FCPC Eyes Ukrainian Refugee Crisis
By LORETTA FULTON
All eyes have been on Ukraine following the Russian invasion of Feb. 24, but members of First Central Presbyterian Church also are looking just across the border into Tulcea, Romania.
The city is home to New Opportunities for Romanian Orphaned Children or NOROC, which was founded in 1997 by Fred and Carolyn White, longtime members of First Central Presbyterian. (http://www.noroc.org/) The Whites teamed up with Petru Solca to start NOROC, and he remains as director today.
Today, Tulcea also is one of the areas where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing. Solca, director of NOROC, sent out a plea for funds to assist the refugees, who are flowing into the city. Cliff Stewart, pastor of FCPC, responded in an email to his congregation:
“Refugees from the Russian incursion are flooding into Romania and other countries by the thousands. One way you can help is by sending contributions through our FCPC mission in Romania. Whatever you give will be used 100% for food, housing and anything else that can help these families. Food and temporary lodging is sky high. Most of the refugees are women and children. The men are staying back to defend their homeland. Don’t just give money – pray for peace. Send contributions to FCPC, 400 Orange, Abilene 79601. Check notation: “Ukraine assistance”
Solca said specifically that money is needed to assist at two hotels in Tulcea where about two hundred refugees are being fed each day. Through conversations between Solca and Fred and Carolyn White, the NOROC board has approved of assistance with two vans, funds to purchase food and fuel, and clothing from the NOROC store.
NOROC has several properties in or near Tulcea, which also have been authorized as places to serve refugees. The founding of NOROC was in response to the tens of thousands of children who were left abandoned in Romanian orphanages. Under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, abortion and contraception were forbidden and childless couples were taxed in an effort to increase Romania’s population. Due to extreme poverty, many of those children were placed in orphanages.
In another email, Stewart, pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church, offered a prayer:
“Holy God, we pray for these people who are now homeless and increasingly desperate,” Stewart wrote. “Use what we can give to make a difference. Amen”
Photos courtesy First Central Presbyterian Church