Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tornado in Deva, Romania

Talk about a bad Monday.  On Monday, August 26th, 2013, a tornado tore through the city of Deva in Romania.  In the process, it severely damaged the roofs on the orphanage we support with its surrounding buildings.  We praise God that none of our leaders or any of the children were hurt physically by the storm.  The early reports indicate that about five (5) people in the city lost their lives to the storm.  Our damage was the psychological damage and trauma experienced by everyone involved that resulted from weathering a sever storm and the damage to the buildings.  With time and God's grace, the horrible memories will fade and the smiles will return.  The buildings will require much work and money to repair them and bring them back to their prior condition.  Please consider providing some financial support to help us rebuild and to show unity with our brothers in Romania.

There will be two phases to the reconstruction.  The first step is to repair and in some cases replace the roofs so as to prevent any further damage.  This process started immediately, while it was still raining.  Our brothers in Romania are working from sun-up to sun-down to stop any further damage.  They are physically exhausted as they try to save what it has taken decades to build.  The second step will be to repair the water damage caused by water pouring though the buildings.  This process will begin once the roofs have been restored.

Financially, the orphanages are fully dependent on the monthly support they receive from the Gospel Tabernacle church in Coudersport, PA, the Haven of Hope Foundation and God's Grace to operate.  They survive from month to month, often requiring miracle provisions to make it.  They have no rainy day fund.  There is no better experience to be the conduit that God uses to accomplish His will.  If you would like to contribute to the rebuilding, please let me know.  No contribution is too big or too small.

Pictures of the damage:

The wall was damaged when the roof was torn off.
The tiles on the roof that was left were destroyed.

Repairing the roof on the orphanage.

The Caterpillar backhoe was used to get new tiles to the roof.
Water poured into the children's bedroom through the light fixture.
Trees around the orphanage were leveled.
The front door of the orphanage was blown nearly off.

The repairs are made on very steep roofs with no protective equipment.
The entrance to the church was flooded.
Water flooded the church.
Most of the tile roof was destroyed.

The tiles on the roof were crumbled.

This is the view from inside the apartment showing sky where the roof used to be.  The drywall is all ruined.

Pastor Viorel collecting part of the wall that was blown off.

All the tiles, roof boards and rafters were blown off this section.

View from inside a bedroom where the roof was lost.  The roof that remained barely hanged on.

Crumbled tiles, but at least the roof stayed.

Trees were broken in half everywhere.

Broken tree next to church.
An outbuilding that was used for animals was flattened.

Roof was torn off building that holds the wood heating system.

Church leaders volunteered to do whatever was necessary.

The rebuilding began as soon as matching tiles could be found.

Parts of some roofs were only partly damaged.

Entire portions of the roof needed replaced.

Roof boards ended up in the neighbor's yard.

A building in the city was devastated. 

Damage to a building in the city of Deva.
Roof from a city building ended up on the street.


The Haven of Hope Foundation now has the ability to accept online donations.  Thanks to the help of our Brother Julian Craig, we can now accept donations using a safe and secure online donation system.  Julian came on a trip to Romania in March of 2013 and the people and children of Romania are now a permanent part of his heart.  Julian has expertise in the area of electronic giving (E-Giving) and has guided us through the process of being set up to accept online donations.

You'll see the "Donate" button at the top of this post and at the top of the webpage.  A click on that button will take you to a safe and secure donation processing company that will allow you to make tax deductible donations to support any ministry Haven of Hope is affiliated with.  If you don't see a particular ministry that you know Haven of Hope supports, or if you'd like to give to a ministry through Haven of Hope, please contact me and we can discuss adding it.

What is special about donating through the Haven of Hope Foundation is that you can direct your contributions towards specific ministries and projects.  Jason Holmberg takes full and personal responsibility for making sure that 100% of your contribution is used exactly as you intend it to be used.  The Haven of Hope Foundation is an independent 501(c) 3, so all of the donations are fully tax deductible.  You will receive a charitable contribution receipt at the end of the year for any donation you make.

When you log into the E-Giving website by clicking on the Donate button, you will see a list of different ministries and projects that you can support.  Once you choose a particular ministry, you will later be able to set up the gift as a onetime gift or a recurring gift.  Lastly, you can use a payment method of your choice, including credit card, debit card or electronic check (ACH) from your bank.  The ACH transfers are the most efficient, but they all are safe, secure and appreciated.

Who is to say what the biggest need is?  Recurring donations may top the list, as many of the people who have supported the orphanages in Romania have for one reason or another moved away from the church in Coudersport.  I pray this system is a way for those with a heart to give on a monthly basis to reconnect and support the children who depend on us.  Recently, a tornado came through Deva, damaging the orphanage and surrounding buildings.  Currently, this is a very high priority to get the buildings repaired.  We have started a School of Ministry in Romania to train up ministers of the Gospel.  This will change the students lives forever and equip the church leaders for years to come to effectively preach the Gospel.  All of the ministries are good soil for donations.

If you have any questions about E-Giving or about the ministries the Haven of Hope Foundation supports, please contact Jason Holmberg by phone or email at (814) 274-3233 or  I like nothing better than sharing what is happening, so please do not hesitate to contact me.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pastor Viorel

Pastor Viorel and his wife Nicoleta

Pastor Viorel is our partner in the cities of Deva and Hunedoara.  He works full time doing construction work with his Caterpillar backhoe to support his family.  He often gives generously to the church and orphanage to expand or meet a need. 

He is a fearless evangelist.  I remember stories of his van almost being overturned when he drove into a ghetto gypsy village to hand out some clothes and evangelize.  He is always willing to pray for the hopeless.  Many people have been delivered as a result of God answering his powerful prayers. 

He is the father to two grown children and the grandfather to an increasing number of grandchildren.  However, many more children know him as their Tata (father).  He treats all of the children at the orphanages as if they were his own.  Pastor Viorel pastors as the senior Pastor in Deva and oversees the church in Hunedoara.  He was responsible for the development and construction of a completed orphanage in Deva, a partially completed church in Deva and a completed orphanage in Hunedoara.

There was a time before we began to support Pastor Viorel with regular monthly support when he learned to trust God completely.  The orphanage was built from the support of a generous American who has a heart for missions and felt led of God to build an orphanage in Romania.  After a few years of operating the orphanage, the monthly support from America stopped abruptly.  For four months, Pastor Viorel cried out to God (physically and spiritually) for an answer.  He could not bear to let the children go hungry, but there was no way he could support the orphanage on his own.  It was a test of his faith.  God met their needs during that period and lead them to a relationship with our organization.  We have supported him ever since and worked with him to expand the ministry to Hunedoara and in other ways. 

In addition to completing the church in Deva and adding a church to the grounds in Hunedoara, Pastor Viorel has a vision to build churches and orphanages in many additional cities as well.  His association has even been given land to build in some of those cities when that time comes. 

Those who know him, know he would be lost without his faithful wife Nicoleta.  She is the mother to all the orphans.  It is a family affair for Pastor Viorel.  His son and daughter, along with their spouses, help to administer the orphanages and lead the churches.  His children will be the next generation of leaders in the church and ministry. 

Small Deeds

"A Small Deed is better than a Grand Plan"

I heard this quote recently and it made me think about how we should be living our lives.  I don't want this blog to be full of preaching or my opinions, so I will stay focused on how this quote applies to the work we are doing. 

So many times, when I tell people about the work in Romania, they respond by telling me about the rich people they know who they think will support a project.  I've learned to kindly move the conversation along because I have never seen a "grand plan" like this come to pass.  Most people, regardless of their position in life, do not believe that they can make a difference.  Sometimes they don't believe that they have enough for themselves.  More often they have plans that if they come true will enable them to make a difference.

There are two parts to this quote.  What we can do may seem small to us.  When we fly on a missions trip, we always fly coach.  The least expensive itineraries often have long layovers and less than routing.  The trips are short and our agendas are sometimes questioned as to whether they are worthwhile.  The buildings and churches that were built are meager.  They are practical and not ornate.  In every way, the works are "Small Deeds".  But they are not small in God's eyes.  The humble church was no small deed to the person who gave his heart to Jesus with a stream of tears.  The seemingly uneventful agenda was very eventful to person that was prayed for who just needed to know someone loved them.  The small orphanage means the world to the child who would be lost without it.

There is nothing wrong with having "Grand Plans".  Planning is important to everything we do.  Without them, nothing would be accomplished.  The danger is that sometimes our focus can linger too long on the future and we can forget about the present.  There are people in need today who may not survive to see the "Grand Plan" in action, if it ever comes.  Living too far in the future puts our present in danger.

"You can never out give God."  There are so many promises in the bible that relate to our finances.  They all have the same theme, of course.  What you sow with the wind, you reap with the whirlwind.  You will receive with the same measure that you give.  Test Me and see if I won't open the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing that you won't be able to contain it.  I'm sorry for the paraphrasing, but those are all promises from the bible.  No where does it say that God will give us much so that we'll have extra to give away.  First we give, then we receive; Never the opposite.  Its not how we might prefer the system to work, but I can honestly say that I have never met a sincere giver who ever regretted their "small deed".

I'm encouraging you to dream big and believe God for miracles in the future, but don't forget to sow the seed of faith with whatever small deeds you can in the here and now.

A Strong Structure

Its important to understand the different roles that everyone play in God's work.  "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body" - 1 Cor. 12:12  We support pastors and missionaries so that they can do the work they have been called to do.  Without them working day in and day out on the ground, nothing would get done.  Without our support, they would not be able to do their part. 

The work in Romania is done though local foundations.  They are properly formed NGO's that have their own independent boards, rules and oversight.  They are set up to exist as independent organizations, even if we someday are unable to do our part. 

The local pastors provide the leadership over all the good works that are done.  They are fully committed to being pastors and receive no personal financial support for all the work they do.  They work at jobs or in business to support themselves and their families.  I'll expand on this in another post, but they are the hardest working men I know.  They work full time, are full time pastors and run orphanages full of children.  And they do it with excellence. 

The Haven of Hope Foundation is a non-profit organization that has received its 501(c)3 status from the US IRS.  Any financial contributions made to the Haven of Hope Foundation will be fully tax deductible.  The Haven of Hope Foundation has no (zero) overhead.  100% of money contributed goes to the work it was intended to support.  We have done everything we know how to do to ensure our work is done with transparency. 

These points may seem pretty basic and you might otherwise expect that they are to be taken for granted.  However, these points are what sets us apart.  We have local leadership who have committed their whole lives to the work they are doing.  We have done the same in our own ways.  Working with this structure allows people to know that 100% of their contributions are used as they are intended to help people.  Nothing is spent on "administration".  We have the ability to closely follow every program and make sure that the part of the body that provides the funding stays connected to the part of the body that administers the giving. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For years I've been delayed in creating a website or blog for one simple reason.  The reason is that I know the audience will be very diverse.  Its really quite difficult to share information when the audience is so broad. 

Most of the posts will be directed towards the audience of people who support the work.  This includes people who are reading with the specific intention of deciding whether they want to start supporting the work.  It includes people who are interested in supporting specific projects from time to time.  Also included are people who provide financial support on a monthly basis to cover all the operating expenses.  Many of these people have been supporting the work through the Gospel Tabernacle for many years. 

The focus of the Haven of Hope Foundation includes supporting orphanages and churches in Romania.  This work was started by a Pastor at the Gospel Tabernacle church in Coudersport, PA.  The church provides the ministerial covering for the churches we support in Romania.  Further, the members of the church provide most of the financial support required to operate the orphanages in Romania.  Many of the readers of this blog will be aware of this church and may be members.

The Haven of Hope Foundation is an independant foundation, seperate and apart from the Gospel Tabernacle.  The foundation allows individuals and businesses that are not connected with the Gospel Tabernacle to get involved in supporting the work of the foundation.  This blog represents the views of the Haven of Hope Foundation only.

The audience for this blog may be rather diverse in their individual beliefs.  You will notice varying levels of "Christian-ese" in the posts, based on the subjects.  The Haven of Hope Foundation is unashamedly a Christian organization.  Our focus will be to reflect the values and do the work of Jesus Christ. 

I am well aware that the audience will include all sides of the foundation's work.  In addition to the supporters, those being supported will definitely be readers of the posts.  This includes the pastors we support, members of their churches and even the children growing up in the orphanages we support.  The posts will not be embellished or exagerated, but they don't really need to be.  The testimonies of the lives being saved and transformed are powerful enough. 

As you can now understand, it would be impossible to create each post to be relevant for every audience.  So please bear with me as you read the posts. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ioana Testimony

Ioana is 7 years old and lives at the Deva orphanage.  Pastor Viorel asked a few of the orphans to testify at the dedication of the orphanage in Hunedoara.   

This little girl is the youngest of three gypsy sisters who came from the state orphanage shortly after they were taken into custody.  The girls were begging with their mother on the streets.  They woke up one morning after sleeping on the street all night to nudge their mom and find her dead.  Their father is an alcoholic and could not take care of them.  Beautiful young children are more successful beggars than older drunks, so he took them from city to city begging.

As young gypsy girls, these children had one career path.  As soon as they were of age, they would be prostitutes.  Most Romanians are unashamedly prejudice against the gypsies.  The few jobs that exists for young people in Romania are not open to the general gypsy population.  These girls will be raised in a loving Christian family.  They will be given an education.  They will have every opportunity to defy the odds. 

Hunedoara Orphanage Worship

The worship in Romania is excellent.  The room that we use for church service in Hunedoara was not big enough to hold all the people who came to the orphanage dedication.  The weather was great, so the service was held outside.  The video will give you a good look at the outside of the orphanage and a taste for the annointed worship music.

The singer is Pastor Viorel's daughter Alexandra.  Her brother Sebi is to her right, her husband Danny is to her left. 

Hunedoara Orphanage

On July 15th, 2011, this building became a home for children.  I remember coming to the land before the first scoop of dirt had been moved for the foundation. 

Pastor Viorel had the vision to plant a church and orphanage in Hunedoara for many years.  The city gave the property with the condition that the foundation build on the property with a few years. 

A team from the US arrived just with a container of materials just a few weeks before the property was due to revert back to the city. 

On the first trip, they were able to get the building built, but it was left unfinished for several more years.  The second trip came in 2009 when the team finished and refinished the interior.  The interior design had to change from the original plans because Romania had passed a law requiring the orphanage to have four rooms for the kitchen area, rather than one.  One room for cooking, one room for washing vegetables, one room for storing meat and a bathroom for the cook to use.  There are no laws about smoke detectors, but you must have all these rooms in your kitchen layout!  My favorite crazy rule is that you are not allowed to dry laundry in the same room you wash it.  And no, there is no good reason for that...

Here is an after photo of the same picture above.  Since 2009, the building has functioned as a church on Sundays.  The church body is Hunedoara is growing.  The opening of the orphanage creates another challenge.  The government of Romania does not allow you to hold church services in orphanages.  Sooner than later we will have to find another place to hold church in Hunedoara.


These are the first lives to be impacted by the new orphanage.  The family on the left was about to be destroyed by the child protection service.  There is no father in their lives.  They were homeless.  The child protection service was about to take the children and put them in seperate foster homes.  The mother would have remained homeless.  Instead, the children and their mom have been delivered from an impossible situation by the orphanage!  The family on the right lived in a home where they were abused regularly.  With no place to go, they had no choice but to take it.  This orphanage has given them an escape from the nightmare of regular beatings. 

Soon there will be more children ariving.  What a blessing it is to know that you are a part of saving lives.