Pastor Billy Jones from Dunseverick Baptist Church was amongst a group of pastors and ministers who went on a recent mission trip to bring ‘Smiles’ to Romania. The group, from across the UK and the island of Ireland, went to see the work of The Smiles Foundation. They work with some of the poorest and marginalised communities in the north west of the country. He sent us a short report of his visit.
The team included Deirdre McMullan from Green Pastures Church in Ballymena, several Presbyterian Ministers and another Baptist Pastor from Liverpool.
The Smiles Foundation was founded in 1990 by Kevin Hoy and Nia Jones. They were appalled by the condition of some state-run orphanages in the wake of Ceausescu’s fall from power. They noted the total lack of smiles on the children’s faces. So they vowed to return to the country and bring smiles to the faces of parents and children who were struggling with poverty.
The Smiles Foundation website says:
“After several years of regular visits to Romania, supported by many from the UK and America who were providing significant aid for distribution and funding for several ongoing projects, Kevin and Nia decided to establish an official Charity – The Smiles Foundation. They and an army of like-minded people began the work to help bring Smiles to the Romanian people.
Established in 1997, first as a ‘charitable club’, the Smiles Club subsequently became a fully approved Charity in the United Kingdom, America and Romania itself.”
Billy Jones revealed that this was his first visit to Romania. Together with the team, he travelled to Bihor County where The Smiles Foundation have their mission centre.
He went on to say: “Our role was to visit the various outreaches, projects and churches and give support to the national workers of The Smiles Foundation.”
“We travelled to towns called Oradea and Salonta. Also to the villages of Tileadg and Rapa, where we saw the ongoing outreach, care and witness of the ministry to families living in both spiritual and social need.”
‘Seeing lives and communities transformed’ was the highlight of Billy’s trip to bring ‘Smiles’ to Romania.
Telling us what made the trip special for him, Billy said: “Seeing lives and communities transformed by the power of the good news of the gospel is my lasting memory. Families who had nothing materially and spiritually, trusting in Jesus.”