Unseen Footprints

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. (Psalm 77 v19) ESV.

Rev. Andrew Murray penned: ‘Take time.  Give God time to reveal Himself to you.  Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive through the Spirit the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you.  Take time to read His Word as in His presence; that from it you many know what He asks of you and what He promises you.  Let the Word create around you, create within you, a holy heavenly light in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life’. 

In my own limited understanding, I am filled with an unquenched thirst for answers.  My unending quest for ‘a miracle’ continues this month in this unfathomed, unending sea of pain; those tossed by wind-driven waves of terminal illness; rough seas of unwanted pregnancies.  Human hearts filled with weakness and loss searching for love but more importantly, acceptance. COVID-19 continues its cruel journey; my case studies filled with soul searching needs, yet all containing similar characteristics – they keep searching for a miracle. The solace and simplicity of village life has been replaced with unwelcomed circumstances; youthful days are fading fast, years are wasting away, still they question ‘why me?’  Their lives are battered and shattered.  I long they could meet the One who will walk their time-worn shore, who can offer them the promise of a new morning, a new beginning. This is the ultimate miracle they need.

Looking back, we all lived in differing styles of dwellings, qualifying them as ‘residences’, a ‘home’, a place filled with love.  Many young teenagers in Suceava have no home, they are without identity, roots, family, in fact the open space is ‘home’, they are outcasts, rejected and alone.  CRINA (18) three months pregnant, she has a little girl of fifteen months and is overwhelmed with fear as she cries ‘I have no money for another baby’.  GEORGINA (17), Gabi in her wisdom took Georgina to hospital where results confirmed she was pregnant.  Georgina already has a baby girl of nine months; she has no home and shares one room in the small village home of her husband’s family.  Her mind is in turmoil.  SONIA (28) with two daughters aged fourteen and eight; Sonia is pregnant and fears this pregnancy owing to many health issues.  Sonia has already known the pain of two miscarriages.  Her fear is very real and very personal.  MARTA (16) pregnant, also with many health issues.  Marta is mentally retarded and lives in a derelict container in extremely poor conditions with a male partner. Intolerable shivers consume me as I study the despair and hopeless images of young mothers with little ones who are hungry, who are born into indigent poverty. My prayer as found in Joel 3: 16 is that: ‘The Lord will be the place of repair of His people’ In the words of Paul, ‘Love suffers long and is kind …’ May our kindness be evident in our prayers; may these young girls grasp the preciousness of the gift of life.  Gabi and her small team of two are stretched to the limit, the blackness of the COVID storm has brought utter devastation especially to the Roma communities. Unemployment leads to lack of food, hygiene, many are forced to live wherever they find refuge.   It is impossible to help everyone; but to receive an image of a little one ‘smiling’ would be an answer to prayer.  

The school bell rings in the village schoolhouse.  The teams of all our three foundations worked to full capacity ensuring poor families received ‘backpacks’ to enable their children to attend school.  Thank you to those whose attention to detail in supplying a backpack filled with stationery made this miracle happen.

I have been sharing the story of ANA and her four little girls.  One room, kitchen and bathroom have been secured for this precious little family. We were able to send £3,000 in total to enable the work of Ichobed to continue for another year.   This included £500 to cover the legal costs for the necessary documentation and are asking the Lord to supply the funds to enable the purchase of this shelter for five very special ladies.  It was a blessing to hear ANA say: ‘God made this miracle happen for me’.  And he did.

September Flower, also known as ‘Morning Glory’, symbolises love, faith, wisdom.   BROTHER MARIN, Suceava, lost his wife to cancer two years ago, leaving him to rear six children.  His story reminds me of Job.  Shortly after the death of his wife, his youngest child died from ‘frostbite’; the state removed the remaining five children from his care.  God was in control as four of the children were fostered by born again Christian families residing in the local village.  The oldest boy was placed in an institution but now after reaching the age of eighteen he has returned to his father, where they live together in a newly built house.  Men from local villages erected a new home for Marin and also try to assist with basic food provision; he has one bed, one chair and one table.   The glory of his mornings are precious.

A few days ago, I was struggling and I mean ‘struggling’.  In the night watch I would waken with the thought ‘Shirley, what really matters?’  The problem, me being me, I feel the hurt, the broken heart, therefore, I continually struggle.  I become frustrated that there is no medical explanation or relief for countless numbers of ‘real people’. I long to impact lives that need love and to realise this life is a preparation for eternity.   My friend, Pastor David McFarland must have known my heart and sent me a beautiful poem written by Frances Ridley Havergal, ‘Enough’.  As I read the first verse, I wept:

‘I am so weak, dear Lord, I cannot stand
One moment without Thee!
But oh, the tenderness of Thine enfolding!
And oh, the faithfulness of Thine upholding!
And oh, the strength of Thy right hand!
That strength is enough for me!’

The Lord knew I would need all my resources as I listened to Monika share with me:

‘Sister Shirley, you remember the ‘GUI’ family we visited?’  A precious family consisting of a father, mother and two adorable little boys.  The mother died after a prolonged battle with cancer.  The father and his sons entered our Feeding Programme in Casa Grace.  Apart from basic necessities of food and financial assistance, Neli and Marie encouraged the little boys inviting them to our Summer Camp. Those were happy days for the boys.  The father had to work many hours even though he suffered from a very low immune system.   A few days ago, I received news the father had died suddenly.  Two precious little ones orphaned at such an early age.  David and Dragos were very attached to their father. Contact has been made with their grandmother who is willing to care for her grandsons but she will need support.  In recent conversations with Monika I am assured funeral costs were covered.  As for David and Dragos, their little hearts are broken; exposed to such a grievous load.  The grandmother has reached a desert, no source of income and two grandsons exposed to such grief, who need her love and support.  No one should have to struggle to find food, clothing.  Could we together turn the tide, blow a wind of change to two hurting tender little hearts?

We have many social cases within our programme in Casa Grace. Some walk miles knowing they will be received by a loving team who share from a fathomless abyss of God’s bounty.  A few days ago, a distraught mother whose daughter has a mental delay, whose husband has had to have his leg amputated are all living in one room.  Their monthly income is £77 in state sickness benefit.  ‘Please can you help me, I need food?’  Fear is real.  In the words of John Buchan ‘The thing I feared most mortally was being afraid’.  Help us remove their fear.

As I think of the Vocational Training Room in Casa Grace, the words of Psalm 23: 2 come to mind: ‘He leadeth me beside the waters of quietness’.  Many come to learn but many love the ‘quietness’ of spirit. Dana has supervised many ladies this semester, although it was a somewhat different Graduation which took place this week owing to the rigid restrictions still in place in Oradea.  The art of sewing is another tool of reaching and touching lives, ladies from village areas make a two-hour journey, others three hours, to share the joy of learning a new skill from the excellence displayed by Dana, Berta and Stefan who train but, more importantly, who share the gospel over a welcome ‘cuppa’.  A lady within days of giving birth to twins graduated with honours and was witnessed to by staff and students.  We pray this personal witness will produce seeds of ripe fruit.  Young girls from University, College, Grammar School expressed their interest in the art of tailoring/sewing and proudly modelled their dress, skirt or blouse made for the final examination.   One of the young girls is a daughter of the family of thirteen whose father died last summer.  She will be busy making dresses for all her siblings.  She plans to proceed to distinction level.  Well Done Students.

The restless waves of an unfathomed sea continue to roar, apart from the destruction in the economy in context of the pandemic. The staff of Emanuel Hospice are overwhelmed as the volume of cases are becoming increasingly difficult to control or monitor.  MARIANE (64) is suffering from liver cancer with pulmonary metastasis. This is a very problematic case as she is also suffering from psychological and spiritual issues.  She is unable to find peace and questions actions of her younger days.  Dr. Beni and other pastors have visited her, telling her of the forgiveness of God and my friend Adriana who is a blessing to the patients, assures her of the love of God.  She remains distressed, stirred by the fear of dying.  Her two daughters are exhausted as Mariana is unable to sleep as her anxious thoughts exaggerate her pain level.  Pray peace will enter this tortured mind.

BROTHER NICOLAE is deteriorating. Mirela, his daughter is having a difficult time in taking care of her parents as she herself suffers from obsessive phobic disorder and is feeling highly challenged just now.   Her mother suffers from schizophrenia and is obsessed with morbid thoughts leading to hypertension. 

My elderly patients are fearful of the virus, Adriana is in constant contact by telephone and assures me my friend Catalina, dear Magdelina and Brother Emeric remain stable.  I miss my chats around the small table in the centre of a bare kitchen floor, when one apple fallen from a tree was washed and placed into my hand before leaving.  Little means so much.

JACOB (8) diagnosed with tetra paralysis and epilepsy.  A normal little boy until the age of two.  Recently his condition became worse and he is now in palliative care.  Pray for this family, since his mother is unable to rest as Jacob is awake almost the entire night.  They are part of our Emanuel Hospice Feeding Programme; but more importantly we offer emotional and spiritual support. 

Another family on our Feeding Programme, a lady of sixty-four recently diagnosed with cancer is now entering the terminal phase and receives care from her loving husband and daughter.  They are finding the process very difficult; how does one say a final ‘goodbye’ to a loving wife and mother who will not pass this way again?   ‘Lord, as the days pass, and oh how quickly they do pass, may we all leave a lasting fragrance of Thy presence on the path we have trod’.

I come face to face with an infinite variety of paths, paths totally unfamiliar to me, paths totally unexpected and at times I am overwhelmed as I study the changing tides of a rough sea for precious people who are perplexed, whose strength is spent. Can I share with you? I have been challenged personally these days as I question ‘why’?  But as I question, I am gaining a deeper discipline in my service. Had I no stormy seas I may remain my own weak self and if the Lord needs to take me further out in the depths of despair, I must face the pain knowing that God’s path may be least where I would expect it to be.  The skies are filled with heavy rain this morning. In my mind I am walking the mud roads to the villages I love.  I am so grateful to my faithful supporters who through their monthly ‘gifts of love’ fill the empty cups of those who come asking for help, the terminally ill families struggling with medical bills and food supplies. I cannot ignore this path or bury the feelings within. We need to lift the weight from drooping shoulders, those suffering from the bitterness of life whose circumstances speak of broken and trampled lives.  Together we can work to show the love and compassion of a loving Heavenly Father.  From my heart I say ‘Thank You’. Without you it would be impossible for me to send one tiny violet of encouragement.  Don’t let the opportunity for blessing pass.

Shirley, September 30, 2020

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


by France Ridley Havergal

“I am so weak, dear Lord, I cannot stand
One moment without Thee!
But oh, the tenderness of Thine enfolding!
And oh, the faithfulness of Thine upholding!
And oh, the strength of Thy right hand!
That strength is enough for me!”

“I am so needy, Lord, and yet I know
All fulness dwells in Thee;
And hour by hour that never-failing treasure
Supplies and fills, in overflowing measure,
My least and greatest need; and so
Thy grace is enough for me!”

“It is so sweet to trust Thy Word alone:
I do not ask to see
The unveiling of Thy purpose, or the shining
Of future light on mysteries untwining:
Thy promise-roll is all my own,
Thy Word is enough for me!”

“The human heart asks love; but now I know
That my heart hath from Thee,
All real, and full, and marvellous affection,
So near, so human; yet divine perfection
Thrills gloriously the mighty glow!
Thy love is enough for me!”

“There were strange soul-depths, restless, vast, and broad,
Unfathomed as the sea;
An infinite craving for some infinite stilling;
But now thy perfect love is perfect filling!
Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord, my God,
Thou, Thou art enough for me!”

‘Is This for Me?’

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

(A.S. Wilson)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mysteries of life

‘Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea ‘Peace be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm!’  (Mark 4: 39)

Today, I found myself praying silently in my heart for ‘words’.  Yes, simply words. Comfort for the dying; Assurance for the homeless beggar; A day without clouds where the sun is now invisible for the elderly widow; What words could I offer that would stop the falling rocks pounding down, hitting hard, as they walk miles for bread.  Or nests of young babies, children, as they tearfully stand barefooted waving ‘bye bye’ to Mummy, leaving for the fruit farms to earn money for food. 

The COVID-19 spike is rising and now higher than during lockdown. Romania’s Coronavirus spike exceeds one thousand new cases daily as the number of infections rose by a record of over one thousand during the past twenty-four hours, confirming over forty thousand cases including over two thousand deaths since the pandemic hit in late February.  Rigid restrictions are in place regarding any form of travel throughout Romania and one must display a document stating ‘NEGATIVE’ in order to do so. The government has extended a state of alert until the middle of August.  Sustained vigilance must be maintained.

Hamilton and I released the July ‘blog’ four days ago updating on the vast needs. The work is expanding and we prove the faithfulness of God in His provision.  His still small voice calms the storms of uncertainty. Yet, amidst all the darkness of squalor, poverty and sickness, the teams of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed continue to minister, taking no thought for their own life. They know nothing, not even pounding rocks can destroy their tower of faith.  We are facing storms of loss of life and economy but we know that with Jesus at the helm, we are safe from the fierce winds of life.  Words to describe those I love in Romania would be indestructible as I view their determination and resilience in their unbreakable spirit.  Andrei continues to share the gospel in Sofronia. 

 Words I offer to fight the raging war within comes from the One whose heart is filled with compassion: ‘My peace I give to you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you’.


Terminally ill, homeless and …..

‘Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord’ Psalm 130: 1.

‘Despair and Devastation’ immediately come to mind, lives overwhelmed with the extremity of intense pain; the absence of hope?   Few have known a Burning Bush experience, but rather one of parting waters leading to unknown junctures deciding if we ‘walk on’ or simply ‘give up’? The battlefield of life can be a cruel battle of conflict. As I turn to the book of Job, one thing stands out: Job never ‘gave up’.  ‘But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23: 10).  Job knew the depth of despair, the intense pain of suffering, but he also knew God’s word was sure.

This month my ‘blog’ is filled with hopelessness, mental anguish and unthinkable hardships.  The unrelenting blows of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout Romania and have taken precious lives; sickness and unemployment has brought hunger.  The emptiness and weariness of each day has only one thing to offer – emotional loss.  Lives are crushed. The depth of an ocean is such that even a raging tempest is unable to stir. I pray my beloved patients and families will know the peace of God. ‘When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?’ (Job 34: 29)

SEVENTY-SIX terminally ill patients have died!  Seventy-six broken hearts who have watched their loved ones fade away; the scars of loss are deep as they whisper their final ‘Goodbye’.  ‘Why?’ they ask over and over again; they do not understand and explanations are not what they want to hear.  Pray that through this life changing experience, that they will meet the One who can mend their brokenness and satisfy the deepest longing of their heart. A personal request for my beloved Catalina who will be eighty-one next birthday.  Adriana conveys my messages of love to her personally, yet from a picture received today I could see she had become frail.  Her neck tumour is spreading into her throat.  Please whisper her name. 

Our ‘Little Ella’ requires surgery as her eyesight is failing.  Most of her young life of eighteen years has been spent in hospital.  Ella has been robbed of friends, education.  Her mother, Angelina bears a heavy burden as her son Aurielan, suffers from the same rare form of cancer. Angelina struggles alone since the loss of her husband. 

A new family with an adolescent boy, perfectly healthy until recently.  Now, due to a neurological illness he is totally dependent upon his mother.  The mother is a devout Christian lady but her husband does not share her love of our precious Lord.

Krisof, (3) diagnosed with Leukemia is having severe complications.  We spoke of this family last month, who are going through great financial difficulty.  Due to the Pandemic continuing to sweep throughout Romania, the father is unable to find employment.  They need food for their baby daughter.

Nicolae (63), suffering from Pulmonary cancer. His wife has Paranoiac Schizophrenia, and his daughter, Mirela, (35) was diagnosed with an obsessive phobic disorder when she was twenty. They live together in a very old dilapidated house which is totally unkept.  They had another daughter, who died of cancer when she was 17. Nicolae endures these unacceptable conditions, because of his daughter, Mirela, who is unable to work more than 2 hours each day. She has great difficulty integrating.

Ms. Floare suffers from cancer of the oesophagus and pharynx, she has now developed Gastrostoma followed by a Tracheostomy. She was not open or interested in the Christian faith.  This now has changed since her illness, requesting the Hospice team to pray with her during every visit. ‘Lord, even for One’.  Continue to remember the team of Emanuel Hospice, who are on call twenty-four hours each day.  We thank the Lord for his goodness in protecting our workers.  Due to the rising numbers of COVID-19, the team had to be retested – all proved negative.  To God Be the Glory.

Suceava is far removed from Oradea, spanning a twelve-hour drive by car.  Although a long way to travel, it is a journey where one is surrounded by breath-taking beauty.  The Carpathian Mountains draped in velvet slopes with the piercing blue sky above. I recall walking down a pathway of trees and in the quietness, trying to capture the beauty. ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth’, (Psalm 121: 1-2). The reality of today is that dusty roads still lead to darkness where an uninhabited shack surrounded with squalor is ‘HOME’ for numerous pairs of piercing eyes, bare footed little ones who are hungry. Young mothers unable to supply dried milk for their babies, the hardship is real. Survival is a challenge.  Amy Carmichael wrote:

Give me the love that leads the way, the faith that nothing can dismay, the hope no disappointments tire, the passion that will burn like fire. Let me not sink to be a clod, Make me thy fuel, Flame of God.

Maria was looking forward to the birth of her twin girls, sadly they did not survive.  Maria’s heart is torn apart with grief.

Mirabela (17) arrived at Iochebed centre somewhat distraught.  Her pregnancy test was positive. Mirabela was filled with fear and disbelief, it was not the news she expected. I praise the Lord for the godly counselling offered by our small team of three.  Through their counselling sessions, Mirabela now realises that life is God given and has agreed to keep her baby. “My parents, my boyfriend, will they stand by me?”  

Ana had no other choice but to leave her four children behind to work in the Fruit Farms in Germany.  The elderly lady caring for Ana’s four children is ill. Ana is back in Suceava without money. The meagre wages paid to Roma people used in travel expenses and paying debts.  Home and nowhere to lay her head, living in fear of losing her children, who could be taken into care by Child Protection.  Everything seems impossible to Ana just now; she is surrounded by failure. Gabi and I have been in consultation; we want to be involved in this situation praying a small rental room can be found where the family can live together.  Gabi is presently in talks with the authorities – this is an urgent prayer request, four pairs of dark eyes and four little curly heads need a soft pillow to rest their little heads in a place they call for the first-time ‘HOME’.

The barren and unreceptive deserts remain. Soon it will be autumn, the falling leaves will blow the arrival of a cold unwelcome winter and I fear the clusters of COVID-19 will peak. ‘Shirley’, I tell myself, ‘Only one thing is needed’.  I need to replace my preparations with His presence to help me understand.  Then and only then, will I find Him.

Cheeks wet with tears, brows wet with perspiration, walking miles for one loaf of bread. Once more came the answer, when a man and his son brought bread to Casa Grace.  God knew what was needed for the remains of that particular day.  The Vocational Training Room has resumed, village ladies travel miles to learn the art of sewing, repair, embroidery under the watchful eye of my friend Dana who supervises all modules taught.  Some walk, others, eager to learn, travel and are left without money for food. Dana’s amazing smile says it all as she points to ‘bread on his table’ for the hungry to take home. God’s provision and just when needed.

A new family composed of parents and ten children ranging in age from ten to twenty-two.  Beautiful names, Maria, Teofil, Marta, Elisabeta, Andrei, Daniel, Lidia, Abigail, Benjamin and Marcu.  Twelve adults living in a small communist flat, the father worked as a miner but is presently unemployed.  The mother has many medical conditions and her state of health deteriorates. The children each have their own responsibilities within the family home.  A Christian family who love the Lord, twelve people receiving little or no income – only one of the hundreds who climb steep mountains every day.

The world surrounding these precious families is one of loss. Loss of finances, health, self-respect, enslaved in a prison of their own making.  Yet I am privileged to have an abundance of blessing.  At times I find myself asking for understanding when questioning, why the difference?  I cannot ignore or simply go through the motions when the downcast are captives to the slave of circumstances.

Ana has finally been admitted to hospital. The surgeon is hoping to proceed immediately with the required surgery, which was due to have taken place in May.  However, owing to hospital closures all treatment and surgeries were placed on hold.  Ana reminds me of a budding tree, determined to blossom even in seasons of dryness. Losing her children for eight years, losing her home in a fire, diagnosed with cancer; now a secondary.  Please pray for Ana and her three children that they will be reunited and that through this Ana will come to meet the Master.

In your intimate moments with the Lord, please remember those who are not on our case files within Casa Grace; nevertheless, they come, knowing they will not be turned away.   One lady who resides in a village many miles from Oradea, came for food, she had seven hungry little ones and yet she knew she could come and be received with open arms of love.  Other families living in a Social Centre, where they are not permitted to cook, come and receive money to purchase the basic necessities.  Yes, still they come. £5 will bring a smile to a hungry little face whose tiny soiled hands will grasp even dry bread with eyes of thankfulness. The taste is much better than the crumbs found in a garbage dumpster by the roadside.  Children are not the only ones who go hungry; the elderly try to survive alone, perhaps tending a little patch of ground or sharing milk from the village cow, as it makes its way home through the village street. 

Dora continues her therapy sessions with the Orphans, Down Syndrome, Mentally and Physically Disabled children and Abandoned babies.  Your ‘snacks’ bring a smile from ear to ear.  Thank you for making the impossible, possible.

My adopted son Andrei and his young wife Ligia are progressing well in their first pastorate.  Pray for them as they seek to reach out into the surrounding villages. A lady (early sixties) diagnosed with terminal cancer, gave her life to the Lord and was baptised in the open air, witnessed by her unsaved family, which included an alcoholic grandson and many grandchildren indifferent to the gospel.  What a mission field! With all the splendour of creation and wonder of nature, still there are those whose lives know no beauty.  Ligia ‘found’ a homeless man (50) dying from terminal cancer. Her natural instinct was to show that God, the Giver of Life, can make everything beautiful in his time. A room was found for this dying man to find peace and comfort during his final days on earth – he preferred the damp and unkept pavements, clutched his blue bin bags and walked away. Remember this man and ‘ALL’ we have shared with you.  Ligia did let her light shine, pray it will become a beacon in this homeless shelter.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me … (Psalm 42: 8)

Shirley, July 25th, 2020

Speak His Name

Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

‘Lockdown’ a word rarely used or spoken in our everyday language, yet during the past weeks and months ‘Lockdown’ has become a way of life for many, introducing a change in lifestyle, restrictions, isolation.  During these days of change, I have lost count how many times I have whispered the precious name of ‘Jesus’ as I became actively concerned for the welfare of the sick, dying, poor and those entering a lost eternity. The narrowing roads of this earthly journey caused many to travel rough, uneven and yes, unexpected roads.  I felt helpless; what impact, what difference could I make?  The words of George Matheson came to mind: ‘Only when Christ opened thine ear to the storm, did He open thine ear to the stillness’.  As the psalmist David penned: ‘He calmeth the storm to a whisper’ Psa. 107: 29.  I will keep listening for his whispers.

Hamilton and I have been asking the Lord to show us his way, but more importantly that (as one of old) we may know him. Our life is one where we find it easier to keep working than to wait; but then we know during our waiting the Lord is the one who is working.   As we chatted last evening, we found ourselves questioning: Are we living with the approval of God and our conscience’?  Where do our priorities lie?   Guy Penrod recorded a ‘golden oldie’ – ‘The Love of God’, as I listened, the words pierced my heart reducing me to tears.

‘To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry’ – how can we sing these words without being changed?  ‘If I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way’. 

ROMANIA is far removed by miles of distance, yet I know that nothing can separate my love for these my God-given family. I hold my patients and children in a special corner of my heart, It doesn’t matter where I am, I know once I speak his name, he will soothe the fevered brow of those nearing the end of this journey, calm the anguish of the loved ones, parting with a little lamb.  As I wait and wait I must, I will discover the faithfulness of the Lord in a new dimension; whatever I do, whatever my motive, I will do it as ‘Unto the Lord’.  His words of tenderness and compassion tell us ‘to love one another’, an important part of my service; I must keep digging, keep planting and watch the beauty of God’s harvest unfold. This month the flower for June is Honeysuckle. Late evening walks in Holywood were always graced by the unmistakable fragrance of this rambling beauty.  The seed, flower and leaves are used for medicine, but also to symbolise love, gratitude and appreciation.  Do I serve with love?  Do I appreciate with gratitude my many blessings?   

Two beautiful little lambs cradled in love by a devoted Grandmother. Stefan died recently, his little body so weak, his bones so brittle, he lost his battle.  His younger brother Lancu, diagnosed with the same illness, is very sick. His Grandmother is physically and mentally exhausted.  Rigid restrictions remain throughout Romania and hospital admissions, treatment, surgery are postponed.  Another little lamb, Emanuel (7) underwent a cell transplant last year; he remains in Italy as his bloods require urgent attention.  The youngest of my lambs is Kristof (3) diagnosed with Leukemia.  An extremely poor family, living in a village many miles outside Oradea.  The mother holds her little one in her arms, loving him, assuring him he is not alone; but she also has a baby daughter.  Owing to the pandemic the father, with many extremely poor families is without employment and they are struggling with medical, travel, food costs. There is no opportunity to find employment; their cupboards are empty; their table is not spread with plenty.   The needs are so vast we have had to increase finance within our three feeding programmes, knowing that though their world may be shaken, his love will never be shaken.  But we must show our love in action.  Six days ago, I was facing a situation where a particular sum of money was required to meet an urgent need.  I said: ‘Lord, this is your work; you show me you are in control’.   Later that day an anonymous envelope containing the exact amount was placed in my mail box. ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him’, Lam 3: 25.

There is no sunshine spilling through the windows of the heart of Damian’s Mum. The loss of her only son is difficult to bear; please continue to hold her close in prayer. Sadly Violetta (44) died shortly after the writing of my May update.  Her two little girls left without ‘Mummy’.  Dr. Beni graciously told Violetta the story of the cross hours before her passing. Please remember this precious family in the early stages of bereavement.

My dear friend Catalina, eighty-one on her next birthday, has been admitted to hospital for investigation and treatment.  Her neck tumour is now growing inside her throat area causing difficulty with speaking and eating.  Our friendship deepened as she shared about her early years as a seamstress, proudly displaying her forty-year-old Singer sewing machine.  I have come to love her and pray that she will know my precious Lord as her Saviour.  Methinks we will not meet again in this life but I long to know we will meet on that bright and glorious morning. Catalina, I will look for you.

A new patient, a gentleman of forty-seven suffering from cancer of the Oesophagus with only days remaining.  His wife, son and daughter are heartbroken, especially the daughter who is due to sit her Baccalaureate examinations before the end of June.  She is finding study and concentration difficult as her young heart is broken knowing Daddy will soon be gone, never to see her enter University.  Pain is personal, pain is real, pain is hard work.  I ask the Lord for courage to face the unknown happenings before me.  Frustration, discouragement, anxiety, fear.  Also, strength for those facing loss and tragedy today

Ana, a single mum, abandoned by her partner, has given birth to her fourth child.  Her partner went to work abroad, but has since met another lady and set up home with her.  Ana is now totally alone with the responsibility of raising four children.  She has no income and survives purely on child support received from the state.   We have supported her with food, dried milk, clothes, shoes, pampers, wood and also utility bills.  She is desperate and came to Iochebed pleading for help as she has nowhere to live. If her situation remains unchanged, she has no other choice but to leave her children behind and travel to Germany in the hope of finding work in the fruit farms.  Ana is heartbroken and alone, and during the severe days of COVID-19 in Suceava, Ana gave her heart to the Lord.  Pray for her and as we pray remember: ‘Love is patient, love is kind….it keeps no record of wrongs’.  Remember Ana and her four little lambs.

Alex (one of eight children) remains in a coma; with current situations in Oradea there is no one qualified to undertake the required treatment. Please pray he can be taken to Bucharest.  Pray for this precious family who has known great tragedy; yet the love of God is evident in their humble home.

Deep need waiting with a deeper longing. A mother of forty-two who has just lost her husband of fifty-two.  In addition, her little boy of seven was born with a dislocation of the hip.   Owing to extreme poverty they are forced to live in a village with the husband’s parents; their living conditions are unimaginable.  During her husband’s illness the lady suffered from deep depression.  We have made this case study part of a two-year food and counselling programme.  We plan to make enquiries regarding the possibility of a medical intervention for her little boy.   Realistically, seven years delay, is it too late?  Nothing is impossible with God.

Many of you have been praying for Ana who waits patiently, hoping to receive positive news regarding her pending surgery.  This young single mother has known tragedy after tragedy; her poverty meant losing her children to a Hungarian Orphanage for eight years. Her home she shared with ten other families was destroyed in a fire; now a life-threatening illness ravages her body.   A large billow is sweeping through this precious family. Pray that through the storm Ana will come to know the One who quietly whispers ‘Peace Be Still’.

Each morning I pray for protection for my colleagues in Romania.  The teams of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Iochebed serve in love without thought, as they go in His name.  Masks, Gloves, Social Distance, Restrictions are part of everyday life; and yet they continue to serve.  Thirty-One families came to Iochebed urgently needing medicine, food, baby clothing, pampers.  Pray for Monika, Estera, Gabi and their teams as they serve at times beyond their human strength.  Hamilton gave me food for thought when he asked me: ‘Shirley, fishing at the lake, who prepared breakfast for the disciples after a night of hard labour?’.  I leave it there. 

There are many tender mercies of our compassionate Lord but none more precious than in the time of loss.  Our prayers surround two of my colleagues who during these past few weeks have known the pain of loss.  Sister Rodica, whose husband received his home call.  Brother Mihai whose father also was called home while cycling to the village for groceries. Promoted to glory. 

Philippians 3: 10, Paul says, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection’. Vast needs are before you.  Perhaps ONE will touch your heart.  Pray their eyes will look to heaven, receive joy in their pain.  Together as we see his goodness unfold, we will faithfully press toward the goal, knowing that all the entanglements of this world can disappear in a moment of time.  

We have the pearl of greatest price living within our hearts. Let us join our hearts as one in remembering these precious people.  Not forgetting.

John and Elizabeth, Magdelina, Stefan and Catalina, Brother Emreco. Kevin, Ionuz, Bianca, David & Diana, Ella, John, Our Dora and her father, Alex, Stefania, Lazos.

The Adult Orphans in the forest of Cighid, Orphans, Disabled, Down Syndrome, Abandoned Babies, The Homeless.

Let’s take the thread of faith and keep sewing together.

Shirley, June 26, 2020

Compassionate love

Lately, I have come face to face with the reality of how short our years. How important it is to let love motivate our thoughts, our actions, in this broken world. Compassion means ‘suffering together’ … yes, but do I choose where, when and to whom I activate my compassion?  Do I value and respect those whose misfortune make them appear less important?  It must be love that opens the door to the unexpected where brokenness has created a sandpaper experience; there are few (if any) velvet experiences which ever reach my desk.  Days are busy with between twenty to thirty emails outlining devastating issues.  At times the reports/case files are overwhelming and I wonder ‘why?’ when I read: ‘Who will care for my children when I am gone; it’s not fair; why me?’.  In between the lines I identify lonely hours of utter emptiness, longing and disappointment. 

Yesterday was one of those days, my mind was churning.  Last evening in our quiet time, Hamilton read a passage from I John: 3. (his latest publication, which is ongoing). Verse 18-19 challenged me to write to you this morning. ‘Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence’.   No one will ever love me with such wholeness as Jesus; therefore, I must ‘clothe’ myself with active compassion, to share the good news of God’s love.  The Lord redirected his steps on many occasions, healing the leper, the blind, the lame, not forgetting the little lambs, when he lovingly said: ‘Suffer the little children to come …’ I must not choose my friendships but be willing to serve the friendless.

During the past few days, a carpet of Dandelions has covered the surrounding fields, I smiled, remembering gardening days in Holywood, how ‘carefully’ Shirley would pull these pretty yellow flowers without ever successfully securing the root.  Or the carpet of tiny white daisies where children spend hours forming a daisy chain for Mummy.  Not flowers to grace a vase but flowers with deep roots reminding me that my roots must be deep in order not to be dislodged by circumstances or situations.

I received a video clip from Gabi of a lone figure distributing food parcels during the Easter weekend to the elderly village ladies in Suceava.  I asked the name of the foundation or person, the response melted by heart. ‘The Merciful Samaritan’ … need I say more?  This weekend the doors of Iochebed had to open as a priority for women who are desperate to survive.  During the past two months there is no work owing to the lockdown of the city. Those from Roma villages have no identity, therefore no contract of employment, resulting in no State benefit available.  Single mothers, unmarried girls with unwanted pregnancies needing love and a listening ear. (M) (29) unmarried, sixteen weeks pregnant has chosen to keep her baby. She was made redundant once the pregnancy was known, now she has no income and is anxious as to how she will manage to provide the necessities for a new born:  cot, pram, food, clothing.   

Twenty-minute counselling sessions provide guidance and comfort during this time. Ladies are told of the love of God and assured they are not alone and that we as a team in Iochebed will offer food and provision as Unto Him. (B) attends a Pentecostal Church; she is married with two little girls aged three and four months.  She contacted Iochebed on line, telling her story. She lives with an elderly, ailing mother who cannot be left unsupervised. Her husband does not work and must be isolated from the family; she receives no money from him at all. Her baby and little girl were hungry and the elderly mother required medication – an impossible situation as there was no money in this humble home.  

Iochebed Centre is a counselling centre for crisis situations of unwanted pregnancies. Women in emergency situations will be able to keep their baby with financial support.  In special cases we have provided a Heating Stove, Washing Machine, Fridge.  We are not a Humanitarian Centre but when the poor come, we cannot ignore their cries for help, close our eyes and our ears.  Emotional aid is free, Financial aid is a provision from the Lord.

My telephone consultation with Monika ignited cherished memories from past months.  The love birthed in my heart for these precious people, the mysterious opportunities I never imagined, feeling the security that every moment, every need I faced was guarded and guided through all the darkness of uncertainty.  Romania, Hungary, Moldova, all differing in language, the prayer of faith has become my language as I remember those I love. Romania, once known as the ‘Breadbasket of Europe’ now a place where several families walk miles from their village to receive one loaf of bread from fifteen loaves donated for the hungry by a local baker.  Life is cruel for many with little or no love ever shown. I ask the Lord to give me a kind and gentle heart toward ‘ALL’ who come, to show tenderness of spirit and acts of kindness, remembering that what we do, we do as ‘Unto Him’.  A few who came this week, begging bread: A young mother, raised in an orphanage, her young husband has had to have his foot amputated after a tragic accident in the forest.  Another distraught young mother with seven children, her husband suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia, who has had to be committed to a specialist care home.  Seven little mouths to feed?  Her eyes filled with tears as she received food parcels. Others struggling to survive, where the small wages they earn far outweigh the rising food costs, state-imposed costs for heating, water, electricity.  A new family just entering our two-year programme consists of a single parent family, a mother and a teenage daughter.  The mother is divorced owing to the husband being an alcoholic.  The income is insufficient to pay rent, bank loan, food, medication, utility bills and other necessities in order to survive.  Winter brings freezing conditions in Romania; the lady had no boots and no money to buy a pair.  After two months of walking in old shoes unfit for the cold and icy conditions, she managed to purchase second hand boots.

Each day that passes seems to bring even more pain for precious families where little ones long to see their ‘Daddy’ or hear his voice again.  My dear friend Sister Neil has just contacted me to say that two young fathers have died. One father (40) was suffering from terminal cancer, leaving two adorable little girls.  I remember visiting with them and remarking on their amazing eyes and smile.  The other family is new to our Casa Grace programme; the father suffered from Liver Cirrhosis owing to an alcohol addiction – a little boy is looking for his ‘Daddy’.  We take so many things for granted.  Today is all we have.

I will never forget the day I first met (A). A young mother with three children all sitting on the floor of a sparsely furnished room within a house accommodating ten families.  One bathroom, one working kitchen between ten families.  Totally alone, (A) had to place two of her three children in a Hungarian Orphanage for eight years.  I asked: ‘Why did you give your children away?’ I still hear the reply as tears ran down her cheeks: ‘Because I loved them’.  Her honesty staggered me, so much so, I decided immediately to launch ‘Give with Your Heart’.  

Many of you will remember the story; A and her children were reunited and supported by Casa Grace. Sadly the home burned to the ground causing her to lose everything.  Now settled in a two roomed rental and working hard cleaning stairwells of communist flats, (A’s) world is shattered.  She was diagnosed (several months ago) with cancer. Chemotherapy has been unsuccessful and surgery was to have taken place on May 05.  All treatments, surgeries are cancelled owing to COVID-19.  She is overwhelmed with worry and is fighting to live for her three children.  She is from the Orthodox persuasion and needs to find the Lord.  At present ongoing enquiries are continuing to locate a surgeon in and around Romania who would be willing to perform the necessary procedure.  Pray the Lord will provide the finances to go forward and that through these days she will come to know the Lord as her Saviour.

Estera called me yesterday; our friendship is precious, yet as we talked friend with friend, I could feel, in fact, almost touch her concern as she expressed the pain in her heart for our patients.  My dear friend Elizabeth is anxious as her beloved husband John is very weak, John has been Elizabeth’s carer since she was diagnosed with cancer many years ago.  Their humble home is filled with love. Estera and I visit to be a blessing, yet as John and Elizabeth sing from the Psalms, we are the ones who receive the blessing.  (B) is a young man (early twenties) suffering from Muscular Dystrophy, his grandfather was one of our Hospice patients until his death. His mother tends him day and night but is now physically and mentally exhausted and in need of support.  A gracious family, open to the gospel, yet they do not know the Lord.  On Estera’s last visit they requested prayer.  (A) a lady in her sixties, is suffering from terminal cancer.  A very precious lady who has cared for her grandson Luca since birth; she is really his ‘Mummy’.  Owing to her declining health, Luca is now living with his birth mother.  A is alone and feeling abandoned and is finding the parting from Luca unbearable.

 (V) (44) lost her young husband in a fatal car accident, leaving her to raise her two little girls alone.  After many years she remarried, but has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is no longer responding to treatment.  Her time is short and she is struggling to face the reality she may only have days remaining.  (Mr.C), suffering from Pulmonary Cancer with Brain Metastasis, a lovely gentleman always clearly moved by our scripture readings from the Word of God yet remains unsaved.  A matter of concern as his condition is worsening day by day.

Restrictions in Romania remain. Before venturing outside, one must be in possession of a special paper provided on line by the State. On visiting a shop, pharmacy you are tested for COVID-19 before entering the store. The teams of Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed face decisions in the lives of others. They serve with active compassion; their dedication is unshakable.  

I have tried to share the secret corners of my heart, real people with real need of salvation and healing. Remember my friends who give their time in serving the poor, the dying, the homeless.  May they know a sense of the nearness of the Holy Spirit covering and protecting them and may they see rewards for their labour of love.  Personally, I find the task of reading the varying case studies extremely painful. At times as I reflect on my patients, orphans, down syndrome, disabled, abandoned babies, unwanted pregnancies, the desperately poor and desolate, Cigid adult orphans, I see it as my ‘Goliath’ and I am unable to overcome this giant alone.  Whether I am faced with a relational or overwhelming challenge I must realise that if it does take a mountain to bring me to my knees, I must be willing to bow my knee.   I can be a Samaritan, filled with compassion, or I can be one of those who simply passed by – my choice.  

I close with the words of John Baillie:

‘When the way seems dark before me, give me grace to walk trustingly;
When so much is obscure to me, may I be all the more faithful to the little I can clearly see;
When the distant scene is clouded, may I rejoice that at least I can see the next step;
When what you are is hidden from my eyes, let me hold fast to what you command;
When I do not understand, may I remain obedient;
What I lack in faith, may I make up for in love’.

Shirley, May 25, 2020

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

‘How much more?’

‘The world is crumbling beneath our feet’. ‘Nothing is normal these days’. ‘Will there ever be an answer?’

Expressions from hearts overwhelmed by immeasurable pressure, the unwelcome darkness overtaking their tiny glimmer of hope that perhaps today will be different. They can only see glimpses of unresolved answers to the unsettled questions hidden in the secret corners of their heart. ‘ What if …? Will today bring a breakthrough?’  The distraught mother wandering the empty streets in search of food; the beggar whose hope of finding even a crumb in the garbage bin remains hungry for another day; the elderly widow trying to work her small plot, hoping her one hen will provide lunch; the homeless covered in damp cardboard, shivering, stretched beyond limit, with no place to drop anchor.  Their vision is impaired, there is no beauty in their world.

Dr. John Baillie penned: “Forbid that I should walk through Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes’.  One moment is all I ask, one moment of silent prayer for lives enslaved by poverty and without hope. They do not want our pity, they need our compassion.  Perhaps our love will not be returned, but our outstretched hand could be the one moment they have been waiting for.  Their personal miracle that someone cared.

‘SUCEAVA’ is under total quarantine, as they have the highest number of infected people and fatalities related to COVID-19 in the country.  The peak has yet to come.  At least one hundred and eighty-one medical workers (including forty-three doctors) are infected within the local hospital. Over one hundred infected nurses remain at home, with the hospital lacking medical workers.  Shortage of medical supplies result in patients being prioritised as to who has the most need. One cannot comprehend the impact this has on patients inside and outside the hospital.   Suceava is a closed city with no entry or exit; this state of emergency will be reviewed on 15th May.  Owing to a number of resignations, the hospital is now under military rule. Gabi and her team (Iochebed) continue to work from home, supporting clients by telephone consultations.  Gabi travelled through the empty streets of Suceava to open the centre as new mothers needed dried milk for their new born babies, food and clothing for their children and mothers in waiting needing a birth pack which we also provide.  

As I looked at the little faces of the babies born during this time of crisis, tears filled my eyes. Unashamedly I bowed my head in thanksgiving that we can be involved in this amazing work which recognises life is precious, life is God given.  Women face hardship and poverty, young teenage girls bereft of home and family, Roma men unable to find work during these days of crisis.  They tremble with the pain of no money, no food.

The noise of hail stones hitting my window just now caused me to look up. The skies were dark and overcast and yet in one corner I could see a faint rainbow. I thought of those without a rainbow who were locked within their heart, hope has been stripped away by cruel circumstance and darkness is their only form of sunlight. The home call of the Director of the Regional Baptist Association and other pastors has created fear in many churches.  Pastor Catalin Croitor was one of the first Romanian students to enter the Irish Baptist College in the early nineties. He resided in the College, Sandown Road, Belfast and was affectionally known as one of ‘Daddy’s Boys’ as he joined the Moore family every Sunday for lunch.  A close bond has remained for many years.  Catalin, now pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Suceava, has known the loss of a young man (42) within his own church family; also there are village homes where COVID-19 has taken a loved one. He and his wife Paula minister to the sick and share the Word of God.  We cannot control what is occurring but there is One who can calm the raging storms if we ‘Be Still’ and know that He is God.

  • Pray for wisdom and guidance to know how best to help the vulnerable
  • Pray for doctors, nurses, medical teams in hospitals
  • Pray for pastors, their wives to be guided by the lord in all decision and actions. 

Scars from the war of the pandemic sweeping throughout the world has caused isolation and separation. My beloved Oradea, my patients, children, families and of course, my Dora waiting patiently for my knock.   How I miss what has become the joy of my heart.  Emanuel Hospice continue to minister to the terminally ill.  Love and care override restrictions and the fear of infection.  This week the number who have lost their battle to cancer is fifty.  The team work under tremendous pressure. We commend each member into higher hands, knowing each step will be guided and each breath guarded.  

Yesterday it was announced junior schools would recommence in September.  Senior pupils will resume on 2nd June until the end of July when all examinations will be completed.   Casa Grace had to cancel Summer Camp this year as hospitality/hostels will be the last to open.  Dora misses our Kingdom Kids (orphans, down syndrome, disabled, abandoned babies) Neli, Berta, Marilena wait permission to visit the growing number of needy families who are affected by COVID-19.  Families within our two-year programme urgently need basic medication for diabetes, heart related problems – there is need everywhere. Dana is longing to recommence her vital contact with village ladies who attend the Vocational Training classes.  Pray the team will be covered and protected as families continue to come, especially those travelling from outlying villages.

My three foundations, Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Iochebed all serve with a tender heart. They feel the sadness, dry the tears of those who come desperate for supplies, medication.  These are difficult days with total lockdown, no employment and yet rent must be paid or they face eviction.  The cost of basic food has doubled (e.g., bread, flour, potatoes, grains, pasta …)  How will I respond?

‘Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of you, let my first impulse be to worship you, let my first word be your Name, let my first action be to kneel before you in prayer’ (Dr. John Baillie).

Shirley,  April 30, 2020

My Daily Bread

‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread’ (Job 23: 12) NIV

‘I hoped today would be different’.  The cry from a tear stained cheek, reliving overwhelming memories of former days.  Lives emotionally damaged by the overwhelming hurricanes, floods, tornadoes of struggle, where the economic downturn brought loss, want, hunger and separation. A natural longing, a hope that today would be different.  ‘Today is mine, Tomorrow is none of my business.  If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now’ (Elisabeth Elliot).

In the cities of Suceava, Arad and Timisoara, conditions worsen, hospitals unable to house the sick, staff unable to cope under increasing pressure.  Three hospitals remain closed and military control is still imminent.  Our beloved friends in Oradea live under extremely restrictive conditions; one visit for groceries, medicine, wood permitted between the hours of 11am and 1pm.  The dedicated team of Emanuel Hospice Homecare Team continue to visit the terminally ill.  This past weekend was Easter in Romania; the team continued to work throughout the Easter holidays to ensure medical procedures were administered.  Forty-seven patients had died in our care and in the county of Bihor, seven people have died as a result of COVID19.

Zeno (2), is high risk and needs to remain isolated. His older brother (7) is so gentle and cares for his baby brother with such love, it would melt your heart.  Their mother cared for the abandoned children in the hospital but now needs to remain at home.  She is so thankful to Agape Fellowship Church for sending the Silicone Tubes. 

My precious friends, Magdalena, Ecaterina (both in their eighties), John and Elizabeth, fill my thoughts and yes, I wonder if I will ever feel the warmth of their hugs or see their smiles of welcome again?

As usual, I retire late evening to think when I should be sleeping.  Last night was no different.  I found myself waking every hour with the same question flooding my mind: ‘How deep am I anchored?’  ‘How deep are my roots?’  Both unseen, yet of significant importance – to be anchored, deeply planted.  The same in building; our foundations need to be firm and secure. I have great admiration for architectural excellence displayed in ancestral buildings, stately homes etc.  I am not equipped to build but in the thoughts of a quiet heart early this morning I found myself building.  Yes, building a house of hope, restoration, love, safety, peace.   The homes I visit are not so. No evidence of grandeur; only silhouettes of the outcast, shadows of rejected lives whose circumstance have made them strangers within their own community.  They walk alone without identity, without a future.

Estera brought joy to my heart as she sent the images of two families receiving food and goodies for the children from the money we sent.  Damian’s Mum expresses her love and thanks to you for your prayers, her heart is broken as she speaks of the loss of her only son Damian.  It is a house of sadness, yet because they were remembered, it brought a faint smile.

Many will remember Ishmael who entered our care as a young boy.   He is now ten and during his short lifetime has undergone over twenty surgeries.  He remains extremely thin and his colostomy bag is uncomfortable and causing pain as he continues to grow and mature.  Florina has been a faithful mum and a godly example to her children; the entire family attend the local Pentecostal Church.  Florina was thrilled to receive the many bags of groceries and her teenage son overjoyed to receive one bag of Haribo, yes one bag! It doesn’t need to be expensive; just to know we care.

During a recent skype call to Romania, I asked a very precious friend, ‘How are you? I worry about you, are you ok…?’  Her reply touched my heart: ‘I am well, I am always worrying for other people, the patients, the little children, my colleagues, for dear ones to be safe and not catch the virus.  I trust in the Lord; He is in control’.  

These are the people I have the privilege to serve alongside; their humble spirit, gentle nature teaches me so much.  Please continue to remember the teams of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed. Also, the young Pastors who are finding this situation overwhelming; the families who look at an empty chair where once a loved one’s presence graced the room, and whose love filled their heart.  

‘I hoped today would be different’.

Help me build a House where laughter will replace tears, faith will replace doubt, strength will replace weakness.  A house that will reach out and touch ‘Even One’.

Shirley, April 22, 2020


George Muller wrote: As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time unless he eats, so is with the inner man. What is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God – not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe. No, we must consider what we read, ponder over it, and apply it to our hearts. 

Tell Romania have transferred funding for medicine, food and hygiene provision to cover urgent needs throughout 2020.  Thank you for your genuine interest in reading the writings from ‘My Pen’, your consideration, pondering over this ministry and placing your love in action have fed the hungry.  Without your support real people would only be numbers. People matter to God and so they matter to us.

Changing scenes – a new normal

‘He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth.’ (Psalm 104: 14. NKJV).

Nothing will ever be the same again’.  Raging wars of fear expressed by these seven words from those who knock the door of Casa Grace asking for food.  The mystery of broken lives gripped by fear, experiencing the loneliness of isolation, they are without hope, they lack purpose and for them ‘Nothing will ever be the same again’.

Cities under curfew, hospitals, roads, streets under military control, total lockdown with no entry, no exit. New born babies born with Covid 19. Harsher penalties imposed; this is the reality in Romania. The days of queuing for food have returned, supplies are limited and many foods as in flour, sugar, grains are unavailable.  Those sixty-five and over are only permitted to shop (necessities) between the hours of 11a m and 1p m.  And so, they come, walking roads of emptiness and poverty, crippled by circumstances and tangled lives.  They are hungry.  They are desperate.

Fifteen images can be found on the Tell Romania Facebook page.

Figuratively speaking I get caught up with my thoughts, especially at night when I am supposed to be asleep – sleep will not come.  Last night in the quiet hours of darkness, the Lord assured me (through his word) that he is the vine and I am only a branch, perhaps even a small twig.  BUT (my famous but), if I remain in him (and this is the secret) I will display luscious fruit.  I thought of the Lord’s loving and guiding presence in touching hearts of the many branches who have sent donations, placing food on empty tables.  Tears filled my eyes as I saw my precious families receive basic supplies. My friend Monika and I would have been delivering together; but not in God’s plan this season.  Whether I am in Northern Ireland or Romania the Feeding Programme will continue in his plan and purpose.  I can only continue as long as we together dig deeper roots into fertile soil, waiting for the harvest.   

Hearts have been softened, faint smiles replace darkness, little ones laugh again. Monika surprised the children with the hundreds of Easter Eggs purchased by Dr. Moore and Haribo sweets donated by the Henderson Group.

Next week my friend Estera will be sending images of Emanuel Hospice families receiving their food provision.   Please pray for protection as they minister to dying patients, risking the price of their own safety out of love and devotion for others.

To each of you I say ‘Thank you’ for building walls of trust, restoring destroyed lives. We are branches of the true and living vine and we will continue to produce luscious fruit in and out of season.


Lord, where would you have me plant today? I listen. I obey. I follow.

Shirley, April 14, 2020

‘Housebound or Housebuilding?’

 ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’. (Joshua 24: 15)

A familiar site – a Roma cart carrying possessions of a lifetime.  Roma families searching for a new beginning, somewhere to call home.  Rejected, without identity, yet real lives now overtaken by fear, panic, searching for a new direction to build again. Tears fill my eyes as I think of the many Roma villages today longing for someone to care.

‘In tender compassion and wonderful love,
The Father looks down from on high;
He knoweth the raven hath need of its food,
And heareth in mercy its cry’ (Lewis E. Jones)

Together, we can serve as ‘Friends’.  Serve the friendless and forsaken, help them discover through our service the compassion and redemptive love of ‘Calvary’s Lamb’.  In my reading this morning, I was deeply moved as I read: ‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’ (Phil. 2: 6-7).  Let us break down the barriers, roadblocks, distrust, suspicion by serving one another in love.

Suceava is now under total quarantine, the first city in Romania to be in tight quarantine until mid-April with only goods trucks permitted. The massive outbreak at the hospital has led Suceava being compared to Lombardy.  ‘This is Romania’s Italy’.  To date over one hundred and eighty medical workers (including forty-three doctors) are infected by Covid-19.  As of April 02, the hospital is under military rule.  Hospitals in Romania were not prepared or equipped to cope with this pandemic. The Leader of the Regional Baptist Association died last week.  Another pastor is fighting for his life in a hospital outside the city, while his wife is sick in a local hospital.  Their children are sick and isolated at home.  My adopted son, Andrei, his wife Ligia who was one of ‘My Girls’ in the ‘Beauty of Holiness’ group, has been in contact with students who have a special 3D printer, they are in the process of making facial visors (FOC) for medical teams. Ligia, assisted by a small team, purchase/deliver food to the elderly in Sofronea and the neighbouring village of SanPaul. The importance of ‘serving’ not just in days of crisis but where, when and how we can.

The work continues with Gabi (Iochebed) working from home, counselling on line and by telephone.  The needs escalate as fear grips the hearts of many; they need food, dried milk, pampers.  There is no work for anyone. Babies need milk, children are hungry, families must eat.  Young girls with unwanted pregnancies – Roxana (16) suffering under the hands of an abusive father has now had to leave the family home. Maria (29) distraught as to how she will  feed another little one and care for her elderly father. 

Dr. Beni, nursing staff, psychologist and the physiotherapist continue to visit the emergency terminally ill cases. Sadly. forty patients have died in recent weeks with many new cases entering the already overloaded system.  The enormity of the Covid-19 outbreak, government restrictions, lack of food, medical supplies are overwhelming, resulting in prioritising on a daily basis. Ella (19) is under strict isolation as she is highly vulnerable; the parents of Kevin received a telephone call from the hospital informing them Kevin must isolate (no exceptions). Bianca, Diana & David, children living in fear, no Mum, no Dad to reassure them in the quietness of isolation. My friend Estera ended her email to me just now: ‘Glad to be in His Service’.  Hold this team in your heart, praying for protection and safety.

The elderly struggle behind a closed door.  Catalina (breast cancer), her husband Stefan (dementia), Catalina (neck tumour), Magdalena, Elizabeth, John (cancer patients) Brother Emerico (colon cancer) his wife (partially blind) all filled with sadness.  They live for the faint knock, perhaps the only knock at their door, welcoming a friendly face from our Hospice team. The borders remain closed in Oradea, Hungary.   In the early hours of the morning, I see their faces, their smile and I miss them and wonder if and when I will see them again.

Monika and her husband Andrei are together in Oradea.  Andrei was employed in London but felt the need to reunite with his wife and daughters, Hanna and Miriam.  After quite an eventful series of flights, he finally landed in Cluj Napoca, where he was in quarantine for fourteen days.  Monika welcomes the support in managing the many families who come for basic food.  Papers must be duly completed and submitted, food ordered and yet restrictions apply as the freedom to purchase extra kilograms of flour, sugar, pasta or basic items have been removed.

Many shops and supermarkets open only on certain hours resulting in miles of people queuing. 

Sister(s) Berta, Neli and Marie counsel from home. A new family comprising of five children as both parents had children to a former marriage. Their little boy (2) (down syndrome) died from pneumonia; the father has undergone brain surgery; two of their daughters have special needs; they heard about the work of Casa Grace.  We can offer food, support them for the next two years, but their need is deeper; they need to taste the living bread.  Pray as we serve in offering food and hygiene products, they will see the love of God and come to know Him. Dora maintains regular contact with Elena (Director) of the Orphan Centre, remembering the precious abandoned babies.  Parents of Down Syndrome and Disabled Children also receive regular support. John continues his loving care for his precious daughter Dora who is happy to wait for her Birthday Party until Sister Shirley comes with her presents.

Dana, Supervisor of the Vocational Training Room and Stefan, a part-time member of the team are making face masks – Casa Grace are reaching and touching lives.  Thirty students commenced the tailoring course on January 20th with an ever-growing list wishing to enrol.  Modules from beginner to distinction are on offer; but for now, all is on hold, as we wait on God’s timing.

Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you. – C.H. Spurgeon