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Graduate Reunion
It has been 15 years since T Thomas and Oti Bunaciu were inspired to develop a program to help train and educate Roma church leaders who were unable to attend seminary and lacked much formal education. Over the past fifteen years more than eighty men have completed 16 courses in Theology, Baptist History, Preaching, Evangelism, Discipleship, Spiritual Disciplines, OT and NT Survey, Prophets, Counseling, and specific Bible book studies. These men have been empowered to lead their churches more effectively and also derive encouragement from one another as they share in the hardships and triumphs of ministry.

During the last week of November, all Gypsy Smith School graduates were invited to attend a two-day session designed to encourage and challenge them in their ministry. Dr. Michael Usey & T Thomas taught these courses. On Wednesday, all graduates in attendance gathered for a celebration at Providence Baptist Church, the founding church of Project Ruth. This celebration included testimonies from some of the men, lively music during the praise & worship time, heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving for the Gypsy Smith School along with future attendees of the program and a message from Dr. Paul Fiddes from Oxford. After the celebration service, the men gathered around the table for a time of fellowship over a fantastic Romanian meal complete with a celebratory cake.
Dental Care
There are few things that bring more joy that a child's smile. At Project Ruth, we rejoice in bringing smiles to Ruth School children's faces through games, summer club, silly skits in chapel and a hug. The smiles of the children at the Ruth School are not only getting bigger as Christmas approaches through the help of our friends at the United Way many of them are getting brighter and healthier. An anonymous supporter of the United Way, Ruth School students have been going to a dentist in Bucharest. Each of these students has had a complete cleaning along with more care on a case by case basis such as fillings and removal.
Fall GSS
Everyone's story is a little different. The beginning is unique and the ending is a moment to be cherished. The middle of the stories are full of memories and knowledge. During their eight sessions, all Gypsy Smith School students discover the importance of having fellowship with individuals who are facing the same ministry challenges and learn how minister effectively in their communities. For Florin, his journey as a Gypsy Smith School student began almost three years ago when he was speaking with a leader in a church in neighboring village. This church leader had attended many Gypsy Smith School courses and told Florin of the practical knowledge he had derived from those meetings along with the heartfelt fellowship/encouragement from his newly-form network of Roma church leader friends. After hearing the testimonial of another graduate of GSS who was his friend, Florin enrolled in the program that would help transform his ministry. Upon reflecting on his time in the GSS program during his final session last week, “I now understand and know more about Jesus Christ. I know that He needs me.” During his eight sessions, Florin has learned about ministry and God’s Word from over a dozen professors from Romania and around the world. The professors were the essential part of this journey for him as he “learned health teaching about God’s Word” from them. Their words also help to rejuvenate and refresh his desire to serve God in as many ways as possible. Even though Florin’s journey as a GSS student has come to an end, he prays that he will help men serving Christ in various ways in their local churches begin their journey as a Gypsy Smith School student. He also prays that “GSS can continue to invest in the future servants of the Lord.”

This session of the Gypsy Smith School was taught by Pier Meindertsma & Marco Wittenberg , representatives of the Holland Baptist Union. New Testament Survey and the Gospels of Luke & Acts were the topics of the courses for the week. The brothers enjoyed fellowship with these professors in addition to the knowledge that was shared with them inside the classroom. Pier’s wife volunteered in various capacities at the Ruth School during the week and help organized a clothing distribution for the Ruth School students and the Gypsy Smith School brothers for their families.
Together We Can Do More!
Team building games for students and team building workshops for staff allowed the entire Ruth School to focus on the theme of “Together We Can Do More.” A team from Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina organized these activities in order to encourage teachers to be part of a team to continue to improve the educational system of the Ruth School. These teacher workshops were led by veteran teachers of the North Carolina school system and were very interactive in nature. Sports activities for all classes that focused on teamwork fostered a sense of positive community within peer groups. The 8th grade students were in for a special treat as one member of the team as a sailor and boat maker. He taught them the art of navigation and sailing by creating small model boats. On Thursday afternoon, the students travelled to a local park to sail their boats. The ladies on the team organized a Mothers’ Tea on Thursday morning for mothers of students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. This tea was meant to welcome new mothers to the school while also sharing advice on how vital it is for moms to take an active role in their child’s learning. Also, on the team was an avid seamstress who shared her knowledge and expertise with the Naomi Center Sewing Club each morning.
Learning at Ikea
Once a month, women gather at the Naomi Center for a group meeting during which the counselor discusses a topic which is relevant to their lives and is often requested by some of the women. In the past few months, the women have covered topics such as healthy relationships within the family, how to help their children in school, woman’s health topics along with various other subjects. Most recently, the women have studied how to budget and prioritize items for purchase based on long-term need and usefulness. This lesson was taught in order to help the women budget the monies they have been earning from the sales of their items from the sewing club. In order to put this lesson into action, after the lesson was taught on Friday morning the women jumped into the Project Ruth van and went to Ikea. None of the women had ever been to this popular European-based home furnishing store known for being budget friendly and practical. They spent hours walking around, looking and looking some more. After having lunch together in the store restaurant, each woman was given a small amount of cash and was set free to shop. The ladies had a fantastic time picking items such as skillets for their kitchens, small toys for their children and other items. It was very touching for the Project Ruth staff to watch as they pooled their remaining change to help one woman purchase a small item for her young son. One woman suffers from severe anxiety and did not make it into the store because of the large shopping crowd which was overwhelming to her. Without instruction from the counselor, the women took turns running back into the store to purchase items for this lady after she decided what she wanted based on her friends' purchases. It was a great day out for the women as they enjoyed bonding over lunch and shopping as women love to do. This day certainly brought the lesson of budgeting to life for them.
Back to School
With sharp pencils, crisp notebooks and new workbooks, Ruth School students are now back in class. On September 16th, the Ruth School held the opening celebration for the 2013-2014 school year. Over 200 students gathered on the sports field adjacent to the school building with their families. The students and family members were addressed by school headmistress regarding school expectations, enrollment procedures and general announcements. She offered words of encouragement for the students and stated that it is the hope of the teaching staff that they will study hard, learn well and continue on the next class in the following year. The students were then introduced to their teachers for the year and proceeded into their classrooms. For the students in the first class, brand new backpacks were waiting on their desks for them to carry all the many things a big first grader needs. Many of these backpacks were gifts from supporters in Germany. All other students received a cloth knapsack courtesy of the United Way Romania. Each Ruth School student received notebooks, books, pencils, pens and other supplies necessary for their studies. The Naomi Women's Center also had a table set-up with information about the activities and services offered to women there. The mothers, grandmothers and aunts attending the opening celebration were encourage to attend the sewing courses offered for beginner's on Monday mornings. The counselor spoke with women regarding the types of counseling offered: individual, group and employment.
Shirley Baptist Church
Summer Club is the highlight of many Ruth School students summer. It typically runs three days a week for six weeks and is organized by a skeleton staff. Yet, during the second week of July, Summer Club was extra exciting and very special as a group of volunteers from Shirley Baptist Church in the UK. This group organized and held the club with great enthusiasm Monday – Friday. There were over fifty children in attendance which is almost double the normal club attendance. The children enjoyed exciting new relay games and stellar crafts which corresponded with the Biblical truths they learned each day through their lessons. This group of young people from Shirley also organized afternoon Bible clubs in Roma churches in Paduren & Glina.
Summer Camp!
For children who regularly attend church with their families, often their most beloved summer memories involve a sleep away camp centered around Christ's love and fellowship one with another. This is often a far stretched dream for children from Ferentari. Many of them have never been outside of a five mile radius of their home. A group of 25 teenagers and 5 adults packed a bus full of 45 Ruth School students and went to the mou gains of Romania near Bran. These students were treated to a wonderful week to sleep away camp rich with activities such as nature hikes, sport tournaments, dramatic presentations of Bible stories, fantastic crafts and much more. Upon their return to Bucharest, the students were full of stories and a greater sense of community with their peers. Also, while serving at Project Ruth this team organizing field trips to the zoo and inside play area. Furthermore, the group took part in the end of year celebration at the Ruth School. They encouraged the newest graduates of the Ruth School by sharing advice about high school and highlighting the importance of education over pizza and ice cream sundaes during the eighth grade graduation party. Thank you Boulevard Baptist, both those who came and those who sent, for giving children from Ferentari summer memories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives!
BMDMI
During the first week of June, Project Ruth welcomed a team of 15 Americans representing Baptist Medical & Dental Missions International, an organization with the motto “More than Medicine.” This team lived up to the motto and did many projects that were not medical in nature at Project Ruth. Three of the volunteers led the women of the Naomi Center in their first ever quilting project! The Naomi ladies were thrilled to see how little pieces of fabric that seem to be too small to be used for something great can be stitched together to create something beautiful, warm and useful. The volunteers shared many devotions relating this idea to their lives and Christian faith. The team was, also, actively involved in all the classrooms at the Ruth School. They spent their mornings doing one hour arts & crafts programs in the elementary age classrooms during which they decorated flip-flops with plastic jewels, made wooden airplanes, and painting wooden crosses. The whole group also led after-school programs of the Ruth School. After completing their homework, the students were able to get their face or fingernails painted, select a temporary tattoo, jump rope, color with sidewalk chalk and of course play football (soccer). A stage for the Ruth School chapel program and storage shelves for the clothing closet were also designed and built by this team. On their last day at Project Ruth, the team made a day possible for the children of the Obed Day Center that they will never forget! The thirteen preschoolers grabbed the hands of their assigned American for the day and went the park where they played on a giant playground with twisty slides, bounced on inflates, drove bumper cars and enjoyed their first ever Happy Meal at McDonald's. Thank you BMDMI for sending this team to Project Ruth who truly lived the motto of being “More than Medicine.” They were the hands and feet of Jesus as they taught quilting, hammered nails, painted faces and drove bumper cars!
Wollaston Free Church
During the last week of May, supporters from Wollaston Free Church in the UK visited Project Ruth. This group spent a morning at the Ruth School visiting with the students in each class and identifying new ways support the ministry. The students were thrilled to met some of the individuals who make the clothing distributions possible through donations of organizations in the UK. Several students proudly showed their shirts with various logos of schools from the UK. While visiting the classes, the team was able to engage the students by asking what they wanted to be when they grow up and encourage them to pursue their students at a high school and university level. Also, while at Project Ruth, the visitors from Wollaston were able to meet the women of the Naomi Center and see the items that they are producing in sewing club. The sewing instructor and women were thrilled when the team gave them a giant container full of various fabrics to be used. Project Ruth is grateful for the support of these individuals and the encouragement that their visit was for the teachers and leadership team.
Bonsack Baptist led Easter Celebrations
Romania follows the Orthodox calendar which meant that a team of five from Bonsack Baptist Church from Roanoke, Virginia were able to celebrate Easter with Ruth School students in early May. The team held Easter egg hunts for the younger grades at the Ruth School and shared the Easter story with each class. The students ran enthusiastically around schoolyard seeking the small plastic eggs with candy. Two ladies from the team led to special Easter sessions at the Naomi Center. They taught the women to make baskets & rugs from remnants of fabric and how to make quilted trivets and drink coasters. The women spent over an hour discussing the various ways to Easter is celebrated and bonding over the fact that while they celebrate in different ways as Christian women they celebrate the same Risen Saviour. This team also took time to spruced up the Ruth School by painting the main stairwell and first grade classroom light blue and touching up the front gate.
Zebulon Baptist at Project Ruth
During the second week of April, a team of 23 volunteers from Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, North Carolina served at Project Ruth in various capacities. On Monday, the team spent a full day in the city of Girgiu (about an hour from Bucharest) organizing a free health assessment clinic during which individuals had their sight, blood pressure, blood sugar, height & weight checked and then had an individual meeting with doctor to discuss any concerns. A portion of the team organized women’s meeting during which the significance of key events of Holy Week while making a bracelet with charms to represent each of these events. The whole team held Bible club for a few hours in the afternoon for more than 40 children from the mainly Roma community. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings were spent in simultaneously ministering to the children at the Ruth School during vacation Bible club and to the women at the Naomi Center. The women at the Naomi Center were taught how to knit and how to make beads from strips of magazine paper; they loved both of these activities as both can be done while chatting with friends which is often the most essential part of community at the center for these women. The vacation Bible club at the Ruth School averaged more than eighty children which was unexpectedly high. All of the children enjoyed engaging stories, enthusiastic music lessons with motions, In the afternoons, the team spent time in the villages of Glina & Padureni and held Bible clubs in each. Many of the team members spent countless hours organizing the Ruth School clothing donation storage rooms so that clothing will be able to be distribute more effectively and efficiently to the children who are in so such desperate need for these articles. After this fantastic team’s departure, Project Ruth staff reflected on how awesome of a week it was and how none of these ministries would have been possible without the 23 individuals who came, gave of their time, used their talents, and loved the children of God in Romania.
Alternative School
The Ministry of Education recognizes that children seem to get a little tired of regular school when spring hits. In order to get students excited about learning and learning new things, the Ministry requires that all schools take a break from traditional classes for a full week of extra curricular activities, hands-on learning and field trips. This week students at the Ruth School were treated to a week of diverse learning. Several classes learned about food safety and nutrition by making treats such as fruit salad, chocolate crepes and an elaborately decorated cake. Others learned about the fine art of theater by acting and attending various theater productions at the school. Games and sports activities were also part of the daily schedule as the weather is starting to turn warm in Bucharest and many life lessons are learned on the soccer field. All of the students enjoyed activities organized by visitors from the Bucharest Christian Academy on Friday.
Transitional Care
In early March, fifteen teenagers gathered at the Naomi Center for their monthly transitional care meeting. As always, the meeting began with delivery pizza because that is just what a group of young men and women need after a long day of studies at school. After enjoying their pizza, the group settled down into a semi-circle focused intently on their guest speakers. Two representative from a Romanian Anti-Human Trafficking organization addressed the students about the harsh realities of this problem and how it could affect them. The information was presented to the students in short cartoon videos that had the underlying themes of trafficking and served as a basis for discussion. Through-out the meeting, all of the teenagers were actively involved in the discussion. At the end of their time together, it was very obvious that the adolescents had had their eyes opened to the fact that this isn’t a problem that happens somewhere else and to someone else but that it happens in their community and they need to be cautious in the decisions they make.
Beautiful things
Beautiful things can come out of the Ferentari neighborhood; a neighborhood notorious for stray dogs, trash covered streets and poverty. The women of the Naomi Center, a ministry of Project Ruth, have been learning to use sewing machines and craft various items to be sold. Recently, the women’s items have been focused on two coming holidays for which items will be purchased. The first of March is a national cultural holiday in Romania celebrating the coming of spring after the long, cold winter. This day is celebrated by women wearing various brooches and trinkets to represent the wonder of spring especially blooming flowers. The 8th of March is the national women’s day during which men give small gifts to the important women in their lives. Handmade brooches, decorative bud vases, make-up bags, small purses and embellished hair accessories were sold for two weeks in February in preparation for this event. The sales took place at Providence Baptist Church which adjoins the Naomi Center. Members of the church, which founded Project Ruth in 1992, were astonished by the quality and beauty of the pieces produced in their very own neighborhood. Each woman receives the profits from the items she produces that are sold and the material costs are reinvested into the ministry by purchasing more fabric and other needed items for future sewing endeavors.
Project Ruth T-shirts
Project Ruth now has t-shirts for sale in the US. T-shirts are available in sizes S-2XL for $10 plus the costs of shipping within the US. Show your support for Project Ruth and order yours today. Contact Will at will@bmdmi.org to place your order!
Winter GSS
During the week of January 14-18, 2013 some 23 Roma church leaders could be found in the Ruth School Library studying the Gospel of Mark and the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Tiger Pennington and Tyler Tankersley, pastors from Missouri, shared their knowledge of these scriptures through lecture, discussion and small group work. We were pleased to celebrate the graduation of three of our students and presented their diplomas and a Bible to each during our Tuesday evening worship. One of our students, Florin, shared his testimony with Ruth School students in grades 4-8 during the weekly Chapel service. Those students joined their voices in singing the very popular “Evangelia” (“Good News”) with the Roma leaders. Our next GSS session is scheduled for March 4-8 and will be taught by Jimmy Lewis and Gary Leazer from Georgia. They will instruct the students on Jonah along with Witnessing.
Project RUTH Presentation