Project New Life
  Moldova | Romania

Romania Crime of a Nation

Another season is about to arrive when busloads of children from a prosperous nation will cross the Hungarian border into Western Romania. This cheerful phalanx of youth come armed with a sophisticated weaponry of religious cartoon tracts bearing titles such as: Free Food, Where Will You Spend Eternity, and Your New Family.

Most of the tracts-religious cartoons, designed for easy readability, and offering compelling imagery for the recipient, are in English. This doesn't daunt the young army of motivated God-Squad youth, their assignment is clear. They are there to save souls, to preach the Gospel, to share His promise of salvation.

Prior to the morning's assault, team leaders will conduct their reconnaissance work, knowing almost instinctively where to go. Along the riverbanks, underneath bridges, and in darkened doorways, the homeless children of Romania await the latest advance of their saviours.

The children are by now well trained. This has been part of their lives since birth. Their parents, just children themselves when they had their babies, performed the same rituals.

They’d wait for the coach-loads of charged-up Christian Youth to arrive and out they’d scurry from beneath the bridges and out of the sewers. The Street children would gather around the coaches in hopes of receiving whatever handouts they knew the groups would bring.

The Street children will sing uncomplicated songs such as Jesus Loves Me, and utter simple English words they have learned such as "I love Jesus" and "God bless you." And the army of Christian youth, led by their kindly leaders, bring out their salvation supplies; Bibles, religious cartoons, chewing gum, packets of cookies, and some even carry pre-packaged zip bags of snacks with neatly typed words of God's care and love. The street children instinctively gather around the young missionaries, reaching out for the gifts.

All the while the leaders are capturing this on countless instruments. Film photography, digital, 8mm film, 16mm, voice recorders, and lighting kits have often been part of the army's paraphernalia. And the street children have dutifully performed, often repeating precisely what is asked of them and constantly invoking the name of Jesus. ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me...’ The adults and teenagers who have come to "witness" to the street children are ecstatic.

The teenagers go back to their country revelling in the belief their campaign has positively changed the lives of these children, and the adults have miles of film footage to show their congregations how effective their mission has been.

There is no doubt the imagery is stunning: Emaciated children, some nearing the final stages of AIDS, others with countless disfigurements, filthy, barefoot, hungry and homeless. It twists deeply into the souls of those who remain at home, coming to church for their Wednesday night suppers and prayer revivals.

For those people, it is very easy to rid themselves of the guilt, to wipe away the images they were forced to see. They can find redemption, salvation, and solace by simply reaching into their pockets and giving. And they do give. Religious institutions each year raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But where does the money go? Certainly not to these children, not to their hospitals, not to any orphanage or support system. The sad truth is that most of the money remains at the church, to support the general operating fund, or pay for the leader's trip and "expenses" or to cover the "outreach" programmes and support the important out-reach ministries that exist throughout the world. But the hard cold truth is that the money NEVER reaches the children who need it most. God's unwashed; the children who are not pretty enough to make it into the special western style orphanages, or into their fascinating adoption programmes.

This is not a plea for money. This is a plea for help! Help in the form of time, of tangible instruments of change. These children need help, real help; Places to sleep, medicine, psychiatric care, paediatric hospice care, safety from predators and most of all, these children need love.

What is realistic in Western eyes is not always realistic in Eastern European eyes. Yes, there is no dispute that we have a Spiritual responsibility to help these children. There are many ways to show God's love...and when absolutely necessary, then you may use words!

For Further Information:

Human Rights Watch Report on Cruelty and Neglect in Orphanages

United States Report on Human Rights in Romania

Attachment Disorder, The Silent Romanian Child

Babies For Sale, Crime of a Nation

Romania’s New Child Welfare Reform. Will it Work?

Commentaries on Adoption in Romania

Mustard Seed Relief Mission