Aubrey Junker and his wife are sponsors of a young girl in Moldova. JMI Founding Director, Steve Davis, asked Aubrey about what that experience has been like for him. Below is that interview with Aubrey. If you’re interested in becoming a JMI sponsor in any capacity, we’d love to hear from you. Email [email protected]
Steve Davis: Aubrey, how and when did you first become acquainted with JMI’s work in Moldova?
Late in the summer of 2012 a good friend went on his first trip to Moldova. When Jeremy described how many of the young girls were the victims of trafficking or suicide I was shocked. But his next words I will never ever forget: “Aubrey these children have NO HOPE”. I thought to myself, every child needs hope in their life. I knew at that moment, I was going to get involved and that I would be going to Moldova.
SD: What can you tell us about your first mission trip to Moldova? How did your experience compare with your expectations?
Let me start by saying I was the guy who just knew my role was to “help send others, not to actually go.” I did not have a passport and I really didn’t want one. I had never traveled out of the country on vacation much less on a mission trip.
After dinner one evening I mentioned to my wife that I really wanted to go to Moldova on a mission trip. To say Jo-Amber, was surprised is an understatement. An even bigger surprise was when my daughter, Catherine, home from college, looked at me and said “Dad, I want to go with you”.
We spent two days ministering the love of Jesus to children at a shelter in Balti and then several days at a small church in the village of Falesti. It did not take long to see and feel the void these children had in their lives that so needed to be filled by someone showing them the love of Jesus.
SD: What were your “takeaways” from that first trip?
There are a number of things that really stuck with me.
- First, life in Moldova is hard. It is survival every single day for most people.
- These precious children have all of the same needs to be loved and cared for that our children here in the US have.
- Because they have no one that cares, if you will just show the love of Jesus to these children and really care about them, they respond.
- God needs people to get involved: to pray, to give and yes to go and be his hands and feet and touch these lives
SD: In the course of your relationship with JMI and Moldova, you decided to sponsor a girl. How did you get connected and what can you tell us about her?
The night Jeremy spoke about the children of Moldova we looked through JMI’s information and read the profiles on each child. It didn’t take long. I knew in the bottom of my heart we needed to sponsor this one particular child, Alibina. She was 11 years old and in my mind was the most at risk because she was the oldest child in the group. In Alibina’s profile it mentioned she had been at an orphanage for 1.5 years. Also it mentioned she was afraid when she came to the orphanage.
Alibina is a social orphan. She has a mother, a stepfather and an older brother but from what I have learned she comes from a difficult family situation.
SD: You’ve received some touching messages from Alibina through JMI’s online portal. Would you mind sharing some of those and how that relationship has evolved?
In the beginning I was not your ideal sponsor. I would write to Alibina and yes I did care but my correspondence was sporadic at best. But I did care and over time I finally developed consistency in my correspondence with Alibina. Her letters back to me became highlights in my life. Let me share a few quotes from Alibina’s letters:
Feb 25, 2015 – I love you a lot. I always think of you. You are very close to me.
May 5, 2015 – Soon there’ll be my birthday. I dream as if you come to it and congratulate me. This can be a great surprise.
When I received this letter on May 5th from Alibina, it literally ripped my heart out of my chest. I knew I needed to do something. I called and inquired about how we could make Alibina’s birthday special.
What the JMI staff in Moldova did for Alibina to make her birthday special was tremendous. I will never forget the email I received from our interpreter, Cezara, the evening after she had taken Alibina out: “She couldn’t ever imagine that she would have such a day. She feels you are her second family. She dreams of meeting you. She wants to be a part of your family.”
This is from the note we received from Alibina after the summer break:
October 5, 2015 – I missed you a lot. I was waiting for a letter from you. I am really happy to get one. My summer passed well. Thank you my dear parents for such a great birthday. It was the best day in my life. I am the happiest person in the world because I have you.
November 2, 2015 – You remain my only friend. I need someone to encourage me and love me. Thank you for being in my life. You are my family. I love you. My love is infinite! Your daughter Alibina!!!
SD: You have been a “catalyst of one” in leading your church (Impact Church in Concord, NC) to form a partnership with JMI moving into 2016. How has all that come about?
Pastor Terry (from Impact Church) and I meet very often over coffee to talk. I share with him the letters I receive from Alibina and he and I just cry.
When God put on pastors Terry and Donna’s heart that Impact Church was to reach out to 5 countries in the next 10 years, Moldova was right at the top of the list.
SD: Impact Church has some exciting plans for a small village you’re adopting – sight unseen! – called Catranic. Tell us about what you’re planning!
- God touched the hearts of many people at Impact Church and with the help of JMI’s staff we are providing Christmas gifts to 80 children in our initial ministry effort.
- We hope to provide sponsors for many of the most needy children in Catranic. It is my hope that we will find sponsors for the 22 identified as most at-risk from Impact Church.
- We are planning a pioneering mission trip to Catranic in June 2015. During this trip we hope to identify a potential property that could possibly be purchased and used as a hub for ministry in Catranic.
SD: How has this experience changed you?
When we initially sponsored Alibina I just hoped and prayed that we could have an impact on her life. What I did not know was I was going to be the one who was also impacted. You see, I thought that I cared about other people. But, in reality I cared about my immediate family, my wife and children and that was about it. I hoped others would be ok but I did very little to impact others for the kingdom of God.
Through Alibina, God has shown me how to truly care about other people. He has shown me the impact you can have in a person’s life if you will just slow down and take time to focus and care about them. I have been radically changed and I will forever be thankful.