Today was a day I had been looking forward to for a long time. Our ministry partner and host, missionary Ghiorghi Cazacu, drove our team to visit Cristina Tipa, whom I met four years ago when she was just twelve years old. As a baby, Cristina was severely burned, and the result was not only ugly scar tissue down her left side and leg, but also the amputation of her entire left arm. When she was just a toddler, Cristina and her mother were abducted and shifted around Eastern Europe’s cities where their captors would place Cristina on street corners with a sign hanging around her neck requesting money for a prosthesis. Cristina’s captors lived well off the compassion of pedestrians who dropped money in her cup.
Once, Cristina and her mother escaped with the help of another handicapped man whom their captors were similarly exploiting, but when their captors caught up with them, Cristina watched in horror as they shot and killed the handicapped man and mercilessly beat her mother, who died a week later. Cristina was ultimately saved when she was six years old by her aunt, with whom she now lives, who, while she was on a shopping trip to Odessa, Ukraine, happened to see Cristina begging on the street. You can read more details of Cristina’s remarkable story in our September, 2008 magazine here: heavensfamily.org/special_reports/2008_09.
As Cristina’s body has grown over the past four years, Heaven’s Family has helped her by funding her newest prosthetic arm as well as some surgeries and skin grafts on her left leg. Now sixteen years old and in tenth grade, Cristina still loves Jesus, and she is doing well in school. She spent the rest of a delightful day with us.
In the afternoon, we visited Meleseni Home of Hope, a family-sized orphanage that we’ve been serving for four years through Orphan’s Tear.
The six children at the Home of Hope have also grown quite a bit since I was last with them in 2008. But they’ve had to relocate since then due to persecution they encountered in the village where they were all previously living. (Romanian Orthodoxy runs deep in many Moldovan villages, and Evangelical Christians are considered a foreign sect.) One of the children, Boris, was hit in the forehead by a large rock that was thrown at him, and the scars are still quite visible. But the orphanage/family has now found peace in their new location in the rural village of Chircaesti Noi.
We finished our day by visiting one of the 40 national missionaries supported through Ghiorghi and Cristina’s ministry. Ion Leca and his wife, Tatiana, along with their four children, live on the outskirts of the village of Tuhoi in a typical rural Moldovan house that has no indoor plumbing. Ion is a pastor who enthusiastically told us about how the Romanian translation of The Disciple-Making Minister has blessed his ministry, something I was happy to hear.
We will probably feature Ion’s testimony in a future magazine article, so I won’t elaborate now. But I will share one story that Ion’s effervescent wife, Tatiana, related to us.
For seven years, she was not able to become pregnant after giving birth to a boy they named Samuel. So she asked our host, Ghiorghi, to pray for her and Ion. Within a year she gave birth to a precious little girl whom she and Ion named Ecaterina. Then, less than a year later, twins Karina and Cristina made their appearance in the world. Tatiana told us that Ghiorghi prayed too hard! — David