One of the things I hammer on annually when I talk to the girls in our transitional living program in Moldova is to put boys on the far backburner of their minds for the next three to ten years. As you can imagine, that’s a hard sell for 16-18 year olds!
The culture of Moldova, like that in Hispanic cultures and others, pushes girls to get married at an early age. In the Amazon, for example, girls often marry as early as 13 and begin having babies almost immediately. A lack of educational opportunities may be blamed for that, but it becomes a way of life.
In Moldova, the bitter winters and hard life “age” young women more quickly. The prevailing thought is that their beauty will deteriorate so rapidly that they need to marry while they’re most attractive.
Living an ocean apart from our Moldovan kids, I don’t get to “monitor” their opposite sex relationships as closely as I’d like. (Interpreted, that means “discourage”, “impede”, or “intimidate would-be suitors”). So when a rumor circulated on my July trip this year that there that a young man who was about to propose to one of our girls – Nina Svisci – I was none too pleased….until I met him.
As it turned out, I got to grill…errr, meet and interview Slavic on the day he was to propose, along with Nina’s sponsor, Alan and Alan’s pastor, Crockett. As it turned out, Slavic was a Christian with a leadership position within his church. Check! He was also gainfully employed. Check! But I never would have imagined the last plus working for this young couple!
As I came to discover, Slavic and Nina had made a pact when they started dating never to hug or kiss until they were married. Now that would be too shocking to believe for most young people. But we’re talking about a girl here whose pastor made Nina her own key for their church because he couldn’t keep up with her early morning, everyday routine of coming to the church to pray!
Now, flashback with me to Nina’s past. For most of her childhood, Nina lived with her father who was the gatekeeper of the city garbage dump. Her mother scavenged there for food in order to feed their family. Back then they lived in a large hole in the ground covered over by a makeshift roof. At about 13, she was placed in a Chisinau orphanage where she lived for the next three years.
What changed the course of Nina’s life and created this marvelous young lady? God’s grace, working through a caring sponsor, working in collaboration with JMI’s phenomenal Moldova staff team. There really is no other answer.
What must it feel like to know you have been part of a redemption story this magnificent? What could be more eternally satisfying than to know you’ve played a role in raising up a Nina? Although every story is different, our sponsors know their kids and can recount their own personal experiences of miraculous transformations.
Some marriages really are made in heaven, whether they be man-and-wife or sponsor-and-child. Right now in Moldova there are kids essentially standing at our door begging for the chance to be accepted into our transitional living program before that summer door of opportunity closes on their hopes. If you’d like to join our Lord and JMI team in this ministry, here are some kids who need your immediate and prayerful consideration: