On November 1st, JMI lost a great friend and advocate of our work in Moldova – Buddy Newsome. Buddy was a tremendous man of God and the founder of F.A.I.T.H. Riders, a nation-wide Christian motorcycle ministry. After years battling cancer, Buddy has gone home to be with the Lord he loved. Buddy’s wife, Michele, is also heavily involved in Moldova with the two girls they sponsored in our program. She also works therapeutically with victims of human trafficking. In this very tender moment in her life, we asked her to respond to some questions about what their experience in Moldova has meant to their life.
Steve Davis: Michele, I was with Buddy on his first trip to Moldova and it was clear that he was touched by the experience in a profound way. What do you recall about his reactions to that trip when he first returned home?
Michele: Buddy returned home so excited about this awesome opportunity to work with the children in Moldova. He absolutely fell in love with them. It was a standing joke with us in that he’d say “I hate kids.” He loved these dear children and wanted everyone else to share in this wonderful ministry. Our girls changed our lives. Buddy loved them like his own and spoke of these girls in the same breathe when sharing about his biological children.
SD: Some time later you joined Buddy on a mission trip to Moldova. What do you recall about your reaction to the children you met and the things you experienced?
MN: I went to Moldova with no expectations. I had been told I would fall in love with these children. Buddy was excited for me to share in this experience with him. We went to an orphanage in Balti and fell in love with our Zita. We had been told sometimes you will find a child, fall in love with them and choose to sponsor them and other times they will pick you. We chose Zita; we absolutely loved her energy and sweet spirit. Later, at another orphanage, our second daughter Viorica, so bright and full of potential, chose us. Our hearts were full of love and leaving was difficult. We knew when we left, we would be back.
SD: I think it’s safe to say that you now have a profound relationship with Moldova. What changes came about in your lives as a result of your trips there?
MN: Buddy and I have definitely invested in the lives of these children and have built relationships with them. Relationship is their greatest desire. We have returned several times, Skyped, sent emails and Facebooked. These children have added a new level of love to our vocabulary. Our lives have been enriched and we have been truly blessed through the relationship and love these children have shown in return. Our hearts were and continue to be to love others; Moldova and its people makes this act of obedience easy.
SD: In Buddy’s obituary, you listed Viorica and Zita as his “Moldovan children” along with your own. What would you tell people about the depth of relationship possible with a JMI sponsored child?
MN: These children are ours and we love them dearly. I love them as my own and would do what any parent would do to love, care and provide for them. These children love in return as they seek guidance and direction in their lives. They desire relationship and love over material worldly possessions. There is no deeper love than this.
SD: How have JMI staff helped you stay connected to your sponsored kids?
MN: JMI provides their website wherein email messages are posted between the child and their sponsor. Also, there are numerous mission trips to the respected countries to do ministry. JMI does a great job coordinating efforts during these trips for you to spend time with your sponsored child while ministering to others.
SD: In what ways do you strive to be a blessing to your girls? In what ways do they bless you?
MN: My goal is to be intentionally present for my girls through relationship which is what they most desire. Whether through written correspondence, skype or traveling to them, I want to be there to guide, mentor, direct, and help in their overall physical, mental and spiritual health. God has blessed me through these girls and I want to be a blessing in return.
My girls bless me by seeing them succeed in what they do and growing spiritually. They are able to love others and as a result God is glorified. God is doing a great work in and through JMI, Moldova and these children.
SD: Having shared the experience so intimately with Buddy when he was alive on earth, what meaning does this Moldova connection have for you as you look into your future?
MN: Though the death of my husband is a great loss, he left me with one of the greatest gifts of a lifetime; two wonderful girls in Moldova who call me mom. He gave me the opportunity to fall in love with two precious girls who are now forever family. He dearly loved his children in Moldova and they loved him. The girls actually prayed for him and his recovery last December 2014 when he was able to travel; they even had their pastor come to Grace House and pray with and over Buddy. I have assured my girls nothing has changed, I am still their mom…..I love them and always will.
If you’d like to donate to JMI in memory of Buddy, you can give here.