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!
Living in a small, one-room apartment in Romania, Pastor Alexandru and his wife share a passion to see lives transformed and their community infused with a fresh hope. They have suffered great opposition, moving 6 times over the past few years when local religious leaders pressured the landlords “to evict the pastors”. Even so, the couple continues to press on sharing love with their neighbors and the hurting in their community. Convoy of Hope Europe is partnering with these wonderful people in the village of Horezu to bless the local teachers and civic leaders, initiate an after-school program for children, and provide firewood for the neediest residents. All this to support significant and sustainable change in their community, and strengthen the local church. Horezu is an internationally acclaimed cultural epicenter for potters and wood workers. Pastor Alexandru would like to create an apprenticeship with local skilled artisans who can train the next generation in woodworking and pottery. He said, “This will ensure future jobs for young people, preserve the rich cultural heritage, and strengthen the local economy—all while sharing God’s love that will lead to healthy families and true life!” We are excited to see what God has in store for this village! If your church or organization would be interested in being a part of this Adopt-A-Community project, please contact our COHEU team for more information.
Florita is an elderly woman from Les, Romania. Widowed early with a young daughter to raise, Florita went to work as the postwoman in Les. Her determination to support herself was dashed a few years later when a devastating sickness stole her eyesight, leaving her completely blind. For decades, Florita lived alone in a house that did not have a finished roof and ceiling. In a country where there are no social programs for the blind and/or elderly, Florita was unable to keep out the rain, wind, and snow. Because of your support, Convoy of Hope Europe was able to identify Florita’s situation and take action. When a team from First Assembly of God in Griffin, Georgia brought a team to Les, they made sure to fix the roof and ceiling of Florita’s home. Florita no longer has to worry about the rain and she now has faith and hope.
From July 11th- 18th, 2014, Bethany Church of Wyckoff, New Jersey, and Bethlehem Assembly of God of Valley Stream, New York teamed up for a week of service in the adopted community of Dicanesti, Romania. Dicanesti has been sponsored through the Adopt-a-Community program by Bethany Church in partnership with Calvary Lighthouse of Lakewood, New Jersey. This was our fourth and final joint trip. Throughout the week, the team engaged in several days of children’s programs that included songs, dancing, stories, face painting, balloons, puppets, and other games. We also cleaned around the local community center and rebarred iron pillars on the roof. While this was going on, other team members were helping with the installation of water pipes that now bring fresh clean water from the town to the Roma settlement, some 600 meters (656 yards) away. The team played an integral part in making this happen as they dug trenches and installed pipeline. This is the first time that this community has had running water. Thanks to the support of this project, we will also be able to bring electricity to many homes in the village later in the year. Thank you to Bethany Church, Bethlehem Assembly, and Calvary Lighthouse for your support and the hard work invested into this project. The compassion and care shown for the people of Dicanesti over the past few years is immeasurable and will have lasting effects for years to come. Stories from previous trips can be found here, here, and here. To donate to this project, click here.