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!