*** See Update Below ***
Our pastor's family with the Baceanu family
How It All Started
Our pastor met the Baceanu family outside a Giant Food Store in May of 2017. Their sign said "PLEASE HELP - FOOD." Marin, the head of the family, said he was ashamed to be begging, but he had no other choice.
The Baceanu family are Roma — better known in America as "Gypsies," a word often considered an insult. The Roma have a unique culture that is often misunderstood by outsiders. Roma all over Europe have suffered centuries of discrimination and poverty because of their ethnicity. The Baceanus came to America to seek a better future for themselves and their children, but their journey has been a difficult one.
Marin and Mirabela, together with their children, Gustavo and Suraj, have been in process with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ever since their arrival from Romania in 2016. In the meantime, ICE retained the parents' passports, leaving them with only photocopies. Marin must wear an ICE-issued ankle bracelet and report regularly to an immigration officer in Philadelphia. After more than a year in America, they are still waiting for Marin's work permit to be issued, making it very difficult for them to earn enough money to survive. Unlike those with official refugee status, asylum seekers like the Baceanus receive no governmental support to assist with housing, employment, food, and the like—leaving them in a most precarious and vulnerable position while waiting for the immigration court to hear their case.
When our congregation learned about their situation, we felt that God was calling us to action. Joining prayer to purpose, we set out to raise enough money not only to feed the Baceanus but also to move them into better housing. What began with the donation of a few Giant Food Store gift cards soon blossomed into a larger ministry of advocacy and hospitality. Members of St. Paul's opened their hearts and hands, raising more than $5,000 for this ministry. Numerous donations began to pour in from loving neighbors near and far in response to our pastor's GoFundMe campaign. And a number of churches have gifted this ministry with their generous support—see the Honor Roll of Churches below. All of these gifts together have amounted to just over $10,000 so far. (Plus furniture!)
When we first met the Baceanus, they were living in a dilapidated home in a dangerous neighorhood of Wilmington, Delaware, with six other families. On November 2, 2017, thanks to these generous gifts, we helped the Baceanus move into a newly renovated rental home of their very own in a safe neighborhood. Now we are asking for help to ensure that the Baceanus will be able to stay in this home for the entirety of their lease. We are hoping to raise an additional of $8,800 for this purpose, so that we can provide the Baceanus with one year of rental assistance while they move toward self-sufficiency. Any funds that we raise beyond our goal will enable us to assist with other needs such as food, clothing, transportation, medicine. Will you help us? Every gift, no matter how small, will be a blessing for the Baceanu family.
Please see the sidebars for more information, and feel free to contact our pastor with any questions about how you or your faith community can support this ministry.
Update -- March 19, 2018
Since we sent out our appeal to the churches of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference at the end of 2017, we have been overjoyed to receive $2,880 in contributions from both congregations and local church members, bringing us one-third of the way to our goal of $8,000. We give thanks to God for the generosity so many have expressed through their gifts and prayers.
We have some good news to report. Marin has received his official work permit from USCIS, giving him the opportunity to find regular employment. He is actively searching for a job, an essential step toward self-sufficency and security for his family. In the meantime, we will continue to provide housing assistance for as long as we can.
Thank you for remembering the Baceanus in your prayers, and for your help in giving them an extravagant welcome in the name of Christ.
Honor Roll of Churches
We give thanks for these congregations whose support of our Asylum Seekers Ministry has been instrumental.
Brownback's United Church of Christ (Spring City, PA)
Carversville Christian Church, UCC (Carversville, PA)
Collenbrook UCC (Drexel Hill, PA)
Dublin Community Church, UCC (Dublin, NH)
Exton Community Baptist Church (Exton, PA)
Falkner Swamp UCC (Gilbertsville, PA)
Friedens UCC (Sumneytown, PA)
Grace Trinity UCC (Philadelphia, PA)
Grove United Methodist Church (West Chester, PA)
Heidelberg UCC (Schwenksville, PA)
New Goshenhoppen UCC (East Greenville, PA)
New Jerusalem Zion UCC (Lenhartsville, PA)
St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church (Upper Uwchlan, PA)
St. John's UCC (Phoenixville, PA)
St. Luke's UCC (Ottsville, PA)
St. Paul's UCC (Birdsboro, PA)
St. Paul's UCC (Ringtown, PA)
Trinity UCC (Reading, PA)