|October/November 2007 Newsletter|
The Heart Of Christ
Mark 1:41, "And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him."
It is easy for some to speak of Christ's compassion in the theoretical sense. Sermon series have been written and preached with great eloquence concerning the heart of Christ, and the compassion he exuded wherever He went. What many have missed is the essence of the message when it comes to the heart of Christ, and the compassion of Christ. If we are Christ's, then we must exhibit the same nature as Christ, if we belong to Him, if we were born in Him, then our hearts must beat with as much compassion as Christ's did for all those with whom He came into contact.
It is the heart of Christ that drives us to ease the suffering of those who are hurting, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and be a father to the fatherless. It is not out of abundance that we do these things, but out of sacrificial duty, taking into account other people's needs and hurts before our own.
Ever since my father in law began Hand of Help we realized this would be a ministry to the poor, by the poor. We did not offer to putsomeone's name on a plaque if they gave a certain amount, we did not offer any accolades, nor did we compromise the Word of God for the sake of ministry growth. After twenty-one years of ministry, we remain committed to the same principles, wherein if God compels someone to give, it is due to the heart of Christ that beats within their chest, not because their names will be chiseled on a stone, or a pew, on a different continent in a faraway city.
I have lived in America and know that life can be difficult there as well, needs arise, hardships come, economies falter, but those with a heart of compassion always realize that there are brothers and sisters throughout the world whose circumstances are more dire than their own, and they make the sacrifice, whether great or small, and help save a life.
I have always known that those of you whom God has called to be co laborers with us in this work are brothers and sisters who posses the heart of Christ, a rarity in today's world, who help when they are able, simply because it is what Jesus would have done, and the fact that we are still able to feed the children in the orphanage, help families, build homes and churches is proof of this.
We do not have a 'ministry model', or graphs with growth projections, we do not have think tanks coming up with new ways and schemes to get people to give more, we are like you, simple people with a heart to do the will of God, a heart of compassion for those in need. We take what we have, and give it to those who have not, and once the resources are gone, we wait patiently on the Lord to do His part, and provide for those who cry out to Him day and night.
Everyone involved in this ministry understands hunger, and cold, because it is some-thing we have lived, and ex-experienced, and by the same token we know the blessedness and joy that come with see-ing our God performing miracles. Thank you for being a miracle.
Michael Boldea Sr.
When renovations began on the Hand of Help orphanage earlier this year, we did not think it would be a major project. With the naked eye, we surmised that the chimney was the only thing that really needed to be fixed, but as the builders came in and began to take a closer look, they realized the job was bigger than we first envisioned. Besides the chimney, there are a few spots in the third and fourth floor that need to be redone before the cold season begins to settle in, and the area that needs to be resurfaced on the roof is much bigger than we first thought.
We did not make this need known, because we did not desire to be an undue burden, and we believed we had enough in the budget to cover the cost of the renovations. This is an urgent need, and the cost of finishing what the builders have started is another $20,000. When we asked the builders why it would cost so much, the crew chief was kind enough to point out that the building has been standing for over ten years, and this was the first time we've needed to do any work on it. "Buildings deteriorate", he said, "it doesn't matter what it's built out of, sooner or later you're going to need to do some upkeep."
We would have preferred later rather than sooner, but since we've started this project, we feel we need to finish it, rather than put it off another year. Please keep this need in your prayers, as you go before the Lord.
James 2:15-16, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give to them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"
My visit here at the Hand of Help has been a blessing I will never forget. The staff and the children made me feel at home. But what touched me the most was how Hand of Help is an example of how James implies that we should be in the above verses. The hand of Help sees the need of the people, and meets that need to the best of its ability.
I had the privilege of going out into the villages and seeing these needs met. It was such a blessing to see the smiles and the faces, as well as the hearts of the people we visited. There are not enough words to explain how it made me feel to see God taking care of His children, from widows, to single mothers with three children, to a family of seven struggling for what little they have. Hand of Help has given these people food to eat, firewood to cook with and for warmth during the winter, clothes, and so much more.
It also grieves me to see the people in such need. Hand of Help can only do so much. While it is doing everything it can, there are still people here in desperate need of help. My heart and prayers go out to these people because the help is limited compared to the need of the people.
If you are contributing, or considering contributing to the Hand of Help, it does my heart good to say that your contributions are going to meet the need of the people here in Romania. May God bless and keep each and every one of you.
Brother Glen Niemeyer
Where do I begin? Yesterday and today were the kind of days that you do not take pleasure in. Although we are truly blessed in helping those less fortunate than us, to see the suffering of those who cannot help themselves is very heavy on our hearts. I find it difficult to even f ind words to describe what I experience in the homes of poor widows in Romania. I would like to tell you about two of the widows we visited yesterday.
This is what we left the orphanage with yesterday morning: 16 bags of assorted food, and 24 bottles ofcooking oil. We also took money to give for firewood, home repair, (especially roofs), and similar needs. A winter's supply of wood can be purchased for 200 Lei (240 Lei = $100.00) About 3 out of every 4 we visit have very little, or no firewood at all!
The widow in the foreground is 84 years old. She lives with the woman you see laying down in the background. That woman is 77 years old. Ten years ago they gave a parcel of land they owned next to their home, to have a church built on it. There was a word from the Lord that neither one of them would die until they saw the finished church. For years the property sat empty, for lack of funds. When some funds finally came in, the church could only be partially built. But this summer, the church was finished, dedicated, and the first service was held! No food, no warmth, ragged clothing! But a heart for God, and a heart to give!
Because they gave from their poverty, this is what stands beside the home of the 2 poor widows. Surely, God will remember them in eternity � not for this building, but for their pure hearts.
There is no way I can really tell you how I felt when we visited the woman in the lower photo. Bedfast for years, and barely able to survive on her government pension, she shared with us how happy she is for all of God' blessings that she has received. She told us of life in Romania in 1947-1949; how they had no real food to eat. All they had to eat were the leaves from trees. What they liked the best were the leaves from the cherry trees.
The Bible you see laying on the back of her bed, is missing not only the cover, but some of the first and last parts of the Bible. But she was showing it to us, proudly, praising God for His Word, and His blessing! She seems to have no desire � or need � for a new Bible, her worn and tattered one being sufficient.
What more can I say?
Beneath the Surface
"Under a great show of outward profession, there is a lamentable deficiency of vital godliness in our churches. Much of the prevailing benevolence and activity of the church, are a mere substitute for spiritual religion � rather than the expression of vital godliness." John Angell James
There was still work to be done in Berea, but time had run out. It was no longer safe for the man of God to enter the synagogue, or preach on the street since his enemies, in a single minded pursuit to silence him, had discovered his whereabouts, and followed him from Thessalonica. As cowards are want to do, they did not attack him directly, for he was a man of substance, and could readily expose and silence them by uttering a few simple yet penetrating words. No, they did not attack him directly but rather used the crowds to do their bidding, stirring them up into a frenzy, until finally there was no place for Paul to preach in Berea, and for fear of his safety the brothers there convinced him to embark upon a journey across the sea to a place he had never been before, namely Athens.
Reluctant as he had been to leave, feeling the loneliness that comes with leaving behind such loyal friends as Silas and Timothy, Paul ventured to this new city, a city that for a man of Paul's intellect and upbringing would have been a fascinating place indeed.
Athens had been a wonder of its time, one of the most renowned cities of the ancient world, quickly growing in reputation and opulence since its inception in the third millennium, until finally eight hundred years before the birth of Christ it was made the capital of Greece. Athens was a remarkable place indeed, being a bastion for intellect and philosophy, the birthplace of such luminaries as Socrates and Plato, and the home of philosophers such as Aristotle, Epicures, and other men of intellectual renown.
Although Athens was no longer the capital of Greece by the time Paul landed on its shores, it still held the glory of a bygone era, due to the archeologically stunning monuments, theaters, and temples, whose ruins have kept even to the present day, as a testament to those who labored and helped make it the envy of the ancient world. Taking its past fame into consideration, Rome, the ruling empire at the time, gave Athens the privilege of being a free city, governed by their own personal laws. Though much time had passed since the glory days, Athens was still the jewel of Greece, and along with Alexandria was perceived as being the intellectual capital of the civilized world.
On the surface, for a man such as Paul, Athens would have been a breathtaking place, filled with wonder and knowledge, but being a man with spiritual insight, being a servant of the one true God, he saw what lay beneath the surface of the place, he saw beyond the idols and the altars, beyond the gods and the temples, and his spirit was provoked.
Although he was merely passing through, Paul would not permit himself to be a mere tourist in this metropolis where paganism had a stranglehold on it citizens. This great man of God felt with deep profundity the vanity, and worthlessness of so many sculptures, idols and temples. He knew the emptiness, the hollowness, the lifelessness of all the false gods that lay scattered before him, and unlike the men of our time, he did not attempt to understand these strange Gods, he did not attempt to make peace and placate those who worshipped them, but boldly stood on the word, and pronounced with conviction birthed of faith, that they worshiped false gods, and they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.
We look upon the temples that men have built today, and often we are left as speechless as Paul might have been at seeing their vaulted ceilings, their marble columns, and architectural majesty, but unlike Paul our spirits are not provoked, there is no urgency in our actions, and we seem to have acquiesced to the emptiness, hollowness and lifelessness that is found in so many of them. We see the grandeur, and the magnificence, we see the abundance of temples and altars, but we never seem to look beneath the surface and see the true spiritual reality, we never seem to take the time, and see if the heart of the place is beating, if life is present, and if the God they are serving truly is the one true God, or one fashioned by men's hands, made into an image that is more consumer friendly than the original.
We can look upon this nation, as Paul looked upon Athens and come to the same conclusion, in that both are a very religious people. There is no doubt, this is a religious nation, ask anyone, but the fact of the matter, is that God did not give man religion, but rather His only Son, who died on a cross that my sins and yours might be forgiven and expunged, that we might be yours might be forgiven and expunged, that we might be redeemed and reconciled unto God.
Man by his very nature is religious, and in his darkest hour always seeks the help of someone, or something, beyond his own wisdom, beyond the realm of this physical world. Any religion absent of Christ however, is only an imagined comfort in times of distress, a medicine that only numbs the pain but does not heal the disease.
The truth, painful as it may be to some, is that there is a difference between a religious person, and one who is saved, redeemed, sanctified and consecrated unto God, and when the day comes, God will not recognize or legitimize the religious person as His own, but rather only those who have been bought and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
The outwardly appearance of this present generation is deceitful to say the least, and looking only at what the naked eye can see, one might even say we are on the right track, headed in the right direction. With new temples being erected every day, with new pastors proudly holding up their seminary diplomas and theological degrees smiling for the camera, with new seeker sensitive churches being planted hourly, absent of spiritual discernment one might say that times have never been better for the body of Christ. Rip away the veil however, look beneath the surface of all the naked eye sees, and you will soon come to the conclusion that only rarely do you find life amidst a congregation, only rarely do you hear words such as repentance or holiness, and only rarely do you find Jesus.
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, and echo the sentiments of Paul, 'I perceive that in all things you are very religious,' but religion has never, and will never be enough, and those who deceive themselves into believing that it is, will one day hear the most dreaded and chilling words ever spoken in any language, 'depart from me, I never knew you!'
"How many churches are flattering themselves that they are in a flourishing condition! The place of worship may be commodious, elegant and free from debt. The minister may be popular and approved by his flock. The congregation may be good, respectable, and influential. The finances may be good, and even prosperous. In short, there maybe every mark of external prosperity � until the church flatters itself into the idea of its being in a high state of spiritual health. But examine its internal state! Inquire into its condition as viewed by God! Inspect the private conduct of its members � and what a different aspect of things is seen then! Let us look beneath the illusive covering of external prosperity � and examine whether disease and decay are lurking underneath! There is often a stra n ge contrast between the 'heavenliness', which a church professes � and the 'worldliness' of her conduct." John Angell James
With love in Christ
Michael Boldea Jr.
A Friend Returns
It's been many years since I've been to Romania. My last trip here was about 10 years ago, for Dumitru Duduman's 'Homecoming'; from earth to the eternal presence of God!
I've been going through the old photo albums from the beginnings of the Hand of Help ministry, and remembering how it was here in Romania then. During our first trip here in the spring of 1990, we saw suffering and hardships beyond imagination. People were starving for lack of food; freezing for lack of warmth. Death was on every hand. The people in the villages and on the farms were the hardest hit, but the cities were not much better. A loaf of bread � a stick of salami � a warm winter coat � a pair of good used shoes � Any of these would bring joy beyond description! Since his arrival in the US in 1984, Dumitru and his family had been shipping boxes of relief whenever possible, but now we would be able to ship a container as God provided.
Over the years, as Romania experienced freedom from oppression, we saw many good, and some bad things develop in the country. of course, with freedom, comes the onslaught of worldly influence. However the country opened to foreign travel, which allowed relief workers to reach the people. I wish I could say that the people of Romania now are well off, but such is not the case. With the fall of communism, the people were left to fend for themselves. Although 'things' are now available, the cost is too great for many of the poor. Some have left the country for a better living. Others have been more fortunate, and have managed to find a place in the new Romania. But many are still left struggling with high inflation, and little or no income. Thus the need for continued help.
Now, the Hand of Help orphanage houses more than 80 children under 18 years of age, plus, there are a number who have turned 18, and now must leave. The poor must still be helped, but with much more expense! In the mid 1990's we were paying $400.00 for a cow, to give to a poor family. Now, that same cow is $700.00! Other things have increased as much or more! For you or me to live and eat here today, is as much as, or more expensive than in the US! Food costs have skyrocketed! Gas and Diesel are almost twice what we pay in the US, while the average wage is a fraction of the US!
So the work goes on! House the orphans, feed the poor, ship containers from the US, house temporary relief workers from other countries, help the churches� The list goes on.
As a past board member of Hand of Help, I thank all of you for your continued help and I truly pray that God will bless you for what you do. I know that the Bible tells us that the poor will always be with us, but I also know that God still hears and answers our prayers. Please pray with us that God will move in Romania, and bring a change that will allow her to again be a flourishing nation, serving Him, and reaching out to other European nations in need, both spiritually and naturally.
A Place to Worship
With the Stauceni Church building project behind us, and the church in Plopenii Mici in its finishing stages, new projects have arisen, in Dumbraveni, Lisna, and Mitoc Prut. It's not that we go out looking for new projects, or query pastors as to whether they would like a new building, it is the pastors who come to us, with tears in their eyes, heavy hearted and desperate because their flocks have no place to gather, and they have outgrown the homes in which they meet. Each time we finish building a church, we think to ourselves, 'this is the last one', because with each passing day it gets more expensive, and the dollar continues to lose value, yet God has other plans, and all we can do is submit to His will, and do our part.
We realize the names of these places don't mean much to those who have never visited Romania, but they are villages and cities, with true believers, whose one desire is to have a place where they can come together and worship in spirit and in truth.
We do not build cathedrals; we build houses of worship. There are no snack bars in the lobby, no bookstore offering the pastor's latest writings, just a simple hall, with simple seating, a pulpit and a Bible. For many believers the dream of having a church building remains just that, a dream, and though they try their hardest, offering bricks and mortar, wood and cement, the cost of actually building a sanctuary is prohibitive.
It is seeing their heart that compels us to do our part, and help in any way we can, and when what is often needed is just a few thousand dollars for them to see their dream become a reality, we are all the more inclined to make sacrifices of our own.
Theirs is not a selfish dream, they do not have plans for multimillion dollar expansions, or gargantuan edifices, just a humble hall where they can fellowship, hear the Word, sing and pray.
Our thanks go out to all who have made sacrifices of your own in helping with the church building projects, knowing that our heavenly Father hears the heartfelt prayers of those for whom you have been a miracle, prayers often made on your behalf, and for you.
If even a glass of water, given in the Lord's name is remembered and rewarded, surely the Lord will remember your compassion, and reward it in due season.
Hand of Help Staff
Preparing for the winter has become habitual for the Hand of Help family. One never knows whether the coming winter season will be one of abundant snowfall, record colds, and unprecedented length, or mild with just a few scattered snow showers thrown in for good measure. Our philosophy, and it has served us well over the years, is prepare for the worst of times, and hope for the best of times. Keeping this philosophy in mind, we recently had what we've come to call 'harvest week', basically a week's worth of picking whatever was left in the ground from the Hand of Help garden. We like to be as self-sufficient as possible, and especially during the winter months in order to attain self-sufficiency one needs to prepare.
When we asked for volunteers during one day at lunch, to see who would like to help with the harvest, we were not surprised that many hands go up. The children love to help out wherever they can, and it is a good way to teach them responsibility. After the first couple days of picking what was left of the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouses, we moved on to the potatoes. Potatoes are a food staple during the cold months, and so every spring we plant as many as our field will allow.
The children enjoyed being out in the fields, getting their hands dirty, and during the coming winter, they will enjoy the rewards of their labors, knowing that they had a hand in providing nourishment for the rest of the Hand of Help family.
Work is good for the soul, or so the saying goes, but it is especially important for those of us who are trying to raise these children in the light of the Gospel, and with an innate sense of work, duty and labor.
Hand of Help Staff
Psalm 136:1-4, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: To Him who alone does great wonders, for His mercy endures forever."
Psalm 75:1, "We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near."
Often times it is easier to give thanks for the things we can see, and touch, then for the multitude of invisible graces the heavenly Father pours out upon His children on a daily basis. Although we do not neglect to give thanks to God for our families, our homes, the food on the dinner table, we often overlook the truth that He has given us health, grace, charity of heart, hope, peace, and joy, and forget to be thankful for those things, which at the end of the day are more important than any material possessions.
The children of God give thanks to Him daily for the love that He showed by sending Jesus on this earth, for the price that was paid that we might be redeemed, and for the peace with which He has endowed us, a peace that surpasses human understanding. Even when this present life becomes difficult, even when we have struggles as every inhabitant of this earth does, we can cling to the hope that God has birthed in our hearts, and the faith that He, as a loving Father will watch over, protect, and provide for His children.
As we journey through this earth, at times we are even confronted with the prospect of giving thanks to God, even in spite of our circumstances, even when it seems that God is chastening us or disciplining us. Always remember, that it is for our benefit that He disciplines, and if we are chastened, it is a means by which we know we are His children, and not illegitimate sons or daughters.
The reasons for giving thanks to God are infinite, and during this season of reflection upon all God's graces great and small, those invisible attributes with which His children are blessed, we must be thankful all the more, for all that He has done in us, through us, and for us.
As those who have felt your prayers, and have seen the charity of your heart, we the Hand of Help staff, would also like to take this opportunity and thank you for your sacrifice on behalf of the people of Romania, for helping us feed, clothe, comfort and exhort the children of God in this nation. May gladness spring up in your heart, and may you always know that you are truly loved by God, and those whom you have seen fit to bless, that you are in our prayers and our thoughts continually.
Psalm 100:2-5, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations."
Hand of Help Staff
1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober."
1 Thessalonians 5:8, "But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation."
I had a dream last night, and if not for the specific instruction to share what I saw, I would have preferred to keep it to myself. I had gone to bed late, having waited for my wife to get home from work. After seeing that she had arrived home safely, and saying my prayers, I fell into a restful sleep.
I dreamt that I was sleeping, when a hand touched my shoulder, and a voice I recognized said, 'wake up.'
In my dream I opened my eyes, and my breath caught in my throat as I saw who had awakened me. It was the same messenger, the angel I had seen on previous occasions, dressed in full battle armor, standing by the side of my bed.
"Take my hand" he said, "I have been sent to show you something."
I barely touched the hand that was extended toward me, when my bed and my bedroom evaporated, and I found myself standing before a white oblong building, that looked allot like a barn or a horse stable. Two large doors made up the front of the structure, and as I looked they began to swing open.
I knew wherever I was it was not of this earth, because everything shone, everything was white, pristine, immaculate.
I also knew that whatever the reason was for being shown this, was about to be revealed, so I stood in silence, holding the messenger's hand.
As soon as the doors were fully open, I saw an angel that looked very much like the one standing beside me, except without the armor, leading a white horse by its reins. The horse was large and muscular, but he followed the angel obediently, with its head bent low. The angel's countenance was somber as he led the horse away, and for some reason this registered with great clarity.
I looked up to the messenger whose hand I was still holding, but he merely nodded toward the white building and the open doors, and said, 'witness.'
Another angel soon appeared in the doorway, holding the reins of a red horse, following after the first. I began to realize what I was seeing, and in silence watched as two more angels appeared, each holding the reins of a horse, one black, one of no discernable color, just pale. All four angels were dressed alike, and had the same somber, sorrowful countenance.
I stood and watched as all four horses were led out of my sight, and finally when they had disappeared from view, the messenger turned to me and said: 'Go an tell what you have seen. The riders prepare, the horses are ready, and soon they will descend, soon they will be loosed. Remember what you have witnessed, and do not hold back a single word. Soon they descend on wings of fury; soon turmoil will shake earth's very foundation. Prepare yourself, for many will fall and few will stand. Fulfillment is at hand, go and speak what you have seen, and what you have heard. The Kingdom awaits the righteous, the holy will soon see the Lord."
I only realized I was still holding his hand when he let go of mine, and suddenly I was back in my bed, sitting up, fully awake. I am still unsure whether or not it was a dream, or if 'dream' is the right word for it, but for simplicity's sake I will call it a dream.
I tried to go back to sleep but could not, vividly remembering the sorrowful look on the faces of the angels who were leading the horses out of the stables.
It seems the world is seeing, what the church is refusing to acknowledge, the fact that we are on the cusp of great upheaval not only in this nation, but also throughout the world. These are the days of which the prophets spoke, the days of which Christ warned, the time of distress, of sifting and of separation.
My prayer is that we remember always, our hope is in the Lord, and He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. If one word stands out from this entire dream, it is the word 'prepare' and we must do so with diligence. The children of God must steel themselves for what is coming, prepare their hearts and settle within their souls that the day in which we will have to stand for truth is soon approaching.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.