It’s common for hungry children to beg for food on the streets of Targu Mures, Romania.
Seeing the need firsthand, Alabama Baptist Jeremy Woods and his wife, Magda, started Potter’s House Ministries. The nonprofit organization is working to make a Kingdom difference in the lives of Roma children and families, one of the largest minorities in Romania.
“We believe that every child deserves a loving and supportive home environment, and we are dedicated to providing that,” said Woods, who moved to Romania in 2015 and started the ministry just before the pandemic. The organization desires to offer a wide range of services, from after-school care and food distribution programs to job preparation for parents, and it’s currently raising support to build children’s homes.
“There are lots of hardships that the Roma face in Romania,” said Woods, noting the difference in the terms “Roma” and “Romanian.” The Roma are an ethnic group with a nomadic background.
According to Woods, they traditionally marry very young at the age of 12 or 13 and have large families. Often in financial hardship, many of the children don’t attend school and are sent out on the streets to beg for food and clothing.
“A lot of mothers abandon their babies at the hospital,” Woods explained, adding that Romania’s government has closed most of its orphanages and only has children’s homes. One family-style home can hold far fewer children than an entire orphanage, meaning there’s a significant need for more children’s homes in Romania.
“Our children’s homes will be Christian-based and will provide a safe and nurturing space for these children to grow, learn and thrive,” Woods said.
Change the cycle
Potter’s House Ministries plans for each home to have two parents, a social worker and a psychologist. The parents will serve as caretakers and create a loving environment for the children. A social worker will help the kids navigate any challenges of growing up and help them adjust to their new home. The psychologist is to ensure the children have emotional support. The children will also receive an education.
“I want to see a generation of Roma children that goes to school and is able to change the cycle of poverty,” Woods said.
The goal to give children a brighter future is personal for Woods.
Born and raised in a Christian home in Huntsville, Woods is the oldest child in his family.
“By the time I was around age 4, my parents had three other children, and all three of them had died,” Woods said, his voice choking at the memory.
His parents fostered 10 children in their home while Woods was between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They adopted his younger brother and sister.
“It was a big part of my growing up,” said Woods. After accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior, Woods went on several missions trips, including one with the Madison Baptist Association to Romania three years prior to his move.
Living in the country long term has really opened his eyes to its needs — and his heart to the Roma.
He hopes to get Potter’s House Ministries’ after-school program up and running again, which shut down due to the pandemic. It included a meal and Bible study for children, along with helping them with schoolwork.
And even on the day they talked with TAB Media, Woods and his wife bought groceries for a young mother who was begging on the street while holding an infant. For the Woods, it’s just part of fulfilling their calling and honoring God’s heart for widows and orphans.
As Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
How you can pray for the Woods:
- Pray for health and strength. The Woods have three small children and have recently battled sickness and health issues.
- Pray for provision, that God would help provide the $6,000 monthly cost needed to start and run each children’s home.
Want to give to Potter’s House Ministries? Your support can help make a difference in the lives of Romanian children.