Romania (MNN) — Sometimes changing a life for the better begins with paying attention. That’s essentially what Orphan’s Heart International is doing in Romania — alongside their national ministry partners, they’re paying attention to the needs facing orphaned and vulnerable children and taking the time to address them.
Alison Wilson of Orphan’s Heart says they recognize in order to meet the spiritual needs of these children, you have to meet their physical needs as well.
“Our partner there is fantastic and they have a very holistic outlook on what they do,” She explains.
Wilson says their ministry in Romania can be split into four parts, although all the projects are ultimately integrated.
Orphan’s Heart and their ministry partner have been allowed to work in part of a hospital to address the needs of children who have been abandoned.
“Children who are abandoned by their parents for a variety of reasons are often left at hospitals because families know that’s a safe place to leave your child if that’s the decision they’re making. Although they don’t need medical care, they still need care until they can be put into a foster care home or some sort of situation that’s better for them.”
Sometimes this provision is the difference between life and death, as you’ll see further on.
According to Wilson, the orphanage system in Latvia is phasing out. They are more heavily relying on foster homes. This is why Orphan’s Heart is also working to help find children good homes once they leave the hospital.
“By supporting the ministry in Romania, we’re able to help develop Christian foster homes, to recruit those through Church plants our partner has done.”
By finding these children long-term, loving homes, they’re helping give them the best chance these kids have for a good life.
While foster care is more common, there are still some public orphanages. Orphan’s Heart works at a large public orphanage to provide guidance for the kids living there.
Their ministry partner has developed some resource rooms that help the kids see beyond the orphanage walls. They have a life-skills lab, something incredibly important for children growing up in orphanages. They also hold regular Bible studies and have a teen hangout lounge.
“There’s just these safe places where the staff, the national ministry staff can go and they lead regular Bible studies every day for both the children and teen groups, they help to mentor and build relationships with these children who don’t have any other real leaders in their life, often, who are Christians leaders and also who can help them make life decisions.”
Finally, Orphan’s Heart assists their national partner with two different villages of the Roma people. Wilson says this people group has a totally different language and culture than the rest of Romania. They are also quite impoverished.
“What’s happened in these two communities as there has been an evangelical church plant that started this ministry, and now we’re building a children’s ministry around that church plant.”
They have a local pastor and want to continue supporting the growth of child ministry. They are also doing a feeding program for families that are struggling.
Excitement for the future
Wilson says they’ve only been partnering with their national partner in Romania for about two years. They are excited for the ministry to grow. Right now they’re taking two short-term mission trips a year to Romania, but eventually they want to take four.
They are looking for people to join them — dental and medical professionals, and others with special skills or a passion for children ministry. There is a variety of ways your skills and talents can fit in to the work Orphan’s Heart is doing.
Never been on a mission trip before? Perfect! Wilson says their short-term mission trips are good experiences for first-timers. They do a great job to prepare you, and help you take care of the logistics behind the trip so you can focus on ministry. Check out the trip opportunities here to see where you might fit.
Wilson shares a story that exemplifies the kind of impact this ministry has in Romania. This is Melvina’s story.
“When I met her,” Wilson says, “she was on a scooter, racing down the road.”
Melvina is a lively and happy little girl. But about 13 years ago, she almost died.
A ministry partner of Orphan’s Heart was passing through the hospital and saw the baby girl not receiving any care. She had been abandoned at the hospital. Doctors explained that she wouldn’t eat, and they couldn’t use resources on a child that was likely to die.
But the ministry partner wasn’t about to give up on her.
“Eventually they realized, she had a basic acid-reflux issue as an infant, and so she wasn’t taking typical formula. And so they stayed in the hospital and provided care for her until she was able to start gaining weight and gather the right formula and the medication she needed, which was actually very inexpensive but it just took somebody having the attention and time to identify the real problem that was going on and find a solution for her.”
Today Melvina is in Christian foster care with foster parents who love her. She knows Jesus as her Savior and has been baptized. Her reality is the goal Orphan’s Heart has for all the children they help.
“They absolutely consider these children their own. They protect them, they love them, they’re so proud of them. They know their individual interests and things they really excel at and they want to help them reach their potential.”
You can sponsor a child in Romania who is in need of a little extra help. For $35 a month, a child will receive adequate medical care, education, food, and have other needs met.
“It truly is life-changing for many of them. In some countries it provides opportunities between getting to go to school and not, and having food and not, or having the vaccination they need or not.”
These children are well looked after by national partners who work to counsel and mentor them and make sure they’re doing okay. But, Wilson reminds, it’s important to recognize that it’s best to commit to a sponsored child until they’re 18-years-old.
It’s also possible to meet your sponsored child when you go on a mission trip with Orphan’s Heart! Learn more here.
Perhaps it’s not feasible for you to go on a mission trip or to sponsor a child. But your prayers are the most important way you can help Orphan’s Heart. Could you pray for the children, the national partners, and for Orphan’s Heart? Ask God to continue to bless them.