On Saturday 45 of us met at the Valley Community Center, put on our gloves, grabbed our sacks, and started picking up garbage. We rendezvoused at the Public Gardens,where we met up with dozens of other groups.
The event was organized by Let’s Do It Romania! This was a way in which those who received school supplies from us could not only receive but also give back to the local community. Our hope and prayer is that by beautifying our neighborhoods, we will sense more ownership, more care, and more pride for the piece of creation that we inhabit.
Thank you for praying for us over the summer. Let me update you on what was a full, busy and beautiful season.
This spring we had lots of requests from parents and neighbors to do an adult literacy program. We also noticed that there was lots of interest and energy in our community to start this. So, in June, we enrolled six adults. Over the course of three months, four of them finished the program and learned how to read. Now we are enrolling a new group that will focus on writing.
This summer we placed all of our teenagers in a mentoring relationship. During the week we discussed issues like what it means to be a Christian, values and convictions, how to treat someone of the opposite gender, drugs and addiction, and personalities and temperaments. We had weekly meetings with each one and tried to help them evaluate their lives and to take steps in a healthy direction. This is something we’re hoping to continue this throughout the school year.
In midsummer we hosted a team from Lifegate Church. They have been incredibly supportive of me and our community over the years, so it was a joy for us to introduce them to the children and to our ministry. They helped out in the garden and played games with the kids. We are thankful for the relationships we were able to develop and trust that the investments made will reap fruit for the kingdom.
A group also visited us for a day from Grace Baptist Church. We spent the day playing soccer, volleyball and basketball. The girls painted their nails and the younger kids played with bubbles. It was a blessing for the kids and for our staff, and we hope to continue developing our relationship with this church.
We also hosted Dan Henry, who is our servant team coordinator in Sierra Leone. It was great to catch up with him and to introduce him to our Romanian staff and to our kids.
This year I have been involved with the pastoral committee from the church in which we participate in Galati, specifically with their outreach to the needy. We spent a few days with the church leadership to pray and plan together at Voronet. While there we also visited a 15th century monastery with amazing icon painted inside and out.
Over the past few years, we have organized a monthly “Beggars’ Society,” which raises awareness concerning poverty issues. Rather than holding this event at our Community Center, this year we have held it in local churches. The last series focused on migration, and we had really positive feedback on it.
In August, we organized camp for the younger children from the Community Center The theme of the week was “the fruit of the Spirit.” Thank you for praying for this time. We were able to build relationships and engage the kids in way that we cannot in Galati. It was great to see the children in nature, horseback riding, running around the open fields, jumping on the trampoline, and laughing. We saw God working in their lives throughout the week.
We were planning a hiking and camping trip with the teenage boys. But because they didn’t show much interest, we decided to direct them to camp with the church youth groups. A couple of them participated and are now much more involved in church. We still hope to do the hiking/camping trip in the future.
In August, I finished up my dissertation on St. Basil’s theology of the poor. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to get it done. I’m glad to have submitted it and am hopeful that it will be approved.
Over the summer we saw our expenses exceed our income. This is a little troubling in that our expenses during the winter are even higher. Almost all of our income is from many small regular donations of $10 or $15 per month. If you know anyone who would be interested in joining our support community, please speak with them on our behalf.
Although financial strains can be a burden, we continue to trust God who has provided beyond what we ever could hope for. We continue to walk on this road by faith in God’s provision. This summer we identified a number of grants that are designated for education and social projects. So, we applied. We received a letter of intention from one of them. You can help us win the grant. Register and vote here. The name of our project is called: “Sa-i invatam pe copii drumul catre scoala”.
A friend of ours held a concert this past week. She donated all the sales of her CDs to our community so that we could provide school supplies for children that are not enrolled at our Community Center but who do not go to school because they don’t have the necessary supplies. We are thankful that the local community is starting to resource us so that we can have a larger impact.
We also have had the local newspapers and television stations publish articles and interviews on our community and our various activities. This is helping the people of Galati know who we are and what we are about.
This month we are also launching a new project. In a village about 40 minutes outside of Galati, we are opening a Day Center to help kids that are at risk of dropping out of school. The chair of our board purchased and renovated an old house. Now we are in the process of acquiring all the necessary authorizations. We have employed a new staff person, Anca Nebunu, to coordinate the Center. At least 10 children will be enrolled this year.
In September, we are also receiving two interns. Tami is from George Fox University and will be with us for four months. Katy is from Scotland. She did a servant team with us in 2000 and is now a family practitioner. Over the next 10 months, she will be praying about and investigating the possibilities of setting up a medical practice in Galati.
As you see, it has been a busy summer and much is happening this autumn as well. We are grateful to see God at work and pray that we simply would God’s instruments in witnessing to and building for the kingdom.
Please do continue to pray for us:
With thanksgiving for your involvement in our lives,
david and lenutsa
Elena Parapiru a scris un articol in Viata Libera entitluat ‘Cersetorie si obscenitati‘. As intreba-o pe d-na Parapiru ce este mai “obscen”: comportamentului cersetorilor sau reactia noastra fata de ei? In loc sa afle numele si povestea celor care cersesc, e suficient doar sa-i dezumanizam? In loc sa raspundem cu compasiune omeneasca, doar ii judecam de sus? In relatarea d-nei Parapiru, cersetorii sunt vinovati si ‘cineva’ trebuie sa-i stranga. Dar care este responsabilitatea noastra sociala? Saracia este obscena. Nepasarea fata de oamenii saraci este obscena. Mai obscena este educatia pe care o dam copiilor nostri: in loc sa-i invatam mila, ii invatam dispret. Poate daca am cauta sa vadem umanitatea celor care sufera la semafoare, am descoperi propria noastra umanitate.
The Galati newspaper Viata Libera (Free Life) published an article this week called ‘Begging and Obscenities at the Traffic Light.’ The author, Elena Parapiru, describes the offenses of beggars who irritate drivers with their crutches, their intoxication with paint inhalants, their dirtying rather than cleaning windshields, and their public masturbation. She is especially offended because these terrible images are witnessed by her child in the car. Parapiru asks, “Why the hell doesn’t someone roundup those on the streets? Why does my child have to see these terrible images?”
Parapriu’s article is disturbing. However, it’s not so much the horrors that Parapiru describes that disturb me but rather her reaction to them.
Certainly, there is something obscene in public masturbation and in begging. But I would rank them low on the hierarchy of obscenities. How can we complain about public masturbation when every newsstand displays the pornography it sales or when our banks and hypermarkets use sex to sell their services and products? Isn’t the objectification of women more obscene than the public masturbation of an intoxicated beggar?
Perhaps the reality of beggars offends us. But is it their begging us that is an obscenity or is it our complacency and indifference? Shouldn’t we call hunger obscene? Shouldn’t we be offended by the lack of shelter, the lack of education, and the lack of healthy families?
I find Parapiru’s reaction to beggars obscene. I am offended by Parapiru’s disregard, lack of compassion and blaming of the beggars. More than that, I find it high on the hierarchy of obscenities that Parapiru is educating her child in the school of disdain. Parapiru’s child should be offended more by the actions of her mother than by the actions of the beggar.
Rather than expecting ‘someone’ or some government institution to respond to the beggars, I would call on each citizen to respond. At the very least, we can stop and learn the names of the beggars and listen to their stories rather than standing in judgment from afar. Maybe together we can evaluate the complexities of poverty, the history of the impoverished, and practices that can alleviate poverty. But blaming the poor and blaming society’s lack of reaction to the impoverished without taking personal responsibility is cheap and non-constructive.
I would invite Mrs. Parapiru to respond humanely, if not Christianly, by finding ways to truly help beggars find alternative means to survive and work. Perhaps by discovering the humanity in the poor beggars, we can discover humanity in ourselves.
This time last year:
In pre-modern times, empires would give citizenship rights to vassal countries that paid the empire its dues. This practice continues today, albeit in different forms. Yesterday, the Romanian President visited Washington D.C. to sign a missile defense treaty. The U.S. military will build an anti-missile system in Romania and will station 500 U.S. troops in Romania. In exchange for this agreement and for Romania’s participation in the war in Afghanistan, Romania is asking for a visa waiver for its citizens to travel to the U.S. For military alignment, Romania wants some of the benefits of citizenship in the empire.
To counter and critique this militaristic basis for citizenship, those with citizenship in heaven commit to loving those on the other side of the missile ‘defense’ so that we may share together in the citizenship of heaven. Although we may lose the benefits of the empire by not participating in its claims to protect through violence, we know that the empire ultimately cannot deliver on those claims.
Those with heavenly citizenship resist battling with flesh and blood and name, unmask and engage the powers and principalities that dehumanize, oppress and kill those created after the image of God.