“It was the day Cristi distributed biscuits, a day like many others outside the city of Botosani in northeastern Romania.
The night before we joined Cristi on his regular mission to the most needy families in the area, he told us what brought him to his commitment, to this outreach among the hungry and poor. His path to the side of Jesus was neither straight nor without doubt, but there was always that feeling, that trust deeply born when he was a teenager, that his life would be a life of service.
Cristi manages the Kidstown-supported Ioana Home, with 20 resident children, in Botosani. This is the city where Cristi grew up through turbulent times, through political revolution and through the revelation that brought him to his commitment. Like many other Romanians — currently 1,300 per day — he could have left Romania for economic opportunities in Western Europe. But a voice told him to stay, and in Botosani he has become an entrepreneur for Jesus.
Cristi receives donations from friends in Holland as well as from Kidstown supporters. These Dutch contributions come in the form of food, clothing and household goods that are given to the poor in the outlying areas or else placed for sale on the shelves of the Mic Si Mare second-hand store in Botosani.
Items in the store sell from 25 cents up to the equivalent of a few dollars and include clothing, household goods, knickknacks, toys and other items. Most profits go to salaries of the store workers, and items also find their way to the helpless and needy.
Children from the Ioana Home help load Cristi’s van with the donated biscuits, dozens upon dozens of packages of surplus biscuits from Holland. We drive from the city — the second-most poverty stricken city in Romania — and we head for the surrounding villages where hardship and need prevail like the dry cornstalks waving in the autumn breeze.
We visit a home where four unsupervised children sit on a bed of dirty blankets watching cartoons on a long-used television. Piles of garbage cover the floors of two small rooms. A pig roots outside the front door. One child, an infant, is without clothes or a diaper. He is lovingly held by the oldest boy, perhaps six years old.
We visit a former military barracks where families each rent one room, where each room is lit by a single low-wattage bulb hanging from a wire. Children gather around us, for biscuits and for the company of visitors and the games we will play.
In darkness lit only by a rising moon we visit a home without electricity where five children wait, dressed in layers of soft and soiled clothing. They seem surprised to see us and they accept our gifts and Cristi’s biscuits with curiosity. If not by the light of our cellphones, they will be able to see these gifts when daylight comes.
The mother, Cristi tells us, has never had a shower.
We meet dozens of people, from the woman with a severe toothache and no available remedy to the children who wait, smiling, in front of the home with boards where windows once stood. Down dirt roads where horse-drawn wagons outnumber cars, we watch as Cristi fulfills the mission he has been given — the mission he also shares with the children at the Ioana Home.
Such is the lesson he teaches to these 20 abandoned and at-risk children. To serve others and serve God. To share whatever blessings you have been given. To know that life takes work, and that grace will light the way.”
-Written by C.R. Roberts after his most recent trip to visit some of the Kidstown supported homes in Romania. Cristi is one of our valued home leaders there.