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Romania: 'God can offer companionship in suffering'

Meet Marinela Murg who leads the Emanuel Hospice in Oradea, Romania, the second of its kind in the country. The team provides both medical care and spiritual comfort to patients and their families ...

Meet Marinela Murg who leads the Emanuel Hospice in Oradea, Romania, the second of its kind in the country. The team provides both medical care and spiritual comfort to patients and their families

When I became a Christian I was working as a nurse on a haematology unit. A question persisted in my mind while young people around me suffering from leukaemia were dying: What are the things in my life that are worth investing in so that I am able to affirm at the end, “My life was a gain”?

Two things that would last for eternity came to my attention: the Word of God, and people’s souls.
The patients I was working with were the eternal souls that I should care for. Helping them and studying and living the Word of God became the desire of my heart.

After the fall of communism God opened a door for me to study theology and social work at the Emanuel Bible Institute (now the Emanuel University of Oradea). This was when I first heard about hospice and palliative care.

A UK Christian who brought the hospice concept to Romania asked if any of the social work students would be interested in working with terminally ill patients in Brasov, where he had established a palliative home care service.

I spent six weeks of my summer holiday with the team there. What I liked most about it was the fact that the patient was seen and treated as a precious person whose needs were approached holistically.

After my first day of home visiting with one of the hospice nurses, I knew God was calling me to invest my life in this kind of work.

I spent the following night thanking God for showing me his will – to initiate a similar service in Oradea, where I lived.

Looking back, I can see how God prepared me and guided me. This included the loss of my father after some months of struggle with cancer.

Through all of this in 1996 I was working with a medical doctor to start a hospice service in Oradea, under the umbrella of Emanuel Baptist Church, which is where I had met the Lord and promised to serve him all my life. I always had the desire to do something beautiful for the Lord because he did so much for me.

When we first began to visit patients we didn’t even have an office. We were just two young Christian girls, a doctor and a nurse/social worker, meeting in a tram station with a long list of patients who were on morphine and who had been discharged from hospital to die at home.

We chose the name ‘Emanuel’ (God with us) for the hospice, inviting God’s presence with us in this work. ‘Emanuel’ is also a message that we wanted to share with our patients, showing them that God can offer them companionship in their suffering – even when death is approaching.

After 16 years of hospice work I am amazed at God’s faithfulness and provision. He called others to join the Emanuel Hospice team and together we have cared so far for more than 1,400 dying adults and almost 200 children.

In his goodness and faithfulness God provided the resources.

In the last couple of years God even opened doors for us to fulfil our vision of developing the complex palliative care centre we have always dreamed about.

Recently we had the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Emanuel Hospice building, which will include a 17-bedded unit for adults and five beds for children, a day centre and an educational centre.

Working with dying people made me realise how short and vulnerable the human life, including mine, is.

Every day the questions in my mind are: “What does God expect from me today?” “How would he like me to live my daily life?”

I want to invest my life in things which remain for eternity.

The message of Christ and those that are searching… The Word and the souls that need to be comforted and transformed by it ... These are the eternal things that are worth investing my life in.

  • Extracted from Tenacious, a devotional book of 100 faith-inspiring real life stories written by Transform Europe Now’s partners and friends and compiled by Andy Drake. Order a copy for £5.95 by calling 0117 961 5161. Further info from www.eurovangelism.org.uk

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