|February 2004 Newsletter|
Often times we forget just how large the family of God truly is. The servants of God are everywhere, on every rung of the social ladder, and in special circumstances God seems to bring them together, allowing them to help each other in difficult situations.
Such was the case when we went to purchase the necessary items for the food packages we had planned on making last month. We had called 5 of the food warehouses in our area, asking them to deliver the food to the orphanage, and all were willing until they heard what date we needed the items on.
"By December 23rd," one of them said, "you'd have a better chance of becoming president. There is no way anyone will do this for you."
Although discouraged by his reply, I did not grow disheartened. I knew there were 160 families waiting to be blessed with food, and in my heart I did not doubt that God would find a way to bring this miracle about. Running down the list of wholesale distributors, I called a place we had never done business with before. The man who answered the telephone had a familiar voice; I recognized it, but couldn't recall where I had heard it. Before I could ask his name, he said, "Is this Sergio?"
"Yes it is," I answered; amazed that he recognized me as well.
"Virginia's son, the ones from hand of help?"
"One and the same," I said.
"I just started coming to your church, what can I do for you?" I told him what we needed, and by when, and he promised he would do his best to help. His best turned out to be better than any of us could have hoped for. Within two hours of my telephone call two trucks delivered all the items we had requested, at a substantial discount, and with a group of the older children from the orphanage, we put all the packages together in less than an hour.
On the morning of December 24, we distributed the food packages to some of the poorest families in our area. Our labors were not in vain. In fact seeing the reaction on the faces of these families made us wish we had had more to give. "If you would not have come this day," a mother with 7 children said, "my children and I would have had nothing to eat. May the God of heaven hear my voice when I say, may you be blessed for your kindness."
This is the work to which we were called, a noble work and one that bears much fruit. It is also a work that we could not do without your prayers and support. All I can do is echo that mother's sentiment, and say may you be blessed for your kindness, and may what you have sown into this work be multiplied.
What We Face
The grace and goodness of God has carried us through yet another year. As we look back on what was 2003, we are in awe of God's faithfulness toward this ministry. It isn't easy caring for such a large number of children, and if not for the promise of God, that He will be a father to the orphan, we would not have made it thus far. What continues to drive us is the knowledge that we are doing what God has instructed us to do, and each day His mercy is evident. It is a wonderful thing that you, as well as us are at God's disposal, ready and willing to take up the charge whenever He requires us to do so. All the hardships, the trials, and changes we were confronted with during 2003 would have been insurmountable if not for God's constant attention, and blessing.
The instability of the dollar, and its weakness toward the new European currency was just one of the hurdles we had to overcome during this past year. Although a dollar is worth less than it was a year ago, prices continue to grow at an accelerated rate. What that translates to for us, in real terms, is the price of keeping the orphanage open, and the children fed and clothed has also grown. As you know during this past year, we were forced to sell both of the Hand of Help vehicles, so we could get past the moments of crisis, and even in this God showed his goodness, because we sold the cars for far more than they were worth.
Now with a New Year well on its way, we face new challenges, and we need your prayers and support in order to sustain the 115 children currently in the orphanage, plus the other 11 we are sponsoring in home. Although these 11 children are living with their families they continue to need financial help in order to survive. Currently the cost of keeping a child in the orphanage exceeds $200 per month.
Another situation that weighs heavy on our hearts, are the 20 children that must soon go on, to the next level of their development. These are children that are passed the age of 18, and by law we are required to expel them from the orphanage, or move them to another facility. For many of them being out on their own, seeing life beyond the orphanage gates is a frightening prospect. The lack of job opportunity in Romania also ads to their fear and uncertainty about the future. We have studied all the possibilities, trying to find a way to help get them on their feet, and we have come up with one option that will help them acclimate to the outside world.
We want to buy two apartments, one for the boys, and one for the girls, and in this way, under our supervision, they will be able to integrate themselves into society, learning to be on their own. This will also free up some room for the young children that the mayor's office continues to bring to our doorstep.
It is painful to watch some of these children be confronted with the reality that soon they will have to leave the orphanage, and be on their own. Often I have cried with them, seeing the fear on their faces as hey face the unknowns of life. One day, Marius Podiuc who is 19 years old, and still in school approached me and asked if we could talk. I could see something was troubling him, and before he could start talking he started to cry.
"When I got here," he began, "I felt a peace that I had never felt before. I was 2 days old when my parents abandoned me, and I never knew what love was until I came here. I have no one, and I know the day is coming when I will have to leave this place, and I don't know what I will do."
His pain was so overwhelming that I started crying with him. All of the children that have come of age share this same sentiment. After being cared for, and nurtured, some for seven or eight years, not having that security is difficult.
"I wish I was little again," Geta Adrusca said to me one day, "it's allot easier when you're little." Yes, our children are growing up, and I feel we must do all we can to make sure that they will be the best young men and young women they possibly can.
Although our finances currently do not permit us to buy these two apartments, we know we serve a great God, who can do great things through His obedient children. I ask that you keep this project in your prayers, that God will find a way to bring this dream to fruition. May He who watches over all things, show His mercy once again.
God Prepared Messengers
It had not stopped snowing in three days. We had received some gifts for a few families in the village of Girdesti, but as we watched the snowfall outside, we knew there was no way we could make the trip. The lack of a dependable car, especially in the winter, makes our work that much harder. Knowing the families, knowing the situation they were in, we realized we could not delay our trip. Although some of the families come to the orphanage to pick up their monthly support, those living in Girdesti were too far away to consider such a trip. Having no other options, we began to pray to God for a miracle.
That same day our miracle arrived in the form of a brother who was driving through, and who lived only five kilometers away from Girdesti village. When we asked if he would be willing to deliver some gifts and packages on our behalf, he smiled a broad smile and said, "I knew God sent me this way for a reason, for the past four hours my heart's been telling me to stop by Hand of Help, and now I know why."
Because this brother was obedient to the voice of God, the Dragomir Benoni family, the Boicu family, Natalia Roman, Nelu and Viorel were able to receive their blessing in due time. The need in Girdesti is still great, the Netbai family, a family of 11 children being one of the most desperate, having no income, yet trusting in God and His mercy. We will continue to visit this village, and be a present help in their time of need, please keep them in your prayers.
Hand of Help Staff
A Cry for Help
I was in the market one day when I heard the voice of a desperate man behind me. "Help me, in the name of God help me my children are freezing to death. You don't know me, but God does, and He knows that I am at the end of my rope, there is nothing more I can do, there is no one else I can turn to."
I asked him to come with me, and we went to the Hand of Help office where I heard the rest of his painful story.
"My name is Pipistica Constantin, I have nine children, and I have no place of employment. I tried to get by, but it was all in vain. I have no land, I have no cow, and I have no income. I was on my way to your orphanage when I saw you through the window. You are my last hope, I've prayed about coming to you for many days, may it be as the Father wills it to be."
We gave Constantin money for firewood, as well as food for him and his family. As far as the cow and the land are concerned, we pray that God works and answers his prayers. With only 10 million lei ($300) he can buy a hectare of land, and with $500 he can buy a cow. It would be the blessing of a lifetime for this family, but all we can do is pray that the One, who knows their needs, will work accordingly.
My name is Liliana Vatavu, and I am fifteen years old. I know some may not understand me, but this is the first time in my life that I am truly happy. The reason for my happiness isn't only that God prepared everything I need here at Hand of Help, or that I am surrounded by people who love me. Most importantly I am happy because here, I was able to find out about my savior Jesus Christ, and I have chosen to serve Him.
I have only been at Hand of Help a short time, but in just one month, all the pain and resentment I felt toward my mother for throwing me and my little brother out on the street, has turned into joy. I have forgiven my mother for what she did, God helped me do that, but now I pray that He make me forget also. I thank God for this new chance He has given me, and I thank those of you who care for us so much. Now that I have learned to pray, I will pray for you, and although I don't know you I love you dearly.
The Miracle Goat
For some men it doesn't take much to come to the realization that God exists and that He loves them. The smallest of things, can be seen as a sign, and lead to a true and undeniable change for the better. Such was the case with the Turcan Vasile family. While passing out the goats we had purchased a few months ago, we also gave one to them, even though the entire village disapproved because Vasile was an alcoholic.
In hindsight we can see it was God who compelled us to give this family a goat, because through this act of kindness, God changed the hearts of this entire family. Vasile Turcan was so overwhelmed by the fact that strangers would give his family such a blessing while asking nothing in return, that he vowed to never again touch alcohol. The villagers ignored his promises, at first, until one Sunday morning they saw Vasile and his entire family dressed in their Sunday best, and sitting in one of the church pews. It has been three months since then, and brother Toni tells us, that the entire family has not missed one church service. Vasile stopped drinking, and committed his life to God. He has also opened up his home, so the brothers would have a place to hold Wednesday night prayer services.
"God did a miracle" brother Toni said, "He used a goat to bring 15 members of the Turcan family unto salvation. Nothing is impossible to our God, and He knows how to work, but most importantly when, praised be His name."
One small act of kindness produced more fruit than any sermon would have, because sometimes people just need to see the love of God in action not only in words.
Hand of Help Staff
Thank you for keeping this work on your hearts, and in your prayers. With your continued support we are able to keep the 115 children currently in the Hand of Help orphanage clothed and nourished. It is a daily struggle keeping it afloat, but knowing that your prayers are with us gives us a new unction, and zeal to press on. Whether a little or allot, your help is greatly appreciated. May the God, who watches over us all, reward you for your sacrificial giving.
God Remembered Me
When we called Stella Antimii and told her we had received the money for her eye surgery, she just started to cry. "God remembered me!" she said, "God remembered me!"
With the excitement still audible in her voice she called back thirty minutes later to inform us that she had an appointment for the 27th of January, in Bucharest, for the operation. "Sometimes you hear stories of how God answered people's prayers, and how He did a miracle, and now I can be one of those people too! You will never know what this means, but when we meet in heaven, be expecting a big hug from me. Thank you for making this possible."
Donisan Petru had a similar reaction when he came to the orphanage to collect the finances for his appendage. "You've changed my life, that's all I can say, you've changed my life."
For every family we feed, for every child we clothe, for every prayer that is answered through this ministry, you who keep this work will receive your just reward.
Hand of Help Staff
Now I Can Die in Peace
When Andrea Dumitras's father saw their new home, all the pain and trials, the burden of not being able to provide for his family, seemed to lift from his shoulders. Tears began to flow down his haggard face, and looking into our eyes with overwhelming emotion, said, "Now that I have seen my family back together again, now that we no longer live in a stairwell but in a real home, I can die in peace."
I explained to him, that the reason we made an effort to help him, was so that he could be with his family, and enjoy his time with them, however long God had determined that to be. The diagnosis the doctors gave him, that of cirrhosis of the liver, is not an easy one to cope with, especially when they would not give him any sort of timetable. Thanks to the love of the Hand of Help family however, this family now has a place to live.
Andreia is currently living with her family, and her monthly sponsorship is given to her to be able to buy food for her parents and siblings We will continue to visit this family each month, and help them as necessary. Thank you for the love you show daily toward those who are in need.
Another year has come and gone, and as time continues to march on, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on this past year, and share with you what God has helped us to accomplish. In some men's eyes, last year was nothing to get excited about as a ministry. We purchased no corporate jet; the ministry coffers were not filled to overflowing, and we didn't get a chance to purchase a new office building. If these would have been our goals as a ministry, then indeed I would have nothing to report to you.
However, our goals remain as simple and straightforward as ever, namely to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, and to be a present help to those who are crying out to God each day. In this area, God has truly exceeded our expectations, and we were able to help more people then ever before. More homes were built for the homeless, more hungry families were given food, and more children than ever before are being sheltered and nurtured at the Hand of Help orphanage.
Our vision has never been as that of some ministries in this country. Due to the great dismay of some of our close friends we have no coffers to speak of, because with all due honesty I do not believe anyone with a heartbeat can stockpile money away while others are starving. Everything that comes in, is distributed just as quickly, and with faith in God, we go on, knowing that He is our provider, and He will multiply.
I am not a numbers man, so I will not attempt to show you graphs and charts, I will not bore you with numbers and statistics, but if you require a financial statement, please ask and one will be provided for you.
The year 2003 was a busy year for us. Myself and my constant companion Geno drove in excess of sixty thousand miles, through various types of weather, just to share the burden on our hearts with all that would hear. This mileage did not include the flights, and rental cars, but just what we put on the ministry vehicle here in the States. God is opening doors, and opening hearts, and as long as He is faithful in doing these things, we will be faithful in fulfilling our duty toward Him.
This past year I was also able to meet with representatives of some larger ministries, who offered a wide variety of advice as to how we can grow Hand of Help. One encouraged us to hire a professional to write our newsletters, to make them more emotional, another said we should include two pennies in one of our mailings, or two grains of rice, as well as a wide variety of gimmicks to make people open up their purse strings.
When I tried explaining that we are not that kind of ministry, the reply I got most often, was that this was the only way a ministry can survive. I'll be honest with you some of the things I heard ranged from disheartening to downright disturbing.
So here is my pledge to you. Every article that is in our newsletter is and will always be written by the person whose name is at the bottom. Yes, some of the content is emotional, but not because we make it so. My desire is that you sow in this ministry not because you were compelled by emotion, but rather, because God compelled you. Whether you give less, or more than you would have due to emotion, what matters is that God is speaking and urging you to give.
As far as using gimmicks, I wish there was a nicer way to say this, but that's what con men do. If I cannot be in ministry without resorting to gimmicks and underhanded practices, then perhaps its time to take a crash course in flipping burgers. We will never resort to such things, because such things are beneath any work of God.
God has been good, and has provided us with a core group of selfless individuals that sacrifice of themselves on a daily basis to see this work go on. No one involved in this ministry is in it for profit, some are not even in it by choice, but simply because they were called, and they obeyed the voice of God. Our highest paid employee earns $2000 per month, and no its neither I nor any member of my family. To the last, everyone sacrificed during our times of trial, not taking pay for as much as eight months, so that we could keep the children fed. I am ever thankful to God for bringing such individuals into this ministry, and seeing the fruit of their labor and devotion, whenever I go back to Romania.
Just three weeks ago I was sitting in the back pew of our church in Botosani, watching the children rehearse a play when everything that God has helped us accomplish over the past twenty years came into focus. I watched as children whom I had held in my arms a few years prior, so sickly and malnourished that their survival was uncertain, quoted scripture, sang songs, laughed and smiled like any normal child would. I felt the tears stream down my face, and all I could do was say thank you God.
It's not always easy to walk a higher path as a ministry, but it's the only way that a ministry can have the blessing of God. Those of you that have been to Romania this past year have seen the need firsthand. You know that each day is a struggle, you see the poor multiplying with each passing moment. All we can do is what God allows us to do, and although our monthly budget is what some ministries spend on stationary, we can say that great things have been accomplished with what He has provided.
I am grateful to God that He has laid the burden of this ministry on your heart as well. Just as every member and organ of a body has its specific purpose, so do all of us in this work, with God as our head. Thank you for your obedience, your prayers, your sacrifice, and your selfless giving. A wise man once said that love is the measure of all things, and through your actions you show your love for the work of God, and His children. With each passing day you help save more lives than you will ever know, and your reward is waiting for all you do for His name's sake.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.