Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm not afraid. Are you?

It’s not too often that I find myself quoting Eminem. As a matter of fact I’m not sure I ever have. However, I was flipping through the radio today when one of his songs (if you can call it that) was on the radio. All I got out of it was “I’m not afraid to take a stand.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this new ministry my family and a handful of friends are starting. At the heart of this new initiative is the desire for change, or to “take a stand,” if you will). You see, this December will mark the 21st anniversary for the fall of communism in Romania. Has much changed? You bet. One does not have to look far to see the vast changes that have taken place across the country. Unfortunately, after suffering for more than 40 years under communist rule, the people of Romania are still struggling to rebuild their nation, hoping for a better future for their children. The greatest poverty in Romania is in the rural areas of the country where:
  • Thousands of orphans roam the streets.
  • A large number of children are exploited and forced to do manual labor to support their poverty-stricken families.
  • Almost half of the population lives on less than $1.50 per day.
  • In the poorest areas, parents are forced to leave Romania to find work in other countries—leaving their children in the care of the government, extended family members, or private institutions. These children have been left behind - depressed, angry, and alone.

I’m not a patient person. Consequently I think I just woke-up one day and said, “Enough!” I will no longer stand by with my head stuck in the sand. I love Romania and I will not let another 20 years go by without doing something. I mean come on, do the math (40 years of communism + 21 years trying to recover = a lifetime). Well in this lifetime I want to see change. One village at a time, we (Red Page Ministries) are going to stamp out rural poverty in Romania!!!!!!

Take a look at these exerts from an article by The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations to validate this need.

Poverty has a firm grip on Romania’s rural areas, where almost half (44 per cent) of the population lives. In 2003 the UNDP Human Development report estimated that 38 per cent of rural people were living in poverty, compared with 14 per cent of people in urban areas. Rural people are particularly vulnerable to the hardships brought by the painful economic and social transition after the collapse of communism.

Who and where are Romania’s poor rural people? The country’s poor people are subsistence farmers, unemployed rural workers and women who are heads of households. The poorest people live in remote areas, where infrastructure and social services are lacking.

Why are they poor? Low agricultural productivity is one of the main causes of poverty in rural Romania. And in rural areas there are limited opportunities for formal employment opportunities, partly because of minimum wage regulations, high payroll taxes and the rigid labor code. Inadequate social services, reflected in the poor condition of rural health centers, long distances to schools and poor sanitation facilities, also contribute to rural poverty.

Two decades have passed since the Iron Curtain fell. America jumped to action given the opportunity. And great strides were made. Unfortunately today it almost seems as though too much time has passed. Many individuals, churches, and organizations are focusing their attention elsewhere, primarily the Global South. I love missions and I’ve left a piece of my heart in so many countries (Kenya, Russia, Romania, Latvia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras to name a few). However, there’s just something about finishing what we’ve started. There’s still a need. I’m not afraid. Are you? Much more to come in the next few weeks regarding the nuts and bolts of Red Page Ministries. I hope you will join us in praying for God’s direction and consider how you can join us in Romania. Until next week, aspire to new heights.

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