‘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?
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 ‘THROUGH’? Help 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. 9 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.
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