Let me introduce you to some of the children that are part of The Father’s House ministry here in the Medias area of Romania. They have defied the odds. They have a hope and a future.
(Image: Father’s House, "Tatalui Casa," Medias, Romania)
(Image: Flavius riding his bike)
Flavius is an eight year-old boy. His father deserted the family when he was born. Subsequently unwanted and despised by his mother, he was literally treated like an unloved dog in her home. Scraps of food were thrown at him while he wriggled around unattended on the filthy floor. When he was rescued at two years old, he had to be bathed six times just to get the deeply-embedded dirt out of his skin.
He is now a charming child with a soft countenance and warm smile. He shyly told us that he loves his new ‘mama’ and is doing well at school. His favorite subject is mathematics and he proudly showed us a merit certificate indicating his superior performance. We met him on the day before his birthday but, partly due to our visit, he was allowed to enjoy his present – a new bike – while we were there.
From crawling in dirt and eating discarded morsels, to riding a shiny new bicycle in front of his home, Flavius has seized hold of his new opportunity for childhood, family, and love.
His life is still not without struggles, though. Coming from a Roma Gypsy background, he is discriminated harshly by other children his age. While we were with him we were told that he frequently asks, “Why do the other children not want to play with me?”
Flavius has loving support, counsel and encouragement to overcome such things. More importantly, he knows Jesus. He will find comfort in understanding that his true identity is in Christ.
(Image: Anca playing the violin for us)
This bright-eyed little seven year-old lit up the whole room when she came in. She and her sister, Denisa, were taken in by the state after their mother died and their alcoholic father abandoned them. Our host, Peter, shared with us that Anca and Denisa were “clinging to each other” and were “inseparable” when they were initially placed into a local institutional orphanage. They slept tightly together in the same bunk bed. They were the only family that each other had.
Then, the most heartbreaking scenario occurred. They were split up and placed into two different orphanages. I can’t imagine what drives even a secular governmental organization to do such an unwise and cruel thing. After a painful one-and-a-half years apart, the Father’s House ministry received the children and reunited them in a family home environment.
Nine year-old Denisa was away at a mandolin lesson when we arrived. Her little sister wanted to join her, just to be with her and listen to her play, but was asked to be at the home to spend some time with us. Anca shared her own aptitude for stringed instruments and entertained us on the violin with Fairest Lord Jesus. She loves to make music with her sister and a new brother who plays the keyboard. Once abandoned and left to die, she now offers beautiful melodies to the Lord as part of an informal family band that includes the sister she loves so much.
Alexandra and Alexandro
(Image: Alexandra and Alexandro with their foster mother)
Alexandra and Alexandro are two year-old twins from a poor Roma Gypsy family. Their mother left them near an unsafe wood-burning stove that ignited and consumed their home. The blaze killed their older sister and left Alexandra, at six months old, severely burned over most of her body. Her leg scars are so thick and inflexible that she will probably have great difficulty and pain walking when she grows older.
After the fire, the parents were tried for negligent manslaughter and the court removed Alexandra and Alexandro from their custody. Already poor, all their resources are being usurped by their legal fees.
Father’s House stepped in to arrange care for the children. During our visit, Alexandra was teething. The tears streaming down her face betrayed her true demeanor and happiness. She is typically a very joyful child…except when her parents come to visit. She and Alexandro are very uncomfortable and unhappy when they are around. Their reaction is one of pain and fear, fear that they might have to return to the life of neglect that left their sister dead and themselves physically and emotionally damaged.
The parents have not visited for quite a long time now. It appears that they will never have custody again and have little ability or desire to continue with their visitation rights. It truly is a tragedy. The blessing, of course, is that these two precious children have not been confined to an institution; have not been separated from one another. They share a common pain, but now share a common hope.
(Image: Anna Marie with the Father’s House social worker, Miriam)
Eleven year-old Anna Marie was abandoned at birth. She was placed successively into three different state-supported foster families. There were ‘problems’ with each family and she was forced into the home of the parents that had thrown her away three years before. There, she was beaten and abused. She was locked up and not fed. She became severely malnourished.
At ten years of age, Anna Marie couldn’t even walk. The lack of sustenance and mobility caused her muscles to atrophy. She was frightened, broken and emaciated. Father’s House then came to the rescue and placed her into a loving home. She now feels treasured and secure, but often steals food from the home – an indication that her scars and fears run deep, not knowing if her time of plenty will come to an abrupt end as with the foster families she was initially placed with.
(Image: Paul with Vanessa)
We looked forward to meeting the next child. We were told that she was seven, but didn’t look her age. I naturally assumed that she would appear small and developmentally delayed. To our surprise a very robust healthy girl, who looked well beyond her years, confidently walked in with a gleaming smile.
Vanessa, also abandoned at birth, was confined to her crib at a government orphanage for the first two years of her young life. She was malnourished and developed rickets. Her hands and feet curled inwards. She couldn’t walk and was very sullen in outlook and attitude.
The girl before us now struck quite the contrast to her sad beginnings. She was jovial and comical, talking up a storm and giggling as she told stories about the pigeons and hens on the property. She freely gave hugs to Scott and me, clearly overjoyed at having visitors from the West.
All these children have been released – released from hopelessness; released from physical and mental ailments; released from the claws of the enemy.
All these children have been transformed – transformed by the tangible love extended by the Body of Christ; transformed into children of hope.