by Tim & Jenny Gooding
Casa Luca (Luke’s House) gets its name from our Romanian foundation, a charity called Misiunea Crestina Luca (Luke’s Christian Mission) that we formed almost 21 years ago to enable us to buy land, build buildings, care for those in need and provide social and medical assistance.
The original idea for Casa Luca was to be a children’s home to take in babies abandoned by their young mothers in the hospitals in Cluj and children awaiting adoption or fostering. The project was presented to the Department for Protection of Children (DPC) who expressed their appreciation of the plan. However, upon completion of the building some years later, when we applied for authorisation to commence the work, the DPC refused permission stating that there was no longer a need for such a home in Cluj. Disappointed, we tried another avenue to open it as a home for mothers and children. That too was unsuccessful with the same reason being given. Undeterred, we sought the Lord’s will for the building, which by now was fully fitted out and ready for use, knowing that the Lord would not have allowed the generous giving and the prayer that had been offered up to be all in vain. Soon after, a brother from Botoşani in the north of the country phoned to ask if we had a room where he could stay for five weeks as he was coming to Cluj for cancer treatment. This led to the possibility of providing accommodation for others in the same situation. Then our paths crossed with Violeta Farago (now Goron), who had lost her young husband to cancer and had realised the same need as she saw the large number of patients coming from across the country for treatment at the radiotherapy clinics in Cluj. She introduced us to the Amethyst Clinic, which is situated on our side of the city. She suggested that we took care of some of the patients needing accommodation from that clinic, while she cared for patients on the other side of the city in her accommodation – Casa Filip. So, in September 2019 we opened our doors to receive our first clients.
A Place to Heal
Casa Luca has seven bedrooms and four bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and living room, office, additional toilets, a laundry room and a food pantry. All the clients prepare and cook their own food as they are on special diets and we would need additional certification if we catered for them. The bedrooms do not have televisions as upstairs is designated as a quiet area. Each bedroom has a Bible in it and we have heard from several clients that they read it during their stay with us. We also have a small library of Christian books available to read. Jenny loves to grow and propagate houseplants and so, upon completion of the client’s treatment they are presented with a Bible and a plant in a pot with the verse from John 3:16 printed on it. Jenny suggests to them that the plant needs watering regularly and that each time they do this, they should read the verse on the pot and remember their time with us in Casa Luca.
As we offer them free transport to and from the clinic, we have many opportunities to witness to them of the love of our Lord Jesus. They often ask us why we came to Romania and why do we do what we do here. This opens up spiritual conversations with them. We share the gospel and how God called us to service in Romania. We tell them that we pray for them daily, which amazes many of them as their traditional Orthodox beliefs allow only the priest to pray for them and only after offering money. In a country where the name of God is revered and orthodoxy demands they keep certain of the many religious days, including fasting and attending the many churches, it is sad that there is little or no personal recognition that they need to be reconciled to God through believing in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Each bedroom has a Bible in it and we have heard from several clients that they read it during their stay with us.
How wonderful it has been to explain the freedom from and forgiveness of sin through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Nicu, our administrator and driver, has also had many opportunities to explain the things we believe and the reason for our happiness in doing what we do for them. Over the past year, it has been our joy to see two women come to know the Saviour through our conversations with them and one of them has recently been baptised. Another lady who recently stayed at Casa Luca was saved before she came to us but had not been baptised due to her unbelieving husband threatening to return to drinking if she did. While she stayed with us, she decided to be baptised and Tim spoke at her baptism. Another couple, who stayed in Casa Luca last year, have also been saved and were recently baptised.
Supporting the Vulnerable
The Gypsy community have been a very difficult group of people to reach with the gospel despite there being a Gypsy church in the village, to which they have often been invited. Over the last few years, we have had less interaction with local Gypsy families. This is mainly due to many of them moving away or having a family member working in a foreign country who is able to sustain the family back home. However, we still occasionally buy and make up food packets to help the most vulnerable and to buy medicines for the children who have prescriptions.
As the border with Ukraine is 200km from Gilau, we have been actively involved with the relief work among those who have been displaced by the war. We have helped a few families to transit through Romania to other European countries, have made up and taken over 2,000 hygiene packs and babies’ bottles and milk powder to the border – each containing a gospel tract. More recently, due to the cost of transporting goods to Sighet, Romania’s border town, we have been forwarding gifts to a Christian brother, Dr Adi Danciu, who is coordinating relief work in Ukrainian towns near the border with Romania. We have visited a clinic and hospital that are struggling to cope with the surge of displaced families who have fled the fighting to take refuge in the west of the country. We help provide food for 300 people who are staying in local families’ homes and also in what was formerly a mental-health hospital. In addition, we have helped buy some much-needed medical equipment for the clinic and hospital. On our last visit we saw a lot of building and restoration work in progress. This is being done as these people will be staying there for the next five years or so. Even if the Russian occupation were to stop in the next few months, the necessary rebuilding and rehousing of all those dear displaced people will take time.
We have been able to help in providing medical procedures for those cannot afford them. For 15 years we have helped D, a child born with a rare medical condition. About ten years ago Jenny took D and her mum to Iasi, a Romanian city for an operation, and just recently we were able to take her to Budapest in Hungary to have another operation which was not available in Romania.
His Faithful Provision
Through the 21 years that we have been serving the Lord in Romania we have consistently seen His provision, not only for ourselves but for many in need around us. We give Him all the glory and thank Him for His great love in enabling us to learn another language and culture, and to give help to many who have passed through our home. In the church we see people who came to Cluj to attend the various universities, now married and with children of their own and taking active parts in the assembly and its Sunday school. Tim continues ministry there with gospel meetings locally in Gilau in the Gypsy church. Their culture is quite different to the Romanian churches and much prayer is needed. We continue to look to the Lord for guidance for the future, seeking others who might join us in our work here, reaching out with the love of our Healer and Saviour.
- for the guests staying at Casa Luca to find healing, physically and spiritually
- for the work of Casa Luca and its witness as the gospel is shared
- for the witness among the Gypsy community and for the gospel message to take root
- for a peaceful solution to be found to end the war in Ukraine.