WHY? WHY NOT!

17757530_1390122194378332_97768515552979634_n Our ministry has existed for over twenty years to bring faith, hope and love to the forgotten ones in Romania. On April 1st we announced that we were beginning a “family home program” in Tanzania. It was not a joke or a prank. It was the gosh honest truth!

I am sure that people asked themselves “Why?”  Why would a ministry that has dedicated itself since 1996 to Romania all of a sudden go to Africa?  Specifically Tabora, Tanzania. Why not stay in Eastern Europe? Why not develop something nationally? If you are going to branch out there has to be someplace that would make a lot more sense. I must admit when Andy Baker (our Executive Director) told me that we may be venturing out to Tanzania those were my exact thoughts.

However I ask you now “Why not”? What makes more sense then to go to a nation where there are over two million orphans. Our calling has always been to reach out to the least of these. Andy was called twenty years ago to the plight of the orphans in Romania. We have partnered there and hopefully continue to make a difference in that country. Nothing has changed. However, when God speaks you know you must listen. Then you must do. The opportunity has been presented to us to again partner with Mircea Toca and work with a model that was successful in Romania. Take a community of ten family homes with a loving mother and father. Add ten orphaned children to that family and pour out God’s love into their lives. It is a proven model and makes a difference. Our goal is to establish those then homes in Tabora. Our first home is up and running. I invite you to partner with us. Become part of the “Why Not’s” and make a difference. Information about this is on our website  and I encourage you to visit and get more details.

His Story and My Story

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Several years ago my church did a study on “The Story”. This book takes the bible and places it in a historical/chronological order to tell God’s story. It takes the key points and characters and and outlines it from Creation to Revelation in a narrative form. What is God’s story? It is basically the plan he had to have a relationship with his creation. We were created to commune with God. He is our Lord and master but he wanted to be able to have a relationship with us and to dwell among us. That is amazing. That is how everything began and yet we managed to mess it up.

One of the things I learned was an interesting concept which is what this post is about. You see in the story there are two stories. The Upper Story and The Lower Story. The upper story is God’s story and plan. The lower story is our story. In the beginning these two stories would be one story running together in Eden. However, as I said we messed it up and the two stories diverged. However, they are still intertwined until the very end where they will join once again as one.

Let me give you an example of this through the life of Joseph. In his story, he is abused by his brothers, sold as a slave to gypsies traveling to Egypt, becomes a servant to Potiphar, falsely accused and thrown into jail, interprets dreams for the Pharaoh and becomes second in command and finally creates a conservation plan that saves both Egypt and Israel. Interesting story filled with ups and downs. I am sure many times Joseph was wondering what was going on and where his life was leading him. In God’s story, He has a plan. He is going to make Israel into a great nation. Israel would be his chosen people and a would redeem the world. They would be an example and the path to salvation. This is the overall Upper Story-God’s plan to bring us back to Him. The Israelites would need to survive a famine for this part of the story to continue. God put everything in motion through the Lower Story to keep things intact for the Upper Story. Do you see what he did there? The Upper story is written all the way through to the end. The Lower story interacts and intertwines with it to bring it to conclusion.

How does this relate to us? It is important to remember that every one of us has a story that is being written and that it relates to God’s story. We may feel lost, afraid, unwanted, unloved and not worthy. However, that is not true. God loves us and is using us to bring His story to fruition. This is something that I am trying to remember now on a daily basis. “How does my lower story relate to His Upper Story?” I may not understand it fully but as I meditate on it I can begin to bring my story more into line with His. Each day I need to pray that I am growing closer to what He wants with my life so that as I finish I can end being blessed and knowing that I have done what He wanted. That my story has contributed to His in the way He wanted.

Chuck Guth
Director of Operations and Sponsorship Engagement

But for the Grace of God

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I don’t know if you have ever questioned the blessings of your life or even found yourself echoing the words of the 16th century evangelist John Bradford when he said, “there but for the grace of God goes I.” In many of the situations I find myself witnessing, I do wonder at times about the life circumstances that caused people to find themselves in their difficult positions. It is heartbreaking at times to see the struggle of life, especially in the younger faces, but it causes me to consider ways our organization might be able to lift people up from their struggle to a helpful place of recovery.

Ionut found himself alone after his grandmother died.  He had been helping care for her, and in return she was providing a place for him to stay.  It was one small room but it gave him shelter. I am not sure how the story exactly shifted, but at the age of 20, his grandmother was dead and he was alone. Ionut is lonely and as anyone would do, he sought companionship. He found it in young Tabita who was only 15, and as their relationship grew she found herself pregnant and giving birth to Edward.

I had not seen Ionut for a long time when he asked me for a ride one afternoon. That is when he began to share with me his story.  He was on the way to the city hall to register Edward and he needed about $5 to process his birth certificate. I gladly gave it to him.  He then asked me for $25 to buy a small wood burning stove for his home because it had no heat.  I gladly helped him with that request, and made plans to go and visit in the coming days.

When I arrived for the visit two days later, I was shocked that his home was actually a converted wood shed. It was clean.  The small room was very warm from the heat of the newly purchased stove. The premature infant, Edward, needed medicine, and I then found out the family had no food. I immediately responded by providing food for the family and the money needed for the medicine.  Ionut had a job but he would not be paid for 30 days.  He was going to work and keeping his energy up by drinking coffee. I was amazed at his tenacity to work through this situation.

I just returned from visiting Ionut and his family again. The warmth of the wood shed and the presence of food had become an invitation for a rat invasion.  Not only that, as I stood there I could hear the mice in the walls.  I honestly don’t know how they sleep at night in those conditions. That led to his next request. He asked me for $1,000 to build a one room home from cement and brick to help keep the rodents out and to provide a warmer and less damp atmosphere for his family. I made the commitment to make that happen. He called a few days later.  The mayor gave him a small plot of land to build.  He needed $400 for the initial materials to begin.  He had found used bricks and wood to begin the construction. He is building it with the help of a friend.

A young man was alone, desiring nothing more than what we all desire.  He simply wanted to love and be loved.  His choices were not the best.  His life situation is not the best. But I do believe that our lives intersected that day in order that I might respond to his needs in a graceful way. I’ve prayed with the family. I’ve prayed and asked God’s blessing and protection over Little Edward. And I remind myself as I take this journey with them, “there but for the grace of God goes I”

Andy Baker
Executive Director

When are you coming back?

 

img_6888-copyThis past December, I was reminded of how a small investment can pay big dividends. No, I’m not talking about picking right stocks or starting a new business. On a December evening in a Roma village in western Romania, we met a girl who had just been a picture on our refrigerator.

Having experienced Roma village life in Romania for the past few years, we became convinced that sponsoring a child would be one small way we might make a difference. We observed over the years that when a church started in a village, there was a noticeable difference in the welfare of the community. Children seemed to benefit the most. Parents were more likely to encourage school attendance and participation. The overall community climate seemed more accepting and trusting. This could not have happened without a long-term faithful investment from our ministry partners in Romania and trusting relationships between Remember the Children and those partners. So, we decided to sponsor a child and were matched with nine-year-old Nadia (not her real name).

As we neared the village late that afternoon, we were anxious to know how she might respond. Did she understand that we were her sponsors? How would that first meeting go? Would we recognize her?

When we got out of the van into the gathering crowd of curious adults and excited children, we tried to find her in the chaos. One of our ministry partners helped us locate her. She was not hesitant at all. In fact, the entire time we were in the village, she stuck next to us, sometimes even holding our hands. The first thing Nadia wanted to do was to take us to her home and have us meet her mother. So, with our translator in tow, we walked down the muddy street to the home. It was a simple two-room structure, but clean and warm. Nadia’s mother was so excited that we came to visit their home.

After introductions, we went back into the street to the village chief’s home where those of us who sponsored children gave Christmas gifts to our children. Everything we gave was small in comparison to what a nine-year old in the US might receive. In fact, the practical nature of some of the gifts would probably not be welcome!

As soon as we could, Nadia wanted to go back to her home and show her gifts to her mother and brothers. Of all the things we enclosed in the gift box, they seemed most interested in our family picture and the letter I had written. Nadia immediately wanted it translated and listened intently as our translator read it to her. Such small things made an impression on her and us. When we went out for the larger distributions of Christmas boxes, Nadia stayed right with us the entire time, right up to the moment we had to get back on the van for our next stop. Her last words to us were, “when are you coming back?”

I am not telling this story because of anything great we did. In fact, it was a small investment. We did see the results of it, however. Nadia has school supplies and a backpack for school. She now has a warm coat. Our funds are being used to help make life a little better for Nadia and give a little hope that her future could be brighter.

Meeting Nadia and seeing how she is progressing was the highlight of our trip. She isn’t just a picture on the refrigerator now. She is a sweet little girl who has potential. Just a few dollars a month helped make that happen.  Remember the Children works directly with our local ministry partners to make sure the sponsored children get the resources they need and the connection to spiritual influence that makes the most difference.

 

Would you consider investing in someone like Nadia? Just a little investment pays big dividends.

 

Dr. Roger Clark is president of the board of Remember the Children. He and his wife, Wanda, have been to Romania with Remember the Children for the past nine years.

Being Relational


Working with sponsorship engagement I believe in relational ministry. I believe that all aspects of our program should be relational. First and foremost, our goal when establishing new sponsorship programs should be first reaching out to the children, then to their families and then to the communities. When we reach out to a child and meet their basic needs they find hope and purpose.

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   Secondly when working with our Partners it is our desire to come along side of them and encourage. As Paul, would put it “they do the planting and we do the watering”. We are not there to tell them how to do the job but rather to work as partners ensuring that the Great Commission will be fulfilled.

    Finally, with our sponsors we want to make sure that they are valued, they understand where their dollars are going and that those funds are being used for Kingdom work. The best part of my job is being able to connect sponsors to their children through letters, gifts are just a simple photograph.

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    Overall it is a great moment all the way around when I see that our pastors “really get it”. This fall and summer our partner in Santandrei, Danny, made sure that the children in both villages had school supplies and warm winter coats. He put the sponsorship dollars to good use.  

Another great idea was created by our partner, David, in Ciumeghiu. To encourage participation in the after school program he offered a reward system for attendance, memorizing and being engaged. The children received a type of currency and then were able to go shopping. Instead of buying toys or candy they actually choose to get things lasting such as coats and shoes. 

Both of these partners took their own time
to reach out and be relational to the children.
It is an investment that pays dividends!

Chuck Guth
Director of Operations & Sponsorship Engagement 

Forever Bonded

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Madelina
National Day 2015

During a community outreach event the team was passing out bread and tea and dancing in the streets. There were two girls that approached me and began dancing with me. We spent the afternoon laughing, dancing, and taking pictures. After we returned from our trip we had a final debrief at Fork. We were told that some of the kids we had met were now available for sponsorship. As I flipped through the pictures I searched for a familiar face, and there she was. With those beautiful bright eyes. But something was different about those eyes since I had seen them last. They were sad and as I looked closer I noticed a black eye. Without a shadow of a doubt I knew I needed to sponsor her.

Fast forward to National Day 2016

I was filled with excitement to see my girl again. As we sat and talked with David he updated us on Madelina. He communicated that she was no longer consistently participating in the church or after school program. He had said he had seen her at the bar and had heard she was going to school in Oradea due to court order. Needless to say, it seemed she had a lot going on. I prayed I would get to see her and at least give her a hug. With 600 hotdogs, rolls, a bag full of cabbage, and some condiments we set off to the gypsy village with David, Geta and their team. As we walked closer children began to run toward us. All of sudden I saw her. I recognized those eyes. I touched her arm as she walked by. As she turned my eyes lit up and I exclaimed “hi!!”. She looked back and smiled. She grabbed my hand and we continued to walk to where we were setting up the hot dog feast. She asked if I remembered her and her friend Andria. I told her I did. Following the feast she came running back up to me hand in hand with Andria. Pointing to her and to me as if she was saying see her remember her? Again I said I did. Before it was time to leave I had Timotoi, a man from David’s church help me to invite them to the church on Sunday, as they were having a church service and we would be there. The girls nodded in agreement.

Well the day for the service came and I walked into the church anticipating seeing her face. There were children sitting in chairs on the stage. I scanned the room for those gorgeous bright eyes. But they were not there. She will come I told myself, they said they would, they will be here. But a little shadow of doubt sunk in as I remembered what David had disclosed. Maybe she went to the bar instead, maybe she wasn’t even in town, maybe she forgot as it had been a few days. So the team got settled into their seats and the service began. The worship team opened with some songs and the children sang along. Then Geta, Davids wife looked at me from the stage as she sang and motioned toward the back of the church. I turned around and there she was! There was my girl and she was looking for me, as I could see David pointing me out to her. She swiftly walked past everyone and down the aisle to where I was sitting. She practically fell into my lap as we hugged. “She came!” Said one of my team mates. And I was so overwhelmed with joy, tears poured down my face. She looked up at me confused and I did my best to smile and try to explain I was just so happy she came. She continued to hold me and rub my back to console me. Through the entire concert she held my hand or had her arm around me. We smiled back at each other and though there may have been a language barrier, there was no denying the bond we felt in that moment. Andria walked in a bit later. She smiled and waved from her seat.

The concert ended and the church enjoyed a pizza party. Following the party, we hugged and rejoiced. I had the opportunity to give them both a small present. Included in that was a personalized letter full of encouragement, love, and compassion for them. As David translated the letters the girls eyes met mine. They smiled and I could tell these words spoke to their hearts.

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It is hard to put into words the emotions we were all feeling in that moment. What I do know is the Spirit was present and we will forever be bonded.

Written by Megan Flynn

10 Things We are Thankful For

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Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope that your day is filled with family memories, laughter, good food, and moments to reflect on all the blessings in your life! This is a great season of ministry at Remember the Children. Today I want to take a moment and share our list of 10 Things We Thankful For!

  1. We are thankful for the House of Hope and the loving family environment they provide for the children!
  2. We are thankful for the interest generated at ICOM (International Conference on Missions) this last weekend for GlobalGen. 17 college students signed up to join us for an internship!
  3. We are thankful for 42 people going to serve with us this December!
  4. We are thankful for 200+ child sponsors! You all are making a huge difference!!
  5. We are thankful for the gifts and letters we are able to take to the children from their sponsors. Thank you for investing in their lives in such a powerful way!
  6. We are thankful for our Strategic Partners working on the front lines in Romania and loving their communities. God is moving!
  7. We are thankful for our staff here at Remember the Children and the ability to add to it this year. It is a blessing to be in a season of growth!
  8. We are thankful for the lives being changed in Romania. We are seeing stories of redemption and healing sweep across the country.
  9. We are thankful for the last 20 years of ministry!
  10. We are thankful for YOU! Thank you for joining us and partnering with us to love the people of Romania. It really would not be the same without you apart of our team!

Take some time to share what you are thankful for with the people around you today. Feel free to share it with us as well on social media and use the hashtag: #rtcWeekofThanks 🙂

Thank you for your partnership and prayers.

Written By: Grace Hansen, Director of Communications 

Mobilized to LOVE

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The time has finally come! We are here. The booth is beginning to take shape, as we prepare our hearts and minds for the 2016 International Conference on Mission (ICOM)! Year after year, thousands of people gather to learn, grow, inspire, and motivate each other to love our world more deeply. I always get emotional when I first walk through the doors of ICOM and see hundreds of booths that represent thousands of people…from different cultures, languages, and backgrounds…all choosing to LOVE their world.

They. Choose. To. Love.

I am always encouraged and inspired, as I stroll through the exhibit hall and see how people use their skills and passions to bring food, clothes, water, education, and freedom to the poor and oppressed around the world. I am always reminded that no matter how hard life gets or how overwhelming the pain and heartache around the world can feel, our God is MOVING. He cares about each tear that is shed. He hears the cries of the lonely. He has not forgotten us. ICOM shows me that God is mobilizing His people to love this world in mighty ways and I am beyond blessed to see Remember the Children fit into that plan. We are able to see people experience the hope and love of God as He breathes life into their homes and communities. We get to watch people like you choose to love children who are often forgotten and abandoned.

Today. May you rest in the knowledge that God does not forget your pain, but He listens to you and is FOR you. Know that He is moving in this world to bring new hope and life. And may you feel empowered to love those in your life…be the hope they need today!

Written By: Grace Hansen, Director of Communications

Open to Respond

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When I was offered the opportunity to travel to Romania in the mid-1990’s to participate in a short term mission trip, I never imagined that experience would have such a profound impact on my life. Honestly, my desire during that time was to visit a post-communist country and to experience life in its culture of recovery.  I did not go with an open mind and a heart of compassion anticipating that something unimaginable would happen.

But as I walked into that experience, my life would be transformed forever as I witnessed children in living conditions that were entirely unacceptable. In my life I had seen poverty but now I was coming face to face with a level of suffering that I never imagined I would ever be exposed.

The words of Jesus echoed in my mind after one particular encounter as recorded in John 14:18; “I will not leave you as orphans.”  I remember vividly the day I held a boy who was dying, and it was paralyzing to know that there was nothing I could do. The worker even screamed at me to put him down because “I was giving him hope.” But in those few moments in time that my eyes locked with his; it was if he was asking me, “where have you been?” I put him down and I walked out of the room and outside of the building.  The smell and the scene were so horrible that a friend who was with me walked out and immediately vomited.

I realize now that the time for me was a moment to respond. It was time for me to say that I want my life to count for the sake of these children. Children are to be loved, nurtured, and raised to know that they are valued.  To witness children being brought into this world without any care for their development, much less any care that they are valued children of God was difficult for me to see.

This Sunday is “Orphan Sunday.” Over the last twenty years, I have had the privilege of helping countless orphans through the ministry of Remember the Children. In 2004 my wife and I responded with an even greater commitment by adopting our two girls out of a remote orphanage in Siberia, Russia. All of this life change came to me simply because I was open to going and serving.

Is your heart open to responding to God’s call to care for those the world tends to forget?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (James 1:27)

As we approach orphan Sunday maybe you could sponsor a child to give him/her an opportunity for a better life.  Maybe God is calling you to open your home to increase your family by taking in an orphan that needs the opportunity for a family with a mom and dad. James not only challenges us in 1:27 to care for those the world tends to forget, he even goes so far to state that our faith/religion is pure and faultless when we see others as God sees them. I invite you to invest in the life of a child that needs you. I promise, your life will never be the same… and quite honestly, neither will the child’s. The invitation is there, “change your world… one child at a time!”

Written by: Andy Baker, Executive Director

Something Greater

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There are times in our lives, when confronted with particularly emotional events, we tend to respond in ways that might not be typical.  I know on my first visit to Romania twenty years ago, I was confronted with children in situations that were deplorable.  My response was deep sorrow and tears of grief because there was nothing more in that moment I could offer. But it also stirred something within me. I had this need to respond. We do have choices in our responses in this life. We can choose to ignore and repress those things that challenge us, or we can choose to dive in over our heads simply trusting God for something greater. That is how I have felt most of the time in regards to the ministry of Remember the Children.  At times I feel like I am in over my head, but I know deep down that by trusting God, He will provide a way where I might see the situation as impossible.

I still find myself at times standing in the midst of something that challenges my emotions deeply. Last year as we were delivering the Boxes of Hope to a certain place, (I choose not to disclose the location), I was dumbfounded as the entire staff of this institution appeared to be inebriated. The people who had been entrusted to provide care for the children were quite honestly incapable of doing so, and not only that, the director of this place stood before us and addressed the young people with some of the most devaluing speech I have ever heard. As he got to the end of his presentation, I found the words to switch things up, and as I spoke I used the Christmas story, the coming of Christ to this world, to express to these children that they were loved and valued.

It is into this world that I continue to go and continue to the best of my abilities to bring a message of hope through our actions of love to a world that desperately needs to hear it. It is into this world that we have helped birth House of Hope, planted churches, and instilled into the lives of local leaders a message of hope that we challenge them regularly to share with the people to which God has entrusted them.

My friend Serena shares the same passion with me. I have grown to admire this young lady for her zeal to not only serve God with her life to the deepest depths of her ability, but to use her youthful years to continue to be trained, and to use her talents to continue to share a message of hope. Honestly, I see her as one who has given her life to share with the children of Romania that they are valued, that there is something more, that their lives can have meaning and purpose through an encounter with Jesus.

I have had the privilege of helping Serena use her voice to accomplish something greater for these children in Romania.  She said to me a little over two years ago:

“Andy, I don’t have much money, but I have a voice.”

This has led to the production of the musical EP’s, Giant Heart and Riptide. The songs all come from Serena’s heart and she sings with great passion and emotion.

We just finished up a two week tour of eleven states in fourteen days.  We did our best.  We told the story and we invited people to respond. They did generously. But there is still more work to do. I invite you to join Serena and me on this journey. You can make a difference as well.

Is God calling you to something greater?

Is there a simple talent you have that might be used to expand the Kingdom of God to this hurting world? Let your life be a light. May we model the reply of Isaiah in chapter six, verse eight, when he responds, “here I am, send me.”

Copies of Giant Heart and Riptide are available through our office. $11 for one or $19 for two, shipping included. 

Written by: Andy Baker, Executive Director