be extended in a variety of ways.  Monthly food and hygiene packages are a must, indeed a lifeline for a hungry family but there are heartfelt hugs, hospitality, treats for my children, peace for troubled minds.  As we minister month by month to families in the depth of poverty, we tell them of Jesus, the Bread of Life, who also can be Light in their darkness.  Thank you for your support.

Reka, her world is shattered.  Many of you will recall the story of how precious Reka’s grandfather was to her.  This beautiful little girl was abandoned by her mother and loved and cherished throughout her ten years by her grandparents.  Her grandfather was her world.  Four weeks ago, Reka’s grandfather (65) was diagnosed with cancer; his passing came unexpectantly.   Reka suffers from severe asthmatic problems and is home schooled during the severe winter months. A footnote of encouragement:  Every morning prior to eating breakfast, the family gathered around the laminated plaque we enclose with each food parcel, it is a wall plaque telling of the One who is the Bread of life.  Other gifts are only fading shadows compared with the Gift of Life. I pray Reka’s grandfather came to know the One who is the giver of life.

Monika and her three daughters live in a small isolated village located two hours from Oradea. Christmas 2023 was one three little girls will never forget.  Their beloved ‘Daddy’ diagnosed with cancer four weeks ago, passed away suddenly.  We pray as we have supported and will continue to support this family, the seed we plant will germinate and grow in their hearts.   Unexpected funeral expenses created a heavy burden for this young mother. We will continue to offer food and hygiene on a monthly basis.  Through our shoe project, warm shoes, boots and backpacks have enabled the girls to attend school. There is always ‘one’ we can share the gift of God’s love.  Let us continue to tell others.

Petru (50) and his family are supported each month with food and hygiene. A heart rendering case study of a family of thirteen children who have known only poverty, yet a family who possessed such love one for the other.   Petru and his oldest son served in the local church, sadly his young son lost his life as a result of a car accident.  Now, tragedy has hit again as recently Petru lost his wife to cancer leaving him with the full responsibility of raising eight children alone (10 – 18 years of age), Rebeca, Elisei, Isaia, Salomea, Doritea, Naomi, Petru, Filip, as the remaining four children have now families of their own.  Eight siblings faced a Christmas without ‘Mum’; eight children are fearful of their future. Life has been cruel and unkind to them; they feel totally forsaken and indeed alone.  The creator of the universe, the One who formed the world with His own hands, spoke the word in such a way we could understand.  May assurance and love fill the hearts of these eight frightened and lonely children.  There was no Christmas in the hearts of these children only moments and reflections of sadness.

Our Dora has returned home to ‘Daddy’ after being in a care home for one year.  It has been a difficult year of separation both for John and Dora.  John encountered several health issues and underwent surgery for a hip replacement.  During this time, work was implemented to accommodate the ongoing needs, as Dora becomes older and less active.  It was always our plan to have Dora spend Christmas at home.   We continue to support John as he lovingly cares for his precious daughter.  John has embraced the loss of his young wife and daughter, raising Dora since a baby.  Monika visited this week as Dora was patiently waiting on her gifts from Auntie Barbara. As I watched the video link and heard Dora cry: ‘Sister Shirley, I need to see you, perhaps I could fly to you?’ She is still treasured and I do love her childlike faith.   They need your continuous prayer support as John is aging, making each day harder and she has a few more health issues that makes walking more difficult for him.

Gabi, Mahalia and Loredana have had busy days during December.  The snows, chilling winds, freezing conditions are hazardous for those living in makeshift homes.  The door of Iochebed has opened throughout these cold and uninviting weeks of a Romania winter.  During November a further two babies were born and sixty mothers assisted with medicine, finance for firewood, purchasing furnaces for a wooden hut without heat, food, hygiene.  Each family and in some cases the parents, grandparents, received winter shoes and boots, with the backpacks continuing to be a blessing.  One family said: ‘This is the best present’.  Another case where we assisted in obtaining wood for the winter, is a young mother who chose to give birth to her baby. The mother is sick and the father of the baby is aggressive and refused to care for her and the baby. We cannot pass by.

Estera gave birth to her first child on November 26th, a baby girl of 3.1 kilos. Little Doroteea was sent to intensive care as she was born with hydrocephalus and spina bifida. Estera informed us that the birth of Doroteea was a miracle as she was advised during her echography that the baby had no brain, also her spinal cord was much shorter.  The medical staff advised Estera that the baby would not survive, she refused to accept but rather decided to pray for a normal birth.  Following the birth of her daughter, the little one required oxygen.  A few days later the first of planned surgeries was performed to address the baby’s spina bifida and our miracle baby was able to breathe unaided. Pray for baby Doroteea who has to undergo further planned surgeries.  Remember this new mum, as Estera has had no time to recover personally as she is required to attend to her baby in the hospital.  

Samira (16) is the mother of a one year and one month baby girl. Recently she suffered a miscarriage which has proved to be a most painful experience for the young sixteen-year-old girl.  Simira became a mother at the young age of fifteen. I pray as Samira reflects on her young life, already filled with pain, that she will embrace the indescribable gift of life in salvation and forgiveness.  Our level of care covers material needs but more importantly it must cover spiritual needs.  These young Roma girls come to Iochebed longing to be heard, to be understood, searching for love.  The love of God can reach beyond all longing.

Marta is a mother of two children- a one year baby girl and a 5 months baby boy. She asked us to support her in prayer, especially her baby girl who has health issues. We have financed her medical tests and bought the required medicines for her baby. When one reaches out, we have an obligation to take their hand. 

Sarina is a mother of a 3 months old baby girl. She is a minor, but chose to fight for her baby’s life. After the first snow, the water came through the roof and her roof of her makeshift home fell apart. She was distraught with nowhere to go, no one to help.  She had heard of the House of Grace that reached out in love to those in need and came, sharing her story with our team.   We purchased materials for the roof and implemented the work in order that her baby is warm and safe.   When we think of our own children and how we care for them, think of Sarina who, a child herself, has the responsibility of a precious baby daughter.  May she feel our love reaching out to her, touching her. Changing her?

The villagers of Sofronea have been blessed this Christmas as they received a personal shoebox from Monkstown Baptist Church.  Children and elderly were remembered.  Let me share a few lines from my adopted son Andrei who pastors the church:

Greetings and love from your brothers and sisters in Christ from Sofronea, Romania.

 We are so grateful for your generosity. This year, as on previous years, we feel blessed and loved by your gracious gifts. All the shoeboxes were distributed to families in need and to the children we are ministering in the village, as well as children from our church. By the grace of God, we continue to work with children outside our church who need to hear the Gospel and these presents were exactly what we needed to show our love and appreciation to these children. We are eager to continue the good work and we would appreciate your prayers for this ministry.

May God bless you and keep you and reward your generosity. I know that every sacrifice done for God’s Kingdom is known by Him. As you saw our needs, I know that God sees yours and He can fulfil those needs in an unimaginable way.

Another arm in the ministry and outreach of Tell Romania is our Vocational Training Room.  A place of learning the art of sewing but also the opportunity of learning to remake yourself, to forget the past and to move forward with a quiet heart of trust.  My friend and colleague Dana sent me this report:

Another academic year behind, another course completed, another group of students entering our tailoring course next semester.  

All the girls and village ladies were very interested in this particular course and this was seen in the garments designed and made.  At the end of each course, in addition to the graduation examination for the diploma, we hold a competition, namely the Golden Needle Award. The best overall student receives the gift of a new domestic sewing machine.  This year, first prize went to Florina Tiriteu (23) who lives in the district of Hidiselul de Dobresti, Bihor.  Florina has ten brothers and sisters, 6 boys and 4 girls. She is single and working in a factory, in Marghita, 55 kms from Oradea, a small city, where she is only sewing straight lines.  Her heart yearned to know more about the art of sewing, having heard of our success in training hundreds of students over the years, she made contact, willing to commute.  Her talent soon became evident as we watched her progress faithfully week by week. Florina is very shy, but very motivated; she was overwhelmed to receive the first prize of a sewing machine of her very own. 

As I thought of those perhaps without academic skills who long, who want to be better, who crave for personal training in a skill of their choice, the Lord spoke to my heart of the need to replace our embroidery machine, a huge expense and yet as I waited in the silence of my heart, I saw God move in an amazing way of provision.  To date our waiting list is past taking.  A transformation has taken place in many lives. We view the importance of our coffee break where the Word of God is read and the story of the cross revealed.  God’s Word changes lives. 

As we enter 2024 the words of Psalm 9:10 are precious to me. ‘Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you’

Hold these thoughts close to your heart:

He lights the path before us (Psalm 119: 105)

He guides, He leads (Proverbs 37: 5-6)

He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13: 5)

He will answer us in our distress (Psalm 20: 1)

A HUMBLE GIFT OF LOVE IS THE BEST GIFT WE COULD GIVE TO THE VULNERABLE AND HELPLESS.  THOSE WHO ARE ALONE AND FEEL FORGOTTEN, THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE BROKEN.  WILL YOU REMEMBER THEM?

Shirley, December 28th, 2023                  42B Bernice Road, Newtownabbey. BT36 4QZ.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward men

December?  Where has this year gone? As I try to process the fear and unrest many have encountered throughout this year and are continuing to face daily, I am reminded of the words of Deut. 31: 8 (NIV) ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’.  We rest in knowing we serve a God who is merciful and gracious, whose love is steadfast and whose mercies are new every morning. C.H. Spurgeon: ‘Let your gratitude compel you in everything you do for Jesus’. A new year lies before us with new opportunities. It can be the starting point of a personal journey of greater reliance upon the Giver of Life.  We need to prepare room in our hearts; we need to commence a personal experience of getting to know God is with us in every season of life.

As I commence writing this report, I identify those who are anxious, worried, heartbroken, without food, without anyone to care – the list is endless.  I pray they will come to know the love, comfort and assurance of a loving Lord who silently waits to be invited into their situation.

A few weeks ago I wrote: Lanko (12) is sinking fast, as his condition continues to deteriorate. He has tetra paresis. Each breath is now a constant struggle even with the support of an oxygen cylinder. Lanko is now fed through a feeding tube and has another tube inserted to drain the infection from his lungs. Every day is increasingly difficult for his grandmother; she herself is ill, many seasons have come and gone in her life. This is now a season of sorrow. Lanko is treasured by his grandmother; she cares for him from a heart overflowing with love. This aged lady gives and gives and gives again without complaint. There are no rainbows in her sky, no bright tomorrows. Soon the winter season will arrive; she will be left alone in the coldness of sorrow.

It is with a broken heart and deep sadness I share the news of the passing of this beloved grandson.  A few days ago, Lanko (12) passed away after years of suffering. His suffering has ended but his grandmother who loved him and cared for him since a baby is left alone with only her memories.  Lanko’s mother rejected him, not accepting the responsibility of caring for a sick baby.  The loving heart of a grandmother took him in her arms and has lovingly cared for him for twelve years.  Her days are meaningless, her heart empty, as her beloved grandson has gone.  She awakens each morning to dark and lonely days; she is in a season of deep sorrow.

Kristof (7) has relapsed for the third time. His family are devastated. The family have two younger children who have had to sacrifice the love and care of their mother as most of Kristof’s seven years have been spent in hospital.  These children have been unable to make memories with their older brother. Kristof’s memories are not filled with the laughter of normal playtime; only the fear of treatment and medication. Please think of these special children this Christmas.  This precious little boy will spend another Christmas Day in hospital. 

Daria (10) diagnosed with spinal amyotrophy has undergone a recent surgery to straighten her spine. It was a most difficult surgery followed by extreme bone pain.   Another precious little one who should be outside playing with her friends. Yet, sickness is her only companion.  Daria’s mother asks from a broken heart to whisper Daria’s name in your prayers. 

Kevin is stable and able to attend school on a regular basis.  Following his last procedure, his consultant recommended Kevin to lose weight in order to relieve the pressure on his legs and feet.  Kevin celebrated his fourteenth birthday this week and is growing into a fine young man. He has now lost weight and is feeling the benefit when walking.  Prior to his birthday, his voice suddenly changed, Robi would be proud of his young son. 

Livia is a patient recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumour exulcerated, causing her extreme pain. Livia has added complications owing to a metastasis which is spreading throughout her body.  Fluid retention is causing swelling, presently, one leg is causing a high level of concern. Following a recent consultation her consultant informed her of the possibility of amputation. My heart is sinking as I write. The pain, the burden, the decisions this precious lady is hiding in the corner of her heart.  She is totally alone without any family connections.  A friend has opened her home to her just now to ensure she receives food and nourishment.  In the dark nights of loneliness, the reality of a decision is crowding her troubled mind.  Please pray for this dear lady.

Marioara is a patient with colon cancer.  The cancer is causing metastasis in other vital organs, especially her lung area.  Marioara is fully dependent on a portable oxygen device. She is one of many of our patients who struggle to breathe. Her illness and the prospect of a future is creating anxiety, she suffers from panic attacks when she has an attach of dyspnoea, a sudden, severe attack of shortness of breath.  Remember Marioara. 

Elena is another one of our patients diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is still undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments.  Elena is a widow; all of her children live abroad.  Her days are lonely. In fact, Elena has expressed the silence of loneliness is much more difficult to bear than her illness. I pray for many who long for the doorbell or the telephone to ring, just to hear another voice. Real people with a real longing just to matter to someone.  Elena’s sister and brother-in-law, neighbours try to call. These are the cold facts of reality; please remember those you know who are alone.

Elisabeth was one of the first patients I met on my first visit to Romania weeks after my marriage to Hamilton in 2012. She is lovingly cared for by her beloved husband John.  Elizabeth has undergone several surgeries for cancer. The Lord touched Elizabeth and she has been in remission.  Recently it was confirmed her cancer had returned and immediate surgery was arranged.  She has recovered well after the surgery and is undergoing a series of mild chemotherapy, which her body appears to be coping with exceptionally well. John and Elizabeth are members of Emanuel Baptist Church. On each of my home visits, John would sing a psalm, while Elizabeth would read the scriptures.  A special couple who love the Lord, in and out of season.

Suceava has been greeted with the first of the Romanian snows.  I remember as a child singing ‘Snowy flakes are falling softly clothing all the world in white’.  This was not the case on this particular morning. Many families had no firewood; there are barefooted children without adequate clothing and shoes.  Families may appear resilient, even indestructible, yet the panic was evident as families came pleading for help. Your donations made a real difference, as we were able with God’s help to show His love to many families who had no food or wood for the winter, or whose children were without clothes or shoes. Six new babies were born this month, our team in Iochebed have been assisting all six families with pampers, clothes and medication.  

Paraschiva was born close to term – at thirty-seven weeks weighing only 1.9 kilos.  This precious little one was born with a severe infection. She suffered an internal haemorrhage and was unable to breathe without intervention for the first few days.  The doctors did not expect the baby to survive.  The young parents talked to the Lord about baby Paraschiva. The Lord heard their prayers and the baby is beginning to gain weight. There are underlying concerns regarding her heart and eyesight. She will be sent for further investigations to a specialist hospital in the country. May God touch this baby girl and watch over her development.

 Delia is a mother of a five-month baby girl who recently discovered she is twelve weeks pregnant. She is feeling weak and unable to consume food owing to the extremity of her morning sickness. Pray for this young mother that the Lord will sustain her throughout her remaining weeks or pregnancy.  

Ani is a mother of a little one aged two; she too is pregnant again. Ani is mentally unprepared for another baby and is feeling most distressed at the prospect of giving birth to another little one. Ani needs our prayers to accept this little one is a gift from the Lord who will be a blessing to her.

Sorina is the mother of two children.  She came to our centre asking for our help. She was diagnosed with a disease that causes her extreme pain. Our team spent time with her offering wise counsel and direction which has helped her.  Sorina praised the Lord for His care, asking for grace during in these difficult times.

Doina is a single mom with a three-year-old girl.  Doina is deaf and mute.  They live in freezing conditions without heat. She asked if she could be considered for a furnace to help her and her little one keep warm during the winter months.  She was not turned away. A furnace was purchased and installed in order that this little family may know warmth and comfort in the place they call ‘home’.  May God bless them and touch their hearts with His love!

Our families have no foundation to build a secure future. For many, all hope of such has faded and they feel forsaken and alone. We try in love to show them and tell them that when our hope is secure, we can give thanks even in the darkness of every season.  They open their eyes each morning thinking ‘If only I knew where to go, if only, if only …’  Unanswered questions, wrestling with the consequences of wrongful choices.  Every season is the same.

Rebeca (12) is a beautiful young lady with a burning desire and an eagerness to learn the art of tailoring. However, she lives in Vascau which is ninety kilometres from Oradea. Our Vocational Training Room is meeting the needs of many families, while our waiting list exceeds fifty. Casa Grace was made aware of this situation. My team are beyond words, as arrangements were made for Rebeca and her cousin to attend a five-day intense training course during their school holidays and Dana (Supervisor) offered hospitality to the girls in her home for the five-day training session.  Earlier this month, I felt compelled in my heart to upgrade our embroidery machine. This turned into an amazing journey of faith, ending in God’s provision.  My lesson – listen to the stillness of His voice.  How blessed to have met this need and to think Rebeca can dressmake for her twelve siblings.

Albert (10) displays a fear, a sadness. His parents divorced after his father created ongoing problems due to his alcohol addiction. Naomi (mother) is trying to keep her family together.  Albert’s sister, Renata is nineteen. They are forced to live in rented accommodation. Naomi is very encouraged by the vital food and hygiene support, the added blessing of shoes, backpacks, blankets, clothes! We live to serve and pray that through our service they will come to know the One whose love will never fail them.

Two small girls of two and four live with one step sister (10) and two brothers (12) and (14). They live in a remote village approximately one hour from Oradea. They are going through a tunnel of fear just now.  They need accommodation for seven people and had no other option but to purchase a small village house resulting in the added expense of a monthly mortgage. Calin (father) and all five children have medical problems.  Calin raised his three older children alone, as their mother abandoned her family when Ana (10) was only four weeks old. The father remarried and has two smaller children to this second marriage.   The mother of the three older children has suddenly appeared after a ten-year absence, requesting custody of all three children. The children do not know her, they have no memories of her and do not want to leave the place they call home, the place where they have found security.  Paula, as a stepmother, even though she is young, loves all five children and takes excellent care of her humble home and precious little ones. Paula makes no difference in any of the children.

UPDATE ON ALEX TOMA:

The Toma family receive Christian love and attention from our dedicated teams. Medical care is provided by Emanuel Hospice who visit twice weekly and food and hygiene come from Casa Grace.  Ongoing medical expenses bring concern and added worry to the family.   Alex has been in a coma for six years. He is very thin owing to muscle wastage. His sister, who was his main carer is now unable to visit on a regular basis since now she is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child.  This is creating added pressure and anxiety on brother and sister Toma who struggle with illness and depression since the two accidents involving Alex and his sister. The family are hurting, as weeks become months, months become years and still no change. They need our prayers.  Their daughter who had the amputation following the car accident is now eighteen and is waiting to be scheduled in Bucharest for a new prothesis.  She is filled with fear.  Dia who has just celebrated her twelfth birthday has thyroid problems causing extreme weight gain – she too fears the future.  A precious family who throughout all that life has thrown their way remain steadfast in their faith and love for the Lord.  Please remember the Toma Family.

UPDATE ON PASTOR ANDREI, SOFRONEA:

My adopted son continues to serve with a heart of compassion.  I am thankful to the Lord for the years in Emanuel University where I watched him mature.  Andrei has embraced the challenge of service in a village church and for one so young, there are many challenges.  During the month of October, a youth ministry has commenced with ten young people in attendance during the opening service.  Ligia, who was one of my girls in the Beauty of Holiness group is a Proverbs 31 wife. She has arranged a special meeting for the women of the church, inviting village ladies to come and share together. She organised a lady to come alongside the ladies outlining how to overcome their fears.  Last Sunday, two young girls were baptised.  Andrei and Ligia have a vision and God is moving by His spirit.

TELL ROMANIA UPDATE:

November proved to be a busy month.  It became apparent that the need for shoes and filled backpacks was causing concern to many village and Roma families.  Unless a child has a personal filled backpack, they cannot attend school.  For many of these children, school is a life-line from the pressure of homelife with all its disappointments and problems. During the Harvest season, various churches held a ‘Shoe Harvest’ in their Church Foyer and to date we have transported over one thousand pairs of shoes.  During the past three weeks, over one hundred banana boxes filled with backpacks, shoeboxes, medical essentials have been transported by Tarsin Transportation. We continue therefore, to enable the Foundations of Casa Grace and Iochebed to show God’s love to children and families; also, Emanuel Hospice, who minister in love as they seek to share the Good News. An army of ladies were involved in the process and we wish to acknowledge Bethany Baptist Church; Monkstown Baptist Church; Agape Fellowship; Deaf Christian Fellowship: Ballycraigy Congregational, Carnmoney Presbyterian, Kilbride Presbyterian Churches and various schools. Threads, Ballycarry. Individual ladies also assisted: Sisters Barbara, Alison, Iris, Patsy, Margaret.

GOD IS MOST GLORIFIED IN US WHEN WE ARE MOST SATISFIED IN HIM. (John Piper).

Shirley, November 28th, 2023.  42b Bernice Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT36 4QZ.

A cup of suffering

Alistair Begg wrote. ‘He hears the cries of the sorrowful, and He comforts them, not only in an earthly, temporal sense but also in a final, perfect, and eternal way, by offering Himself as the means of salvation to all who believe. Your King is not merely infinitely powerful; He is infinitely compassionate. And the combination of these two qualities in Him is sufficient to bring you through every sadness and grief of this world, until you stand in His presence and He wipes every tear from your eye.’

Last month I wrote informing you of a new patient:  Andreea (18) is a new cancer patient. Her condition is now terminal and she is lovingly cared for by one of her sisters. This family faces deep pain and hardship as Andreea has another sibling who is very ill; an exhausted mother takes care of her. It is a very touching situation; the family have endured hardship and suffering and are in the depths of despair. Seasons of the heart are changing rapidly in this precious family. The autumn leaves fall quickly as Mum cares for one daughter while another daughter is heartbroken, knowing she may lose both her precious daughters. Exhausted, at the close of a day, yet accepting without complaint, there is courage required as the dawn breaks for yet another new day. With all this in mind, I pray the Lord will speak words of comfort and that His peace will calm this overwhelming storm.  Sadly, Andreea passed away a few days later.  Please pray the Lord will carry this family through these days of deep, deep sadness.

Christian (13) was diagnosed with cancer one year ago. His condition is worsening. Christian is unable to function by himself, being totally dependent upon his parents.  His sister is heartbroken as she watches her brother’s condition deteriorate.  Christian suffers so much; watching her ‘little brother’ suffer has become unbearable.

Pety (17) has a rare syndrome.  He is confined to a wheelchair totally dependent upon his parents.  Recently, his father began to feel unwell, there are concerns regarding an oncological disease. This is a very precious family, who, with a quiet heart embrace the very depth of ongoing suffering.

Aurel is a patient with pancreatic cancer who also suffers from dementia. Owing to his dementia, he often displays aggressive behaviour towards his wife and daughter who lovingly care for him.  Since his cancer diagnosis has evolved, he is no longer able to walk without assistance; his dementia is making him agitated and he very often leaves the bed totally unaided.   During a recent attempt, Aurel suffered a serious fall resulting in a broken arm.  Pray for his wife and daughter; taking care of him has become a difficult call of duty.

Voichita is a patient diagnosed with breast cancer. She lives alone, dependant on a few friends and relatives to care for her. She had a son who died three years ago during the pandemic.  After suffering a stroke, her son was totally bedridden for a period of seven years. Shortly after her son’s death, her husband died too, overwhelmed by the loss of his beloved son, life had lost its meaning.  Volchita is totally alone with her memories, no husband to comfort her, no son to reassure her. Now the patient is facing her illness alone while still suffering from the sudden death of her beloved husband and son.  Loneliness is real, at times the quietness can be deafening.  Remember her.

Reghina is another patient suffering from breast cancer who also lives alone. She too is a widow. She does have one son but he lives abroad.  Her young nephew has accepted responsibility to care for his beloved aunt.   However, recently, her nephew’s wife was also diagnosed with cancer which is now making it virtually impossible to care for his wife and aunt. Reghina who is totally alone in her apartment, now has no other choice but to rely on the help of her neighbours and the Hospice team, Last night I found myself sharing with a friend about those waiting on the doorbell to ring, the telephone to ring. These are the times I wish I could do so much more and the reason shoeboxes for the elderly are being prepared and sent to these precious people who feel forgotten.  Please don’t forget them.  

Simona (25) gave birth to her third child on 12th October 2023 after suffering the trauma of three miscarriages.  Baby Parascheva was born thirty-seven weeks into her mother’s pregnancy, resulting in severe health issues.  Her birth weight was 1.9 kilos and she was unable to breathe normally. Baby Parascheva remains in intensive care, her tiny lungs are unable to provide the required level of oxygen The doctors have outlined the seriousness of her condition, stating the baby may not survive.  Decisions will have to be made, pray for sustaining grace and a calmness of heart. A miracle.


Sorina has two children aged six and two. Sorina has a low immune system and in need of nourishment as she has many ongoing health issues. She is eighteen weeks pregnant and has requested our support in prayer as she fears she may be at risk of losing this much wanted baby.  May God touch her heart, give her peace and make her trust in His power who is Lord and Sovereign above all.

Ionela is a young teenager of eighteen. She is pregnant and after facing a miscarriage last year is fearful, she may lose this baby also. We, at Iocebed, have assisted with the finance for the required medical tests and recommended treatment. May the Lord become real and personal to this venerable young lady.

Claudia is a single mother with two adorable little girls of nine and six.  Claudia is broken in spirit and broken in heart.  Living in the depths of poverty, Claudia was offered the opportunity of a three-month contract abroad.  Social Services have taken her girls into their care, with Claudia now facing a legal battle to bring her beloved daughters back home.  The date of the court proceedings has been set; the trial will be also a trial of a mother’s heart.  Claudia has paid a high price in order to purchase a loaf of bread.  Choices we make out of love can bring pain.

Alexandra (17) is in her final year in high school.  She and her sister Ema (16) commute two hours to and from Oradea each day. The support from our feeding programmes makes it possible for the girls to have the opportunity to receive an education. We offer food, hygiene, clothing, and our shoe harvest and backpacks have been a blessing to so many families.  But we need to go further. Their mother who suffers from various health issues is now mentally and physically strong enough to work part time taking care of an elderly lady.  Their father has undergone a series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.  This precious family need our support in prayer, as after invasive investigations it would appear their beloved father is now living his final days on this earthly scene of time. As we care for their day-to-day needs, may they see the love of God displayed through even the smallest detail.


Alexa (19) is learning well at university; her aim is to excel in her studies of graphic design as she has full responsibility to care for her grandparents and her mother who suffers from a disability.  The family live together on the outskirts of Oradea in a one-bedroom house. Many young teenagers enjoy the space of their own bedroom; for this family, one-bedroom sleeps four people.  Pray as we serve in love that they will enquire of the One who provides, who cares, whose love is deeper than any sea. 

Iasmina (17) is now in her last year at high school. She had many health problems as a child and teenager but it didn’t stop her burning desire to learn well and receive an education. Transport is virtually non-existent in her village yet in her determination to succeed, transport can always be found.  lasmina is very weak and introverted, she does not enjoy the blessing of friendships.  Recently, her mother had to undergo life-saving surgery and this has left its mark of fear and uncertainty, she has anxious thoughts regarding her future.  This young teenager should be free of care – please remember her.

I cannot explain why so many of my precious patients, families, children suffer such pain.  Each monthly journal of my heart continues to be filled with pain, sorrow, grief, suffering.  It breaks my heart writing of the realities of those I have come to love.  But, this one thing I know is that whatever is in the cup the Lord has given into my hand to drink, I sip with a quiet heart.  I have no explanation, nor can I give one as to why many must walk such paths of suffering.  Not one of us is a stranger to suffering in one form or another and so we must remember those whose lives know nothing of the softness of love, only the hardship of pain. Please pray many will find the One whom they can trust in every situation.  May they hear the softness of His voice saying: ‘Come, let us walk this path together’.

As I conclude a much shorter report, ‘Thank you’ for your prayers.  Last week, I felt I was facing the ‘unknown’.  Looking back, I trace the hand of God in every aspect of my surgery.  A period of six weeks convalescence is required, but it is even in the midst of our pain, we come to know the Lord in a different format. The apostle Paul tells us to give thanks in everything. It is not the experiences of our lives that change us, it is our response. 

Sincerely, Shirley, Wednesday, October 25, 2023

42B BERNICE ROAD. BT36 4QZ.

‘SEASONS OF THE HEART’

‘Never did His love begin and never can it cease.  It is from eternity and shall be to eternity’. (C.H. SPURGEON).

Autumn in my heart is a season of sadness.  I watch the leaves fall; their season of beauty has ended yet the breadth of sprawling roots firmly established over a long period of time determine their growth will remain. For a few of our Hospice patients their season of beauty is fading and may soon end.  The devotion of my colleagues as they faithfully plant deep roots of assurance, of peace and rest, assures our patients that the Lord is and will be with them in every season and that every circumstance is known to Him.  The storms of life will not overwhelm them.  Pray for my colleagues as they speak words of comfort.  Let us always be sensitive to our conscience and minister in love.  Loving God is loving one another.

Erika, a young patient with a melanoma and multiple metastasis is a very special young lady who hides the scars of her illness behind a smile.  She is finding it difficult to breathe as her lungs are impacted as a result of the progression of her illness. From the outward appearance Erika looks young and healthy, one would be unable to recognise how gravely ill she really is. With such bravery she is in complete control of her own pain management, although due to differing medications it can be complicated.  Most days are spent working in her garden; she operates a flower shop from her home, selling fresh flowers from her own garden. In this way she can assist her grandmother to finance food, medication, as she too is very ill.  During the first visit of our homecare team, Erika shared with us that she is on a spiritual journey, trying to find something, someone that will give her hope. We pray her searching will end as she meets the one who will walk every step of life’s journey with her.

Dorin, a patient with colon cancer, has undergone five consecutive surgeries during recent months. As a result, he is very weak and becoming extremely frail. Still, in the midst of all of this, Dorin has faith that he will recover and return to his normal life.  Our team requires Godly wisdom in speaking with him as they endeavour to tell him the way of salvation. But also, in maintaining hope in spite of his terminal illness.

Raluca is the daughter of a patient we lost a few months ago. This precious young lady has lost both her parents through cancer, Raluca is now totally alone with no close family remaining except for one aunt and a cousin who are also fighting breast cancer. Raluca is overwhelmed by loneliness, dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. May she hear a still small whisper ‘take my hand, you are loved’ and find everlasting peace.

Love holds everything and everybody together’ (Col 3: 14) NLV.

Florica is suffering from lung cancer. Due to this recent diagnosis, she has now moved to the home of her daughter as she is in need of constant care. Florica shared with us that she has never been ill throughout her entire lifetime; now the thought of not being in control of personal matters, or to be able to manage things by herself, is daunting.  The prospect of death is a reality and making her very anxious and agitated. Her daughter told us that often she is walking through the house at night, restless, unable to sleep, fearful of tomorrow and what the future may bring. May she as Raluca, hold out her hand to the One who knows everything about her and who loves her unconditionally.   The Word of God is filled with stories of love, yet this broken world is dying from a lack of love.

Andreea (18) is a new cancer patient.  Her condition is now terminal and she is lovingly cared for by one of her sisters.   This family faces deep pain and hardship as Andreea has another sibling who is very ill; an exhausted mother takes care of her.   It is a very touching situation; the family have endured hardship and suffering and are in the depths of despair.  Seasons of the heart are changing rapidly in this precious family.  The autumn leaves fall quickly as Mum cares for one daughter while another daughter cares for her beloved sister. Andreea is deteriorating rapidly.  This mother’s heart must be broken, knowing she may lose both her precious daughters.  Exhausted, at the close of a day, yet accepting without complaint, there is courage required as the dawn breaks for yet another new day.  With all this in mind, I pray the Lord will speak words of comfort and that His peace will calm this overwhelming storm. ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’.  (Lamentations3: 23).

Ismael has been in our care for many years. He has undergone multiple bowel surgeries during his young life. The family live in a small town but within the Roma community. As their family grew, it was evident the season of change had arrived. During one of their mission trips, our work team extended their one storey, one room home by building a ‘loft’ in order to facilitate their growing family.  But one ‘dark eyed toddler’ entered my heart – Ismael.   I have watched him grow and mature into a fine young student.  His weight loss is a cause for concern; he also has an ongoing worry and struggles with his colostomy bags. He was one of the children who attended our Hospice camp recently. It was his first time he was able to attend. Estera was overjoyed as she watched him play as a normal child should during their recreational time.  Presently, we are sourcing appropriate medical items suitable for Ismael. 

Ianko (14) is sinking fast, as his condition continues to deteriorate.  He has tetra paresis. Each breath is now a constant struggle even with the support of an oxygen cylinder.  Lanko is now fed through a feeding tube and has another tube inserted to drain the infection from his lungs.  Every day is increasingly difficult for his grandmother; she herself is ill, many seasons have come and gone in her life, this is now a season of sorrow.  Lanko is treasured by his grandmother; she cares with him from a heart overflowing with love. This aged lady gives and gives and gives again without complaint.  There are no rainbows in her sky, no bright tomorrows. Soon the winter season will arrive; she will be left alone in the coldness of sorrow.

Many think their situations are hopeless.  Nothing is impossible with our God. May these precious patients, young and old, their families, our team, know a peace that passes all understanding. 

In this hustling world where many are measured by their ‘achievements’ in life, we encounter those who simply fall short of what they feel is expected of them in order to be accepted. Lives engulfed by a feeling of worthlessness, enslaved by a wasted life filled with wrong decisions, resulting in tragic consequences.  They found no loyalty in the love they chose, yet they hope against hopelessness their seasons will change. Our faithful team in Iochebed tell of a love that is beyond all, a love that will never leave or forsake. Still, the season of hurt remains, it is still winter in many broken hearts.  The look on the faces of little children as young mothers come asking for food and basic essentials; these little ones are hungry!  Where is the spring, summer?  The autumn leaves fall throughout the year followed by a harsh and relentless winter. We welcome those who come, telling them they are loved, loved with a love beyond all.  A bewildered look follows as they whisper ‘But who am I, really, even me?’.  God’s love is limitless and remains, yes, even in our failures. The hymnwriter penned so truly: ‘The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell, It goes beyond …’

Alina (23) is fearful as she anticipates the birth of her child next month. Her joy is overshadowed by the fear of giving birth naturally. During a recent consultation with her obstetrician, she inquired regarding the possibility of a caesarean section; this was not an option.  Please pray Alina will find peace and accept the benefits of a natural pregnancy/ birth, may she gain strength and confidence which will enable her to welcome her gift of life into her longing arms.   

Georgiana.  I have written about this case study on many occasions.  Georgina has two young children; her husband was under house arrest, but is now serving the remainder of his sentence in prison.  A lonely and distraught figure appeared in the doorway of Iochebed where Gabi welcomed Georgina and her children with open arms and a hot cuppa. She was clearly in a state of panic and came pleading for help.  She was asked to leave the house of her husband’s parents.  She and her children have returned temporarily to her father’s home but this is ‘temporary’. Gabi spoke lovingly to her, assuring her we will assist during this period when she is striving to exist from day to day. Our feeding programme will supply food and hygiene, baby clothing, pampers, dried milk. Certainly, winter in Georgina’s heart, help us breathe fresh air into this season of dearth when all the leaves are falling, help us counsel her in such a way her strivings will cease.

Maria Tabita (18) is twenty weeks pregnant.  A young teenager worn out, struggling to understand ‘why me?’ A young life that should be filled with the joys of spring is gripped by fear of her future.  Maria Tabita is unable to attend a hospital as her identity card has expired, resulting in the fact that no consultations, scans, medical tests etc. can take place.  Her parents have distanced themselves from their daughter owing to her decision to abandon school and move in with her boyfriend.  Annie Johnson Flint wrote a poem ‘The Double Clasp’ Verse 1:

The Saviour’s hand – how close its hold. That none can loosen, non can break,

No powers of heaven or earth or hell. That loving clasp can ever shake’.

This young lady needs to place her hand into the hands of the Lord who can intervene in this situation, mending the brokenness of relationships, the healing hurts, bringing restoration, resolving the identity papers. Many bridges seem to have fallen; pray for our faithful team in Iochebed as they repair and built brokenness. 

Gabi writesWe are so grateful for the honour of serving together.  I thank the Lord for every person who has opened their heart to the pro-life ministry in Suceava, helping families to have a better life, helping sick children and parents who are overwhelmed by their inability to provide a decent life for their families. This month, we helped many families with school items, enabling children to attend school. My dear ones from far away, thank you for your kindness and for your choice to be part of God’s story we write every day in Iochebed.

I Cor 7: 32 ‘I want you to be without care’.  Yet our team in Casa Grace deal with case studies on a daily basis who know nothing else but the anxiety of poverty.  Many living in shelters for the homeless with no prospects of a little corner to call ‘home’.

The summer season has ended in Romania with September 11th hailing the first day of school.  One of the most difficult situations for single parents is a child without appropriate clothing, shoes, backpacks filled with stationery also a small sandwich box containing sandwiches.  Without these ‘essentials’ a child cannot attend school.  This is applicable from Kindergarten to Grammar school education.  Many of our Roma children love to learn but more importantly they want to be accepted.   Speaking with Monika today, her words to me and I repeat:

Sister Shirley, this would not happen without your Feeding Programme, the hygiene products we purchase and your allowance for packed lunches are a must.  It is not only the warm meals and clean clothes you make possible, it is also the evidence of God’s love.  May the Lord bless all who support you in this ministry, the Feeding Programme, filling backpacks, providing shoes’.

How can we not care, how can we not remove the struggle of mental anguish?

Samuel (12) lives in a small village with his mother, sister, grandmother and aunt. His father abandoned his children when they were babies, leaving his wife to care and provide for the family. His aunt works as a cleaner, his beloved grandmother is totally paralysed, requiring twenty-four-hour care.  Samuel’s mother has full responsibility for her mother and is her sole carer.  It is tiring and indeed difficult to provide twenty-four-hour care when you have two children to support and ensure homework is completed every evening. Samuel’s behaviour is exemplary and he displays a desire to excel in his studies.  The family attend a local church, Samuel confided in Monika during camp he is thinking about salvation.  Being Samuel’s first time in Casa Grace camp, we identified his sadness as he expressed his sorrow in lacking a father’s love, questioning why he abandoned him.  He is filled with anxiety as he watches his beloved mother try to find resources sufficient for each day.  And yet, as a team, we were encouraged to see that he is really searching for the Lord.  I pray the love and care you give to them in supporting our Feeding Programme will bring them closer to the realisation others care and Samuel will come to know his Heavenly Father.

Gabi (11) is extremely intelligent with impeccable manners.  He speaks English fluently and has attained excellent grades in school. Unfortunately, he was born with a dislocation in both hips, also excessive brain fluids, his condition was not diagnosed until it was too late for treatment. He is very attached to his mother who has experienced great sadness in her life.  Her husband died of cancer when Gabi was young. She herself is ill and has suffered deep depression which resulted in a dependence on alcohol. The wider family try to support Gabi and his mother as they are in need of care and protection.  Gabi would not receive nutritional food to nourish his frail body without our Feeding Programme.  Your faithful monthly support is placing food on their table.  It grieves us that his mother is not open to learn the story of Jesus and His love. She recently received a diagnosis of liver cancer and is presently undergoing investigations to assess the stage of her cancer.  A lot for an eleven-year-old boy to process ‘Who will care for me?  Who will want me?  Will I be alone?’  There is something special about the word ‘touch’.  To touch with compassion, with empathy is to speak peace to troubled hearts through seasons of darkness.  

Natalia accompanied by her two children travel many miles to Casa Grace to receive from our Feeding Programme.  We are unable to visit with them in their home as neighbours ask where and how do you receive food packages?  One can identify the fear in their eyes as they receive from our hand.  The family are far removed from God, yet were content to send their two youngest children to Casa camp. They are humbled by our support, as it provides food on their empty table and sandwiches for their five children to take to school. This case study came to our attention through the schools the children attend.  All the children behave well with the exception of their daughter.  The five children comprise of one daughter and four boys who all suffer from various disorders.  Our team at Casa Grace are in the very early stage of processing and identifying the problems of the oldest boy (15) who, it would appear, suffers from autism. The Lord is able to take negative lives and turn them around in order to make something beautiful.  May all our families remove the dark threads from their tapestry of life and sew silver and gold to make ‘something beautiful’.

As I conclude this journal of my heart, I am deeply moved and humbled by your support enabling the continuance of our three Feeding Programmes.  While in many parts of the world others have nothing and their store houses are empty, because of you, we can offer hot soup to the elderly, a small packed lunch for children to take to school. Much of the ministry of our Lord was around a table or feeding multitudes on a mountainside.  Jesus said: ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6: 34) NIV.

As Spurgeon said, ‘Let gratitude be awakened; let humility be deepened; let love be quickened’.

Shirley, September 26, 2023      42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ

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.
(ANNIE JOHNSON FLINT)

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

‘Loving away the hurt’

* used with the artist’s permission

The Fires of Sorrow are real, a personal journey of struggle. Throughout their lifetime many feel the pressure of that raging war within, days when they long for peace.  As I write, I find myself questioning yet again: ‘Am I prepared to set aside my own private personal struggle hidden within the secret corners of my heart, for the sake of others?  My case studies cry out for consolation, lives torn apart by grief. Real people longing for someone, something to ease the pain within their broken heart, minds burned out in need of restoration, the desperately poor who feed on the husks around them, the elderly, whose strength is almost gone, hiding their problems behind a faint smile.    Yes, I am questioning my heart: ‘Am I the one who can build a bridge of love, listen with an understanding heart and underpin their burdens?’ The forsaken, the lonely, the crying child without a home, the hungry, the lost need to know of the One who came because He loved them. Together we can tell them of the One who can mend the broken heart, restore relationships and rebuild a bridge of hope.   ‘Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up.  And he was restored and saw everyone clearly’ Mark 8: 25. 

Young and old experience anguish and despair, dark shadows of loss.  How can I begin to interpret the sorrow in the heart of our darling Paula (11).  Everything may look the same but nothing will ever be the same again. ‘Mummy’ has gone.   

                                                          
Paula’s mum died one week ago after fighting a long battle with cancer. She has no siblings and there was a very special bond between Paula and her treasured mum.  She knew her mum would not recover.  One morning, prior to her passing, Paula cradled her mum and gently hugged her, whispering softly, ‘I love you mummy; I will always love you’.   The pain of these words, uncertain of who will care for her in sickness, attend to her scraped knee, cook her favourite meal, laundry …. Who will love away Paula’s hurt, who will show they care?

Recently, we took into our care a sweet little girl of four years of age diagnosed with a rare syndrome (AGS syndrome). She is fed through a gastrostomy and is only able to communicate through signs. She has two older siblings who are deeply affected by their younger sister’s illness. Her older sister is involved in her care as the father is working abroad.  There was no employment to be found in Romania and he had to make the heart-rendering decision to leave his family to find employment in another country in order to provide for them.  No daddy to read her a bedtime story or a special kiss ‘Goodnight’ for Daddy’s girl.  Who will love away this little darling’s hurt?

Kristof (7) has now been admitted to hospital for chemotherapy. He has two younger siblings at home. The family live in the depths of poverty, their darkness is black and yet they hide the scars of life behind a smile of thankfulness.  Who would love us enough to provide food on our table or would love us enough to show they care?  The family are very grateful each time we provide food for them. Will you love away the hurt of little Kristof – chemotherapy is frightening for one so young who is too sick to play with his friends.

In the everydayness of life, we can get caught up in so many practicalities, my alone time with the Lord is ‘mine’ – a special time when I can really ‘talk’ to Him and where He reminds me that I always must make time for others, including those for whom each minute of each day is a strain.  I am drawn to my dear friend Elizabeth who has fought a long battle with cancer.  My visits in their small humble home are engraved in my heart, where John would read the Scriptures and Elisabeth would sing.  On occasions, a few of our patients enter remission – Elizabeth was one of them.  Her cancer returned resulting in immediate surgery.  She is now at home where she is under the loving care of our medical team.  My colleague Adriana is overseeing her care on a daily basis.  Our Hospice team certainly love away all fear.

Two other precious patients who were also in remission and who are now in a critical condition.  Margareta was diagnosed with colon cancer ten years ago, during this time she had a colostomy and was cancer free for a few years.  Following a recent consultation and investigations a malignant tumour has been located in her abdomen, resulting in immediate surgery.  Margareta is experiencing extreme pain during this recovery period.   Her husband is very discouraged her remission ended in this manner, as their children are unable to assist them.  Their son-in-law who lives in another city also suffers from cancer.   

Elena, another patient who relapsed, was diagnosed with breast cancer approximately four years ago.  She entered the care of our Hospice team as the chemotherapy brought her condition to a very critical state. The oncologist changed her treatment and her illness was under control until recently. The tumour has become ulcerated, resulting in the patient’s condition reaching an acute stage.   Elena has no one to comfort her in her pain, no one to calm her fears as her beloved husband died as a result from Covid.  Her only son is trying to care for his mother.  Who will love away Elena’s pain?

Nicolae (51) entered our care two weeks ago diagnosed with a brain tumour. He and his beloved wife expressed their burning desire to be baptised together, inviting our team to witness their baptism.  The decision was not taken lightly as they believed in their hearts if they followed the Lord in this way, the Lord would graciously touch Nicolae.  Our team continue to care for Nicolae and see evidence that the Lord is working in the hearts of this precious couple who have placed their future in the One who loves them most. Pray with us that their faith will remain steadfast even if Nicolae’s condition deteriorates.  Nicolae is stable at present; however, his illness can become more aggressive at any time.

Florica is a patient suffering from pulmonary cancer with metastasis situated all over her abdomen especially the lower part.  Due to the tumours, she is confined to an armchair where she remains throughout the day and also sleeps in it at night.  This precious sister is fully dependant on an oxygen machine … she has no quality of life; her days are filled with pain and she is discouraged within.  Florica has one desire: ‘I want my suffering to end’.  Who will love away her hurt?  ‘Bow down your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You!  Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long’.  Psalm 86: 1-3.

There are many heartaches deep within the hearts of many; the weight they carry is heavy, the need of comfort is real.  The Lord will never give strength today for tomorrow, or indeed for this next hour.  Of this one thing I am sure, the Lord will give strength for the strain and anxiety of each second of each minute. They must know, we must tell them, ‘Jesus cares.

Our word is our bond; we speak in love praying our words will be planted as a seed and grow.  The team in Iochebed continue to speak words in love, sharing Godly counsel with those who come.  Some seed may fall on hard ground where growth can be disappointing, but then again some may fall on soft and fertile ground, ready for growth.  The Lord has been blessing our small team in Iochebed.  Gabi, Mihaela and Loredana have been sowing seeds in lives scarred by hidden wounds of rejection and disappointment.  The team shared with us their joy in the safe arrival of fourteen babies born during this month. They wish to express their love and thanks to those who support the work of Iochebed.  Many ladies and young girls continue to walk a desert road. 

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Denis is an adorable little boy of eleven months.  Sadly, he was born with glaucoma, he has no sight in one eye with only 20% vision in the other.  Surgery has been scheduled late July where a specialist team will attempt to raise the percentage from 20% to 50% vision in the one eye. Baby Denis has already undergone surgery for the eye that is not functional. Unfortunately, there were serious issues warranting another intervention the following day.  This precious little bundle of joy is suffering extreme pain and discomfort since the second surgery.  His young mother is distraught and fearful of this next surgery.  May the Lord gather this little one in His arms and touch his eyes, removing all pain and causing Denis to have perfect vision. I pray his young mother will come to know the healer of shattered hearts.

 
Cosmina is a young mother having two children aged two and an adorable baby girl aged eleven months. Cosmina came to Iochebed searching, reaching out to us in the depth of her despair, searching for peace in her moments of hardship.  Her baby was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. This tiny bundle remains unwell and requires ongoing treatment.  The medication is not a luxury, but is essential if the baby is to make a full recovery. Cosmina quietly asked for our help to finance the treatment for her baby.  Real days of pain, real lives with nowhere to turn.  Sadness fills many hearts, furrowed brows, faces who know only trouble.  Who else is going to carry their trouble?  Through your commitment, we can show them the way to ‘trust and not be afraid’.

Simida (25) was nearing the time of her confinement.  She came asking for our support in prayer as she was overwhelmed with fear owing to her many health issues.  Her young heart was filled with despair knowing the possibility of the complications incurred.  The family of Iochebed prayed together. As she left a small smile assured us peace had entered her young heart. The Lord intervened and despite her many health issues a healthy baby boy was born.  We give thanks to the Lord who indeed is the God of miracles.  This man called Jesus can dispel all fears, whisper peace to a churning heart, refresh burned out minds and destroyed lives.  The mysteries of life can be faced with a confident smile, a quiet heart of trust.  He is the One who can love all the hurt away with just one touch.

Sorina is a young mother with two children aged six and two years.  In addition, she is pregnant with her third child. Sorina has miscarried two babies in recent years, with the result that the news of this pregnancy is having a physical and mental effect on her.  The burning fires of sorrow burn deeply and Sorina fears she is going to lose this baby also.  Let us pray as the baby develops, her heart will know peace and that she will place a quiet trust in the One who is the creator of life.

The power to ‘Change’, the determination to ‘Go On’, the longing for a life filled with meaning in order to leave behind failed relationships, injustices, where life seems so unfair.  Cups are empty, lives are empty as they come to Casa ‘The House of Grace’ searching for a purpose, where life has a meaning.

Our dedicated team at Casa Grace take time to listen and to show love in action.  This morning as we spoke on the telephone, Monika shared regarding one of our beneficiaries, a lady from the Roma community who lives twenty kilometres outside Oradea.

The lady came to Casa with tears in her eyes, sharing that after Casa Grace started to support them, she questioned why some people gave money to help them in the hard moments of their life.  Both of her children attend High School and University resulting in extra finance in travelling to and from Oradea.  A few months ago, she began noticing a significant weight loss.   Monika acted immediately as this lady already suffers from glaucoma and is nearly blind.  Her husband, who works in construction, has serious heart problems. Blood tests and RMN show no reason for her weight loss.  Each day is a daily struggle to find food sufficient for the day.  Her heart is so overwhelmed by your support of food and hygiene that she and her family have started to attend the local Hungarian Baptist Church.  The power of the gospel can change lives. 

The cup of life can only hold so much – many long for it to overflow with love, joy, peace, contentment, goodness and, yes, moving forward.  Monika and I chat regularly by telephone concerning our families.  Let me share a few of Monika’s thoughts as she writes:     

My mind is filled with faces of young children, teenagers, young adults, who are living in families who are unable to provide much-needed food. Each month when I buy the food and hygiene packages funded by Tell Romania, I give thanks for all the supporters who show love and continuously pray for the families God directs us to support.

The monthly food and hygiene packages is not showing that someone cares for them but more importantly that the Lord cares for them. The families have one thing in common, having children attending kindergarten and/or school. These children carry the sadness of broken families, lack of resources, marginalized in school – but your love and investment in them make them to feel loved and blessed and see the ONE who is ready to save them. 

Doroteea (14) is the oldest child in the family. She lives with her parents and eight brothers and sisters. They live in a village many kilometres from Oradea.  Both parents are hardworking, yet are unable to provide the essential food to feed eleven each day.  Two of her brothers have health issues requiring treatment, adding extra cost to the family.  Doroteea is very responsible and learning well in school – because of your support she has the chance to have more time to learn, more importantly, she doesn’t have to go to bed hungry now. She is seeking for God; we would like to ask your prayers for her to find HIM who provides. 

Abel (6) lives with his grandmother, as his mother abandoned both of her baby sons.   Abel is in the care of grandma together with his older brother Petru (7). Both of them are very introverted as they still remember the violent behaviour of their father and mother. We visit them, taking vital food and hygiene packages.   Their eyes search our eyes as they slowly come closer and closer.  There is a fear of becoming close to anyone who may leave them.  May your support open their hearts to know that Jesus loves them.  Who will love away the hurt of Abel and Petru?

Klara (14) and Aniko (16) come from a family who do not follow the proper procedure of hygiene.  They live in conditions totally indescribable. May they both continue to perform well in school and find Him who can give hope and life.

Iasmina (17) needs to feel loved.  A lonely and insecure young teenager.   May she be encouraged by your continued support for her, enabling her to go to school and have daily bread – may her heart be opened to accept the plan of salvation we set before her.

Robert suffers from severe heart problems and is undergoing treatment.  He is learning well in university.  Next year will be his final year.  May he also feel God’s love, care and plan of salvation for him.  

Who will love away the hurt from lives that are falling apart; children who hide behind a closed-door longing for love – even a ‘hug’; Broken hearts where life will never be the same; the elderly who sit alone in the darkness of despair and question why life seems so unfair; Sir Alexander Patterson penned: ‘Make us Masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others. Thank you for serving with me, your sense of responsibility in acknowledging that others need to know we care.  Many crumble beneath the crushing weight of day-to-day living, let us love away their hurt and replace their fear and misgivings with the courage to go on.  Our assignment is to reach out and touch ‘EVEN ONE’.

Shirley, July 27, 2023  42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ


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