Bringing Church to “Bunica”
Jake and Ben and our Canadian missionary friend, Jason, have been visiting a couple of Gypsy communities on the west side of Bucharest for the past couple of months, and tonight I got the chance to go minister with them since Ben volunteered to watch the kids for us. Taking Isaac along with us, Jake and I headed out around dinner time and met up with Jason.
We walked a short ways down the road and then turned off into a vacant lot by the railroad tracks. Tucked back among some trees and bushes, we come upon a family huddled around a fire. In their little community, there were a few shacks with about three sides each to them, lots and lots of trash, and a bunch of kids.
While the adults there seemed very hardened to the gospel and were mostly interested in getting things from us (we brought some fruit and a bunch of bread, but later we saw many of them lighting up cigarettes, which are very expensive here), my heart broke for the baby, toddlers, and other children. How were they going to stay warm come winter time without four walls to keep out the wind chill? Do they get enough to eat or does more money go towards cigarettes?
But one little girl stuck out to me the most: Lavinia. She is nine years old, and in the third grade and came bouncing up with a giant smile about ten minutes after we arrived. She said she has faith in Jesus, loves going to school, and really wants a Bible to read with pictures in it. The hardness of those around her and of her circumstances had not broken her joy and innocence, and I’m praying it never does.
After we prayed for them, gave them some coats, hats, gloves, and bread, we headed out to visit Vasilica. I’d heard a lot about this Vasilica from Jake, Ben, and Jason, and I was excited to meet her. She recently decided to follow Jesus and is now crazy about following Him and seeing others around her do the same. She is the grandmother, bunica in Romanian, of about six little kids and several older ones. Most of her children are heroin addicts and don’t take care of their children, so it is up to this grandmother to raise them, feed them, discipline them, and teach them about Jesus in this tiny one bedroom little house.
Her living situation was definitely better than at the other place by the train tracks; she has electricity, a washer, a sink, and a refrigerator. But there is a lot of darkness there as well. However, she is a light. And I felt a glimpse of God’s love and delight in her while there ministering, praying, and sharing from the Bible. Before going, I felt like God wanted me to encourage her with the verse 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Paul wrote this to Timothy who went on to do great things as a minister of the Lord. But Timothy did not have a family of believers growing up; he had a grandmother and a mother who loved God and imparted their faith to him.
We encouraged her to not grow weary in doing good, to be a light, to train up the children in the way they should go. She was visibly moved, crying and praising God. We also prayed for one of her granddaughters to be healed of a painful toothache. We prayed and nothing seemed to happen right away, but a few minutes later she went from groaning in agony and holding her jaw to smiling the biggest smile and praising God! What a beautiful God we serve!
Vasilica doesn’t have a church she attends regularly, and it is difficult for her to leave all the children behind to go, because she lives in a dangerous area filled with addicts and prostitutes. So, I felt very humbled and thankful to be a part of bringing church to her. My heart was aching with the love of God for the people of this city so many times today, and the burden to pray and intercede for it is even greater.