American football speaks of certain people as being five-star recruits before they enter the college system. Emanuel Hospice we say, by the Lord's grace, is a bona fide, gold-plated, A-plus five-star Christian ministry. But why? For what reasons? Well, here are some:
NEED - in Romania, only 8% of people with terminal illness are able to access the palliative care they need. This translates into 9 out of 10 of the terminally ill suffering an undignified, often painful death. Emanuel Hospice refuses to pass by on the other side, instead being involved to the full extent of their capabilities. In the death zone. Not easy. First star.
ORGANISED - there are good ministries in Romania for whom the words "haphazardly administered" might have been invented. Like waiting for radio signals to bounce back from a distant planet, so the experience of waiting for email responses from some of these good brethren. Not so with Emanuel Hospice. Leave your computer on after sending a message and often there's a response within the hour, indicative of their all-round highly organised state. Very helpful for sponsors. Second star.
SELF SACRIFICE - any visitor to Romania will know of Christian workers who, while pursuing a ministry, will have feathered their nests with donations from the west with such aplomb as to give the appearance of being multi-millionaires. And one hopes it's only an appearance. So sad to see, so very sad. But dear me, it's not true of the folks at Emanuel Hospice. All staff there could not only double their salaries by taking jobs elsewhere, but receive such offers of employment frequently. And decline them, frequently. For the Lord. Third star.
PERSEVERANCE - what did the father of one pastor say when his son was ordained into the ministry? Something about it taking grace to commence Christian service, but more grace to continue? Well, heads up for Emanuel Hospice! Whether it be standing firm in the blizzard of over-regulation that is Romanian bureaucracy, raising funds for their new building five years after it began, or still caring for the terminally ill twenty years after starting, quitters they ain't. By the Lord's grace, examples to us all. Fourth star.
GODLINESS - it's interesting, this part. The folks at Emanuel Hospice are different from each other. They come in different shapes and sizes, most certainly, and are equally different in character. But here's the curious thing. When you spend time with them individually, they all seem pretty much the same. The same deep concern for patients. The same humble way of going about their business. The same willingness to forego extra cash in order to serve the Lord. The same willingness to love the people they care for, in spite of the pain this brings. The same resembling of Christ in this dark and sinful world. Oh, it's lovely to see. Just lovely to see. Fifth star.
Emanuel Hospice, an independent Christian institution, seeks funding from others in Romania and abroad. This is for those precious staff salaries and also its glorious new building, the latter one day extending this ministry of compassion five-fold.
In spite of the light-hearted touches above, there's nothing light-hearted about this appeal. Like a climber who ascends a mountain to behold a view more beautiful than ever before, so we have felt when witnessing the good labours of Emanuel Hospice in Oradea, Romania.
It's a five-star service for the Lord's glory, and yet a five star service that needs help.
Here am I, Lord - use me?