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