Are there limits?’

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’ 1 Cor 15:58.

‘Are there limits?’ My response matters!  At 4am, alone in my study, sipping a hot cup of tea, I thought of those who sadly are not exempt from the heartaches of this world, those who trust ‘The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight’.

 No one likes to wait, we are busy, we have our planned agenda, targets to meet. I am a list maker, my ‘things to do’ list outline responsibilities and things I want to accomplish each day.  We all differ, I have everything in its place and a place for everything.  Yet, on many occasions, the Lord in his love, interrupted my thinking or changed my plans.  Times when during the waiting, I would have much preferred to move forward, times when I walked a continual road of darkness rather than a preferred path of light.  How I thank the Lord for teaching me to be still in a non-stop world. A world filled with the everyday business of life, where days are so full there is no time to be still.  A text dear to my heart: ‘Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out’.  Reflecting on the story of Ruth, admiring her faithful dedication to her mother-in-law who had suffered great and personal loss, I thought of those who feel the inner pangs of loneliness, who through the pain of loss, embrace emptiness as their everyday companion.   They live in a house filled with silence and memories, longing for the telephone to ring; perhaps that the empty mailbox would contain a letter.  During the early days of widowhood, I found my own silence deafening. 

There is no limit to loving and how we respond really does matter.  It does not require extravagance, just a small token or a thoughtful gesture is all that is needed.  I smile as I think of the small things in life; bunches of crushed dandelions, wilting buttercups or daisy chains, all given with love and simplicity from little hands that had nothing else to offer.  The beauty of God’s handiwork whether in the form of a perfect rose or a sad little dandelion assures us that love is gentle, love is kind.

Be still, my soul, The Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God, to order and provide
In every change, He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul, thy best thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.

I find it difficult to grasp that certain qualities of my life are not those of the Roma girls who are regarded by many as coming from a low position simply because they do ‘menial work’.  As I greet a new day my prayer is that my ‘Servant Heart’ may be open to listen to all, regardless of background or position and if I so possess the heart of a true Servant, I must be willing to serve those who are not admired but rather isolated.  As I write to you, I am challenged and hit hard by a lesson in reality.  I invite you to enter the lives of these teenagers and young women who struggle, battle broken relationships, sadness, disappointments and hope one day their problems will vanish.   Life has caused many to become resilient to their hardships.  Would we want or even choose this life?  Methinks not, but we can build a bridge of hope and trust.

GEANINA (16) is the mother of a beautiful baby girl (sixteen months).  Geanina is pregnant again. In her heart she longs for a secure place to call home and filled with the qualities we read in Galatians 5: 22-23.  Her first reaction was one of panic where she felt unable to keep this second baby.  We thank the Lord after much thought, Geanina has decided to keep her child; another saved life.  Now we pray that this teenage mum will come to know the Lord as her Saviour as we continue to support her and her little ones.

ANA, another sixteen-year-old girl who gave birth to a baby boy eight weeks ago.  The father abandoned them, leaving Ana alone with her baby and her elderly mother.  Ana’s mother is in deep poverty, living in unimaginable conditions.  She wants to support her daughter in rearing this little one.  Ana and her mother have asked Iochebed if they could assist by supplying dried milk, baby clothes, pampers.  A poverty-stricken family, a beautiful baby boy forsaken by his father, deeply wounded by disappointments, lost opportunities are gone forever.  When the Lord asks us to do ‘something’ he makes a way.  God opened his storehouse to meet this need in touching hearts by divine appointment.  Iris, who lovingly fills three boxes of new children’s clothing every year. Tony supplied two boxes of pampers and Eileen filled three surprise boxes.  Are there any limits?

PETRONELA has just given birth to her sixth child. In a previous blog we informed you Petronela was suffering from Hepatitis B; therefore, the baby had to be vaccinated immediately after birth.  The baby was underweight and very weak, crying twenty-four hours each day, resulting in a hernia; the baby is now waiting for surgery.

MARTA (21) has two children aged four and two.  She is now into her second month of pregnancy with her third child and is feeling overwhelmed.  Her little son of four years old has severe health issues and is waiting on a hospital appointment for further investigations.

ANI is the young mother of four children.  Her baby girl of fifteen months has serious health issues as for several months now she has begun to lose consciousness.  This little one is also waiting further investigations.

Another five teenage and young mothers whose opportunities seem hopeless, searching in vain for a glimmer of hope. Their loveless lives have left scars that go deep. They are regarded as the ‘nobodies of society’.   We can offer faith, bring comfort and give assurance that God alone is our refuge. ‘Blessed is God who has not withdrawn his love and care from them. 

FEBRUARY 1996 – two young ladies with a special heart filled with an insatiable conviction for cancer patients.  They sensed a calling from God to minister into the lives of precious people diagnosed with inoperable cancer, discharged by an oncologist and sent home to die. Emanuel Hospice Homecare Team has grown throughout these twenty-five years into a small team who have become bright and shining lights in a private world of darkness.  How can one evaluate the level of pain as a mother, father watches their little ones they will soon leave behind, or the emotional stress of a loved one keeping a bedside vigil for a loved one in the advanced stages of cancer?  Last month I reported FORTY-NINE patients had died within our care.  Sadly the numbers have risen to SIXTY patients.  The pain and suffering continue to increase as does our concern for where they will spend eternity.

KEVIN maintains steady progress following his recent surgery.  The surgeon in Timisoara questioned the results from the biopsy carried out in Oradea and has requested a repeat.  We are waiting for the answer.

TAMARA (4) has been diagnosed with leukaemia.  Her young parents are emotionally devastated as they watch their little one suffering with severe adverse reactions from chemotherapy and various medications.  They feel blessed to receive from our feeding programme as the rising cost of medication is difficult for this poor family.

MIRCEA (33). His condition is visibly deteriorating.  Heart-breaking for this young father as he watches his beloved wife, his little daughter who is her ‘Daddy’s Treasure’, knowing each day is another day nearer his home call.  His mother stands by lovingly caring for her son, aware his days are short and time is limited.  The final ‘Goodnight Daddy’ will be soon. 

It can happen suddenly and lives are changed forever.  Panic greets the early morning sunrise.  The cares of this world weigh heavy for many and as I write, I will try to put into proportion the level of pain and sadness surrounding two of our adult Hospice patients. 

LUCIA (56) has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Her husband cares lovingly for his beloved wife.  Lucia was an accomplished accountant and discovered the tumour when she became aware of difficulty in reading, speaking, walking. A series of tests concluded a brain tumour and surgery was arranged.  Following her brain surgery Lucia has remained paralyzed on her right side and aphasic (unable to speak). Lucia had as pleasant personality and enjoyed conversing with people.  However, she finds herself trapped within her disabled body not even being able to cry out the pain of her broken heart. She is suffering from depression, tearful for the most part of the day and feels a burden to her husband. Pray that God will strengthen Lucia, grant her the peace that surpasses all understating and the grace of knowing the Lord Jesus, the Hope of glory.

ESTHER (78) a sweet lady of Hungarian ethnicity, whose cancer of the uterine metastasized to her skin, lungs and recently there have been suspicions of brain metastases.  She is presently bed bound and is now developing pressure wounds that are lovingly dressed by Dana, one of the Hospice devout nurses. Esther was a very active woman and loved selling fruit and vegetables on the open market until last spring. She misses meeting people and spending time in the sun and fresh air. During the past weekend, Esther’s condition has deteriorated significantly and she has started to have convulsions. Anna, (26) niece, is caring for Esther but is frightened and has trouble sleeping at night. She fears the convulsions will develop and become intense.  Pray that Esther will find relief from her discomfort and that she will find rest in the Arms of the Everlasting Father. 

A Hospice bed unit is needed in order to provide the proper level of care for patients on a continuous basis. She, as many others, requires medical supervision and her family members feel overwhelmed by the situation. We thank the Lord for his timely provision in supplying the various medical equipment we have transported to Emanuel Hospice during the past months.  Another shipment is on its way, thanks to Isobel.  

The singing of the birds is always music to my ears. Quietly opening the study doors, my friends continued to serenade me, reminding me of the beauty of God’s creation.  I was suddenly struck with the majesty of God and turned to Psalm 8.  I felt I was reading with a different heart, a heart humbled and overwhelmed by the greatness of God. As I outline the update of my dear Mariana and her seven children, I cry: ‘Lord, yours alone is the glory’.

MARIANA. In talks with Mariana yesterday, she is very weak yet determined to slowly walk each stage of this harrowing journey.  The Oncologist knows in his heart it will take a miracle.  A wilderness saga for Mariana and one that is lonely.  I try to place myself in her position, aware that my help is very feeble and although I know in my heart Mariana’s flame is but a flicker, there is one who can turn the entire situation around.  And it has begun:  A village home has been purchased for this precious family of eight, close to the village school.  An enclosed plot will enable the children to grow their own vegetables.  The providence of God is so precious; the children will be together in a home of their own.  Once the keys are handed over, the fear of separation will be removed. Although willing, it was an impossible situation for Mariana to handle alone; now it has been turned into one of blessing.  There are still unanswered questions, but for now, all I need to know is that God is in control.  My prayer for Mariana is that she may sing from a true heart: ‘O may my love for Thee, Pure, warm and changeless be, A living fire, My faith looks up to Thee…’ And yet there is more, Barbara has sent three boxes filled with school backpacks for the children.  Impossible situations?  Not in God’s agenda.

A NEW FAMILY:  A mining village is home to nine children who live in deep poverty. Their mother was diagnosed with cancer and returning home from work one evening, the father drove over 300 kilometres to hospital, twice in one evening.  Yes, 1,200 kilometres in one night.  Mummy did not return home from hospital.  The Lord sees our tears and he is watching over these precious nine children.  All we need to know is that you and I together are making a small difference in these lives.  Many would only have crumbs on their table but because you care their cry for food has been answered through YOU.  Thank you for feeding these precious ten people.

OUR DORA is and always will be special.  I love her so much and in my recent video clip she decided to sing a song for Dr. Moore – my heart, my arms long to reach out and touch her.  John, her father contracted Covid but praise the Lord, although weak, he is recovering.  Pray for John who has cared for Dora for over forty years, that he will be able to continue to care for his beloved Dora.  John is in his mid-seventies and has personal health issues.  Dora told me she is thinking of making a surprise visit as it has been a long time since our last visit.

KINGDOM KIDS: Therapy is ongoing for the orphan, disabled and abandoned children.  One case study pulled at the strings of my heart. Florin, a little boy of nine, over sixty kilometres from Oradea, who attends regularly for personal therapy, has little or no clothes.  Some days he comes in borrowed clothing; other days, his outer garment is in rags.  I felt sad and deeply hurt for this precious little life who has a deformed body – a hard road for this little one. My feeling should be turned into action.  I pray the Lord will control our response.

Staff are overwhelmed as they see and feel the sorrow and pain of those with serious health issues.  Covid restrictions cause treatment(s) to be more complicated, more expensive.  Hospitals are so overcrowded they are unable to offer a normal service; therefore, an appointment, diagnosis takes longer.  I need you to stand with me in praying for the teams of Emanuel Hospice, Iochebed and Casa Grace.  They are under pressure and totally exhausted.  May the Lord guide them, renew their strength and provide for the needs of each day. 

SOFRONEA: My adopted son Andrei is fully aware of the principles surrounding his role as Pastor and has embraced them admirably.  He is a young man dedicated to the furtherance of the gospel.    Church services have recommenced in the field adjacent to his village church.  Andrei has a burden to reach the younger generation, ensuring the witness of the church for generations to come.  He studies hard to fill the baskets with food for each Lord’s Day, as young families travel forty miles to hear ‘The Word’.  Andrei has fresh bread, following the example of the Lord Jesus who always had food for the hungry, green pastures for the multitudes that followed seeking refreshment and teaching.  Pray for wisdom for Andrei, spiritual growth in his church.

Oswald Chambers writes: ‘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.  Those are the lives that mould us.’

Shirley, May 28, 2021

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

A Heart of Passion in Suddenness of Change

Samuel Rutherford writes: ‘The soul is a castle that may be besieged but cannot be taken.’

‘Besieged but cannot be taken’ – powerful words.  The profiles, the features in my mind cause a brokenness within my heart.  During the month of April, I have been trying to discover through God’s word, his heart for me as an individual.  I need to be a woman of passion but more importantly a woman of purpose. One who will enrich rather than dimmish, one who will never destroy hope but offer it graciously.  But, again my famous ‘But,’ do I have these characteristics?  The following are not stories but the reality of lives I know personally and love, Remarkable lives who suffer in silence, searching eyes looking through a cot in a lonely room, hoping to be chosen, loved, even hugged.  This morning as I sat at my desk trying to place my heart on paper, I retraced my steps through the forest of Cighid where I walked hand in hand with fifty forgotten lives.  Perhaps a deer would pass and the excited adult orphans would run clutching a wild strawberry, even a dandelion, to place in your hand.  This was their way of saying ‘thank you’ as they are limited in their communication.  The mind of a child! The value of a child!  My Mum used to tell me I was ‘priceless’ to her and how we laughed together.  Yet, these days, I am overcome with a passion to make a child feel indeed a ‘priceless’ gift.    George Muller penned:

 ‘Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.’

Image used for illustration purposes – not a Romanian child.
Free image from

The daughter of Pharaoh found a priceless gift discretely hidden and gave him a home; the Lord gave Samuel to Hannah to love and cherish before fulfilling her promise of giving him back to the Lord; Sarah was given the gift of her beloved Issac; Rebekah waited long for her sons.   I never tire of reading the story of Ruth, a noble and faithful daughter-in-law whom God rewarded.   Naming only a few, yet what a divinely appointed future awaited these children.  I have prayerfully set my heart to launch PENTRU COPII (‘For the Children’), and in doing so, my life must portray my heart. I must try to remove unfulfilled dreams, hurt, replacing these with a love that is deep and lasting.

Darkness was falling, but still scantily dressed children could be found wandering the empty streets in search of food; knocking on car windows begging for bread, selling tiny bunches of wild flowers, or wild mushrooms by the wayside.  The brokenness of hunger is real, their voice had no need to speak, their hungry eyes and fragile bodies spoke for them.  All I could think about was baby Florin who was fed on sugar and water for the first eighteen months of his short life.  Children placed in Orphanages for eight years, because there was only enough food for one; love made this choice.  Choices to be made, heart-breaking choices, leading to a life of fear and brokenness, where lives never recover.  Widows struggling to raise thirteen plus children alone; little one’s longing for ‘Daddy,’ ‘Mummy.’  My ‘quiet times’ were disturbed and I found myself questioning, ‘Shirley, where are your thoughts, what are you thinking?’ 

I feel I am in God’s classroom, being taught, yet waiting instruction.  As a student, one is asked to choose a Curriculum. My skills, though somewhat limited, cry to the Lord to choose the Curriculum for me.  PENTRU COPII has been on my heart for many months.  I feel I have been in a wilderness, alone with the stress of ‘Am I doing enough?’  ‘Am I willing to go a little farther?’  As I finished my March blog, I knew there had to be a change.  ‘Do I love my neighbour?’  I alone can answer! A new day and a new work.  PENTRU COPII will care for bereaved and terminally ill children, providing pastoral support, food, clothing, school necessities. Case Studies will be submitted by Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed Foundations.  The Feeding Programme will remain in operation.

Serve with me, love with me.   ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’  Hundreds of children hunger for bread, help me feed the hungry.   George Muller wrote: ‘Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.’  I will continue to ‘walk’, ‘look’ and ‘expect,’ knowing the Lord will never fail to send Fellow Servants ‘For Such a Time as This.’

Tears stained the pages of the current medical report regarding my precious MARIANA.  I had no words to describe the inner feeling of my heart and as I prayed, I remembered the words of Elisabeth Elliot ‘Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.’   My mind is in a permanent world of silence where I am unable to find answers. Years of disappointment and suffering is all Mariana has known, she has been severely tried and her future is unknown.  Mariana’s body is now overtaken by disease and weakness; her Oncologist plans to continue chemotherapy although it is causing serious side effects.  He has a heart for her precious children who are bewildered and fearing separation from their beloved Mama. Let us make them our own children of promise, where we promise to love and provide for them.  Talks are ongoing with a young Hungarian Baptist Pastor whose parents serve in Monika’s church, hosting Sunday Bible Study Groups.  Although three villages away from Mariana’s village he has visited Mariana and her seven children. There was an evident interest and acceptance as he shared the gospel and read and prayed before leaving.  A group of sisters with a heart and calling to serve the sick will call weekly to read and pray with Mariana.  Many of you have taken Mariana to your heart. I ask you to whisper her name every waking hour and I pray, ‘Lord, please let Mariana reach out and touch you.’

The staggering number of patients who have died in our care has now reached FORTY-NINE.  Broken hearts remain with their memories.  Oh, that we could simply be used to show that we do care.  These numbers include babies, little ones, young adults and elderly – this terminal illness is no respecter of person(s) or ages. We know where to expect a beautiful flower in full bloom, but the same Gardener also tends the desert. 

A young man (41) bereft of family and friends, died alone after a long period of suffering. 

KEVIN:  Our precious treasure, still mourning the sudden passing of his beloved father.  The Oncologist report from the recent biopsy confirmed Kevin’s cancer has returned.  Gabi is devastated. Another shadow of darkness has fallen across her path.  Taking Kevin on her knee, she lovingly told her little son; they cried together.  They are considering commencing chemotherapy again. Kevin is scheduled to have a surgery this Tuesday, 04 May to remove the tumour. The surgery is high risk. 

DANIEL (11) a new patient we wrote to you about last month with advanced cancer (glial tumour of the cerebral fossa) known to be one of the most devastating forms of brain tumour when in the posterior fossa.  Abandoned as a baby, reared by his loving grandparents; to them he is their ‘Son’ whom they love dearly.  His condition continues to deteriorate and his chemotherapy has serious side effects.  Eleven years of suffering, abandoned, now unable to walk, his grandparents question the waste of such a perfect little life.

MIRCEA (33) was in our care a few years ago, his cancer has returned and is more aggressive. He and his young wife are devastated. They are aware of the limited prognosis. They have a young daughter and her father is the happiness of her life. They have such a wonderful relationship. It is heart-breaking as they slowly, lovingly begin the process of parting.

ALEX TOMA – his condition remains unchanged and although physiotherapy is ongoing, his body, muscles, continue to waste away.  Cosmina (sister) is to be married during the second week of May. This will be a big change for the family as she is the main carer for Alex. 

GETA (48) Breast Cancer with bone metastases is lovingly cared for by her son Andrew (17).   She is going through her eighth round of chemotherapy and her body is very tired. Geta has started to open her heart to the gospel and her faith in God is growing stronger. She told Daria she had stopped praying to Mary and understands God has a special plan through her suffering, and she is learning to trust in Him regardless of the unknown future with all its uncertainties.

We thank the Lord that Marinela (Director), Dr. Beni and Daria are recovering.  The entire team minister to the sick and dying with no regard for their own safety.  They are covered.  

The situation seemed hopeless yet our faithful, unfailing God turned the situation around.  A further four hundred ampules of Buscopan were transported to Emanuel Hospice, making a total of seven hundred in stock.  We wish to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Felicity Burnham, Allan Hopper who has been instrumental in obtaining a supply of disposable Face Visors and Face Masks – already a large number of boxes are on route to Oradea and Suceava.  Fellow Servants together.  

LASMINA (15), 17 weeks pregnant. Tests have confirmed there is cause for concern regarding her liver.  This young girl of fifteen struggles; she has not felt the baby moving and is filled with fear and anxiety.  Lasminia is very young with no one to care; she longs to hold a healthy baby in her arms – whisper her name?

RAMONA (18) has two children, one aged two and one aged one.  She is six weeks pregnant with her third baby.  Ramona came requesting a pregnancy test and was devastated to learn it was positive.  She did not plan or expect a pregnancy so soon.  Her main concern is this third baby will have to be by caesarean. Our prayer is that the Lord will reveal himself to this young woman and give her power and strength to raise her children.

GEORGIANA (18) has a baby girl aged one.  Last week she gave birth to a baby boy.   Her husband has made bad choices; he was imprisoned for a period of four weeks. She is alone and very frightened as to what the future will hold for her.  Her mother-in-law is pressuring her to give her baby to Child Services even for a short period of time. Georgiana loves her babies and does not want to part with them.  Her mind is in turmoil and at only eighteen, where can she go or who can she turn to?  I know the One who will say: ‘Come unto me…’ 

JESSICA has two children and came to our centre requesting a pregnancy test. The news the pregnancy test is positive came as a shock.  She is facing many financial issues. During the counselling session, she broke down in tears, asking us to support her in prayer to enable her to accept this little life growing within her with joy and acceptance.  It is difficult for Jessica to accept this baby as a blessing owing to the hardship that she and her family faces on a daily basis.  Another mouth to feed?

NARCISA (22) has four children and will soon give birth to her fifth baby.  Narcisa is unwell and has asked us to support her in prayer.

Many young girls are in a net of entanglement where their outlook is hopeless.  Let us pray the net will break, offering a new beginning ‘In Him’.

Roma girls and ladies make their way to Iochebed and yet the dreary sound of howling winds and driving rain often ends with a beautiful sunset. An extremely poor young couple came in desperate need of counselling and help.  So poor, they could not afford food.  Attending counselling on a regular basis, two babies were born during this time, both with extreme sight problems.  Gabi has been in consultation with an Ophthalmologist regarding glasses.  Through the interest and sisterly love shown by our team, SABINA and her young man are now legally married.  They have made a decision to follow the Lord and have been baptized. At times we are called to minister in a different, perhaps a difficult situation. Our interventions are by divine appointment leading us to be blessed and encouraged in the way.

SISTER MAGDALENA has been known to Casa Grace for many years.  Food prices are escalating and life is difficult for the elderly, homeless and desperately poor families. Magdalena, although elderly herself, is nursing her sick husband, now confined to bed permanently.  She also has a severely handicap adult son who has many ongoing health issues.  It brings sadness to my heart to think this precious lady had to walk with the aid of a stick many miles to ask for ‘bread.’  

A SINGLE MOTHER who lived a life of fear, owing to violent and alcoholic partners. Two children, living in a rented flat where conditions are basically unacceptable. Her son has many medical issues relating to his heart. Before the Covid pandemic the mother worked as a kitchen assistant in a nearby restaurant. However due to lockdown, restrictions, and the curfew, the restaurant has been closed for many months.  There is no income only £180 state allowance monthly.

SOFRONEA has felt the pain of Covid, lately many people from the church and surrounding villages have died, including the former Mayor of Sofronea who was Ligia’s employer.  His oxygen level became extremely low resulting in a coma.   Sofronea is in Red Scenario as fatalities continue to increase. Andrei is called and occupies a difficult position filled with many responsibilities for such a young man.  He is totally committed to his church, witnessing in surrounding villages and teaching English in the village schools. He maintains his interest in Alex, who is well but lacks the courage to come to Church or Youth Meetings. Pray for Alex, as his homelife leaves a lot to be desired and yet he continues to study tirelessly to gain an education.

EASTER IN ROMANIA this weekend and a surprise was awaiting my precious children in the Orphanage Centre in Oradea, where I spent many days with my friend Dora (Therapist). Each child received an Easter Bonnet with a chocolate egg and also a few chocolate rabbits. To Auntie Barbara, Auntie Mavis, to everyone who contributed to make ninety-nine children smile, I THANK YOU. (Some children received one extra sweet as a reward for good progress in Therapy. Yes, ONE SWEET!  

In closing let me leave with you the words of Deut. 15:18 ‘The Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.’ I must confess, there are days when I feel overburdened, my mind is filled with responsibilities and yet I know in my heart I am given these for a reason. This blog is filled with heartache and I feel it deeply. Some have a challenging future, some, sadly, have no future in this life. The gospel offers them one in the next. God has called me to serve those I love in Romania, I must listen if I am to know blessing along the way.  Walk with me, let us serve together.

Shirley, Friday, April 30, 2021

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

I’ll be there to walk you through

‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  When you pass throughthe waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43: 1-2)

‘What will I do, will I ever make it through?’  I wonder how many of us have ever come face to face with such a question?  I have!   Visiting one of my terminally ill patients, one who had become my friend, she grasped my hand, her voice now weak, her dark eyes searching my face as she softly whispered: ‘I am afraid, I know what lies before me; who will take me through this?’  Looking back on the reality of such emotion, my words were perhaps a poor interpretation of what I really wanted to say. Was I a true example of one who has learned compassion?  Kneeling by her bedside, I shared the Bread of Life, the One who would break the walls of fear saying: ‘Come, walk with me, let me carry you, let us cross this bridge of fear together’.  Only one life representing the countless thousands consumed with sickness, pain, sadness, abandonment, estrangement, hunger; the homeless robbed of life as they walk the cruel and empty streets.  Who would want or who would make this choice? 

A family of fourteen live in two rooms in this derelict building.
Broken homes, broken lives, broken hearts.

 Broken lives in need of assurance, runaways in need of rescue, frail bodies wrecked with pain, in need of relief, the orphan in need of love, a hungry world longing for food.  Is this a life worth living?   There is only one storehouse filled with the riches of unmerited grace, only One love that knows no limit, the Living God who cares enough to walk us ‘THROUGH’

Another month of testing, another thirty-five precious lives lost to cancer. My story seems unending as does the story of forgotten lives consumed with the fear of ‘tomorrow’.  Wasted years of enduring hardship, selfishness, abuse.  Their story is a journey of destruction and the reality of sacrifice, which at times I find unreal.   Within broken hearts lies a longing for kindness, gentleness, faithfulness.  

ROMANIA IS NOW ON ‘RED ALERT’ 5pm curfew in place, villages in total lockdown. Do I care enough to ease the bridge of hopelessness? Involvement demands commitment. I need to care enough to follow ‘THROUGH’. Will you help me help them make it THROUGHHelp me, help them find JESUS?  The power of prayer is unlimited; together we can pray them ‘THROUGH’.

The darkness of night surrounds my journey this month; lives without hope, purpose.  Another early morning ‘wake up’; sleep didn’t come easy (as per usual) last night, ending in my now daily ‘heart to heart’ with Hamilton. I too need to share my heart as just I feel the deep hurt and wounds surrounding my children, patients and families.   As darkness covered the earth, darkness is hovering over so many lives.  I know there is beauty in each morning and I have never lived this day (to-day) before. This morning as I opened my bible, the wonder of his grace overwhelmed me.  Talking to myself (quite normal for me) I said: ‘Shirley if you don’t praise even in your darkness, the very rocks will cry out’. I am stepping out on this another new morning with a heart of gratitude and thanks, knowing that the Lord is my covering, my shield, whose shield will protect me in the midst of it all. The trouble and turmoil which keep me occupied will be turned into praise. 

‘Hamilton, our prayers are answered’.  Yes, today we saw the living God at work.  Chatting with Estera a few days ago, she shared the need for a further supply of Buscopan 20mg ampules for our terminally ill patients who are facing the end of life with traumatic effects, resulting in added emotional stress for their loved one(s).   ‘Sister Shirley, I am sorry to ask again, but the staff, the patients are begging you to help them’.  I dared to doubt, making excuses in my mind of lockdown, isolation, availability.  Doubt took over, overcrowding my mind, but God had a lesson for me to learn.  Sitting quietly and pondering as to how this could be accomplished, I opened at a reading: ‘I believe God has heard my prayers.  He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me.  I have recorded my petitions that when God has answered them, His name will be glorified’ (George Muller).

I knew then and was to prove that out of impossibility, in one day, the God of Compassion lovingly sent his provision and, in his time and plan.  Our friend Allan Hopper took three hundred ampules to the transport company and in faith we plan to secure another order.  To care is to follow ‘THROUGH’.

DANIEL (11), entered the care of Emanuel Hospice three weeks ago.  Daniel is a very sweet young boy, diagnosed with advanced cancer (glial tumour of the cerebral fossa). This type of brain tumour is one of the most devastating forms especially when occurring in the posterior fossa. His parents abandoned him when he was a new born baby. His elderly grandparents have been his parents and are heartbroken as they watch his frail body deteriorate. Entering the home, one is aware they live an impoverished and poverty-stricken life. They are desperately poor and in great need, knowing little of this world’s comforts.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me… (Matt 25: 35).  Thank you for supporting our 2021 Feeding Programme. This precious family have food on their ‘empty table’.

MARTON (44), suffering from liver cirrhosis is also a new patient. Besides his medical needs, Marton harbours many emotional wounds that require delicate and loving attention. He was neglected as a child, sent to an orphanage when he was seven and has remained institutionalized to this day. Although Marton suffers from a mild form of mental retardation, he is very coherent when sharing his story of hurt with a deep longing to be loved. Over the years he was transferred to several residential care centres and has heard the gospel several times. Pray the Lord will enter Marton’s heart before the end of his life. His life expectancy is now limited. 

Last month, I wrote regarding EDITH (50), and DORINA (55), both diagnosed with lung cancer. They died this month.  The Emanuel Hospice Team who so faithfully share the gospel had the joy of praying the sinner’s prayer with both ladies.  I will meet them again in Glory.

MARIA (58), suffering from uterine cancer and has been bed bound for over three months.  Her husband is lovingly assisting her in everything, as she is unable to change her position without help. During the past years, Maria has endured many rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, her suffering is ongoing and it is hard to accept how one can cope every day with such excruciating pain.   Maria says she is an atheist and with tears running down her face states that she will cease to exist when she dies. The power of prayer can touch her hardened heart causing her to accept in her troubled soul, the peace that surpasses all understanding.

SEVEN CHILDREN, scantily dressed, stand hand in hand, waving bye-bye to Mama, (the little one in tears) fourteen little feet sinking into a mud field.  Mama is setting off on the five-hour journey to Oradea. I can now confirm, MARIANA is in the advanced stages of terminal cancer, although just recovering from extensive surgery, another tumour has been located in her liver with growing concern regarding her lungs.  A six-month Chemotherapy timetable was planned with the addition of oral medication.  MARIANA’S body is so weak she is unable to continue after only one round of treatment.  She is very sick and experiencing incredibly difficult side effects.  I have known love and I have known loss – this pain is my pain. Seven precious little ones who have lost Daddy, their home, now fearing Mama will be taken from them.  The oldest child is fifteen and the youngest only five years of age. Mariana’s mother is with the family at present.   I have had little rest, little sleep these past weeks.  Little ones who have known only suffering.  Mariana has been alone since the death of her husband, isolated in an unsafe area without running water or electricity.  I trembled when I visualised this young woman slowly struggling to the river for water and in her weakness forced to ‘pick’ wild mushrooms to sell to obtain money for food for her seven children. Such faith to endure the burning fires of severe testing. Yes, I am totally broken.  For days, nights I had an overwhelming sense that I must not leave undone the things I ought to have done. Another quote from George Muller: ‘Our walk counts far more than our talk, always!’  My mind was captivated and I knew I had to do something.  My colleagues at Casa Grace and I have been praying the Lord would work a miracle of healing, giving this precious family ‘time’.  Still, I was uneasy, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go a little ‘farther’.  My telephone rang and it was my friend Pastor David McFarland, but more importantly, it was by divine appointment.  David shared Luke 22: 7-13, where Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it. They said to him, ‘Where will you have us prepare it?’  No forward planning, no booking in place.  Where could they find a room at this short notice during Passover? Yet a stranger carrying water was used by the Lord to direct them to the right place and the master of the house immediately put a furnished upper room at their disposal. The Lord directed individuals who might never have known him and planned places where he had not previously visited, to fulfil His purposes.  

In fear and trembling I want to commence a new project namely, the ‘PENTRU COPII’ project, translated into English ‘FOR THE CHILDREN’.  We need to help this family find a better home, a home of safety and security.  But I also feel the need to develop a ministry for bereaved and terminally ill children.  Only one hour ago I received the news of one of our families.  A teenage Roma couple with a baby girl of seven months.  Baby Lara was born with a serious heart condition, her first seven months spent in ICU.  Monika had arranged a passport to enable this little darling to travel to Italy for heart surgery.  Her passport was not required; as the young parents sat by her cot, baby Lara went to heaven.  I cannot fight this feeling any longer, as I continue to read of the weakness, hardship, calamities.  In fact, I cannot imagine or begin to grasp the winds of adversity or analyse the pressure on lives crushed by storms that flood my desk day after day. Sickness is part of our broken world. Let us pray Jehovah Rophi will become real to this loving couple, to this loving mother and her seven children. At present the Mayor of a small nearby village is in talks with an organisation regarding housing for this precious family.  Shirley, out of what you consume, how much do you produce?  Wow!  In Romania, I am often awestruck when I see the love an elderly shepherd has for his sheep. The sheep are his life and these children have become mine.  Will you walk with me in the fields of life where we can offer greener pastures to lost little lambs? A separate post will be online soon regarding the launch of ‘PENTRU COPII’.  Our Feeding Programme also remains in place.

The images used in this blog depict one family “home” on our Feeding Programme.  I have visited this home with Monika and Neli.

Vaccinations for Covid19 are now available to medical staff, teachers, academic professors and the elderly. Please pray the staff of Emanuel Hospice will have the physical energy, emotional and spiritual resources to interact and support the patients in our care.  No one wants to suffer; no one wants to be in the furnace of fire, the furnace of cancer, but we can go THROUGH the refiner’s fire even though the heat is searing.  Pray the comfort and the presence of the Lord will enter every home as they administer medical aid.  Pray for the team of Casa Grace entering derelict and unsafe homes, delivering food provision, cooked meals to Covid-19 patients.  Pray for the team of Iochebed as they visit Roma villages, riverbanks, ministering to teenagers, young ladies, middle aged and elderly ladies gripped by despair and desolation.

People differ in personality, standards, what makes us smile, yet for three teenagers there is no laughter only the flames of despair as young lives lie in ashes. FOURTEEN, FIFTEEN, SIXTEEN,

MIRUNA (14) comes from difficult background.  Both parents are alcoholics and she is forced to live in a Social Centre.  She is facing emotional issues and has thoughts of suicide.  

ALEXANDRA (15), has lived a life of destruction; her poor and unacceptable decisions have led her to a life of ruin where she is suffering the cruel consequences of her choices.

ANAMARIA (16), is thirty-two weeks pregnant.  The baby is not securely positioned for birth and a caesarean birth is under consideration.  Anamaria has not been to a physician to undergo the required tests.  Iochebed has been her only involvement where we have secured the finance for scans. 

EMILIA (29), has a little one of twenty-two months.  She gave birth to a baby girl at thirty-three weeks pregnancy.  The baby has not gained weight in the past number of months and is not developing properly. 

Some things in life are ‘priceless’, even things we regard as ‘worthless’, yet they have memory, meaning, and more importantly purpose. Time can be one of those priceless words and yet how quickly we lose track of it.  A life regarded as ‘worthless’ has found ‘purpose’ and all because Ligia took ‘time’ to show love and meaning.  MARIA (74) has only known a life of sadness and rejection, she has many health problems and suffered amputation of both her feet owing to diabetes.  Her family abandoned her leaving her without care, money, food …This lonely elderly lady struggled from day to day depending on the kindness of neighbours to wash, dress, prepare meals and at times to light a small fire to keep her warm. After a fall resulting in Maria spending one night on the floor, Ligia went on a mission and found a place in a Home for abandoned people in Tinca in the County of Bihor.  Maria is very sad as she is feeling forsaken, even though the home she knew in Sofronia was not hers it was still home to her. She has ‘lost’ all her neighbours and feels she belongs to no one and matters to no one.

Continue to pray for ALEX.  Andrei maintains his interest in this family and has invited Alex on many occasions to the Youth Fellowship. He is a shy boy and always finds an excuse not to attend.  Personal contact has been made with Alex’s mother who suffers from a mental disorder.  Her partner is a controlling and abusive alcoholic.  Alex strives to be accepted and is studies hard to obtain an education – remember Alex.

Isaiah 28:28 ‘Bread corn is bruised’.  Samuel Rutherford wrote: Be content; ye are the wheat growing in our Lord’s field; and, if wheat, ye must go under our Lord’s threshing instrument on His barn floor, and through His sieve; and through His will be bruised, as was the Prince of your salvation (Isaiah 53: 10) that ye may be found good bread in your Lord’s house’

Please re-read the February blog ‘Invisible’ to be reminded of the names we must bring before the Lord:  Alex Toma, Kevin, Dora, Geta, Christian …….  Our path may not take us ‘THROUGH’ to Beulah but even the roughest road will end at the top of the hill.  Will you continue to walk with me?  


Monday, March 29, 2021

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


‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart’.  (Jeremiah 29: 11 – 13).

Unknown; Forgotten; Ignored; Lost; Invisible!  Challenging words that have somewhat perplexed my mind. Unwanted and unloved, roots of poverty where bewilderment and anger are the seeds sown. Emotionally damaged, their pain is concealed by living a somewhat different lifestyle, yet deep within their troubled spirit, a small seed has produced a small shoot of hope.  Hoping if someone will ever care, ever show love, ever give the greatest gift of all – ‘Time’.  They have feelings and long to be ‘free’ from the chains of hardship and misfortune. These children of adversity harbour seeds of guilt that question ‘Why must we be cast aside?’  Will someone ever care that they are slaves of their circumstances? We cannot measure a person’s worth by background or reputation. These are of no importance when entering this very different world. They need to know that God’s love has no boundaries and offers hope to those who live in the forgotten world of ‘Invisible’ people.   I admit I am a ‘shrinking violet’, I much prefer to serve ‘behind the scenes’; yet so many of these ‘Invisible’ lives have entered my life unknowingly and without warning.   Faces of hungry children, wrinkled and weary worn faces of the elderly, the longing look of those nearing the end of life and in my heart of hearts, it hurts, the pain is real and I miss my time with them.  ‘El Roi’ is His name ‘The God Who Sees Me’, the God who can reach the ‘Invisible’ through you, through me.  We are partners in the gospel and with a humble heart I invite you to travel the rugged road with me to those who have lost their past and cannot find a future. 

‘I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion
I’ve been so loved, that I’ll risk loving too
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I’ll dare to see another’s point of view
And when relationships demand commitment
Then I’ll be there to care and follow through’.
(David Phelps/Gloria L Gaither).

My journey begins travelling the scenic route from Oradea to the distant village of Salacea.  Many villages are hidden behind lofty mountain areas with high towering trees hiding tiny village homes surrounded with barren fields.  Hundreds of ‘Invisible’ hungry souls survive, hungering for food from a bountiful supply. They can feast at the table of life but we must ‘tell them’, ‘show them’ we care.  A small village home made from mud and straw is Mariana’s palace.  Married as a young teenager, Mariana worked with her own hands raising her children and with no notable skills, provided with a resilient determination, a better life.  Severely damaged by the travails of life, her mission now is fighting to live as mother to her seven children.  Mariana has now commenced treatment and I await results of her six biopsies from the Oncologist.  Each day she will commute to the hospital in Oradea which will involve a five-hour car journey and one hour treatment. There are no beds available owing to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Since the death of her young husband, the tragedy of losing her family home, plus her current illness, life is meaningless; yet with endurance and unwavering courage she displays the true heart of a mother.   Young people from the local Pentecostal Church chopped firewood ensuring the children were warm throughout the freezing conditions.   Our needs never go unnoticed, He is the God who sees, saying: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt 11: 28).

Not only our words can speak to the ‘Invisible’; our acts of kindness can speak louder.   In my own ‘quiet time’ this morning I was overwhelmed as I embraced God’s divine appointments in placing Physician, Nurse, Counsellor within Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed. Here is compassion in distress, sympathy in loss, those taking time to reason the mysteries of life. In these times of crisis, it is difficult to provide food and minimum hygiene.  I think of the mothers who love their children so much, at times, the price is too high. For many, things haven’t changed; life remains unpredictable as they struggle from one day to the next.  The pandemic has brought redundancy to the Centre, owing to demand, therapy may have two children in a normal one to one session.  Although under pressure, my friend Dora welcomed two new additions into her therapy class, two tiny babies (down syndrome) whose mothers were deeply distressed.  Distraught and tangled lives who lack communication come seeking assurance.  It takes ‘time’ to care.

Casa Grace is indeed a House of Grace, ministering daily to needy families.  Disillusioned and broken lives come knowing they will find there a listening ear and an outstretched hand of welcome. They have no other choice as no one cares.   A young mother with a little boy and girl has been on kidney dialysis for ten years. Doctors have changed medication, but still her condition is deteriorating.  Her husband is unable to work as he cares for his wife twenty-four hours each day. Their living conditions are extremely poor and depending only on a small state allowance, they live a meagrely existence; resources are scarce and food is a luxury.  This is only one example of those on our Feeding Programme.  If no one else will care, we do.

COSMIN a young man, who called Marilena asking if he could come to the office.  Ten years ago a lady from a small village area came to Casa Grace asking for help.  She was alone and without resources to raise her then young family.  The seed was sown, now the seeds are coming to life. Cosmin came, sharing his memories of summer camps, how they impacted his young life.  He felt loved, accepted.  He is now attending a local church.  Pray for his ongoing growth. And all because someone made ‘Time’ for him.

SERGIU, a young teenager living with his mother in the home of his grandmother and uncle. His uncle is an alcoholic and his grandmother displays an unpleasant and resentful manner, making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.   Sergiu’s mother has a handicap and is disabled. Since they are without income as she is unable to work, each day is a constant struggle. Sergiu is not receiving any encouragement or example living in these conditions. He feels he does not count and as a teenager he is trying to find answers.  Someone to have ‘Time’ was all he needed today.

DENISA, whose ambition is to achieve excellence this school year, is trying to support her family.  Her brother’s baby will have heart surgery next week. She is very young yet feels the responsibility. Her request was for one thing!  ‘Time’.  Will you give one moment of your time to pray for Denisa as she witnesses to the family.

These three young lives live life in the margins of confusion where hand grenades of disaster throw them into a lost world.  The power of fear is real.  Please give your ‘Time’ to pray for the firm foundations, seeds sown by our army of soldiers who are constantly fighting on the battlefield of life.

The title of this blog may seem strange to some, yet the word ‘Invisible’ dominated my thinking like a bolt of lightning  Tradition, culture, abandonment, identity, penetrated deeply for lost lives, lives breathing their last breath alone. The reality hit home this morning as I received my daily update from my dear Estera.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read TWENTY-SEVEN precious lives have died in the care of Emanuel Hospice.  I am overwhelmed with emotion, as twenty-seven homes are bereft of a beloved son, husband, father, daughter, wife, mother, a tiny baby whose little hands will reach out no more, the laughter of a toddler taking first steps. Only time will heal the crushing blow of separation 
KEVIN: Recent biopsy results confirm the tumour is not malignant at this moment. Encouraging news for Gabi who still mourns the loss of her young husband.  However, Kevin will be closely monitored as there is a risk it may become malignant. Kevin is unable to have surgery to remove the tumour as there is a high-risk element that he could either lose his arm or the formation of a blood clot which would cause excessive damaging effects. 

RALUCA (6) diagnosed with ewing sarcoma. Owing to the ongoing pandemic, she has been in total isolation as her immune system is very low.  Attending any hospital would place her young life at risk.


ALEX TOMA is back in a hospital in Oradea. He requires a feeding tube as well as the cannula for the Tracheostomy.  His sister Cosmina will marry in May. This will add pressure to the family as she is the main caregiver for Alex. Sister Toma will be overwhelmed as she suffers from depression. Alex is dearly loved by his family.

CHRISTIAN (45) Pancreatic cancer, died on Friday.  He leaves behind his teenage son, Sebastian, whom Christian has been raising since he was three years of age.  Sebastian’s mother remarried many years ago and lives in Belgium.  It is hoped he will move to Belgium.

GETA (48) Uterus and breast cancer with multiple bone (including skull) metastases, has a difficult time in tolerating chemotherapy.  Andrew, her teenage son of seventeen is her main carer, a sensible boy and a loving son who treasures his mum.

DORINA (55) EDITH (50) both fighting lung cancer.  These ladies are in the terminal phase of cancer and are leaving behind children who are still very young adults.  Dorina and Edith listened intensely to the story of the Cross told with sincerity and love by our amazing home care team.  They have asked the Lord to forgive their sins and have an inner peace within.

DORA (44) Breast cancer with brain metastasis has been hearing impaired since childhood.  Her tumour is very aggressive.  She is an atheist and displays outbursts of anger.  Please pray for her salvation.

I was challenged as I read the final paragraph from my friend Daria’s report:  I quote: ‘May God give each patient his grace and salvation!  May we meet again on Heaven’s shore’.  Pray for the safety and protection of the Emanuel Hospice Team as they treat their patients, entering homes where Covid-19 is present.  The value of life, the value of a soul!  May we with courage and endurance accept the challenge that lost lives can be found in Christ.   Our mission is to point souls the way of the cross.

Life’s difficulties come to many doorsteps in Suceava. Young girls questioning ‘Why Me?’ as they outline their story of abuse and collision. 

SORINA (22) came with a little one hiding behind mummy. Her tears were filled with fear as she explained she was thirteen weeks pregnant and similar complications were arising that had led to a miscarriage some months earlier. Iochebed arranged and financed the required scans.   Tears of fear were replaced with tears of joy as she was able to see her baby developing normally.  It is suspected she was originally carrying twins; one did not survive.  

OLIMPIA (35) with nine children, is seventeen weeks pregnant with her tenth child.  Ongoing symptoms gave cause for concern. An Echocardiogram arranged by Iochebed confirmed she has suffered a heart attack; her pregnancy is now at risk as may be her life.

PETRONELA (34) has five children.  She is twenty-seven weeks pregnant and it is now been confirmed she has Hepatitis B.  There is urgent need for a caesarean section and the baby must be vaccinated to fight Hepatitis B.  At present no hospital has the required vaccine.  

In my January ‘blog’ I wrote: ‘One pair of shoes will change ten frozen little toes into ten cosy little toes’.  Theresponse was overwhelming, God touched the hearts of His children, many tiny feet are happy feet today.  Thank You.


The warmth of a cup of hot tea is my ‘breakfast’ purely by choice.  Perhaps the aroma of freshly toasted bread, the taste of free-range eggs boiled, poached or scrambled, grilled bacon, porridge, hot coffee… choices.  Yet for one elderly lady, choice was not an option. The sound of silence is her morning cuppa.   Ligia, the young wife of my adopted son, Andrei, had occasion to call with this lady from the orthodox church.  She has had both legs amputated and suffers from many illnesses.  She has no one to care for her and lives alone in an isolated village.   There is no apparent family connection and contact from neighbours is non-existent.  ‘I just want someone to care for me’ is the longing of her lonely heart.  No one demonstrates concern or displays acts of kindness.   Her days are filled with lonely hours and in trying to survive yet another day, she fell, resulting in spending the entire night on the floor. How could this precious lady lift her frail body back into bed.  She suffered many wounds and bruises as she also suffers from diabetes.   As I share with you, my heart is melted.  The world of emptiness is her dwelling.  Ligia was asked to call with this lady and is at present pursuing a placement within a Care Home for the elderly for a period of convalesce. No food, no drink, lying on a cold floor in the darkness, hungry, thirsty.  We can feed a hungry world not only with our monthly provision but with the Bread of Life.  Ligia has a mission field of her own. 

Pray for Andrei, the Lord is blessing his ministry with increasing numbers attending his village church.  Andrei is young, yet providing rich green pastures for straying sheep.  Remember him that the Lord will give him wisdom in all decisions and counselling.  At present he is pastoring three village churches.   ‘The Farm’ is of special interest to me, a place housing many Roma families, a place where they wrestle with perplexing questions, a place without the gospel, a place that is now a Mission Field ready for plough.

Another heart rendering summation of stories of real people.  Human lives crippled by the raging war life has thrown their way, people whose lives are in a state of emotional ruin. But, and again another Shirley ‘But’, God is still God, the God of the universe. How do I feel? What is my goal in 2021?  To love with reality, honesty, to feed a hungry world with the Bread of Life.  Come, walk with me; let us walk together.


The Lamp of Life

‘You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven’. (Matthew 5: 14 – 16).

January, the beginning of a new year.  What lies ahead?  These opening words from Jesus have vigorously stirred my thoughts, why?  There are those whose life is much darker than mine and it hurts so much each month as I shut myself away in my study to ‘try’, yes, I say ‘try’, to place my heart on paper. Operative words such as light, hidden, shine, impact my heart telling me the lamp of my life must shine.  As I chat with my colleagues throughout Romania, one thing is clear, we do choose where and when to shine the Lamp of our Life. It must shine when needed; perhaps it will be required in the unpleasant areas of life, places the ‘nobodies’ of life call home.    The Lamp of our life must shine into hopeless circumstances.   Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War: ‘I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day’.  A still and silent darkness fills the air in villages where ‘lost lives’ struggle, where young girls face the fear of unwanted pregnancies.  I have known, I have seen indescribable pain, suffering and loss, yet how poorly the world measures loss.  Cruel consequences wound deeply, leaving ugly scars of reality.  Yet, there are those who suffer in silence, behind a closed door.   I recall one occasion, entering the home of an elderly gentleman. As I knelt beside him on the unkept floor, he clasped my hand tightly and smiled; for one moment in time, he was a ‘someone’ not a mere ‘nobody’.   I was not in a preferred surrounding, indeed one rather different, yet it was one of the most humbling and life changing experiences ever known.  As I left, he lifted the one and only egg gracing his empty cupboard, offering it to me as a ‘thank you’.  There are no words?   ‘Let your light so shine before men …’  As I pondered these verses it spoke to me of my personal responsibility, my character rather than my works.  Mum used to sing ‘Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave……’  I can hear her say ‘Shirley, always be sure your lamp is trimmed and burning’.My reply: ‘Mum, really’.  Methinks my reply would be somewhat different today.

Twenty-one days into the year 2021, the lives of seven children have changed forever. The mountains are rough and steep, not for the faint hearted and certainly not for children.  It is a journey of unending pain and tragedy which will affect their formative years. There are no beautiful trees or towering cedars in the small village, home to Vasile (4), Valentina (6), Remus (8), Sorin (10), Gabriela (11), Mariana (13) and Marian (16) Their Mum, Mariana (38) has undergone surgery resulting in many complications.  She is in urgent need of blood transfusions if she is to survive.  The villagers have placed an urgent request on a web page for blood supplies. We really do not know the impact of such pain, we have all we need and more. Tell Romania have supported this family with food, hygiene, household items, clothes and backpacks since the death of their father, after battling cancer.  Their village home burned to the ground; now their one and only priceless possession, Mum, is very sick.  How can I enter into the thoughts of these precious darlings, my heart breaks as I think of them wandering through the village?  Are they hungry, are they cold?  Who will care?    Amy Carmichael wrote: ‘There is nothing so kindling as to see the soul of a man or woman follow right over the edge of the usual into the untracked land – for love of Him, sheer love of Him.’ The words of Jesus speak to me when he said, ‘Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain’ (Matt 5: 41).

Sister Toma accompanied by one of her daughters has taken her little boy Alex to Tirgu Mures.  Alex has been in a coma for four years following a car accident; his body, muscles are wasting away.  Although exhausted and fearful, Sister Toma maintains her constant trust in the Lord for the future days.  The long journey was difficult for Alex, his temperature remains at an alarming level, he needs our prayers.

Single fathers, single mothers, without home, possessions, food, forced to live in the original Orphanage now a State Social Centre for outcasts, families at risk, where sadly cooking is not permitted.   Two examples of families there are registered on our two-year Casa Grace Feeding Programme: 

A father with a young daughter (6).  The little girl is very sick, the father must remain at home to care for her.  Without an income or salary, there are no resources for rental accommodation, food, clothing, so they are forced to live in the State Social Centre. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a now familiar famine to many lives.  Unemployment, food shortage, price Increases … the famine in these lives is real and many go hungry.  I thank the Lord for enabling Tell Romania to feed the hungry, care for the dying.  Our well will never run dry while the Spirit of the Living God continues to flow through His children, offering ‘just a cup of water’ from his plentiful supply.

A mother of three young children, two girls aged ten and six, one son of four years old.  They too are forced to live in the State Social Centre.  The mother is unable to work as she must care for her children.  The father has spent all the income on alcohol and his gambling habit.  He is unemployed and therefore unable to pay child support.  During 2019 a fourth child was born, sadly the little one died, aged four months.

Fathers, Mothers, Elderly, the Young come with faltering steps reaching out of the depths of their helplessness. They have no one; they have no place to run; they are imprisoned within the walls of the circumstances of life.  They are the ‘nobodies’ of this world; they come to Casa out of utter desperation, knowing they will not be turned away.  They feel accepted but more importantly, they know we care.  Thank you for caring, thank you for shining your light before men.

The Vocational Training Room continues to grow from strength to strength with many on our waiting list.  My dear friend Berta wrote, sharing with me regarding a young lady who was one of our students.  A young single mother who after the witness and gospel outreach shared during our Coffee Break decided to keep her baby.  She made a special visit to Dana and Berta introducing her new baby boy.  Ladies come from far and near villages. The State is impressed by the modules set and achieved – we serve a God of excellence.

An email from Sisters Neli and Mari received just now is worth sharing: Sister Shirley, thank you very much, because of your support we can help these families and accept new ones. Thank you for the money for food specifically and for your prayers for these families. Thank you to all your friends who are involved in this ministry. Please pray specifically for them in order to be saved and to know God personally. Please pray for them to be protected from evil and not to have power over them.  May God bless you and reward you for your love with which you love these people. Thank you from our hearts. We miss you. We miss your smile.

It takes courage for a fifteen-year-old Roma girl who has been blown by fierce winds and battered by the cruel seas of life, as her mother left the family home and she never knew her father.  Ana-Maria cares for her brothers but is still a child herself.  Ana-Maria came to Iochebed where it was confirmed (after tests), she was pregnant. In her distress she considered adoption.  On December 3rd, she gave birth to a baby boy; once she saw those amazing dark eyes, she could not part with him.  This week she came to the centre sobbing and pleading for help.  The baby in her arms was frozen, the Romanian snow is deep and icy cold.  From your donations we were able to purchase wood, food, pampers and hygiene products for the baby. Ana-Maria has learned the important from the really important through the wise counselling of Gabi and the team from Iochebed.  Her precious gift of life makes her mornings a brighter day.

Aura (23) is married with a six-month-old baby girl; she came in shock at the unexpected news she is pregnant again.  We thank the Lord she is willing to keep the baby but needs strength and our support in this decision.

Alexandra (18) who has a eight month old baby boy, is pregnant again.  Alexandra is a young teenager filled with fear; she has miscarried on two previous occasions.  A sickly young girl who due to required medications, will need strength to go full term in her pregnancy to enable her to give birth to a healthy baby.

The snows in Suceava are fierce and deep. Often children walk miles in search of food, firewood. Gabi has informed me many children have no shoes, especially little ones from four to seven years of age. One pair of shoes will change ten frozen little toes into ten cosy little toes.  Will you fund one pair of shoes?

Even in the midst of my packed schedule, at times there comes a moment of calm.  In the midst of such a day, a surprise telephone call from my adopted son, Andrei, warmed my troubled heart.  It was good to hear his voice as he shared the ongoing ministry in Sofronia where he has the responsibility of three village churches.  My heart is thankful as I monitor his progress but more importantly, his passion.  I watched Andrei mature during his five years in Emanuel University. Together with his wife Ligia, this young couple are trying to bring springs of water into dry lands, dry and barren lands where they need the gospel.  I want to be involved in reaching these precious people who live without identity.  One family has torn at my heart strings:  Irina is the mother of Alex (17) a very introverted, shy boy who is trying to ‘survive’ in the midst of turmoil.  His mother has mental disabilities and lives with a man (without the all-important identity papers) who does not work and is abusive in temperament, continually fighting with his drinking companions.  Alex is forced to live in these conditions and I am burdened to help him.  My precious Ligia is taking Irina to a Psychiatrist, having duly completing all the documents required, to show love and to show ‘someone cares enough to show it’. Sofronia has been heavy on my heart and I feel compelled by love to share this great need with you.  The shoeboxes from Monkstown B.C. were such a blessing and an inroad to many homes closed to the gospel.  Please remember Irina and Alex; all children need to be loved; will you love Alex?  Will you show him you care?

Rev. F.B. Meyer penned: ‘Oh, for grace to wait and watch with God’.  We all have felt the winds of change, the premature striking blows Covid-19 has brought to our ‘new’ world which is a world crumbling beneath us as never before. As Hamilton and I embrace the expansion and challenge of Tell Romania, we ask for grace to wait and watch with God for the year before us. This is my prayer for my colleagues who care for the terminally ill, feed the hungry, entering homes where Covid-19 is an unwelcome visitor.  I ask you to pray that the teams will turn grief into blessing, pain into balm.  They are overtired, exhausted, still they serve without complaint, without concern for their own safety.  Their foresight is their force!  

November and December in Emanuel Hospice are months of deep sadness.  The team serve in the midst of suffering, offering comfort and hope to many who are hurting.  This year, there are many young patients who are dying, leaving behind young children.

Ingrid (43) suffering from a brain tumour died, leaving behind a beautiful young daughter Mercedes, aged seventeen.

Alin, (37) suffering from a Melanoma, died, leaving behind a sweet little boy aged five, named Rares.

Lulia (41) died from Uterine Cancer.

Two young teenagers Andrei (17) and Diana (13) face life alone.  Their precious mum, Ramona, (45) suffering from breast cancer, died on Boxing Day after battling cancer for so long. The team struggled to keep Ramona alive as the children wanted one last Christmas with mum. 

Christian (44) suffering from advanced Pancreatic Cancer also died at Christmas, leaving behind a fifteen-year-old son.

At present another young mother is on the waiting list.  Her sixteen-year-old son is her main carer who faithfully and lovingly changes her dressings daily.

Children left without a Mum, Dad.  Who will care? Or will they be just another ‘Nobody’?  

Kevin has had a CT scan in Timisora.  His mother (Gabi) is waiting for a consultation with the oncologist regarding pending surgery. Gabi and Kevin are finding life without Robi very difficult.  Gabi is in deep sadness and Kevin is totally withdrawn. Robi and Kevin sang together; now Kevin misses those special days with his dad.

Little Lancu (9) diagnosed with Spastic Tetraparesis.  His elderly grandmother is exhausted taking care of him.  Pray for this dear lady as there is no family support at all.  Lancu requires twenty-four-hour care.

My dear Elizabeth will travel to Cluj for further investigations.  Her husband (John) is very weak and sensitive regarding Elizabeth’s cancer.  They are a very precious couple who love the Lord. 

2020 brought a personal realisation of the preciousness of life.   Yet, how quickly it can be taken. Things we treasure or thought mattered are only things.  We all want to be remembered, to leave a lasting impact that will touch and transform lives.  At times our love may be unseen; yet love is a priceless gift each one possesses.  Normally the word ‘inheritance’ is linked to personal possessions; but another word even more precious is the word, ‘legacy’.  My dear friend Ruth’s husband was promoted to Glory on 21 January, 2020.  A sudden and unexpected parting.  Michael was a quiet, unassuming gentleman with a contagious smile.  In his own quiet manner, he displayed a reverence for God’s Word which formed the pattern of his own personal walk with God.  In memory of a devoted husband and loving father, Ruth and her son Ryan have gifted the work of Tell Romania in recognition of Michael’s memory. He was skilled in technology and in his memory the gift will be used accordingly.

What legacy will we leave behind? Will we be remembered for a Servant’s Heart; Obedience; Faith; Love; Understanding; a Listening Ear; a Forgiving Spirit; a love that is sincere and real? 

‘Strengthen yourself in the Omnipotence of God. Do not say, ‘Is God able?”  Say, rather, “God is able.”’  (Andrew Murray)

Shirley, January 21, 2021

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



‘Mary, Did You Know?’

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?

This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm the storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You kiss the face of God
Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know?

Mary, did you know? Did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The dead will live again… (Mark Lowry)

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.  

‘Mary, did you know?’

The gentle breeze of yesterday soon became the blustery winds of today.  How quickly change can come.  The pandemic of 2020 has hailed the dawn of change knocking on our doors; no one is exempt.  The darkness of the velvet sky almost seemed to stand still this morning as I pondered the life of another day.  Sitting alone with my thoughts at 3am, I prayed for ‘calm’ in the midst of this turbulent journey, a journey of emptiness and pain. Those whose pulse of life is fading, bereaved and broken hearts, blind, disabled, homeless wanderers, hungry children, desolate homes and families, those without clothes, food, shelter, water.  Endless faces filled my thoughts as did their journey of sacrifice and loss where the way forward is a continuous road of darkness.  The words of a Christmas Carol challenge me:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can give him; give my heart

Give My Heart?’  My heart needs to be an altar burning with the flame of His love.  I must be sensitive to the needs of others, be willing to share in their journey of adversity, not always ‘caught up’ with my own needs but rather to be filled with a consuming passion for the lost.  

Heavy snow and freezing fog will soon cover the hillside of Tinca, the forest of Cighid, the pavements housing the homeless.   Romanian winters can often be minus fifteen and under in the outlying villages, where bare branches of trees glisten with frost joined by a carpet of icy leaves.  The riveting cold caused me to wonder at times if my feet were still part of my body.  Life is hard for the elderly as they break the ice filling a pot of fresh water, as they slowly make their way (without boots) to tend their plot of ground or milk the village cow.   

Christmas is a time for ‘thinking’.  We can become concerned with ‘things’ that really are of no importance.  This morning, I found myself back in Romania last December. Memories of visits causing me deep pain and devastating emotion.  I saw faces of my precious children who will not open a Shoe Box this year. Damian’s Mum, heartbroken, remembering her only son.  Baby Alexandra. Sofia, their pink blankets all neatly folded out of sight, the memory is too painful.   Young Kevin undergoing surgery this week but no daddy to hold his wee hand; David and Diana without mummy, Ella and her brother Aurilian, both very ill.   Gravel roads leading to shabby houses where one enters the world of reality.    ‘THINGS TO DO’ list?  Not on my agenda; rather my list is a ‘HAVE I?’ list.  Have I been a hope to the dying, a friend to the poor, a refuge for the broken-hearted, have they felt loved, valued, accepted?   In my quiet moments of prayer, away for the interruptions and noise of this world, I and I alone can answer.

Seasons of life change; many long for a perfect season.  I think of Monika’s family, their neighbour, a gentleman of sixty-five, diagnosed with leukaemia and suffering from depression owing to the loss of his dear wife to cancer, stood and watched helplessly as his outbuildings burnt to the ground.  Monika’s parents also lost their outbuildings in the fire.  The gentleman has no insurance, also in Romania, the Fire Authority, Police and Ambulance Services all require payment for call out.  The families of the COVID-19 patients who perished in the recent fire within an I.C.U. (North Romania). 

Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?’ (Matt 6: 25,26)

Sister Neli forwarded this message today: 
‘We ask you to send gratitude from our hearts to all those who donate money each month to Tell Romania in order to buy food for the desperately poor families we work with in Casa Grace. They rely on this food which is supported by your monthly donations.   This food is a great blessing and a big support for them’.  

How do I say thanks?  I think of the children of a young couple from one of our Baptist Churches who donated £6.50 from their pocket money to ‘Feed the Hungry’ this Christmas.  This was one of my moments of blessing, tears filled my eyes when I read the email from their Dad.  ‘Thank You’ children.

A blog outlining the conviction of my heart, I must ‘love my neighbour ‘.   I will write early January outlining our projected plans for 2021.  Hamilton and I feel the need and challenges from the three foundations I have the privilege to represent.  Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed.  This Christmas let us give the best gift we can give, let us tell the story of ‘Jesus, The Light of the World’. Our personal gift from the Lord is a gift worth sharing. The Light of the World can and will overcome all darkness.  Bethlehem can be our own personal journey, our own personal story. Let us tell the story.

Whom shall I fear?

No need to fear when times of trouble come
Oppression’s storm beats at your door
No need to fear

No need to fear though evil seems so strong
Their pride and power is not for long
Be still my soul and trust in God
And place your life into His hands
For He will never fail you
And in the morning, you’ll see His face
No need to fear – don’t fear

No need to fear the envy and the scorn
Of those who boast in what they own
No need to fear (Graham Kendrick)

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows’ (Luke 12: 6 -7).

The storms of adversity remain unrestrained, blowing chilling winds of sickness, rough waves of mental anguish, earthquakes of unwelcomed poverty and devastation. Severe and cruel reminders of the reality of ‘fear’, the relentless tempest of destruction leaving lives in ruin.  High waves washing over thoughts that drown as they struggle to find answers.  In contrast, if we never knew the pain of adversity, we would never know the reality of faith.  ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you’ (John 14: 17).  Covid-19 has brought the stark reality of how quickly, in fact, in a moment, lives can be changed forever. Fear and confusion are the turbulent wind-driven waves that continue to overwhelm. 

Almost 13,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised including 1,169 in ICU across Romania mid-November. The country reported 360,281 Coronavirus cases, 8,926 deaths since February, with numbers continuing to rise.  Ten Covid patients died in a fire, others injured by the flames, which broke out in the ICU of a hospital in the north-eastern town of Piatra Neamt. The blaze spread through the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital; the patients who died were on ventilators.  A doctor suffered severe burns on 40 percent of his body trying to save patients. He was to be transferred to a hospital in the capital, Bucharest.  Romania is feeling the pangs of darkness, with Roma people unable to rise above the unending tragedy day after day.    Our dedicated teams from Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed have been continuing to offer hope and healing, even though several team members have been fighting Covid-19. Monika and her family, Dana, Florentina and her family, Liana, Adriiana, their example is overwhelming as they continue to bring food parcels to the hungry and care to the dying, braving the winds from every quarter sharing as they leave that ‘Jesus is the light in their darkness’

Think of the hundreds of Roma people struggling for survival on the hillside of Tinca, without shelter, running water, sanitation.   The beating winds tear their covering from its place of security.  Storms bending and twisting, yet they survive without complaint, ready to face another day of ‘survival’.

The adult orphans in Cighid, in ‘lockdown’ since early March, their frail bodies growing weaker each day.

Teenagers with unwanted pregnancies, yearning to be loved and accepted. 

A Hungarian Care Home, suffering the loss of ‘friends’ to Covid-19.  A favourite chair is now empty, their pain is real.  

Christmas is a time to show ‘Love’. Heaven’s Child, is the greatest gift of love to man, woman, boy, girl; to rich, poor, great or small.   Precious lives are searching for love, a smile of acceptance.   Will you give your love to rescue even one?  Only your heart can answer.

Homes differ in Romania. During visits to many villages, I learned ‘Home’ was more than just bricks and mortar, perhaps a tiny patch, one room, but this was ‘Home’ a place where one loaf of bread was shared willingly.  Today, I think of those humble homes and the people I learned to love, who, out of little always ensured ‘Home’ was a place of safety.  The home of young Kevin has changed, the sound of Kevin and his Dad singing will no longer greet me.  Two weeks ago, Robi (early thirties) died suddenly from a massive heart attack, leaving his young wife (Gabi) and son devastated; they have been unable to eat or sleep and remain in a state of shock.   They were an extremely poor family resulting in Gabi borrowing money for funeral costs. Kevin will travel three hundred miles to Timisoara as surgery has been scheduled to remove a cancerous tumour.  No daddy to hold his hand this time.  Life has been filled with struggles, and rejection for this young nine-year-old. Pray this humble home will experience healing and restoration.  It will take more than words.

Over one hundred and forty patients have died in Hospice care. Think of my elderly friends. Yes, I call them ‘friends’as patients become part of your life.  My dear Elizabeth requires further surgery, an abnormality is growing around her liver area, resulting in severe pain and sickness.  Owing to high infection and risk, it is not possible to proceed with surgery. However, a permanent catheter has been inserted to remove inflammation.  Elizabeth needs our prayers.

Magdelina’s condition has worsened, with constant bleeding from open wounds, causing extreme pain.  My Dear Magdelina is very lonely and feels forsaken and alone.  I love her dearly; the memory of receiving one small apple from her fruit bowl still brings tears to my eyes.  In Romania you do not leave without a little something from their garden. It may range from an apple, a few cherries, a few spring onions; one tries to refuse but it is given as a token of love and respect.  It makes one think!

Mrs. Pelle died this weekend (43), having fought hard for approximately fifteen years with an ongoing brain tumour.  Lately, her illness became aggressive.  She did express her desire to be baptised in Emanuel Baptist Church, but sadly postponed.  Unfortunately, she felt unable to take this step forward. 

Bogdan (19) was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy; his mother Anca is also ill. They are totally alone and through the witness of our team are close to the Kingdom of God. 

My friend, Estera will join a national programme to advise vulnerable people (Hospice patients, the elderly) how to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2.  Claudia (Hospice Doctor) has been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumours; she will possibly need an intervention on her brain for Cerebral Metastasis.  

Time is ticking fast and soon I need to make decisions as we enter 2021.  Pray I will know wisdom regarding the many emails received.  Also guidance, as I embrace the need and continuance of the three Feeding Programmes throughout 2021.  ‘They labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter’ (Proverbs 6: 8).  A faithful steward invests wisely for the Kingdom of God. The Lord will bless those who receive from our faithful giving. 

New families continue to come our way.  Sister Neli wrote to me, expressing concern for eight little hungry children, 11, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 1. The family live in rented accommodation, their monthly income for ten people is £78 per month. A quick calculation of £78 X 12 = £18 per week to feed ten people, pay rent.  Clothing and Food?  The Feeding Programme for Casa Grace, Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed weighs heavy on my heart, knowing that the dawn of a new day can bring worry and uncertainty to exhausted Mums and Dads worn out for lack of food, water and human provisions.  Their lives are parched and thirsty as they see their little ones famished at times from hunger.  Lonely figures walking miles in expectation, hoping for even a crust of bread.  They smile as they receive bags of basic groceries and hygiene products. ‘Thank You’ Lord for the privilege of giving from your Bounty.

Ligia is distributing her own flowers of reassurance.   The elderly in Sofronia, who receive a minimum pension only, have each received a face mask and vouchers to provide a hot cooked meal.  Andrei and Ligia are progressing well in their witness in their first Pastorate in the local Baptist Church.

Natalia Montgomery, Monkstown B.C. lovingly organised another ‘Shoe Box’ project this year.  Tomorrow, seventy-five shoe boxes prepared for children and the elderly in the surrounding villages near Sofronia will reach completion.  The dark eyes of little children will sparkle and the dim eyes of the elderly will glisten as they receive a ‘Special Delivery’ carefully chosen from the caring family of Monkstown B.C.   

Marion Morrow, Bethany B.C. Knit and Knatter Group have created seventy specially knitted dolls for the adult orphans in Cighid, ranging from toy soldiers to princesses.   Last December, together with four Theology students we held a Christmas Carol Service in Cighid, a first for them!  At the end, we distributed gifts, gifts that were soon claimed as theirs.  For the first time in their life, they owned something, something that belonged to them. One lady (52) ran to hide her doll beneath the blankets of her small bed.  These images live in my heart and I long to return home again. If not, I have my memories.

The Roma people of Tinca live in a state of constant midnight without promise of a budding tomorrow.  This week, I will transfer sufficient funding to enable Casa Grace to purchase food for the hundreds of families this Christmas.  ‘Thank you’ to everyone who has opened buds of fragrance into a new day.  As I wait for the bud to open into a budding tomorrow.   ‘Thank You’.

 ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you…  (Psalm 50:15).  Denisa, (15) gave birth to a baby girl at the end of October.  The baby was born with hydrocephalus.  This precious little life did not survive and died within fifteen days.  Although Denise is a child herself, she is feeling the loss very deeply. Gabi sent me a picture of this little treasure; tears overwhelmed me.  The Lord continues to cover the work of the Pro-Life ministry in Iochebed and I am privileged to serve alongside Gabi in easing the many hardship facing young lives on a daily basis, providing food, clothing, funding for these teenage girls

Corina (19) two children aged three and one.  Corina is expecting her third child, the father has left home, taking no responsibility for his family.  Johann Sebastian Bach wrote: ‘The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul’.  As I read the many case files and those facing the possibility of raising little ones single handed, there is certainly no evidence of music in their hearts, only cords of sadness and regret.

Sabina’s son Emanuel is two years old and suffers from periodical Crisis-Partial Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Atrophy.  Sabina is pregnant with her second child and is finding Emanuel’s condition and pregnancy difficult to handle.  She is fearful and frightened as she faces the future.  Young teenagers to whom the sound of laughter has gone forever.

Ana was unable to travel to Germany as the State would not grant permission for her four young daughters to be left in the care of her younger sister.   It is a state regulation that underage child cannot be left in the care of a teenager. We read in I Corinthians 7: 32 ‘I want you to be without care’.  Our Heavenly Father is always watching over his own ensuring that we do not become filled with anxiety or be fretful about the future.   If honest, none of us like to wait; we want things now. Yet, Ana waited quietly before the Lord asking him for a miracle. As we rest in his presence, we know the blessing of a smooth journey free from care. Totally unaware of the background, we decided to purchase a ‘FURNACE’ for Ana and her adorable four little darlings.  Ana was totally unaware of this and when Gabi delivered the furnace Ana wept tears of joy and although she had been praying for heat, God’s timely provision was unexpected as she cried: ‘This is my miracle, to God be the glory for hearing my prayer!’   That night, forty tiny toes and fingers were not cold from the freezing Romanian winter; rather, they were warm and cosy. But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. (Psalm 71:14-15).

Those of you who know me, know I feel deeply.  I am told a parent loves deeply with a love that is unwavering, a love that endures hardship and hurt.   A love that maintains, that mends with reality and honesty, a love that is totally unaffected by circumstances.  At times my thoughts bewilder me. I am unable to sort out my own feelings of guilt when on an inclement morning such as today, I have heat, food and all I need. I repeatedly ask: ‘Why?’.  How do I love those without identity, rank? How do I embrace the homeless beggar? Would I choose him as a friend? Or would I rather cross over to the other side?   These are hard questions to answer. I wonder, how do I reply?  Perhaps, maybe in time, I can!  ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows’ (Luke 12: 6 -7).

‘Bring to God your gift, my brother,
He’ll not need to call another,
You will do;

He will add His blessing to it,
And the two of you will do it,
God and You 
(R.E. Neighbour)

Shirley, November 30, 2020

42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ. (S) 0752 196 8926


The dawn of hope

Hope itself is like a star — not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity,
and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon

From the study window I could see the crisp copper leaves blowing everywhere, a day of howling wind and driving rain.  My dutiful husband was trying to ‘contain’ this amazing ‘flight’ into one corner of our garden.  I made my way outside to assist and was struck by the crunching sensation beneath my feet.   One friendly leaf touched my face on its journey in the wind as if to say ‘catch me if you can’.  I immediately thought how often I overlook the simple, ordinary, everyday things of life.   Nature; Sight; Hearing; Feeling; Laughing; Touching; Taste; Love.  The Dawn of Hope?   Every field needs seed; the secret behind the survival of a delicate snowdrop; The timid little robin red breast or the determined magpie. My moment of quietness was quickly interrupted with news that the city of ‘ORADEA’ has now been placed on ‘RED’ alert.  Covid-19 numbers reaching an ‘all time high’; 3% of people infected in other surrounding cities and counties.  Hungary is closed; Hospitals have reached maximum intake with seriously ill patients being transferred to Timisoara, Arad and Cluj.  Food restrictions result in price increases; factory closures; unemployment; universities, colleges, schools closed; funeral restrictions; curfews; the inadequacy of resources.   I think of those who sit alone, hungry, the elderly walking the empty streets in fear, queuing for food in order to survive. If I am not careful, I will allow circumstances, events, people, feelings even pain to impact my life. But then my beloved friends in Casa Grace and Emanuel Hospice are suffering, a small number of staff in isolation, with remaining staff continuing to serve to the point of exhaustion.  I can hear the tiredness when I speak with Monika and Estera and it hurts.  These are times of testing but more importantly, trusting.  Psalm 33: 20 ‘Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield’.  When the Lord makes us aware of a need, he is offering us the opportunity to be a blessing by becoming ‘involved’.  May we embrace any assignment and pour in the oil of blessing.  

I have been trying to write my ‘blog’ for four days, this morning (day five) I decided (6am) to gather my thoughts.  I thought of the week past and the words of pain that entered my heart.  I remembered the words found in Neh. 1: 4 ‘When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and …….’ Tears have flowed, I am now ready to share my heart.

Isaiah’s commission from the Lord was to ‘Go and tell’.  ‘And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me’. (Isa. 6: 8.)  Covid-19 has brought change throughout the world; it happened quickly, forcing challenging times upon everyone.  Regardless of circumstances, disappointments, trials, we have the assurance that Jesus is our source of hope and in these days of struggle and uncertainty we are privileged to fix our eyes on him.  My lifestyle has changed but my vision remains unchanged. I am compelled, drawn by cords of love.  At present, my vision is costing me the high price of loving from afar. Challenges, obstacles, adversity are hitting hard but this vision is carefully invested, the best is yet to come.

Sobs with flowing tears from Lulian, (15), thirty-nine weeks pregnant.  The birth of her baby will be performed by Caesarean section; her baby appears to have many malformations, with doctors fearful for the survival of this precious life. 

Maria, (28), is a single mother. She separated from her partner as he suffers from drug addiction. After the separation she discovered she was pregnant with his child. In her panic, she wanted to place the baby for adoption but was directed to contact Iochebed Counselling Centre.  During this particular period, Suceava was a locked city owing to the pandemic. Gabi made many telephone consultations praying with Maria, supporting and offering advice.  Her mother died when she was very young, she is financially unstable, caring for an elderly, ailing father.  Matei was born on 19th October and she has decided to keep her baby and writes: ‘Thank you for not judging me in wanting to give my baby away, this was the hardest period in my life.   I look at my son and see he is unique and I could never give him up.  Thank you for your financial support, baby clothes and pampers.  Thank you, Thank you for everything’. 

Corina, (20), is a single mother with two children.  She is going through great hardship and deep poverty since her husband abandoned the family.   We have supplied clothes, shoes, food and dried milk, praying the Lord will replace the pain, insults, distress and suffering with a deep sense of his peace.

Ana is now in Germany for two months; her four daughters are in the care of her sister.  Ana requires a financial deposit to complete the contract on her two-room shared property. Tell Romania forwarded finance to cover legal expenses and Gabi will continue to provide food and clothing for the children.  Sobs of weakness, cries for help penetrate my heart. Through your support we can give practically; through your prayers we believe that others will be brought to faith and a peace that will surpass all human understanding.  As we receive from your hand, we are enabled to give to others.

An unwelcome ‘Season of Waiting’ is the unwanted visitor for many in the land of Romania.   ‘RED ALERT’ has removed every anchor of hope they desperately cling to.  Winds of doubt and fear blow fiercely, robbing precious lives of security, expectations, possibilities – all replaced with an overwhelming sense of low self-esteem and hopelessness.  Roma people walking, travelling from villages to Oradea to beg for bread, searching garbage dumpsters, unaware, oblivious of the meaning of ‘infection’.  Those living on the hillsides are hungry and hunger knows no boundaries.  There are no sanitary or washing facilities, they wander the hillsides aimlessly.  The sight and sounds of the hungry are real, perhaps difficult to touch, to feel, to love.  In the words of our Lord: ‘If just a cup of water …’

The number of cases continue to rise in Emanuel Hospice. The situation is alarming as new patients continue to come, placing the team under enormous strain.  Over one hundred and thirty have died. Covid-19 is now infecting our terminally ill patients, resulting in the nursing staff forbidden to enter these homes until the fourteenth-day isolation period has passed.

The Toma Family continue to love and serve the Lord; they have known much tragedy, yet their faith remains unwavering and steadfast.  Their young son, Alex, was struck by a hit and run driver and remains in a permanent coma.  He has suffered pneumonia twice during the pandemic; doctors feared he would not recover.  Sister Toma is physically and emotionally exhausted as he requires twenty-four-hour care.  Larisa was full of joy after her week in the mountains with her sisters at the Emanuel Hospice Camp.  Suddenly a car mounted the pavement; Larisa spent many months in hospital undergoing many surgeries, resulting in a partial leg amputation.  Their focus is not on heartbreak or devastating loss; the Lord brings meaning to their heartache.

Bogdi is a precious young boy who spends 99% of his time at home, without opportunity to go outside.  He is vulnerable as his rare disease affects his lungs.  He is lovingly cared for by his mother, a very fragile young woman who is totally exhausted.  They are not a Christian family but open to listen to the message of the gospel.  At times, she begs us to pray with them, especially for her treasured little boy.  Hospice life is a life of committed service covering many areas.

Elizabeth (53) is a relatively new patient who suffers from Uterine cancer.  She suffers from panic attacks especially in the night and is unable to sleep as she is fearful of death.  At times her depth of despair is so real, she refuses to eat and her young daughter feeds her.

Ionut (22) suffering from Muscular Dystrophy, is permanently immobilised in bed. Ionut (John) inherited this disease from his mother, they live alone, totally isolated from the outside world with only dogs and cats for company.  Anca and Ionut grow weaker each day.

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in’ (Matt. 25: 35).  A distraught father, walking the streets of Romania in search of food for his eleven children, came to Casa Grace.  ‘I hear this is a House of Grace. I have eleven children and my neighbour twelve. We are without food and our children are hungry’.  As I wrote on Tell Romania Facebook: Who is my family?  Who is my neighbour?  Am I my brother’s keeper?  This is love in action; without your support, the feeding programme could not continue.  We are a family, reaching out to touch lives bereft of hope.  His car was filled with food, clothing and hygiene products.  Thank You.

Florian and Lidia have two children a daughter (17) and a son (16).  They are a Christian family and live in a derelict communist flat; conditions are totally unacceptable.  Yet this is ‘Home’ and an upgrade from the cold streets of Romania.  Lidia has been suffering for the past ten years from renal insufficiency and requires dialysis. She is a very sick lady yet always manages a smile of welcome.   The doctors are limited in their treatment and she would require the opinion of a Renal Consultant.  

Thoughts are ever with the dying, hungry and those needing constant care even for basic necessities, emotionally dependent on human kindness.  The need within a prominent family in the Hungarian Baptist Church, Oradea. Is overwhelming.  The father recently buried his eighteen-year-old son at noon and his mother at 2 p m. His sister is fighting for her life in a Romanian hospital.  Psalm 73: ‘Whom have I in heaven but You?  And there is none upon earth that I desire beside you.  My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever’.  

The homeless beggar (50) found by the wayside dying from terminal cancer was offered a warm, comfortable room for his final days. He preferred the damp, freezing pavements of Romania all for the craving of a cigarette.  He died alone.  (July blog) This world is filled with uncertainty and people’s lives are shattered; we all need hope, regardless of status or circumstances.  These hurting people need to find the One true source of hope that will never fail!  Jesus.

My scheduled call with Monika was a breath of fresh air to me.  We are sisters, we are friends and there is a shared bond of love evident in our conversation.  We had our moments of sadness but one of joy as Monika told me of her visit with ‘Our Dora’ a few days ago.  Many of you have come to know and love Dora.  She is so special and endears herself with her humble and unassuming personality.  Monika had brought a banana box filled with gifts with special ‘trinkets’ chosen by Auntie Barbara. ‘BUT’ and I repeat ‘BUT’ wait for the response: ‘Sister Monika, it is always lovely to see you and I do like to see you but I would rather see Sister Shirley if you please.  She is my friend and if she cannot come to see me then I will go to see her.  She always sends me lots of nice things so I will ask my Dada’.  Monika turned to wipe a tear when Dora shouted from her little kitchen table (where she spends her day).  ‘Dada, can we travel to see Sister Shirley, my birthday was in March and I am only receiving the gifts now; she may have other gifts for me, please, can we travel?’  We did laugh together and if honest we cried together. You see, I do miss my home and I do wonder when I will see ‘My Dora’ knowing there are patients I will never see again.  I can only hope I have touched, felt and loved.

The centre where the Orphans, Disabled, Down Syndrome children come and Abandoned Babies live, has had to close as some staff tested positive for Covid-19.  Please pray for my friend Dora, Therapist from Casa Grace who works with ‘My Children’.  I call them my ‘Colourful Flowers’.  They remind me of the gentle winter Crocus; the proud Dahlia; the delicate Cyclamen or the thriving Begonia – these children are all different yet all survivors who have remained unscathed when disowned, unloved, rejected.  These are sad days in Romania; lives are wind swept; many have experienced sad farewells to those they love.  We are entering the season of Harvest. What am I sowing?  What am I planting?  Is what I sow growing?  Do the seeds I drop along the way reap for eternity?  May we sow to bring honour; may the harvest of our lives accumulate blessings for eternity.

The work of Emanuel University remains close to the heart of my beloved husband.  His desire is to equip young men for service and to strengthen the hands of the pastors throughout Romania.  ‘The Letters to Timothy and Titus’ have now been translated into Romanian, Hungarian and Russian. We are praying as to the way forward for print. ‘Glory in the Cross’ is also currently being translated into Romanian.  Hamilton’s desire is to gift each pastor, student with a personal copy of these books in their own native language. Emanuel University remains closed with the teaching given online. The Lord has also enabled us to provide the Atla Online Database on a one-year lease. This is crucial for the needs of facility and students who are working from home; important also to maintain Emanuel’s status as a University.  ‘Hallelujah, what a Saviour’ is a fifty-two-week study book due to be released prior to Christmas and the New Year, dv. In proof reading I not only found it inspiring, a personal challenge, moving me to express ‘Hallelujah, what a Saviour’ have I.

The Lord gifts each one individually to serve individually, yet, collectively we can serve as a mighty army. Let’s keep marching, let’s keep praying. I know many tears as I read of deep desolation. My sighs, though deep, have made me stronger. I find myself detached from ‘things’ that clutter.

Only a strong tree can withstand the storm; whatever your personal storm, remember: ‘He is still God’.  


When all foundations have been shaken
When I’m left standing in the dark
And all I feel is my heart breaking
You still reign and You’re still God

And when it feels all hope has faded
The heavy questions hit so hard
And though my soul may feel forsaken
You still reign and You’re still God

Though I can’t see what’s before me
I know that I can trust Your heart
And this one truth will be my story
You still reign and You’re still God

I will declare that You are with me
Though voices whisper that You’re not
You’ll never leave me nor forsake me
Cause You still reign and You’re still God

Shirley, 31 October, 2020

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