I’ve tried several times to sort of “wrap up” my experiences in Romania to be able to share them and it just hasn’t worked.
Maybe it is because the heartbreaking things I saw remain heartbreaking. Maybe it is because there isn’t resolve. Maybe because people usually just want to see a few pictures and be done with it, but we weren’t allowed to take photos with the kids. I’ve been tempted to turn this into a Sunday School lesson, bring some moral catharsis out of this, but I think Romania deserves far better than that. I feel like it would be very similar to writing a Disney Musical about the earthquake in Japan.
So here is one of my journal entries from my trip to Romania. On this day we visited a church that folks from America helped build and spent some time beyond that in the village of some Roma people, more commonly known by the derogatory term “Gypsies.”
7/26/2009 The Psalms are the prayers of the Body of Christ.
“Only in the whole Christ does the whole Psalter become a reality, a whole which the individual can never fully comprehend nor call his own. That is why the prayer of the psalms belongs in a peculiar way to the fellowship.” -Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
God, I pray love over our team this morning. Unity. May we love each other selflessly and with your heart.
We must remember to be guests.
It is hard for folks -sometimes even impossible- to hear us when we act as hosts proclaiming the gospel. Like Paul said he became all things to all people- we must be guests loving on everyone, seeing where they are in their lives.
When we are accustomed to being in one church with the same kind of people with the same problems, background, social benefits- we assume that is how to measure what is right.
Here in a Romanian church I felt as though the Roma people were welcomed in a sort of ‘Good for you’ attitude – patronizing them instead of saying YOU ARE MY BROTHER or YOU ARE MY SISTER. …not that we would make them better by accepting them perhaps we need an outlook that says “I need you. You are my brother, we are family. I need you. I love you.” That is the attitude we all need.
We went to a small Roma village. The dirt street was crowded with goats and sheep moving from one pasture of the rolling hills of grass around us to another. We saw children hiding behind corners, barefoot, evaluating what kind of people we were and why we were suddenly appearing in their space.
The first to greet us was Joseph, the jolly looking pastor of a very tiny five-pew church. Then the village women came in with shy children hiding behind their traditional Romanian dresses. All the men except Joseph were either drunk or slightly less drunk and tending to the animals.
I had seen poverty and farm small farming village culture before on other trips to Honduras and Mexico, but this was new to most of my group. They had never seen kids with black teeth or a little old lady asking for bread as the lice confidently marched around her head. This was sad to me, but even more shocking to those who had never seen it before. [We bought that lady some bread and gave the children toothbrushes.]
The two mothers in our group immediately started crying as soon as they met some of the Roma kids.
Their hearts immediately broke.
D told Matt and I that it’s different when you have your own kids the same age as the ones we saw in dire poverty. It tears you apart in a different way.
The boys who approached me wanted to hold hands. They just reached up and expected me to give them my hand. I had to stifle tears.
I got to give away some things that I had two of today. Glad I didn’t even think half a thought about giving them away. That is one of my favorite verses “If you have two tunics and your neighbor has none…”
“It will be good for us to give them unprejudiced attention” -Our Host Pastor on playing with Roma kids.
REAL community- Jaden, a three year old, running around like crazy during church service and no one turning around or being angry. That little girl will always be comfortable in church.
This was just what I could get written down on the first day. I will continue to post the rest of the trip’s entries over the next three weeks. If you got this far, you do not want to miss the other posts. (Part II) (Part III)
Was there anything that stood out to you? What would make you the most uncomfortable, sad, happy? Is it really different when you have your own kids? How? How might that give us insight to God’s passion for the unloved?