The following story was first published in our very first missionary newsletter ever published. It describes the things I saw, heard and felt on one single day of our last short term mission trip, thirteen years ago, before moving from California to Romania to serve God full time. Please note that the need of Romanians for Christ, the struggles of the missionaries, and the faithfulness of their God remain unchanged.
A Day in Romania,
Journal Excerpts by Krista Hahne
Tuesday, June 18, 1996
There is a place in Romania where some of Jesus’ children live. All under three years old, they lay in cribs waiting to be loved. Volunteers are allowed to work with the children, but we must not take photographs.
We come eagerly at 9:30 a.m. and bring twenty or so babies into the playroom. We hug, croon, stroke, tickle and coax these little guys to sit, walk, stand or play. They are so far behind. Looking around the baby-filled room I see little pink faces framed in dark brown or golden curls. Some babies are robust and beautiful. Perhaps they will be adopted. Others wrench my heart. One gentle-spirited child lays helpless, his scarecrow body weak and brittle, his left arm curled up helplessly. He smiles sweetly when I simply stroke his cheek, admiring me thankfully with deep brown, lavishly lashed eyes.
At precisely 11:30 it is time for diapering. The babies are tired anyway, but there is something about the mechanical way the nurses swoop into the room and pluck up the babies that grieves me. I leave, whispering prayers for His little ones.
At 2 p.m. the church meets for hospital ministry. On the fourth floor, Emilia lays sobbing and moaning in her bed while two men hover over her. Is she a cancer patient in great pain? No. the two men are policemen. She has just been slashed on the face and body by her husband, who has killed her mother in the same attack. In shock, horror and grief, she is crying for her mother.
When the police leave, we go to her bedside. Dorina and Juliana speak softly to her. Each of us prays for God’s comfort. Then her family arrives at her bedside and we step aside, expecting them to soothe her anguish and treat her tenderly. Instead they loudly berate her, cruelly screaming that she was stupid to let this happen. We leave the room, helpless before such darkness, and gather at the end of the corridor to pray to the Lord of light to intervene. It’s hard to shake the oppressiveness of the encounter, but we call out to the God of all comfort and the Father of mercies, knowing He is able to do far more than we can imagine.
Just before 6 p.m. I am driving to evangelism with Mike. I have opted for the ride instead of the long walk. I am feeling very drained. As we near the Aeroport marketplace on the busy thoroughfare, a young man staggers unsteadily down the precise middle of the road. He is too lost in drunkenness to know how close he is to sudden death. Mike comes to a crawl beside him, grabs him and yells into his face to get out of the road, “Do you want to die?” He just flails at Mike and continues his drunken way down the road, as cars, Maxi taxis and trucks roar by on either side.
As the evangelism begins, I stand limply watching. I am exhausted, yet willing to share if only the Lord will give me words. Suddenly they are there. Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:8 burns in my heart. “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.”
I know many Romanians consider themselves Christians. They are Orthodox, after all, and “don’t need anyone to tell them about God.” But Paul also had a form of religion before he came to Christ. In fact, he was highly respected within his group. He knew all the rituals and ceremonies. If anyone could have confidence in religion he could. Yet he discovered that religion was rubbish, compared to knowing Christ and receiving His righteousness by faith. That is what I want the crowd to understand. If only they could know Him!
I speak briefly about these things. As I step back into the ring of believers and another steps forward to preach, I wonder if I should even have spoken. Did I scramble everything up? Others are so much more gifted. Suddenly discouraged, I just want to disappear.
Back at the house, I don’t speak to anyone of how I feel, but God sends Julie with specific encouragement which counters the train of my thoughts. His goodness overwhelms me and leaving discouragement behind, I begin to eagerly anticipate tomorrow’s opportunities to bring Him glory and watch Him work in the hearts and minds of Romanians.