|August/September 2007 Newsletter|
Whether great or small, a blessing is something to rejoice in. This past month God has allowed us to be a blessing to many families who would have otherwise been left in situations the saw no way out of.
After much prayer and supplication, God saw fit to answer the prayers of the Ungureanu Petru family, in the village of Cristinesti in a miraculous way. Although we had managed to gather the necessary funds to buy a home for them, the enemy fought the purchase, throwing up obstacles, from the sellers changing their minds concerning the sale of the home in question, to the electric company placing a lean on the home for unpaid bills. The roadblocks were many, but with prayer and persistence, each obstacle was removed, until finally we were able to sign the papers, pay for the house, and now the Ungureanu family has a roof over their heads.
The home has now become an altar of prayer, where the entire family gathers nightly to bring their offering of thanks to God for all those who felt compelled to help, and who made their dream a reality. As brother Petru so aptly put it, "for anyone who doubts the fact that we serve a God who can do the impossible, I offer my family and our current situation as absolute proof that indeed He is able to do all things."
Until just a few days ago, the Dadaci Venus family in the village of Stefanesti lived in a hut. The recent rains and devastating winds had destroyed what little shelter they had, and the hut was nothing more than crumbling clay and weathered straw. Our omniscient Father saw their predicament, and also provided the means by which the Dadaci family would have shelter, and a home to call their own. Today, August 23, with the help of our eternal Father, we purchased not only a home, but also a piece of land which the Dadaci family and their eight children can live in and farm.
When we handed her the keys to her family's new home, sister Venus began to weep and said, "Today God has brought a little piece of heaven down to earth, and has shown my family that our trust in Him is not misplaced."
Besides the two homes we purchased this month, and the third we are currently building, we were also able to be an answer to many varied and heartfelt prayers. From digging wells for families without water to buying cows for others who needed milk for their children, to delivering food packages to those who were hungry, and providing shelter for families whose homes were swept away in floods, it has been a busy summer. Each morning a new challenge awaits, a new need is met, and we thank you for standing with us, and having a heart for the needy. All that is accomplished on a daily basis would not be so, if not for your prayers and support of this work.
Hand of Help Staff
A Taste of America
While visiting the Hand of Help orphanage a team from Michigan decided they wanted to do something special for the children, and decided to have an authentic America cookout. The news spread quickly throughout the orphanage, and after a couple days of preparation, and anticipation, the time finally came and rather than prepare a traditional lunch, the children as well as the staff were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies. The visiting team had an extra surprise for all the children, in that they passed out presents with school supplies for all of them, seeing as summer vacation will soon be over, and they will be returning to school shortly.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the children enjoyed a little taste of America. As one of them said between bites of a hot dog, it's like Christmas in the middle of summer. We thank the team for their hard work, and their desire to do something special for not only our children, but our staff as well.
Hand of Help Staff
With every trip I make to Romania, there are two things that become increasingly clear. Two things that are disturbing, and frightening, tragic in the deepest and most profound sense of the word. The first thing I have been noticing for some years now, is the ever widening gap between the vast majority who is barely living, able to survive, often on sheer will alone, and the small percentage of those who have more than they can ever spend, but choose to do nothing to help the many who suffer in silence, and do not know where their next meal will come from.
The second, and perhaps most tragic thing of all, is the utter indifference with which those who have means, pass by those who have nothing, as though they were invisible, undeserving of a glance or a smile.
As I walk the streets of the cities, I can't help but notice the two extremes trying to coexist, the elderly barely able to walk for lack of nourishment, often leaning heavily on a wooden cane, the mothers holding their babies, tears welling up in their eyes due to the helplessness they feel in not being able to provide for their offspring, and the shiny new and expensive cars, whizzing by, tinted windows rolled up, the drivers cocooned within the opulence on wheels not wanting to be bothered by the sobs and the pleas.
Seeing what I have seen, I have come to believe that indifference is a vile and wicked thing, making the hearts of men grow cold and unsympathetic, robbing them of the very essence of humanity.
One day as I was sitting with some friends at a sidewalk cafe, having a cup of coffee, I noticed an elderly woman slowly making her way up the sidewalk, painfully carrying a bucket of wildflowers that she had picked out in the fields, bundled up into bouquets, which she was attempting to sell in order to earn a living. The look of pain in her eyes was evident from many feet away, and I could see her desperation growing as she would offer flowers to those walking by only to be ignored, or eve glared at by some who seemed to be offended by her mere presence. As she made her way by our table I walked to her and ask how much she wanted for the flowers. It seemed someone asking her how much the flowers cost was a first, because she was silent for a few seconds, then with a broad smile she said, "the flowers cost ten lei per bundle, but if you really want some I'll give them to you for less."
"Not for the bundle," I said, "for the entire bucket."
She gave me a price that amounted to four dollars, and I handed her what amounted to twenty dollars. After she said she had no change, and I told her I didn't want any change, she began to cry, and said no one had ever done anything like that before.
I share this story with you, not because of what I did, but what transpired after I took my bundle of flowers and sat back down to finish my coffee. As I sat there, I couldn't help but overhear the conversations going on at the neighboring tables, and while some of the older people snickered and said I was trying to apply for sainthood by doing what I had done, there was a table of young people, who whispered among themselves until finally they chose a representative to come to my table, shake my hand and tell me there should be more people like me in the world.
I smiled at the young man, and told him that there were allot more people like me in the world, that they were called Christians, and that their calling and mission in life was to help the helpless, and do what they could to ease the suffering of those around them. After my friends left, I ended up moving to the young people's table, and sharing Christ with them for over an hour. As children of God, we can make a difference and affect change, by merely being ourselves, by allowing the nature of Christ to work in us and through us. What we deem as normal, may seem out of the ordinary to others, so much so that it will compel them to come and seek out that which makes us different, that which compels us to be compassionate, and that which demands that we not be indifferent to the suffering of others. One small act of kindness, was noticed by six young people, and in their life that kindness was so uncommon, that it forced them to seek out the source of it, and once they opened the door, once their search began, it was easy to lead them to Christ, and say "He is the reason, He is the source, He is the love, the compassion, the mercy and the charity of heart, He is all."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
Sometimes it takes a few seconds for the fact that the Hand of Help orphanage has been operating for over ten years, to sink in. What were once children are now fully grown adults, who have gone off on their own, who have made a life for themselves and who have taken the lessons learned in their youth, and kept them as guideposts throughout their lives.
Nowhere was this more obvious than when we began to see oddly familiar faces, but somehow older and more mature, grace the steps of the orphanage, asking to be taken to Virginia's final resting place so that they too could pay their respects and lay flowers on the grave of the one who was a mother to them for so many years.
There they stood, having come from Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria, reunited remembering their youth, crying together, laughing together, and offering their thanks to God for having had the solid foundation in their youth that made them the men and women they are today.
Hand of Help Staff
After my son Mike attended a prayer meeting in the village of Buda, and saw the needs the fellowship was having to contend with, we decided to put a few food packages together and go asses the situation a little closer. The first home we stopped in was the home of brother Nelu, who also serves as the pastor of the small community fellowship. When we asked what their greatest need was, brother Nelu put the needs of his congregation before his own family's, and said that a church, would be an answer to their prayers. The room that brother Nelu has offered up in his home as a meeting place has become too small, and many who would otherwise attend service cannot come. When we explained that we were asking about his family, and what their needs were, he answered with tears running down his cheeks, that if the Lord willed he would be able to provide a prosthetic eye for his daughter Crina. After a tragic accident, and many months of suffering, Crina who is only 13 lost her right eye, and the family cannot afford the purchase of the prosthesis.
After a closer inspection of the home they currently reside in, we also saw the need for new doors, as well as some structural and foundational reinforcement of the walls. It is an old home, and it shows in the cracks, as well as the sloping roof.
Please keep the fellowship in the village of Buda, as well as brother Nelu's family in your prayers, and if the Lord stirs you to help, know that it is a worthwhile cause.
Michael Boldea Sr.
A Word for Hand of Help
I am a man who feels at home anywhere, but no matter where God may take me, Romania will always be my birthplace, and the place to which I feel spiritually connected. The simplicity of worship, the sincerity of the prayers, the spiritual maturity among the brethren compels me to return to my homeland frequently and just be a brother among the brethren, pour out my heart to God in all night prayer meetings, and feel the fellowship of like minded servants. For these reasons, whenever I return to Romania I spend my time either visiting the poor with the staff here at Hand of Help, passing out food packages and seeing new areas in which we can be of help, or attending prayer meetings throughout the country where the power of God is evident from the first minute you walk through the door.
One day I was told of a prayer meeting in the village of Buda, near the city of Suceava and decided to attend. My primary reason for attending prayer has always been fellowship, and if God chose to speak a word while I was there, all the better. I walked into the home where the prayer was to take place, found a seat on a wooden bench, covered with a worn rug, and began to pray. Altogether there were close to thirty people in the small room, but no one minded the heat or the close quarters. Although no one knew who I was, and having dressed as any other person attending prayer would, didn't stand out, soon after the second prayer of the evening began, brother Nelu, the brother who had opened his home up for prayer, tapped me on the shoulder and with a deep voice said:
"Thus says the Lord, to you whom I have placed in charge of my work; I know your heart, I know the restless nights you spend in prayer, wondering where the miracle will come from this time, and how I will multiply the little that has been sacrificed by those faithful few to whose hearts I have spoken. I know the pain in your heart, seeing the faces of those you were not able to help. I know your tears, I know your cries, and they have not gone unnoticed. I will bless this work in a special way, I will make the rivers run with unexpected blessings, and those who for many years have watched, and waited for this work to flicker and die out will be put to shame. As I led the one who came before you, I will continue to lead you, and as I spoke to him, I will continue to speak to you."
The prayer continued for a few more minutes, and after it died down, and the final amen was uttered, brother Nelu looked at me, and said, "If you don't mind my asking, who are you exactly?"
"I'm nobody", I answered sheepishly, aware of everyone's gaze trained on me.
"Not in God's eyes," brother Nelu answered sternly, "He has used you, and He has a plan for you and whatever work you are in beyond anything you can imagine, who are you young man?"
"I'm Dumitru Duduman's grandson," I answered.
"That explains allot," the brother said smiling, "I knew your grandfather, we used to go and pray for the sick together in our younger days, good to see you followed in his footsteps."
The prayer lasted for another three hours, and the power of God continued to flow until finally, well past midnight, I was asked to give the ending prayer and everyone went their own way.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
Throughout the earth the voice of the One who is, seems to be crying out by way of natural phenomenon, speaking to those who would hear, 'be still, and know that I am God.' Romania is no exception, having experienced many firsts in their weather patterns, from the first ever recorded winter without substantial snowfall, to the first ever recorded tornados that ripped through villages mercilessly obliterating everything in their path.
One could almost hear the sighs of relief from the lips of those without the means to prepare for a harsh winter, having seen it pass without leaving victims in its wake. However, due to the absence of snow and precipitation during the first six months of the year, the nation must now contend with the complete lack of crops. Even those who lived through the war, shake their head in disbelief commenting fearfully that it has never been this bad. The nation once known as the breadbasket of Europe, is now forced to import cornmeal from places like Brazil and Hungary, at three and four times the price it would have cost if the crop had been harvested in Romania.
Once more the drought and heat waves that Romania has experienced during the first half of the year, are without precedent. Where lakes once stood, there nothing more than a mud pits, and rivers that were once the pride of a nation are now mere streams, running their course ever so sluggishly. Farmers who raised cattle and sheep as a means of survival, are now forced to give away their livestock for next to nothing, for fear that they will die of thirst in the dry and sun scorched fields.
In the few areas where there was rain, it seems it was in excess, triggering mudslides that buried entire villages under mud and dead vegetation, leaving those deemed to be the lucky ones homeless, and empty handed.
A new level of desperation can be felt in the air, an almost tangible sense of hopelessness, that is evident in the violent spike of suicides throughout the country, as well as the cases of abandoned newborns, whether on church steps, or in the hospitals' maternity wards.
With all these events taking place, with all the misery and desperation, one can readily lose heart, or throw up their hands in defeat, seeing that for every one we are able to help, for every one we are about to bring some hope to, there are fifty others whom we are unable to reach, but in the end our faith must be in God, and we must continue to do that which we have been mandated to do.
The difference that Hand of Help is making in Romania is real, and tangible, evident in the smiles of those we are able to help, and in the prayers of thanks offered up to God for making the impossible, possible in their lives. We press on, knowing that God prizes obedience above all else, and though every indicator is pointing toward harder times still, our faith in our heavenly Father is unshaken. His will be done in all things, and for all that is accomplished through this work may His name be praised forevermore.
Hand of Help Staff
As I was reading my Bible one evening, I came upon a well-known passage in the book of Matthew wherein Jesus fed the five thousand, with the fishes and loaves of a little boy. We all know the story, and it is one my grandfather used to tell me as a child, but as I read the passage again, there was a verse that struck a chord with me, and as I began to meditate upon it, I felt compelled to put some thoughts down on paper. The verse I am referring to has to do with the reaction of Christ's disciples once evening had come. They had seen Christ's compassion toward the people, had seen that He had gone out of his way to heal the sick, even though He had intended to be alone, in a deserted place by Himself, and as night approached, and the crowds still gathered they said the following:
Matthew 14:15-16, "When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.' But Jesus said to them, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
For the longest time after reading these verses, I sat, unmoving trying to process the disciples' words, realizing that they had every intention of abandoning the multitudes, and letting them fend for themselves, when the multitudes needed them most. Their attempted justification for wanting to abandon the multitudes would seem logical to most, it was a deserted place, and it was getting late, but thankfully not to Christ.
We live in an age where it has become customary, even accepted practice for the shepherd to abandon the flock when the path becomes difficult, when the darkness falls, and they find themselves in a deserted place. It is an all too common occurrence for a shepherd to throw up his hands in defeat because the church is not growing at the pace he would like, or the salary he requested is not met. One knows the true heart of a shepherd only when times grow hard, when darkness descends, and when hardship is ever present.
Although I have been in Romania for the past month, news of the church's condition in America still reaches me, whether by e-mail or telephone, and with a heavy heart more often than ever before I cry out, Lord where are the true shepherds? There seems to be no end to the shame that shamelessness has wrought upon the house of God, and while stars fall like meteors from the heavens, and religious icons turn out to be all too human after all, the multitudes grow hungry, and find themselves in a deserted place with the darkness creeping in.
Not finding spiritual succor and nourishment where they ought to, not finding Christ where they should, there are many who wander about trying to buy themselves food, going from denomination to denomination, and church to church, all the while growing weaker as their fruitless search progresses. If only wisdom would be our guide that we may see the multitudes need to be fed, and they do not need to leave Christ's presence in order to find that food.
One thing is certain the multitudes are looking for nourishment; their spiritual hunger needs to be satiated. They are hungry and have grown tired of empty words, platitudes, catch phrases, anecdotes, flawless smiles, pretentiousness, dry sermons and fruitless promises of wealth.
The words of Jesus should echo and resonate within the heart of every true believer, every true disciple of Christ, 'you feed them.' With each passing hour, the night is that much closer, and those who find themselves in a spiritual desert, are not few in number. If we do not offer them the Bread of Life, if we do not show them Christ not only in our words but our actions, they will seek their sustenance elsewhere, and the wolves, false Christs, and Pharisees, wait patiently in the shadows for the multitudes to make their way into the villages and buy whatever food they can find.
May we all do our part in proclaiming Jesus to the world, that one day when we stand before Him in His glory, we would not hear "Why did you not feed them, why did you not feed My sheep?"
Psalm 40:4, "Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies."
Psalm 40:8-11, "I delight to do Your will O my God, and Your law is within my heart. I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great congregation; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth from the great congregation. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me O Lord; Let your loving kindness and Your truth continually preserve me."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
If contributions exceed the amount needed to help a family, the extra contributions for that project will be used to help a family in a similar situation. It is our commitment to you before our Lord that we will be faithful in the disbursement of all contributions that we receive.
The Hand of Help Staff.