“I now feel so much more relaxed and peaceful. I used to worry a lot and now I don’t...”

Growing up in poverty, religion can seem irrelevant, its traditions and rules for people who have their lives together, who aren’t overwhelmed by practical questions around finding work, paying the bills, putting food on the table.

Romania ranks as the number one most religious country in Europe, according to Pew Research Center, with 85.3% of the population describing themselves as Orthodox Christians.

However, growing up, Melisa, 17, who lives in northwest Romania, was surrounded by poverty. Her parents’ small income was swallowed up by rent and bills, leaving little left for anything else. Melisa’s father often had to go abroad for work, as there were so few job opportunities at home. Although the family regularly went to church, there seemed to be no answers there – and Melisa craved fun and as she got older, parties: an escape from everyday hardship.

“Choosing Jesus wasn’t easy for me,” she said.

Things started to change when Melisa was enrolled on Mission Without Borders’s child sponsorship programme when she was 10. Her family began receiving food, clothes and donated goods. Melisa and her brother were given school supplies and had the chance to go on summer camp. It was when Melisa became a teenager that she began to wrestle with committing her life to Christ.

She said, “I remember this moment when a man visited our church, giving a sermon and inviting people to give their lives to Jesus. I was torn – and I just couldn’t decide whether or not to join the altar call that day. I didn’t. But months later, the thought still lingered.

“When the same man returned a year later, I told my friend that I have to take this step and I did, leaving behind a past of partying that I’d rather forget. “In September last year I decided to get baptised, together with 10 other people (six of them also connected to MWB).

Melisa takes time to read her Bible dailyMelisa takes time to read her Bible daily

“No one in my immediate family has ever been a born-again Christian, so I didn't have anyone to confide in about my feelings or questions, especially because talking about feelings wasn’t really encouraged in our family or even in our culture in general. I yearned for someone to talk to,” she said.

“I’ve always found joy in attending the Christian Outreach meetings and the summer camps organised by MWB, where I deepened my understanding of God. That later helped me to commit to following him.”

Melisa added, “For a while after the baptism, I had a lot of doubts. I questioned my decision countless times, wondering if I’d made the right choice.

Melisa and her family
Melisa and her family in thier home in Romania

“With prayer and support from my parents, I fully know that giving my life to Jesus was the best decision I could ever take. Now I have no regrets.

“I now feel so much more relaxed and peaceful. I used to worry a lot and now I don’t.”

Melisa continually seeks to grow in her relationship with God. She attends church on Fridays and Saturdays for orchestra practice and prayer, and sometimes to help with children’s activities, and she never misses the Sunday services.

“One of my classmates is also my best friend,” Melisa said. “She’s an Orthodox Christian, and she’s really nice. I invited her to attend our church when I got baptised and she came. I tell her about God, and we pray for each other.”

Melisa hopes to study pediatric nursing when she finishes school – and is trying her best to study as well as she can. In the meantime, her family are doing much better now – both parents have jobs, and they own their own home. While life is still tough at times, they have come a long way.

Sorin, the MWB staff member who supports sponsored children like Melisa, said, “Melisa’s genuine love for God and for her family shines through and she has a determined spirit. I’m thrilled about her decision to follow Christ, and it brings me so much joy every time any child I work with makes the same decision.”

Melisa's bedroomMelisa's bedroom at home

When a family is sponsored through Mission Without Borders, they not only receive practical help in their struggle with poverty – but emotional and spiritual support, too. If you would like to find out more about sponsoring a child, click here, or call us today at 1-800-245-9191.

Interested in helping change the future for a child in need? Click here to learn more about Mission Without Borders' child Sponsorship program.

Melisa outside her home in Romania
Melisa outside her home in Romania