Touching Strangers

by Mary Lynne Mountjoy

The woman wept. She had never had a coat before. Her boy loved his new sweater and would wear it to school the very next day. But it was more than that. The husband was also visibly moved.

It was such a simple thing to give a bag of clothes. We get donations sent by people who want to give some of what they have to help others, whom they have never met. We sort them and we do our best to give them out responsibly and make sure they all go to where they will be of most benefit. This time, there were donations to be cleared out to make room for more to come, things that didn’t really fit with what was needed in the hospital Baby Closet. Someone had a coat they no longer wore, I had some things outgrown by my girls, and those got added in to the mix. Then someone asked.

There was this family they knew, and they were struggling. Winter is coming on, and the boy needs to go to school. There are no uniform requirements for schools, and these days Roma children are entitled to an education as much as any other child, but that doesn’t stop the bullying, the mocking of boys who might have to wear girl’s clothes, or of children whose clothes are torn and stained and don’t fit. And then there’s the problem of keeping children warm and dry in a cold and wet winter climate. If they get wet on the way to school, they have to stay wet. I get the impression that Roma children have it impressed on them from an early age that they don’t matter, nobody likes them, life is hard because that is all they deserve. I’ve seen the bullying in the streets, and it’s not only from other children.

Today, the father of that family probably walked miles into the woods wearing his new jacket, but still wearing only half a sole on one shoe, to cut and carry poles of wood as he works to support his family. He cuts, peels, and seasons the poles, then cuts and gathers twigs to make traditional birch brooms, used to sweep leaves, grass clippings, or snow. It’s an effective tool, made from a renewable natural resource, used and replaced regularly in most Romanian households, and it is how this man supports his family, selling his hand-made brooms for 10lei apiece. He and his family moved from another area back to the area where he grew up and, as he works, he is saving money towards the 350lei fee he needs to pay in order to change their local residency and apply for child benefits. Until he can pay that fee, the money from his birch brooms is all they have. But he works hard and saves hard for a special purpose, as well. Once he has paid the fee and changed the family’s official area of residence, he can also apply for extra benefits to pay for treatment for his disabled daughter. The help is there, if only they can afford to apply for it.

A wife, a hardworking husband, a son who helps in his father’s work, a little sister… and then the baby of the family. A little girl who at two and a half wears eighteen-month size clothes, needs constant care and careful medication, and has often had to be in hospital. They worry about her. If only they could get the extra money, maybe they could find help for her. They want her to be a part of their family life, not sentenced to life in an institution.
So they have so little, but save everything they can toward the hope of help for their baby. And winter is coming, and the boy needs to go to school. A bag of clothes was all we gave them.

A bag of clothes. In a place where it would be so easy to give up a disabled child to an institution, and more than enough reasons to justify doing so; in a place where there is so much need, where it would be easy to turn away, to say “We do enough already.”; in a place where a certain minority, even a certain small portion of that minority, are blamed for their own problems, commonly considered to be beyond help, not worth the trouble – a bag of clothes from strangers who cared enough to look through some boxes and check sizes. That was the reason for the tears. Somebody cared. Someone had thought of them. Strangers had thought them worth helping.

I thank God for that coat, for those clothes that one person or another didn’t need anymore, for the shipments of donations we get, for all the tedious sorting and resorting that gets done, for the timing, for the conversation that led to the question “Do you have any..?”. I thank God for the grace for each of us to say “yes” to one more need, to one more person, to do just one more thing at the end of the day; for the chance to show someone that they are worth thinking of.

Give God the Glory

Our Kid’s Club kid’s singing “Rise & Shine (and give God the glory)”. Isn’t it awesome to see songs that we learned in Sunday School being learned in other countries so that other kid’s may learn about Jesus?

Through the Eyes of a Volunteer – Autumn Black

This devotional was written in Romania, about mid-week through our journey. I focused primarily on those current needs of our team, who were growing weary of working, but not sharing the gospel by word-of-mouth. I hope that it might give you a fresh perspective or a simple reminder of what our job is in evangelism.
By Autumn Black, FFR Volunteer who came with a team from Kingwood Bible Church, Kingwood, TX

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” -1 Cor. 13:13
What does it mean to ‘hope’? tell us that as a noun it is “the feeling that something desired is possible” and as a verb hope is “to look forward to with desire and confidence; or- to have hope”. As Christians, we recognize this as a Pagan view of hope. In this view, just because someone hopes, that doesn’t bring anything to fruition. 
Both Simon and Mary (FFR Team members) have spoken of the Roma people in a way that perfectly reflects a Pagan’s hope situation: one of hopelessness. They live in the moment, stuck in a mind-frame that revolves around constant need, and yet, no matter what they find to fulfill that moments need, it’s never enough. They can’t live outside themselves; they only see their own needs and what directly impacts them in that immediate situation. 
Jesus makes is plain in John 4:14 (“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”) that only in Him can we be fulfilled and are we able to fill that void (the one the Roma peoples don’t even realize they’re hoping to fill with every passing situations need ‘met’, and why their emptiness continues, and yet their emptiness continues). Everything else we use to fill this void will dry up, as it does with the Roam people, and will require something else to refill that emptiness, which then becomes a cycle. this cycle is referred to in John 4:13 (“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again.'”)
As Christians, we understand that “hope is synonymous with salvation and its many blessings, past, present and future, as promised in Scripture. This is true even with what we have already received as believers because these blessing come under the category of what we cannot see. We may see some of the results, but it still requires faith and hope. For example, we do not see the justifying work of God, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account, nor do we see the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we are saved, nor our co-union with Christ. We believe this to be reality, but this is a matter of our hope. We believe in the testimony of God in the Word and hope for the results in our lives. In summary, hope (to a Christian) is the confident expectation, the sure certainty that what God has promised in the Word is true, has occurred, or will in accordance with God’s sure word.
The entire situation with he Roma people reminds me of John 1:5 “The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not.” 
Firm Foundations Romania has become a light in the darkness of these peoples’ lives. The Tomas don’t understand why these men and women sacrifice their time, energy, comforts of home, etc. on them. “They comprehend it not,” yet Mary, Simon, Alisha and the others continue to be a light to them. And, as an extension of FFR this week, we too have become part of that light. 
A couple times this week, I’ve heard our team mention how they wish that they were more a part of the “Spiritual” side of what we’ve been doing and have been desiring that you’d have more opportunities to vocalize your faith so that you might have more impact. 
I challenge you to remember Christ’s words as recorded in John 4: 36-38 “‘Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; other have labored and you have entered into their labor.'” 

We are here to “enter into (FFR’s) labor” this week. His light shines from each 
of us in everything we do: changing diapers, holding neglected babies, digging up rotting boards, putting in new flooring. Everything we do in His Spirit allows His light to shine forth. 
I encourage you to remember today that our task in evangelism is not to count as success only those who immediately are saved, but to share. One may come behind us and water and nurture that seed we planted and help that person come to saving grace knowledge. It is still counted as a success to us because we did our job in evangelism: to share the Gospel. 

All the Holy Spirit to dictate how you share to Gospel in each situation– with a hug, a hammer, or in actual words. After all, we are only the vehicle, while the Holy Spirit is the one actually doing the driving. True hope will never become realized until the Holy Spirit intervenes and changes the heart of man– any man, including a Roma.

Homes in Budila

Some of you may know that we are looking for a team to come on very short notice to help build a house in the village before the winter months kick in. If you’ve been following our page you’ll likely know that getting the land for this house has been a bit of a struggle, but it is very important that we equip the Marsavela family with a new home! Take a look at some pictures of the homes and conditions in Budila, it is truly humbling and is a great reminder of how blessed we are!


Play Ball!

Football that is…You’ve seen pictures, but here’s a video of our Budila guys playing soccer with some of the Firm Foundations Romania team! Aren’t they good?

Jesus, Thank You for the Food

This song is sung before snack time at Kid’s Club. The song, which literally translates to “Jesus, thank you for the food”, was written by FFR’s president Sarah Berchtold. While the song is simple in execution it is perfect for our kids to remember – they love to sing!

Abandon Fear Campaign

The Abandon Fear campaign is Firm Foundation Romania’s first ever awareness campaign. Through this video we want to know – can you help us abandon fear and embrace hope?

 THE GOAL is simple. All we want to do through this campaign is raise awareness through social media. We serve an underserved community, we love a people that many have forgotten about or never even knew existed. Help us spread our mission by sharing this video and our campaign with everyone you know. Making a difference takes numbers, it takes all kinds of people from all walks of life. Are you willing to get on board?

The mission is Isaiah 1:17. “Do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
In 2013 there are over 600,000 Roma gypsies in Romania making them the second largest minority in the country. The conditions these families live in are considered third world. Unemployment is at 90%. Illiteracy is at 80%. And they contribute largely to the orphan epidemic in Romania. We are equipping them with resources, education and hope for the future.

 Share this video and help us ABANDON FEAR and EMBRACE HOPE.