The Lord’s directives are very clear – we are to ”loose the chains of injustice... set the oppressed free...break every yoke...Share our food with the hungry... provide the poor wanderer with shelter— [and] when you see the naked, clothe them.” Isaiah 58:6-7
Here at Mustard Tree, we strongly support first, second and third generational human rights, and we seek to restlessly pursue justice and mercy for all of God’s creation through our sustainable community development missions and programs.
Our work began in Romania about fourteen years ago when our Director was invited to go on a mission trip to the area. Once there, his heart couldn’t help but be moved for the plight of the Roma people.
The Roma, a traditionally nomadic ethnic group living mostly in Europe, constitute the largest ethnic minority in the European Region. More widely known as “Gypsies,” the living conditions and life chances of the Roma have undergone a dramatic and ongoing decline constituting a major human rights crisis. Currently, the Roma have limited access to political, economic and social rights such as the right to life and equity before the law, the right to natural resources and a healthy environment, the right to food and housing, the right to sustainability, the right to education and the right to economic and social development.
The pictures here accurately depict the average living conditions of the Roma people. Humans and animals alike live in a one-room hut made out of make shift trash and leftovers with a dirt floor; and small children live and play in areas where raw sewage runs open in the streets.
Our Director immediately responded by joining the European Roma Rights Centre and began sponsoring churches that offer outreach and community development to the Roma people. We specifically seek to assist with local community development projects and programs that seek to meet the needs of the impoverished community and the orphans of that counrty, so that instead of playing in raw sewage, they instead can enjoy clean water, other natural resources, sustainable food, housing and an education.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we are currently working to develop and build churches in three cities and seven villages. In 2014, we purchased land to build an outreach center for the youth and orphans in the Roma village of Comsesti. This center will also provide the community a place where they can come and worship in peace. Along with pastor Samuel Goia and his family, we are also working to develop a local farming industry as part of our sustainable community development programs in the area. He and his family and now two missionaries from Ohio have summer programs and after school tutoring for the kids in the village. Not only do they have a safe place to worship, learn and play, they also are able to get much needed food regularly.
We helped establish and renovate an orphanage outside the city of Sibiu in 2019. This ministry is lead by Pastor Cristi Istrate and his family. They also provide much social interaction as well as education and nutritious food to go along with a safe place to live. Pastor Cristi does this as well as pastor a church in Sibiu.
Finally, we have now helped to purchase and are in the midst of renovating a building in the village of Salacea that will be able to serve 7 villages, but especially a community of 5,000 people. In these Western Villages, Pastor Robi Lakatos and his family along with the help of Lucian and Dana Volosen has built a wonderful reputation for these ministries by bringing many people to faith in Christ and providing wonderful ministries in the villages.
All of these ministries provide food boxes, clothing when able, and many other services to their communities. They also help to upgrade and even build housing for people in the villages when they have the funding. We always welcome people to travel with us to Romania or to give to help these ministries meet the needs of some of the most needy people in the world.
For more information on the human rights crisis facing the Roma, visit the EERC’s website here.
Mustard Tree Ministries and First-Centenary United Methodist Church work closely with Ray and Lidia Zirkel and their Methodist Children’s Home Hogar Metodista in Patio de Agua, Coronado. The mission work in the past has included helping build the children’s home and doing Vacation Bible School with the children. First-Centenary goes to Costa Rica every Summer with fundraising in the Spring. If you are interested in going or are interested in fundraising for yourself or the team, email Barry for more information. We would love to have you join us!