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


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