Multnomah University students, along with students from George Fox University, are currently serving in Romania as part of our 2019 MU Serve trip. These trips are designed for students to step into the world and partner with active mission organizations. It is our hope that through these trips, our students will not only learn about themselves and grow as people, but also experience how God is present and working in other parts of the world. In Romania specifically, Word Made Flesh has been serving the poor and supporting the people of the community tangibly for 20+ years. They are doing precisely what Christ has called us to do in His name.
As Americans, we tend to live within the confines of our comfort, but this summer, 10 students chose to give up two weeks of their summers to serve in Galati, Romania. Last week, after three flights, two bus rides, and one train journey, our team reached their destination. In partnership with Word Made Flesh, these students have had the opportunity to build relationships with children and serve the community center where this organization is a central beacon of light for the entire community.
At the center, educators help students from kindergarten to 12th grade with homework and creative art projects. Social workers make home visits, and therapists provide play therapy to care for community members and to prevent and help break the cycle of poverty in families that suffer from a flawed system. The center also has two amazing cooks that provide every child with a home-cooked and nutritious meal. These staff members help provide these children with holistic development that benefits them both within the doors of the center and in their communities.
Our incredible team of students has partnered with the community center staff in helping with service projects and playing games with the children. Below are some photos of the team’s first few days in Romania. Please partner with us as we continue to pray for these students for the duration of their trip as well as the people of this community and the work of Word Made Flesh. Check back into the Multnomah University blog for more about the trip and the ways in which our students were able to see God at work in Romania.
Over twenty years ago, Word Made Flesh (WMF) began working in Galati, Romania to care for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. David Chronic, the Director of Operations for WMF, spends time with the children on the streets in Galati, helping them find food and spending nights on the street with them. It’s this kind of service that represents the heart of the WMF vision.
WMF has worked tirelessly to ensure that children in Galati are cared for. The Valley Community Center, located in Galati, is a drop-in center built by WMF that supports over 40 children in their education and overall wellbeing. The Valley helps children with homework and personal hygiene, provides hot meals, and allows them a safe place to play. WMF’s work at The Valley and on the streets is helping to turn the tide and overcome the cycle of poverty in Galati. “This is why we come and serve,” writes MU campus pastor Rich Ward. “To join in the work of loving God and loving people.”
WMF has continued to grow and develop ways to not only care for the kids on the streets, but to help break the cycle of poverty. The services provided at The Valley helps 30-50 children stay in school. It is this holistic and foundational approach to ministry that makes WMF stand out, and we wanted our students to see how impactful this approach to ministry is.
One way that WMF is attempting to break cycles of poverty is through a vocational training program for mothers in the community called Ashira Workshop. The program teaches women sewing skills that they then use to produce bags. Gina, a recent graduate of the program, described the feeling of joy she had when she first sat down at a sewing machine. She couldn’t stop smiling. She would feed a few inches of fabric under the needle, pause, look at Harper, a WMF staff member who oversees the workshop, and smile ear to ear. The sewing lesson became an important part of Gina’s routine, as she was provided a chance to learn a new skill, but it was also a time to rest and take a break from the constant stress of life as a single mom in the Galati valley. At night, Gina would go over the steps of making bags in her head to relax and help herself fall asleep.
Gina’s daughter went with her to every sewing lesson and the weekly mom’s group. Her daughter always sat right next to her, watching attentively as she slowly constructed something beautiful from a pile of scraps. These days, she helps with some of the pinning. Items made by the women of Ashira Workshop are available for purchase on Etsy.
These are the types of ministries that we want to continue to show our students here at MU. We want to open their eyes to communities that are affected by poverty and teach them, through Scripture and partnership with great organizations like WMF, how we can serve people and break cycles of poverty.