‘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.
LUCI, TIMOTEI, FLORIN, DAVID, DIANA, SIMONA, MAGDELINA, CATALINA, JOHN & ELIZABETH – you are not forgotten. We love you.
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.