My parents had problems, and then my mother ended up leaving our home. My father had to take care of my brother and me. He loved both of us very much, and he did the best he could to take care of us. Unfortunately, my brother and I ended up in a government placement center. My father still tried to stay connected to us, so he got a job at the orphanage in order to spend time with us. Eventually, he had to leave, and then my brother and I were alone at the orphanage. Life was difficult as we tried to take care of ourselves. My father came to visit from time to time, but it was not very often because of financial constraints. I felt very alone. I knew that I had to figure out a way to build a future for myself. At the placement center, there was a foundation called Pathway to Joy Ministries that sponsored events and activities. I made the decision to participate in these activities as often as possible. What happened next truly changed my life and my future.
When I started participating in the activities organized by Pathway to Joy, I began to make friends that I could count on. My friends actually listened to me and cared about my problems. I learned how to trust people. I attended a cooking club and learned how to make meals. This is an important life skill, but what was more important with the cooking club was sitting down like a family and eating the meal together.
Another part of attending the activities that changed my life was participating in the Bible studies and chapel services offered by Pathway to Joy. I learned some things about God and all that He did for me. I started thinking more about God and began to have some questions about Him. I still don’t have all the answers to my questions about God, but I know He has a plan for me even though I don’t always see or know what that plan might be.
Pathway to Joy has had a profound impact on me. In addition to the cooking lessons and Bible studies, I have received material items such as clothes. These have all helped me to cope with being in a placement center, however, the most important thing that I have received is the deep care and concern offered by the Pathway to Joy staff. These people have deeply affected my life in a positive way. I know they will continue to impact my future by staying connected to me, and I will have them as role models and true friends.
Many of the children in the government placement center were placed there at a very young age and have little memory of their lives before the placement center. Pathway to Joy Ministries has worked in the orphanage since 2006. For many of these children, the friendships created with Pathway to Joy’s staff have remained true for over ten years. This is the case for one young woman. She came to the placement center at a young age and had spent most of those years with no affection from her family. She was just entering her adolescent years when Pathway to Joy Ministries began working at the placement center. She immediately connected with a Pathway to Joy staff member during the weekly sessions, and then developed a deeper bond when the sessions became daily. It felt like a maternal bond to her. She continued to develop healthy friendships with other employees and volunteers from the ministry.
It was through these connections to the staff that she came to learn things about God that she didn’t know before. She found out that she was valuable and not worthless, that she was loved and not abandoned. She discovered that even though she grew up in an orphanage, she could still have a bright future. She learned how to cook, how to relate to others respectfully and how to have more confidence in herself. The information that she received about God and the friendly way that the ministry staff treated her and the other children from the placement center made her think seriously about these things.
This child blossomed from a young girl with no hopes or expectations to a conscientious young woman who wanted to overcome her situation and prove that she could do more than others thought she could do. She was convinced that God wanted to offer her a future and to redeem her from the difficulties that she had faced throughout her life.
Although she has little memory of her life before the placement center, she has developed friendships with Pathway to Joy’s staff and volunteers that have lasted for over ten years. These friendships will not be forgotten no matter the amount of time or the distance her life takes her from the placement center.
Even though I am older now, I still remember growing up in a Roma village. My family is quite large, and we were always short on food, clothing and shoes. My family loved me very much and tried very hard to meet the daily needs of our large family. During the summer, my father used to travel to different countries for seasonal work so he could earn money to help our family. The first summer he left, someone bought a house right on our street. At the time, we didn’t know that a Christian church was going to be built, nor did I know the impact that this church was going to have on my life.
Apparently, the old location used to be a place of prayer. There were church gatherings with the Gospel being preached, and there were also organized evangelism weeks. I had no idea that all of this had been happening in the old house. My family did not attend church, and I didn’t know anything about God. Years passed, and then a church was built where the old house stood. In the new building, weekly Bible studies were held. I attended every time I was invited. During those weeks of Bible studies, I learned many songs and Bible stories. Sometimes there would be toys or treats at the Bible studies. I enjoyed that part a lot.
At the present time, I regularly attend the church services in my village. I have come to understand some powerful truths from the Bible. I believe that all of the messages, songs, prayers and Bible studies have greatly affected my life. Before, I knew nothing about God, but now my faith in Him has been strengthened.
The missions of the churches is very important for the Roma community, whether it is children’s education, Gospel preaching or helping the needy.
I know from personal experience all that is gained by having interactions with the the Pathway to Joy ministry team. I support the activities that Pathway to Joy sponsors in my community because I have seen first-hand, as a child and then as an adolescent, the positive impact it has on people. There are social activities, evangelism activities, prayer times, vacation Bible programs and worship services. Now that I am older and have a job, I try to be a role model for others in the Roma community. I also hope to have my own family someday.