I (Danielle) first heard of Romania when I was 15 years old. I saw a documentary about the atrocious conditions of orphanages overrun with abandoned babies and children. I saw images of children living in sewers and begging for their next meal in the street. A deep cord was struck in my heart that day and a passion to stand for and with the marginalized developed into a God-given calling. Compelled by God’s commission in James 1:27 to care for orphans in their distress, I went on my first missions trip to Romania in 2004. I fell in love. I knew I was meant for missions work in Romania and my call to the “forgotten, overlooked, and disenfranchised” was solidified on that trip. I would go on to return to Romania 3 more times on short-term trips.
Around that same time, I fell in love with more than just missions. Jered and I met in Bible College and got married in 2006. We served in the inner-city of Boston for 6 years as youth pastors then both transitioned into the human services field, me as a family/crisis counselor and Jered as a mentor to at-risk teens.
This past year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary and our plan was always to return to Hawaii where we honeymooned. However, every time I would come back from a trip to Romania I would express my desire for Jered to experience the country. Instead of going to Hawaii, Jered surprised me with a trip to Romania. During this time we were praying and focusing on the next steps God had for us. While in Romania, Jered and I were able to meet the people, see various ministries and go to the baby hospital I had visited on a previous trip. At the hospital, Jered was able to spend time with babies who had been abandoned and needed care. This experience made such an impact on him and he knew that serving these children was the very heart of God. We knew God was moving.
So, we came home from that trip and started the process to follow God’s call to Romania.
So why Romania? And why now?
The most vulnerable children and families in Romania still lack adequate access to support services for housing, education, employment, and mental health services. Barriers like poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and discrimination keep many families stuck in unhealthy cycles. 1.4 million children live in poverty and some are unable to attend school regularly. That figure doesn’t even include the close to 63,000 children still living in state-run orphanages; their future is even bleaker. This is injustice plain and simple and we can’t sit idly by.
We will be partnering with an agency called Touched Romania which exists to provide hope and healing to at-risk women and their children. Touched Romania operates a maternal home called Casa Agar, which provides housing, food, parenting/life skills, discipleship, and counseling to families in need. We are excited to use our education and experience to provide practical, holistic support to Romania’s most vulnerable population. As we build community and authentic relationships with these mothers and children, we desire to see families healed and restored.
As we begin our journey to Romania, we firmly believe we are partnering with God to demonstrate his love and redemption to broken families. We ask for your partnership as well. The need is great and we can’t do it on our own.