|Aug/Sept/Oct 2009 Newsletter|
My Trip To Romania
The Lord put the beautiful country of Romania on my husband and my heart thirty years ago, to intercede for the land and the restoration of the people. We met Geno and Anne Schmidt at a Voice of the Martyrs conference in either 1996 or 1997. God is so faithful. There were no other seats available but by them and when they shared about Hand of Help, we knew it was a God ordained moment. Anne sent us pictures of the orphanage and the children. Interceding for the orphanage and supplying any of the needs that we could, became our main focus in Romania.
In 2005 my spiritual son asked me if there was anything I really wanted. I amazed myself by banging on the table and saying, "I want to go to Romania". He was quiet for a moment and then said he would bring me in 2006. He was true to his word and I have been coming every year since.
There is healing here for broken, abused, and rejected hearts. I have taken pictures each year and slowly watched countenances change as the children receive their healing from the Lord from all that they experienced before coming here. Praise the Lord for a staff that prays and cares for these little ones.
This year I was able to go to camp with the orphanage. What a blessing! It was beautiful in the mountains. There was hiking, all kinds of games, swimming in a rushing stream, worship and teaching from the Word. Everything went so smoothly, because 1 Corinthians 13 reigns at the camp and the orphanage.
There are quite a few new children this year. I've been impressed with how the older children love and help care for the very young. There are now 18 children between 3 and 5 years of age. One three year old was so weak when she came, and she had to be lifted in and out of the bed. Love and food has made her a very lively little girl.
Last year I was able to buy a cow in memory of my deceased husband. I just found out today I will be able to do that again. A cow to a family provides milk, butter and cheese. It is a very important part of a family here.
I love going to the villages and seeing the widows as well. Two sisters amaze me. One, Maria is 86 and keeps her house, plants and garden and also cares for her 78 year old sister who has had a stroke. I'm 78 and could not do what Maria does. No indoor plumbing, no running water, just very hard work with a smile so genuine each year when I see her. In James 1:27, pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. The Lord knew there would always be orphans and widows.
Consider coming to Romania and being blessed!
A Recent Visit
We went to visit the Dumitru Tomache family, with 9 children, on the outskirts of Botosani. They had brought water to their house last year, saved enough for a toilet and hot water heater, and had been praying for God to help them finish the bathroom so that they would have an inside facility. We were also asking God to show us just which families He was wanting us to give to. Some time after visiting the Tomache family, we visited the Costel Obreja family in Ripiceni, about an hour's drive from Botosani, to see about stuccoing the outside of their mud brick home to protect it from the rain. They had just received a goat, and when we asked them where they got the goat, they told us that Dumitru Tomache had given it to them. We took that as a sign that we were to help Dumitru with the bathroom.
On the day we were going to take him the money for the materials, Dumitru spent the whole morning in prayer asking God to give someone a sign that they were to help them finish their bathroom. At noon the Lord said to Dumitru "Stop praying. I am sending someone." He got up, went out, and began cutting grass to feed his cow and we showed up at 1:00. If you could have seen the joy on his face and heard the praise rising up to God for answering his prayer, you would have been blessed as we were. Proving once again that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
The Edman Family,
The Truth For Today
Some time ago, I shared the new work that God had placed on my heart with you. It was that of a television program, something that in light of our ministry's size seemed impossible and out of reach. If I've learned one thing throughout my twenty two years in ministry, it is that often time obedience requires a leap of faith.
I saw this truth in practical terms when God spoke to my grandfather to build the orphanage in Romania, and due to his obedient heart, we have been raising children in the fear of the Lord, and providing a safe haven for them for over 12 years now. It was not an easy thing to start building this mammoth edifice on faith alone, but when you have the promise of God's provision as your foundation, your foundation is sure.
I know who I am, and I know where I come from. I am the grandson of a potato farmer, and the son of a glassblower. I am an immigrant to this nation, I am young, and in and of myself an irrelevant speck of dust. I share this with you because it is the truth, and because I want to make it clear that wherever this program goes, and however much this ministry grows, it is not because of me or through me, but because of God and through Him. I know who I am! I know my aptitudes and my shortcomings, and so I am well aware that it was only the providence of God that has given us this opportunity to preach the uncompromising, unadulterated truth of God's word.
Last week we finally received our timeslot, and the truth for today television program will begin airing on October 14, on the Inspirational channel. We will be on every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. PST.
I would ask that you keep me, the Hand of Help staff, and this new work in your prayers. I believe we have a season, a window of opportunity wherein the hearts of many are ready to receive the truth of God's word. We labor not for our own glory but for His glory. In all things may His name be glorified!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
A Humbling Moment
I have seen allot in my thirty four years on this earth, and up until a few weeks ago was certain that nothing could shock or surprise me anymore. I have witnessed both man's capacity for good, as well as man's capacity for evil, in so many ways, and at so many times, that I believed myself immune from being taken aback, or left speechless.
Within the first full day of being back in Romania, I was both humbled, and proven wrong. The experience that brought me to a standstill occurred upon my first visit to the Hand of Help orphanage after arriving in Romania. Going to visit the orphanage is always one of the first things I do upon arriving in my homeland, because no matter how tired I might be, the presence of the smiling faces always brings a smile to my own, and all the weariness just fades away.
As I walked through the front door of the orphanage, the first thing that caught my eye was the sight of a child's head. The child was turned away from me, and by the short hair, at first I assumed it was a boy. What struck me was that there were visible scars, and burn marks covering much of the back of this child's head, and as I walked around to get a better view, the scarred head turned, and the smiling face of Alina Violeta Gurzu came into view.
"Who are you?" she asked furrowing her brow.
"My name's Mike" I answered, "and you are?"
"I'm Alina" she responded, "I'm new here, are you new here too?"
I smiled back, and told Alina that I wasn't really new, but I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted at the orphanage, that's why she hadn't seen me before. Either my answer was satisfactory, or I no longer interested her because she shrugged her shoulders, and turned back to the other children that were standing beside her.
I walked into the office, and after saying the requisite 'hellos' to everyone, I asked about Alina's story and what had happened to her. Cornel, who has been working for the ministry for almost ten years now, shook his head sadly and said, "if you think she looks bad now, you should have seen what she looked like two weeks ago when she got here."
At first I thought it was just hyperbole, but he turned toward his computer, and after clicking a few keys brought up two pictures, one of Alina when she first came to the Hand of Help orphanage, and one of her ten days later. I stared at the pictures for some time, not able to reconcile the reality of what I was seeing with my own eyes. The difference was astounding, and visible, and all within a span of ten days.
Alina and her stepsister Elena were brought to us by the Child Protection Agency after they were alerted to the constant abuse that both girls were suffering at the hands of their stepfather and mother, by concerned neighbors. At first it was only Alina that was beaten mercilessly, starved, and abused physically, but as both parents succumbed to alcoholism, Elena was not spared the violence that was being visited on her stepsister.
It was also on that day that I met Lupusor Constantin and his sister Madalina. Although he is barely seven years old, having been born on April 2, 2002, his countenance is that of a much older child. Before his father abandoned the family altogether, and their family became homeless and destitute, one night in a drunken rage he held Constantin's hand pressed down on a cast iron stove until two fingers of his hands actually fused together, and the scars of that night are still plainly visible. In his father's mind, his action was justified. When the police came, he told them he was trying to teach the child not to play with fire.
Within the last four months eight new children have been brought to the Hand of Help orphanage, and of the eight, three have suffered trauma and physical abuse the likes our staff has never seen before. It is heartbreaking to see them when they first arrive, broken, bruised, and unable to trust anyone, but it is also a glorious thing to see how their countenance change, how their faces glow, and the light in their eyes is once more apparent in such a short time.
We are needed here now more than ever! I ask only that you pray for this ministry, as often and as heartfelt as the Lord would lead. It was inevitable that with everything that is going on in the world today, we would also be affected as a ministry, but for now we are still here, we are still caring for orphans, visiting widows, helping the poor, and we will continue to do so until it becomes impossible. Please pray. Yes, we are hurting, but we serve a great God who can do seemingly impossible things. It is this God in whom we trust.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
The requests for help have grown to an astounding number. Daily we are asked for aid, whether it be just a food package, or helping to keep a family in their home, and daily we labor and do what we can to meet the needs of the surrounding communities.
The unprecedented numbers in the unemployed throughout Romania continues to be a frightful site, and those who were barely getting by a few months ago have slipped into the hopelessness and desperation that is plaguing much of the world. Each night I pray, each night I cry out, because in my heart I know we can't help everyone, but each morning I wake up determined to help as many as we can.
There are countless praise reports, of lives saved, and hope restored, and for this I thank you from the bottom of my heart. As children of God we are united in a common cause, with a common purpose, that of showing the love of Jesus, of being His hands and His feet whenever and wherever we are given the opportunity.
There is an old saying, but a true saying, that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is especially true given the fact that I am not very good with words. As such, I have asked the staff to put together a collage of our outreach, of the faces of those you've helped through your prayers and support of this work.
We work while it is still day, and the sight of the night approaching only emboldens us to work harder, to be more determined, and to serve with all our hearts.
Many ministries that were active in Romania have already shut their doors, but by the grace and providence of our great Father, we are still here, still offering a hand of help and a reason to smile to those who have no one else to turn to. I wish I could accurately describe what it's like to see a prayer answered, a life saved, a family blessed beyond their hopes, but words fail me. I can only say, with the certainty of past experience, that God knows, God sees, and God rewards. Again, thank you, as inadequate as these words might be to express what I feel in my heart, thank you.
Michael Boldea Sr.
The God of Miracles
For four months the family of Pastor Gica Ignatescu as well as the flock which he shepherds was in the midst of a great trial. Everyone in the village, as well the surrounding communities knew Pastor Gica as a strong robust man, who served God with all of his being, a man who was always there to lend a hand, to speak a kind word, and when necessary to rebuke in love.
It was largely due to his reputation, as one who not merely preached the gospel but lived it, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in his actions, that the entire community was shocked when one day Pastor Gica simply passed out, and after repeated attempts to revive him was taken to the hospital in Botosani.
The entire community was abuzz with the news that the preacher had fallen ill, some lifting him and his family up in prayer, while the mockers simply sneered and asked where his God was. It was not an easy time for the Ignatescu family, especially when the doctors informed Pastor Gica's wife that his chances of surviving were nonexistent. He had been diagnosed with acute pancreatitis as well as peritonitis, both of which he had been suffering from for some time.
Within a four month period and under protest from Pastor Gica he was subjected to 8 surgeries, and still no closer to being able to walk, or stand for that matter. He finally convinced the doctors to let him go home, after losing a total of ninety six pounds, and being told that his condition was not likely to improve even with all the surgical procedures.
Throughout all this time, Pastor Gica's faith in God remained constant and unshaken.
"It's easy to trust God in the good times", he would say with a smile "but it is in the difficult moments of your life that you must trust God. Faith carries you, and when you place your faith in God, it is never misplaced."
One night Pastor Gica had a dream, that he had been dead for four days, and on the fourth day the Lord raised him up again. The next morning he shared it with his wife, and told her that even if he were to pass away, she should not bury his body on the second or third day as is customary, but wait until the fourth day to lay him to rest.
It was not until the culmination of the fourth month of the trial that Pastor Gica understood what his dream meant. Exactly four months after he fainted and was rushed to the hospital, he stood up, got out of bed, for the first time in one hundred and twenty two days, and went to feed the chickens. That Sunday, he took to the pulpit of his church once more, and the first sermon he preached was entitled the God of miracles.
The church was packed, since news had traveled that Pastor Gica had miraculously recovered, and even the hardest of hearts could not help but be touched by the testimony of a simple man who trusted God, and whose faith withstood the fiery furnace.
We serve a God of miracles, and in our darkest hours it is the one truth that we must cling to, for it isthe truth that will sustain us.
In His Grace,
Hand of Help Staff
Whether for expediency's sake, or due to the underlying fear that discovering the truth might contradict our own presupposed interpretation, a great majority in the church today have chosen to clump together the three distinct and independent ideas of judgment, wrath, and persecution, into one interchangeable and confusing mass of doctrinal amalgam.
Due to the blending together of these three individual concepts, many within the house of God today are either confused as to what the end times will be like in respect to the children of God, while others are wholly indifferent and apathetic concerning this topic, because to them it is nothing more than a futile intellectual exercise.
"We're not going to be here anyway, so why bother discussing it? God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, so there, it's settled."
This is the danger of clumping together three very different concepts, and drawing our own conclusions. Judgment, wrath, and persecution are very different in and of themselves, and when we place all three under the same umbrella, we get a distorted view of what the future holds for us as children of God.
Of the three, one is reserved exclusively for the godless, one is reserved exclusively for the children of God, and one is interchangeable, poured out over unbelievers, as well as believers who have strayed, or otherwise dismissed the commands of God. In order to understand the difference between judgment, persecution, and wrath we must take each individual concept, and see what the Word of God would say about each of them. As always, the Word must have the final authority, and as such we must bend our will to conform to the truth of God's Word, rather than bending the truth of God's word to conform to our will.
We begin with the concept of judgment, since of the three it is mentioned earliest in God's word. Judgment is also the only one of the three that is interchangeable. What I mean by this is that the righteous judgment of God can be applied to the godly and the ungodly alike, as evidenced in the Word of God.
The first mention of the judgment or judgments of God is recorded in the book of Exodus, as God reassures Moses that he will make a way for the people of Israel to be released from the bondage of slavery in Egypt.
Exodus 6:6, "Therefore say to the Children of Israel: I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments."
Before delving into the judgments of God against the Egyptians, and His faithful protection of the people of Israel in the land of Goshen, there are certain truths concerning the judgments of God that we must establish.
First, the judgments of God are always just, and based on truth rather than supposition. God does not guess when He judges. God does not suppose, nor does He harbor any doubt when He speaks judgment upon a person, a land, a people or the entire world. The Word tells us that justice, and judgment is the habitation of His throne, and as such go hand in hand in executing His righteousness. I realize it has become a popular pastime of many a Christians to second guess, or outright question God's judgments, or the justice thereof, but the foolishness of such practices cannot adequately be described by a mind as limited as my own.
Romans 2:2, "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things."
I hear comments such as "it was unfair for God to do that", or "I think God should have shown a bit more grace", and each time I find them both tedious and foolhardy. I shake my head, and wonder how it is that man has so elevated himself and his view of himself, that he stands ready to question God, or presume that God was not just, merciful or gracious. God's judgments are just! God's judgments are based on truth, and according to truth!
The second thing we must acknowledge when considering the judgment of God, is that it is impartial. God does not show favoritism, God does not show nepotism, He judges without partiality, and those who sinned without law will perish without law, while those who sinned in the law will be judged by the law.
God weighs the hearts of men, He judges based on what the eyes cannot see, He goes beyond the exterior shell, or the image we attempt to project, and everything from our intent, to our motivation, to our thoughts are an open book to Him.
Romans 2:11-12, "For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law."
God's judgment also begins in His house, and acts as a sifting mechanism, separating the wheat from the chaff, those who truly serve Him with a heart of worship and righteousness, and those who serve Him only in the hope of receiving earthly rewards.
1 Peter 4:17-18, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now 'if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?'"
The judgment of God is very different from the wrath of God, because the wrath of God is reserved in exclusivity for the sons of disobedience. It is when God pours out His wrath that His children are sheltered by His omnipotence, and are safe under the shadow of His wing.
Although the wrath of God was provoked, stirred, and even waxed hot against Israel in the Old Testament, it was never poured out, at least not in the measure other passages in Scripture describe it. Even when His wrath was stirred and provoked, it was against those who sinned, committed idolatry, forsook God, mocked His messengers and despised His words.
Zephaniah 1:14-18, "The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land."
I wanted to include this entire passage of scripture, because it paints a vivid portrait of what the day of the Lord's wrath is. Yes, the day God's wrath is poured out upon the world will be a frightful day indeed, a day of trouble, distress, devastation and desolation, for all those who have sinned against the Lord. It is not from judgment, or persecution that God will shelter us, but from His wrath. Of the three God's wrath is the only one reserved for the ungodly, and the sons of disobedience, and His children will suffer no part of it.
Throughout the New Testament whenever the wrath of God is mentioned it is within the context of the disobedient, or those who have rejected God.
Romans 1:18-19, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has show it to them."
Now we come to the difficult part, the part that pertains exclusively to the children of God, that of sifting or the persecution of the saints. It is not a topic many are excited to talk about or expound upon, because the culture in which they were raised has excluded the possibility of persecution for them.
Every time I preach on persecution in America, I get more blank stares from the audience than any other topic, because they just can't relate to the idea of persecution. I would most likely get the same blank stares if I were to go into a fully stocked supermarket and start talking about how we would stand in line for hours on end for such basics as oil, sugar and bread when I lived in Romania, with the very real possibility that they would run out before we got to the head of the line. Some things just don't register yet, but they will with time.
Throughout the centuries we have seen the folly of living with the mentality of "it could never happen here, and if it did it would never happen to me." Things we thought would never happen in America are happening, and it would behoove us to remember that for two thousand years the followers of Christ have been persecuted throughout the world, and even now in many nations the selfsame persecution is raging. Why would we be spared when all others weren't? If God judges without partiality what makes us special an exempt from that which countless brothers and sisters are even now enduring?
What we must acknowledge and accept, although it is difficult for some who have fashioned their own pseudo-gospel, is that the Word of God does not lie, and in it we are encouraged to live with the expectation of persecution. It does not speak of mere probability, or potential, but certainty.
2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
If one's desire is not to live godly in Christ Jesus, but merely pretend when it is convenient for them, then they have nothing to worry about. Just as the pebble is moved along by the rushing river, so will Christians whose desire is not godliness be moved about, perpetually finding the path of least resistance, conflict, and sacrifice. The sad truth is that most would readily sacrifice more for their flesh than they would for their soul, and compromise their deepest held beliefs for the promise of an easy and hardship free life.
If however our desire is to live godly, then we must now and for the rest of our existence purpose in our hearts that we will not be moved, we will not be shaken, and we will not let go of Christ no matter the cost.
I believe the season of threshing has already begun within the house of God, and after the threshing comes the sifting. In order for God to do great and mighty works in and through the church during these end times, that the words of Christ might be fulfilled, He needs to first purge and purify the Bride that it might be that pure and spotless entity standing in stark contrast to the darkness of this present world.
In those days, the world will see your hope and hate you for it, they will see your steadfastness and despise you for it, they will see your protection and persecute you for it, but some will see the hand of God upon you, His light shining through you, and humble themselves falling at the foot of the cross in repentance.
God's desire is not to spare us from being sifted! God's desire is to mold our character, and strengthen our constitution, to grow our faith and mature us by way of sifting. Our perception of how God views us has much to do with whether or not we accept the idea of sifting as one that God not only endorses but employs frequently. While we tend to believe that God sees us as helpless, fledgling baby birds, who venture no further than the safety of the nest, God sees us as His ambassadors, as those who would be shining lights in a world of darkness, those who would stand for truth and confront the forces of darkness.
There is an exchange between Jesus and Peter in the gospel according to Luke that is very telling and sobering. Jesus forewarns Peter that Satan had asked for him that he might be sifted as wheat, but rather than say "I intervened, and it won't happen", Jesus says, "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail!"
If Peter had any hope that he might be spared sifting, that somehow his faith would not be tested, it is at this moment that the illusion is shattered.
Luke 22:31-32, And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
This passage is a sobering reminder, that even the most mature of believers, even those who have been in ministry for decades, are not spared the sifting.
In conclusion, may we continually acknowledge that God's judgments are just, His sifting no matter how violent is both purposeful and necessary, and His wrath against the sons of disobedience is long overdue.
Yes, God is love, God is mercy, God is grace, but He is also holy and righteous and just. We cannot divide His attributes and appropriate only the ones that suit us, or that appeal to our view of how we think God ought to be.
In His love, mercy and grace, God sent His Son to die upon a cross for the sins of men, but in His holiness, righteousness and justice, He will pour out His wrath upon those who rejected and despised the priceless sacrifice that was made on their behalf.
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.