Two days ago, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck northeast of Rome, Italy. Over 260 individuals have been confirmed dead from the quake, and over 5,000 rescuers are searching for the estimated hundreds still trapped in the rubble. Relief efforts have been difficult as over 900 aftershocks have continued to devastate the mountainous area, making the search for survivors even more perilous. Thanks to our network of partners across the globe, Convoy of Hope Europe stands ready to respond to the crisis by utilizing contacts in cities like Rome, Milan, and L’Aquila. The earthquake zone is currently open only to those sent by the government. However, our partners are in the area looking for ways to provide assistance. To contribute to our disaster response in Italy, please click below and donate now. Thank you! DONATE
The daily schedule simply said, “Home visitations and food parcel distribution.” Nothing could have fully prepared the team from Marlton, New Jersey for what they encountered. While it was an emotional couple of days visiting the neediest families, it was clear that God had directed their steps, and an extra deposit of God’s love flowed through this team as they delivered food parcels, gift bags, and hope wrapped in prayers! One woman stood at the gate, with tears streaming down her face and her 4-year-old clinging to her leg. Two other children were running around in the yard. She had just finished cooking the last bit of rice for her children didn’t know how she would feed her children until her next month’s meager assistance arrived from the government. Many of us will never know this kind of desperation and hunger, but this woman made a connection of hope in her community. She was shaking as team members handed her two large bags of rice, pasta, cooking oil, flour, sugar, beans, and a few other special items for the whole family. Through a simple food parcel, she learned that the local church loved her and that there are people, right in her village, that care about her and her family. Convoy of Hope Europe exists to be a catalyst of hope and a partner to the local church, intent on seeing meaningful transformation in communities like Darabani—physically, socially, and spiritually. The Darabani church has already been helping people in their community, regardless of whether they attend the church or not. One home visited by the team was in great disrepair and truly uninhabitable. The family did not attend the church, but the church has been working for the past few months to build them a new home. This is where hope begins.
It was the most important building in Darabani, Romania. Lonel, a local man and leader from the church, shared his memories from a time 25 years earlier under Communist rule. This building housed the only grocery store. Many fights would break out as people struggled to get a ticket for bread, eggs, and milk. They would wait in line for hours, and even with a ticket, there was no guarantee the store wouldn’t run out before they made it the front. Crowds would yell and push as hopelessness descended further into despair. Fathers and mothers would be turned away and have to return home to hungry children. The afternoon did not end with that story of despair, but instead, added an additional motivation to the sounds of our Convoy of Hope Europe (COHEU) team and the local church family joining together in prayer for another greater purpose for this building. Pastor Dorel Toma, along with his church leadership team found this building sitting vacant 150 meters from their church facility. When COHEU staff were visiting the area in April, Pastor Dorel shared his vision for this building and impacting the Darabani community. A COHEU team member placed a simple prayer request on a Facebook post about this dream, and a pastor’s wife in New Jersey felt led to share this request with her congregation. God spoke to a man in Illinois during that Sunday morning worship service to give whatever was needed to purchase this building. Because of this act of obedience, coupled with this pastor’s faith—the church of Darabani owns what will become a community center! Lonel shared with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, “This place where people once fought for bread will now be a place where the Bread of Life will be given freely to all! It will no longer be known as a place of pain and hurt, but a place of hope and healing!” COHEU welcomed its very first team into Darabani from Marlton Assembly of God in New Jersey. This great church is partnering with us through our 3-year, Adopt A Community initiative and will see first-hand what can happen when churches partner together—even from different sides of the planet—to bring hope, healing, and love to villages like Darabani!
In Derry, Northern Ireland, Brian Somerville and Cornerstone City Church dreamed big and purchased a 40,000 square foot abandoned building, believing that one day it would house their church. After numerous challenges, they were finally able to sign the paperwork and received the keys in June of 2014. Convoy of Hope Europe has partnered with Cornerstone City Church for years through their annual community outreach program, and also wanted to commit to assisting Cornerstone into their new building. Bringing five construction teams from four American churches over the course of the past two years, much of the renovation work has been finished. The church offices are open, and two large spaces have been finished to a point where they are usable for events. Now in the second phase of renovations, Pastor Brian approached the owner of the parking garage next to the building and started a dialogue about renting the garage during their Sunday service to help meet their new parking needs. The owner, who didn’t want anything to do with the church or with God, was hesitant. After persistence, prayer, and building a positive relationship with the owner, Pastor Brian received a breakthrough. Not only did the owner finally agree to allow Cornerstone to rent the space, he further agreed to provide it to the church for free! This decision was made right before our most recent team from Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois arrived. The Naperville church sent their second team to Northern Ireland in June, and were able to give the parking garage a much-needed facelift. The future is huge for Cornerstone City Church and we are honored to walk alongside of them and see this dream become a reality, even bigger than expected!
Convoy of Hope Europe (COHEU) has been responding to the plight of refugees since 2013, when we started a feeding program for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Since then, the program provides 150 families with monthly food parcels as they await UNHCR processing and placement. In the last three years, an estimated 6,000 people have come through the program’s two locations in Irbid and East Amman. One of those refugees is a Muslim woman named Celia. Celia was eight months pregnant with her third child when her house was bombed and her other two children were killed. Her husband disappeared that night, and she has no idea if he was killed or injured. Heavily pregnant, she didn’t know what to do. In the space of an hour, she lost her home and her family. Joining a group of others who also lost their homes to bombing, Celia fled to Jordan. Before she could even apply for asylum with the UNHCR, she was hit by a car in Amman. She was taken to a hospital where she delivered her baby boy. Without options on where to go from there, unable to work, she went to the mosques looking for help but was turned away. A week later, a passing woman in the streets told her that people in a certain building in Amman were handing out food parcels. Celia walked to the doors of the church and was quickly brought in. When one of the helpers, Hakim, asked what they could do for her, Celia told him that over the past 10 days a voice had been repeating “Jesus, Jesus” in her head. She asked what that meant, and asked him to pray for her. He did, and led her through the prayer of salvation. She next asked Hakim for a Bible, which she took home (along with her food parcel) and studied intently. A week later, she returned saying she had fallen asleep with the Bible open on her chest, and the Lord appeared to her in a vision. He told her “I am Jesus Christ, don’t be afraid. I’ll be with you and your son.” Physical and social assistance from humanitarian organizations is important. Meeting the overwhelming needs of the refugees is difficult and complicated, and COHEU is committed to providing as many resources as possible, but we do not stop there. We firmly believe that while refugees do not need more religion, they do need to see Jesus in what we do. They need to see a walking Jesus that helps them physically and socially, but most importantly, spiritually. If our humanitarian work is not bringing souls into the Kingdom of God, we have failed. Our goal is not to throw food off the back of a truck, but to invest in lives like Celia’s that come through our doors, to share the only true Hope in Christ, which is more valuable than any meal. We make sure that every project we begin has a spiritual impact on the community as great as the physical and social impact. Most of our Adopt-A-Community programs are started in conjunction with a church plant, and we have carried those principles into our response to the Refugee Crisis. The plight of the refugees will get much worse before it gets better, but by being a walking Jesus through the situation, we hope to share a future of possibilities that would never otherwise be known.