Advent: God With Us Through Deeds of Mercy

It has become cliché to point out the contradiction that a celebration of the birth of Jesus—who lived and dwelled among the poor and broken things of this earth—should inspire a frenzy of materialism. When we celebrate the transcendent moment when God came to earth by purchasing unnecessary things for people who already have too much, it will probably not lead us to a deeper joy in or a greater understanding of the incarnation. Giving gifts to people we love (or sharing what we have with those in need) as a remembrance of the gift that God gave us is a good thing. But the excess of the season can get in the way of the blessings to be found in quiet contemplation and celebration of the birth of Christ our Lord. 

 The Kingdom of God came to earth that starry night in Bethlehem to the sound of angels singing, but the life of Jesus disappointed many who had waited for and wanted a Messiah who would bring political power and might. Instead, Jesus spent his time with sinners, annoyed the religious elite, healed the sick, and preached the good news of the Gospel to the poor. John the Baptist, clearly confused and disappointed, sent the disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one we have been waiting for? Are you really the Messiah?” From John’s prison cell, it didn’t look like the Kingdom had come.

 “Tell John what you have seen and heard…” Jesus said (quoting Isaiah), “…that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” 

He is King of glory, He is the Lord of mercy, and we are his image bearers! Today, God’s people are extending the Kingdom in Romania by sharing the good news of the Gospel with the poor and oppressed, loving the widow and the orphan, and welcoming the stranger at the gate. You can find God there, dwelling in the broken lives now rescued, restored and redeemed. 

#Deeds of Love & mercy. Rescued out of domestic abuse & violence.#loved y God's peopleat RCE..jpeg

Once an alien and a stranger

Once an alien and a stranger and now a confident young man, Manu Carpacii was the honored guest at RCE’s gala event in Washington D.C. on Friday evening. He dined with friends and partners of the ministry that rescued him. Whether caused by trauma relating to domestic violence when he was a boy or a disability from birth, Manu is non-verbal and has cognitive limitations. But he enjoys life and his many friends in the RCE family. Manu communicates with ‘body language’ and a few words and signs. And his smile!

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Chairman of the Board, Jim Perry, Ovidiu Martin, General Manager and RCE’s new Director, Daniel Buzgau, shared Manu’s story and how RCE’s programs have made his transformation and restoration possible.

From Darius House to Amy’s House, and through Sunshine School, Manu now enjoys a semi-independent life as a young adult in his own apartment on RCE’s Residential Campus. He works in the Job’s Program and earns a salary.  Payday is Manu’s favorite day of the month!

Manu’s story is just one of the many broken lives changed because God’s people intervened. Hundreds of impoverished families will have food, firewood, and a safe shelter this winter. Abused, neglected and abandoned children with disabilities are now safe and loved in RCE’s six group homes. And over a hundred children who were once orphans are now sons and daughters, restored to families as God designed!

Jesus said, When I was hungry you gave me food. When I was thirsty you gave me drink. When I was a stranger you welcomed me in. RCE welcomed Manu in and his life is a living testimony to the grace of God and the obedience of His people.

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With your help, we slightly exceeded the generous $20k ‘match’ for Friday evening! Thank you for the many new sustaining gifts and one-time contributions that made that possible. We are still a little short of our $100k event goal and so if you wish to help with that important funding objective you can do so on line or mail to RCE 21058 Unison Road. Middleburg, VA 20117.

Thank you and God bless you!

Reflections from a Summer Intern: Aaron Norris, Part Two

Aaron Norris is a Summer Intern and Assistant at RCE’s Residential Campus in Pecica.

The kids rescued and supported by RCE have been through so much in life that would cause a lot of people to lose faith in humanity. Physical abuse, psychological trauma, hunger, poverty, and abandonment could very well leave them embittered and troubled. Their stories are gutting, and the physical and emotional scars they all bear are deep. Despite all of this, they are all capable of perhaps the most important human emotion: compassion. They are proof that when given love and care, they can overcome their circumstances while making leaps and gains towards living a normal life. While hearing their stories is often harrowing, hearing how far they’ve come is inspiring. 

During my summer internship, I got to know some of these amazing kids. Initially, we spent our time getting acquainted with one another. By the second half, I was able to put this comfort and friendship to use, taking a more active role in their care and development. Because RCE houses so many children, it is important to remember that they are not simply holding on to them until placement. They set goals for each child to help develop and improve their skills, allowing for more active and independent lives. Pending the severity of their existing disabilities, this can be sometimes hard to see. Small victories matter, and improvement is relative to where the child was when they arrived under RCE’s care. The work that I was doing was not developing physical skills, but rather was monitoring and managing them as they assimilated into new environments.

One of RCE’s goals is to move some of the older residents of Amy’s House out to Pecica for a more semi-independent lifestyle. An immediate full move could be too drastic of a change, so I was charged with taking two of the boys to Pecica to stay for two days. The heroes of this two-day excursion from Arad are interesting characters each unto himself. Yosef is a quiet young man with a love for the thrills of a swing set and clean rooms, and who holds an uncanny ability to mimic the bark of a dog (the physical manifestation of his impersonation is not nearly as convincing). While a limited vocabulary sometimes made communication an issue, Peter somehow understands everything he says. I greatly appreciated his ability to help Yosef verbalize his thoughts and help me to understand. Peter is a top-notch translator of the language Yosef, a fantastic worker, and probably more intelligent than I’ll ever truly know. One day, I sat next to him while reading a novel and he began sounding out the words in English.  I didn’t know that he knew any English, much less could read so well. Despite his abilities, his outgoing personality and lack of verbal limitations can be a challenge in social situations. While Peter can learn and be very amusing, he does need constant supervision. These two boys seemed to like Pecica and are especially well behaved when given scheduled activities. Being able to structure their days allowed them to look forward to activities and expend energy throughout the day.  Our two days were largely structured around the consumption of food and the therapeutic listening of music.  The extent to which these boys look out and care for each other is brotherly. They pick up on subtle changes in each other’s behavior and do just about everything together. 

The week spent at the camp with Sorin and Boti was challenging but allowed me to see how funny and responsive these boys can be. Up until we were in the same living area, most of time I spent with them in Pecica was either surfing YouTube videos or watching them perform their independent activities of drawing, tearing up grass, or simply swaying back and forth or side to side. Thus, the transition to doing a lot of activities together was somewhat of a pleasant shock. Boti can produce words, but seldom says anything that is not a repetition of what you said. This can be frustrating when asking him to brush his teeth, because he just tells you to brush your own teeth. However, when asking someone to be quiet, he often takes your side and requests silence. A sweet boy, Boti is very capable of hiking and group activities, but I think prefers to sway in solitude. He maintains a staunch opposition to meat on his plate and is insistent on maintaining his personal hygiene. Before camp he would often flee from me when I approached him without someone else, so it was nice to see and feel him become more comfortable around me. 

Sorin is a funny character. He towers over me and often stares blankly as though trying to contemplate why I’m not feeding him. In Pecica he loves to swing to new heights, meticulously cut the grass by hand, communicate through artwork, and watch YouTube videos of fireworks, lightening, and construction vehicles at work. At camp he enjoyed the arts and crafts but was far more physically active than I had seen him before. As his size and stature challenged the integrity of the swing set, he took to soccer, long walks, and even a hike; it was refreshing to see him excited to take advantage of the open space. These two young men are very sweet but will never be able to live independently. The help they get from RCE allows them a semblance of a normal life, and it is not squandered. Built on companionship and childish mischief, their friendship is innocent and pure. The biggest pleasure of getting to know them over the course of the week was to see the relationship they have with each other; when shown compassion, they respond with love and care.  

Immediately after camp, there was one day where I got very sick. Starting at 2:30 in the morning, my body decided that whatever was inside of it had to go. While oscillating between the positions of supine on the couch and crouched around a porcelain bowl for the next 24 hours, I had a couple visitors. Manu came up once to check on me, check my temperature, and wish me well; he really understood that I was not in a good place. Ghitsa came up twice to the room. The first time we talked for a bit and I explained how I was sick without understanding much of what he said in response. I then had to keep him from stealing the ice cream out of the upstairs freezer, so wondered if he had ulterior motives all along. Six hours later he returned. This encounter was far shorter, he didn’t really ask me many questions, nor did he show the freezer any attention. We exchanged greetings, and as I lay down he put his hand on my stomach and began talking in his often-indecipherable rapid speech, at the end of which he said, “Amen.” He then walked away without another word. These boys knew the whole time that I would eventually be leaving but chose to care for someone they recognized was sick. Their genuine concern for others that they really don’t know very well and knew would be leaving in a short time is inspiring. 

Aaron with a team from Fourth Presbyterian Church during RCE's Summer Camp in July.

Aaron with a team from Fourth Presbyterian Church during RCE's Summer Camp in July.

The final week I spent in Romania was as a cabin leader at the camp for children supported by the Caring Project, but with a focus on sixteen-year-old Ionut and ten-year-old Trian. The majority of the kids at camp are not afflicted by physiological impairment, but rather suffer from poverty and traumatic life circumstances. Because Ionut and Trian are so high functioning, they benefit from social interaction with other kids who do not have such special needs. When he’s not out fighting crime, Ionut stays at Amy’s House, although his issues are not as limiting as his cohabitants. He is completely capable of conversation, work, and school, but has issues controlling his emotions. He showed us his report card, and in the past year or two he has showed tremendous development. He is excelling in most of his classes, and the progress that he has been making with RCE is undeniable. Regardless, he would not be able to go to camp alone; his emotional scars are havens for anger and grief and he is still learning to control them. 

Trian is a ten-year-old blessed with too much energy. I realized early on that I would not be able to keep up with him, but it was best to keep him within ear shot. The child never stops moving, loves to meet new people, and bounces from visitor to visitor. Although his excessive energy can make him difficult to handle, he is learning about discipline and rules with RCE. Seeing him interact and make friends with other kids who do not live with the same limitations gives me hope that he will be able to find placement. During camp, the boys proved that they can make friends and do the things that normal kids can do with each other when given the love and support they need. Knowing that RCE is making all this possible makes me proud to be affiliated with their work, and I look forward to doing so in the future. 

Reflections from a Summer Intern: Miller Carbaugh


Miller Carbaugh is a Summer Intern with RCE. She begins her senior year at Baylor University this fall.

In 2014, I traveled to Romania for the first time to get a hands-on glimpse of what RCE really does and how it functions day by day.  Little did I know that four years later I would have the privilege to spend two months in the same incredible and merciful place.  Spending time alongside the staff and children of RCE daily provided me with a much deeper understanding of both the challenges and successes of the ministry. I was able to participate in multiple camps and building projects, observe class in Sunshine School, go on outings with the children, and much more.  God has clearly placed each and every person there for a reason to fulfill His purpose in their lives.  Being able to see the staff in action in all the different facets of the organization made me realize how broadly RCE reaches.  They help over 250 poor families, place children in loving and God-fearing homes, provide dignity and normalcy to the lives of disabled and abandoned children, educate children, counsel and guide adoptive families, and so much more.  

Each child that RCE receives as their own is a child of God, created in His image and loved equally, and RCE demonstrates this through their work.  Many children are non-verbal and severely disabled.  Sometimes it is easier to shy away from these kids because they may look intimidating or initially not look “fun” to spend time with. But getting to know all the kids was one of my favorite parts because they taught me the incredible importance of love and dignity.  

Gruia with his teacher at Sunshine School

Gruia with his teacher at Sunshine School

One child who particularly made an impact on me was Gruia, a non-verbal, mentally disabled and abandoned young man.  He usually moves very slowly and rarely changes his expression, as he is severely handicapped and unable to really communicate in most ways.  He loves to swing on the playground and hold a plastic bottle in his hand everywhere he goes.  It is difficult to get a reaction out of him, and if you are successful, it is very slow.  At the beginning of the summer I spent a few days in his classroom at Sunshine School and instantly grew fond of him.  I saw him often throughout the summer and spent time with him camp, but never interacted personally with him for an extended time.  On my last night in Romania, I went to say goodbye to the kids from Darius Houses and Gruia was outside on a walk with a few others.  I walked towards them to say goodbye and Gruia stood there staring at me as I said goodbye to him.  He slowly moved his arms and came closer and gave me a hug without me prompting him to do so.  He let go and then smiled at me and my heart melted.  I realized this small moment was the perfect way to end my time in Romania. 

All summer I had been learning the ways RCE loves these children and how much love these children are able to show in their own ways.  I truly understood what it meant for these kids to be provided with dignity and to be shown Christ’s love and mercy.  Through RCE, this abandoned boy is given dignity and treated as God’s creation, and in this moment, I witnessed the fruit of this care.  Christ loves them unconditionally and teaches us to do the same, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or how they behave. Each child is a beating heart and even though they were abandoned by their earthly parents, Christ never abandoned them.  RCE is not just an organization, it is rather a group of God’s servants who were placed in Arad to do His work and to show His mercy.  It is a testament to what God calls all of us to do.  Something one of the staff said this summer stuck with me—he said, “we try to teach these children the Gospel and pray they will know Jesus as their own.  They were given a difficult life on this earth, but we know ultimately they will be perfected with Christ in heaven.”  

Reflections from a Summer Intern: Aaron Norris

Aaron Norris is a Summer Intern and Assistant at RCE’s Residential Campus in Pecica.

This morning the team from Fourth Presbyterian left after a week of dedicated and tireless work, and the Sunshine School where we slept already smells better. While I had met and/or heard of some of them prior to their arrival, it was nice to get to know the new faces. Their immediate arrival was somewhat turbulent, however after coordinating various delayed flights, everyone arrived safe and sound. The plot thickened when certain members were separated from their luggage for half of the week, but everyone arrived safely and in good spirits. The group was always there for each other and willing to provide support when it was needed. I was impressed by the quality of work and character that everyone displayed. 

Aaron and a team from Fourth Presbyterian Church work on the Alexi family home.

Aaron and a team from Fourth Presbyterian Church work on the Alexi family home.

Over the last two weeks, it’s been a privilege to garner a more complete idea of the services that Romanian Christian Enterprises provides and the people they help. Hearing the stories of the children and families that RCE assists is heartbreaking, but knowing that they can overcome those situations to get to where they are is both amazing and inspirational. To say that these people are in need is an understatement; it is difficult to fathom how they survive in the conditions where some of them live and raise their families. While it may be hard for some to think that everyone receiving aid is a victim of circumstance, RCE does not punish families and parents for decisions that may have contributed to their issues; they try to help as much as they can. Poverty and isolation inflict pain and suffering on families that don’t have the necessary education, resources, and assistance available to combat their problems. When pushed to desperation, people can make compromises to satisfy immediate needs, but by doing so, create more serious issues down the road. The judicious discernment that I witness daily when deciding who and how to help is anything but easy. However, RCE creates personalized solutions based on the needs and problems of each family, and focuses on training people to transition into sustainable lifestyles, avoid dependency, and mitigate the chance for returning to crisis situations. Because no two families or children have an identical set of issues, the team is regularly growing and coming up with new solutions. Their ability to adapt and be flexible with plans and situations is essential in the success that they garner, and everyone who I have worked with here is extremely dedicated and constantly working to help in whatever way they can. 

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Even when plans change here, there is always something to do. Fortunately, spending time with the children is always beneficial. Without establishing familiarity with a lot of the special needs children we work with, it is difficult to communicate and understand what they are trying to convey. Sometimes it is like learning a whole new language in addition to learning a whole new language (Romanian), but they appreciate it and is necessary for situations when there is nobody around to translate. It is exciting to see the development of RCE from when I was here four years ago, and how it is continuing to develop right before my eyes. The next couple of weeks will have plenty in store and I am excited to be a part of the evolution of the work. Each day I spend getting to know the workers, children, and families reinforces the reason that I came here, and it is immensely gratifying to be able to serve with RCE.