|In Bucharest with Alex* After Leaving the US Embassy
Greetings from Romania!
I arrived in Romania about three weeks ago. My desire was and is to help institutionalized children overcome their adversities and find peace and security in Jesus Christ. People to People Romania
is a Christian organization that provides a great platform to impact these young people.
A little about Romania. It is an Eastern European former communist country. Unfortunately, the marks of the past run deep into its social fabric, and the results are evident in the dramatic economic discrepancies between classes. It is hard for young people who come from modest families to earn a decent living, and much more for those who grew up in an orphanage with no family support.
|After Alex Received His Passport
Pictured with an Employee of the Agency of
Social Assistance and Children’s Protection
The majority of institutionalized children are less prepared academically and vocationally compared with those raised in families and often lack basic life skills even at older ages. With no doors opened for college or into the workforce, many engage in illegal activities. Some studies reveal that six in ten girls become prostitutes and seven in ten boys become hardened criminals. My goal is to prevent such outcomes.
Their life stories changed my life. I often asked myself the question, “Why wasn’t I born into that situation?” Then, I learned that I have a duty. As a Christian, my duty is to “look after the orphans and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Here are some of the ways I am trying to help…
|On the Train Headed Home from Bucharest
I worked with Alex*, an eighteen-year old, to obtain a scholarship for a summer Christian camp in the US and helped with his travel arrangements. Institutionalized children are under a special legal regime, and it is often difficult to help them because of red tape. Such regulations are meant to prevent child-trafficking but can often discourage those who legitimately want to help. Any trip, medical treatment, or educational program requires petitions and approvals. However, God helped us obtain a passport for Alex, funding for his trip to the US, and ultimately a US visa.
This week, I traveled with Alex to Bucharest for his interview at the US embassy. The interview was difficult, and halfway through it, I thought that the consul would deny his request. I cannot express in words the joy both of us felt when the consul ultimately granted Alex the visa. Alex’s story is a sad one; my desire is that, while in the US, his horizon will be broadened and his heart be healed by the Great Healer. We will fly together to the US on the 4th of July.
|Boys from an Orphanage
I am also working with Alex and two other teenagers to find opportunities as they graduate from high school and leave the orphanage. Just today, a girl from the orphanage called me and asked to help her find a job. Many of them are desperate. Another girl asked, “What will happen with me after I reach 18?” Tomorrow, I will be at the hospital with a fifteen-year-old girl, where she is having clubfoot surgery.
The problems are complex and sometimes hard to solve (regulations, approvals, funding, etc.), but the victories are great. As people, we often chase after greatness. I learned that life is not about being great but serving the One who is great. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). I am thankful for this amazing honor to be in Romania and to serve these children.
*For security reasons, I could not disclose the young man’s real name.
(Romanian government policy requires that all photos of institutionalized children be edited with black stripes covering their eyes.)