In the mid 90’s I found myself sitting on a tour bus in England next to a Romanian gentleman named Mircea Toca. His English was limited, but his opening line got me, “would you like to see my eighteen children?” This twenty-eight years old young man began to show me picture after picture of his adopted children with great pride, and then he did something that would change my life forever. He invited me to meet them.
The next year my wife and I journeyed to Romania for a three-week experience that would open our eyes to things we never thought imaginable. We witnessed children in horrific living conditions suffering from physical neglect, and that experience emotionally broke us. It was such a change to move from the wonderful home that Mircea and Lidia were leading with the once abandoned and neglected to the government facilities where children had been left and simply forgotten. It was a time to weep, it was a time to mourn, it was a time to pray, but it was also a time to act. As we were leaving from this life-changing experience, Mircea hugged me and gave me a three-word challenge, “remember the children.”
Remember the Children was born in 1996 and for the last twenty-one years we have done that by providing millions of dollars of resources to care for orphaned and neglected children, built homes and churches, impacted multitudes of lives through acts of loving kindness, developed future leaders in mission work, but mostly we just committed ourselves to leaving the Romanian country better than we found it. Our greatest attribute is the life-long friendships we have built with our Romanian friends who are committed to continuing to provide life-changing love and compassion to a society still impacted by the distrust that Communism created for over 50 years.
In early 2017, Mircea Toca approached me again. He said, “Andy, I am 48 years old and all my children are grown and on their own. I still have the desire to keep going. I believe I need to take my experience and go to Africa.” Mircea and Lidia went to Africa and met Justine and Catherine Johnson-Nyabaga. With them the seeds were planted for the development of a new ministry and new homes for orphans., and once again, Mircea invited me to come and see. In the last fourteen months, three homes have been developed, and thirty-six orphaned children now have a new mom and dad in the community of Tabora.
Through this experience my wife and I decided that adoption was to be part of our story. In 2004 we brought two girls into our home and created our new forever family. I never imagined that a meeting on a tour bus would change my life so profoundly. I always said I would never go to Africa. Be careful what you say, the good Lord might just take you to places you don’t desire to be, in order that you might become who he wants you to be. The journey has been far from easy, but I can say that I am truly a blessed man.