|Romania Division Update by Samantha Nelson|
"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." (Isaiah 65:24)
Have you ever wondered in what direction God may be leading in a certain situation? Sometimes the direction is not as clear as we'd like, but God never fails to guide our steps when we seek Him! The above text is the briefest update I can give you on our recent trip to Romania. I'm sure you'll want to hear more though, so let me share what great things God has done!
Before leaving for Romania, we were greatly concerned about how the organization there was going to proceed and be sustained. We'd lost two board members and volunteers (Ingrid Muller and Ion Buciuman) due to changes in their lives and it seemed like things were beginning to unravel. I wondered, "are we really going to have to close down the Romanian organization of The Hope of Survivors?" As much as I prayed and thought about it, it did not seem like that was the right thing to do. You see, 2015 was the first year we collected donations in Romania and it seemed like it would be wrong to stop when we were just getting started with financial support there.
God had many amazing surprises in store for us when we arrived!
As we held our board meeting and financial meetings with Maria Simionca and Cecilia Calin, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the organization had received enough donations to cover the expenses (not including the trip expenses, of course) for the year and even had a small amount left over. That was no small feat to accomplish in Romania, where the average annual salary is approximately $4,000 USD. There's no doubt about it--it is tough to earn a living wage in Romania! We are so grateful for those who have signed up for ANAF, a government program in Romania, which takes 2% of the annual wage (of those who sign up) and donates it to The Hope of Survivors. We hope that even more people will sign up this year so we can do even more outreach and provide more support to victims next year.
One Saturday, as Steve was preparing to share a message with the Dynamis Church in Bucharest, George, the elder, came to us and said they wanted to hear our testimony and learn more about The Hope of Survivors instead. That turned out to be quite a blessing! Steve and I shared our testimony about clergy sexual abuse and shared about The Hope of Survivors, all the work we are doing around the world and the need for more volunteers right there in Romania. After the service, during the fellowship meal, one young woman came up to us and asked what we needed help with in Romania. As I shared with her that we really needed to raise awareness of clergy sexual abuse, abuse in general and The Hope of Survivors, her eyes lit up and she volunteered on the spot! Why? Because, as she said, "I'm a PR specialist and would love to help!" Thank you so much, Aurora Carmen Parvan for joining THOS-RO team! We are truly blessed to have you onboard!
Additionally, while we were in Bistrita having our board meeting and visiting with volunteers and family there, I was introduced to a new family member who was very excited about the work The Hope of Survivors is doing. She was eager to help and so Andreaa Epure also joined THOS-RO team. Truly, God was providing the people we needed to keep moving forward!
Our attorneys, Ioan-Bogdan and Amala Mararu, also gave us a lot of very good advice and ideas on how to move forward, including becoming a member of the AmCham, the American Romanian Chamber of Commerce. We were thrilled to see how God was opening doors and encouraging us to press on with THOS-RO.
Of course, some of the most meaningful encounters were the ones we had with victims. Being able to encourage them in their healing process and relationship with God is a large part of THOS-RO ministry. We were grateful to meet these precious daughters of God and ask that you continue to keep victims of clergy sexual abuse, whether in Romania or anywhere in the world, in your prayers. I can't share photos of the victims we ministered to because they requested to keep their names and stories confidential, but I can tell you that the work in Romania needs to go forward and, by God's grace and provision, it will go forward.
An extra blessing we had was being able to reunite with Angella, a young girl we ministered to when we first visited and worked in Romania in 2009. We'd lost track of her because she doesn't speak English, but she found me on Facebook about a year and a half ago. Let's just say that our reunion this year was heartfelt and touching! Praise be to God for being with this precious young woman.
Our next step is to try to hire someone as a fulltime employee of THOS-RO. We can do this for $500 per month--that includes the employee's wages, the taxes THOS-RO would have to pay, as well as benefits for the employee. Would you please pray about whether God would have you help fund this very important mission outreach? You can make your contribution through our regular website, or directly through the Romanian website.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support!
God bless you,