In Romania, we have the privelege the most marginalized people group, the Roma. They are an intriguing, multi-faceted, magnificent, and often misunderstood people group with an strong sense of community, family and passion for life. They demonstrate amazing inner strength to withstand rejection and discrimination. Despite their ensnarement in (and sometimes acceptance of) the cycle of poverty, they do care about their children—-even when they cannot care for them.
The Roma orignated in India and have come a long way from persecution (including 500 years of slavery as well as being targetedin the Holocaust). Check out The Open Society Foundation’s animated history of the Roma. Although they are often rejected and treated as disposable, each individual should be treated with dignity, love, and respect. We welcome the oportunity to show them God’s perspective on how loved, valued and significant they really are.
People often ask us why we use the term “Roma” instead of the term “Gypsies”. Most Roma find use of the term “Gypsies” to be deragatory; it means slave and only perpetuates what they are not. We celebrate the opportunity to help them recognize freedom in Christ as a reality!
Our ministry focus in Romania is on sharing God’s love for the invisible to: families of Roma in two specific communities (Baraci and Siloz), girls in or vulnerable to trafficking or prostitution, abandoned babies in the hospital, and other orphaned children.
In Romanian, baraci means “shacks”. This Medgidia neighborhood is mostly wooden shacks with some concrete block or stucco homes. Most are one or two rooms and usually have a little front yard with a gated entrance. We love love love (yes three times) to go house-to-house and love folks in the baraci! They always welcome us in. This is where real relationships happen – when you visit folks in their environment and show them the love of Christ. We spend time with families, pray with them and provide practical help like distributing groceries. We also support a weekly kids program to provide a simply healthy meal during a meeting just for kids, much like vacation bible school. Most kids come from baraci and Siloz, but its open to everyone. From time to time, we bring kids from this community out and about and have a fun party or excursion.
The Siloz community is very near the Baraci community in Medgidia. Nearly all homes are two-room wooden shacks and most have a gated front yard. It is a very close knit community and full of kids and action. Our house-to-house visits are so meaningful at Siloz. We are also beginning a girls meeting partnering with another ministry targeting teens vulnerable to trafficking and prostitution. Periodically, we bring a bag of groceries to each family at Siloz and provide other assistance when we can. And from time to time we get parental permission and bring a group of kids on an excursion.
“Orphans” can mean kids being raised in an orphanage (or state home in Romania), in a foundation, living on the streets or being raised by a neighbor or distant family member. In addition to helping babies abandonded at the hospital (see below), we reach out to orphans to provide love, hugs and excursions. We like to do fun things like arts projects, pizza parties, a trip to the aquarium or a day at the beach.
For many reasons—-some known to us, some known only to parents and others known only to God—-children are abandoned at the hospital. Nurturing and affection makes the difference between surviving and thriving! God’s love is unconditional and we are blessed to be able to share it. We hold the babies, sing over them, pray over them, and make declarations of God’s promises over them. Patients are expected to provide practical things, so we do that for these babies: clothing, pampers, baby toiletries, baby food or formula and more. We also help other children temporarily left at the hospital for care until the parents can be located.
From time to time, we create a special event day for kids called Lumina (The Light). Typically we get about 100 kids together, have fun activities, sing worship songs, share a bible lesson, create a play or have a sports day. We usually share a meal and sometimes even go out to a restaurant—-a really big deal for these kids!
Fundatia Porti Deschise helps alleviate the suffering of destitute children and families. They open doors and point the wayward, lost and hopeless to the road of a purposeful Christ-centered life. We connect with them for Lumina and other kids events.
Stepping Stone Missions runs a day program for kids at a community center they renovated. They provide education and a second chance for kids. They too have a heart to steer girls away from a life of prostitution and premature marraige.
PRR provides a hope and a future for at-risk children in Constanta, Romania. They raise the children at a boys and a girls homes. We spend time with the kids, have outings, make crafts and find many good excuses to have a party!
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