Sometimes We Just Need a Chance…

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Darius

Life. is. difficult.

I hear that a lot, especially from people I have had the opportunity to assist in recent years. I am sure every generation has had what seemed like insurmountable difficulties, but as I enter my sixth decade of life, I do believe this is the toughest era of my own lifetime.  From a very early age, I can remember the presence of encouraging people in my life. My parents, my teachers, my pastors, and other significant adults invested in me, and I benefited from a depth of social and spiritual capital that helped me develop into the person I am today.

I know the same opportunities are present today, but they come with a greater risk. Can we trust every adult that our child may encounter in his/her everyday life? We do question, we do protect, and we do fear a lot in today’s world. The moral foundation of our own culture is waning, and at times we wonder if things will ever get better.  We even see our own political system drowning in distrust, and we have a lot of apathy and reasonable concern for our upcoming national elections.

It is easy to get frustrated and to just give up, but we have a generation coming behind us that needs us to INVEST in their lives.

We can be people of change who begin to help build great character into the lives of the young people who are growing each and every day right before our eyes.

I see it in the local church today. The church seems to have become consumer driven, and the focus of loving and serving others in Jesus’ name is being lost. The trend has shifted more towards, “what can I get,” rather than “what can I do.” We need to be a people of action and we need to build into the lives of young people that are growing up lost because no one is helping them find the direction for their lives.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:10, that “…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.” Darius is pictured above.  His life is tough, and from what I can see, he just needs someone to be patient with him, and to love him. He is attending our after school program in Ciumeghiu, and I was thrilled to see him happy at having the opportunity to learn to write. His parents are indifferent towards him.  He lives a difficult life, but is finding community through the church, and is finding a deep fulfillment by having a place to come where there are people that truly care about him.

Darius is available for sponsorship.

So are many other village children and orphans through the ministry of Remember the Children and our Strategic Servant Partners. Would you be willing “to do good” in the life of a child? Would you be willing to be the emotional and spiritual mentor to a child who needs someone to love and invest in his/her life?

Darius and many others are waiting for you today to “do good” and give them an opportunity for a better life.

Andy Baker
Executive Director of Remember the Children

The Ministry of Presence

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I had lunch with a good friend today.  The conversation shifted briefly to the idea of whether or not “mission trips” were worth it when weighing out the costs of such an endeavor. We both agreed that they were a valuable tool, and we circled back around to two ideas that seemed to resonate with us. The power of developing relationships seemed to be our common theme, but we were also struck by how deep our presence in other cultures builds into the self-esteem and encouragement of those partnership ministries with whom we serve.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an old saying, but sometimes we capture a picture of a pivotal moment in the life of a friend that speaks volumes in regards to our presence. The picture featured above is one of those moments.  It is a very private time, one where we see a friend approaching the end of life who desires nothing more than to have us pray with him as he reflects on his own life and his sorrow filled situation.  Many times such prayers with our friends bring tears, but they are not tears of sorrow.

They are tears of hope as we have entered into another’s suffering, and we have allowed God to be our mutual source of encouragement in the deepest time of trial.

There are many ways this plays out each and every day of our lives.  Are we practicing the ministry of presence?  Are we being Christ, his virtual presence, to a hopeless suffering world?  I flipped through various photos today.  I saw images of feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, visiting the elderly, providing needed care for the orphans, serving in work projects that would bring a better life to those in need, and the list could go on and on. I do ask myself at times if it is worth it to spend the amount of time and effort we do as a ministry. My answer is, YES!

Look at the picture above. Don’t focus so much on the situation the man is in, but focus on the moment, as in this moment someone has taken the time to pray with him and encourage him.

The ministry of presence is powerful.

It matters.

Yesterday I received a text from Romania.  The message was simple, but it let me know that my presence and the ministry of Remember the Children is valued.

It simply said, “we are waiting with gratitude and thanksgiving for you to come again.”

Andy Baker
Executive Director

First Impressions

Nelu Santandrei[1] copy

First impressions can be interesting. 

In the work that we do, we have the privilege of meeting a lot of people. People we meet often look at us with suspicion, wondering what “our angle” is.  I think a lot of the distrust in the Romanian people is a response to being a post-Communist society, but it doesn’t take long to win people over when we are gracious, loving, and treat them as respected peers.

I remember the first time I met Nelu in Santandrei. He shook my hand, but I didn’t get much more than a “hello” from him.  He came to greet our team as we were doing a food delivery for the community, and he was always there as the leader to help keep order.  I like Nelu.  He has a presence about him and he seems to be respected in his community.

My first encounter in trying to develop a relationship with him was a water purification experiment with a device given to me by Tina Spencer via her daughter Katrina, who was serving the summer with us.  We used the device as recommended and it showed that the water being boiled had been purified.  Nelu then made some coffee, smiled at me, and said, “you first.” Talk about a moment of faith. After silently saying a quick prayer, both Katrina and I lifted our cups, drank the coffee, and survived.

Every family received a device that day with a smile on their faces.

Our partner, Danny, has been having a weekly discipleship time with Nelu. We are confident that if we reach him with the Good News, the community won’t be far behind!

Recently, the mayor has donated us land to build a church!  God has been providing funds for the construction of the church through the faithfulness of His people. We are receiving donations to build the facility,the greatest donation being over $40,000 from Fork Christian Church in Kingsville, MD.

God is GOOD. God is FAITHFUL.

Change is happening right before our eyes. On my last two visits, Nelu greeted me personally, and invited me into his home both times for coffee.  We have gone from a handshake to a warm embrace each time we meet. First impressions… they are interesting!  I had my doubts.  Nelu had his. But you know, God softened both of our hearts, and now we see each other as friends… and I hope someday soon we’ll be brothers… brothers in Christ.

Written by: Andy Baker, Executive Director
www.remember-the-children.org 

Our Presence Matters

 

Every time I step into an orphanage, I try to imagine what is going on in the minds of some of the children we visit. The uncertainty that expresses itself through their faces makes me ever so cautious, but giving them a simple greeting of “hello” seems to begin to break down the presumed barriers. Behind those faces of uncertainty are usually deeper stories.  Stories that when told can leave you paralyzed in a wave of emotion. Sometimes the emotion is sadness, sometimes it is anger, and sometimes it is a moment of just trying to comprehend the evil of this world and how it plagues the lives of so many children.

Over the years we have had the privilege to visit a safe place in Romania that handles children in crisis. (I choose to keep the name and location anonymous for our integrity and the protection of those we serve.) One story continually haunts me.

This story unfolds with a typical visit, and the chance meeting of a young fifteen year old girl with a beautiful smile. I was immediately drawn to her, and I went over and introduced myself. She was rather shy but eventually warmed up to me.  She told me that she knew me and had met me in her village at one time at one of our Christmas programs.  We see so many kids that it is difficult to remember them all, but I smiled because I did remember her village and I could tell her that I remembered being there.

As I was leaving, her background was shared with me.  I found out that she had been “taken” to Germany and forced to work as a prostitute.  When she became pregnant, her “pimp” drove her to the Romanian border, put her out of the car, and abandoned her there.  From there she had been taken to the safe place and was awaiting a new home, which eventually ended up being an orphanage in a remote location. After hearing her story, my heart broke.  I approached her, offered her a hug, and asked her if there was anything I could bring her. She smiled, and looked at me and said, “I turn sixteen in June, will you bring me a birthday cake?” Even as evil seeks to destroy the young lives, I am always amazed how in safety the innocence of a child finds its way to the surface.

Natalie Barentson is leading our GlobalGen group this summer. Once again we will be hosting twelve exceptional university students for an intensive summer program.  This will be Nat’s second time with us, and I asked her to share her greatest memory.

“During my last trip to Romania, I went to a safe place for children in crisis.  Kids stay there for about 6 months as they wait to be placed in an orphanage or another safe home.Therefore, they are kids who just entered the system off the streets.  Here, I saw kids who were hurt and afraid, and you could see it on their faces.  I thought (and cried), “Kids shouldn’t have to go through this.”  This urged me to not only sponsor one of the girls from House of Hope, but also seek a career that works to change the lives of kids who are hurting and afraid.  I just graduated college last month with a Non-profit Management degree and I’m excited to use it to make sure kids and women have better lives!  The visit to this safe place was definitely a pivotal moment in my life.” (Edited)
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Nat with a village girl[2]

Our presence matters in these dark places. For not only are we expressing God’s love to the hurting children we have the privilege to serve.  We are also playing a role in transforming the lives of young people where they are challenged to make their world a better place.

Author: Andy Baker, Executive Director of Remember the Children