Local minister, Rev. David Park from Hebron Free Presbyterian Church, has just returned from a two-week outreach programme in Romania (pictures left).
He lead a 19-strong team to conduct various outreach programmes in some very poor and impoverished areas, working alongside the local church there. ‘The journey to the Western mountains of Romania was pretty long, taking nearly two days to arrive at our first destination,’ said Rev. Park. ‘We engaged in a variety of outreach ministries, and each member of the group has returned home with many precious memories, but also feeling the challenges of our experiences.’
Each morning, for the first week, the team divided into various groups and visited the poor families of the western mountains. Simple basic provisions were brought as a small gift (flour, oil, butter, sugar, rice, etc.). These were received with much appreciation. ‘It was a moving experience, going into their humble little homes, just two rooms, and seeing the poverty in which they live,’ said one of the group. ‘It makes us so thankful for what we have - too much in fact, in comparison!’
The afternoons were spent in Vacational Bible Schools, working with the children and young people of different villages. This included sporting activities such as football, volleyball, super frisbee, tennis and badminton. Craft followed, with invaluable members of the team employing their artistic talents to create some special items for the children to take home. Each afternoon concluded with a children’s meeting when the children were taught some choruses in English and the theme Bible story was Nicodemus and the message of the New Birth.
The day finished with the group conducting the local Prayer Meeting in the village church. Testimonies were given, gospel songs were sung, and Rev. Park brought a closing message. These services were special times of friendship and fellowship with the Romanian people. Some of the young people from the western mountains joined us for the outreach work.
A highlight of the visit was the first Thursday spent with a gypsy community in a little remote hamlet out in the mountains. Most of the group had to walk two miles to get there. Rev. Park had met these gypsies last year and was greatly moved by the visit. ‘One father of six children told me that he fed his children when he had money.’ They were delighted with the gifts of food and seemed to enjoy the visit of the Ballymoney team. This was the first visit of its kind to that part - no outside group had ever spent time with them doing various sports and craft activities. Most of the children had never played these simple games before that children here in our culture grow up with. It was a real joy for the visitors to be closely involved with this community and get to know them for a day. They want the group to revisit next year!
The team travelled back to the city of Timisoara for the second part of their trip. Services were conducted on the Sundays in various churches when members of the team had the opportunity to participate in singing, testifying and preaching. Jonathan McAuley, Andrew Hanna and David McAuley all became budding preachers!
One of the great highlights of the visit was the three days spent with the Deborah House girls. Two homes have been built to accommodate 24 girls who have come from abused backgrounds. Christian House Parents for each home bring up these children in a loving, safe environment, teaching them the true values of life. A large modern sports hall was acquired for the visit and this proved to be an excellent facility for the various activities. The girls were very competitive in their sports. Everyone bears record to the fantastic and challenging time spent with the Deborah House girls. On the final evening special ‘shoe box’ gifts from Ballymoney were given to each girl; they were so excited and visibly moved. A special thanks to the congregation and friends of Hebron for providing these gifts!
A visit to a Juvenile Prison for boys aged 14 to 18 was also arranged. There is a ministry into the prisons and orphanages by the local church in Romania, and this was one of their contacts. A service was conducted in a large hall with over 50 young men present to hear God’s Word. Due to the generosity of the Ulster people, many practical and financial gifts were distributed to help the poor and struggling people of Romania. It is the prayer of Rev. Park that the Lord will use this visit for His glory and for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Dr. Stanley Barnes, from Saintfield, has arranged a holiday for the Deborah House girls. They are coming to Northern Ireland this month and will be travelling to various locations. They will be in Hebron Free Presbyterian Church Ballymoney on Monday 13th August at 8.00pm when they will sing and participate in a special meeting. This will be a great opportunity for the general public to meet with them and hear about the amazing work that is being done among these girls. There is an open invitation from the minister for all to attend this service.