7 February, 2023

Remember the Children Cares for Orphans in Romania and Beyond

by | 1 January, 2023

LOREDANA (IN THE FRONT WITH SHOULDER-LENGTH HAIR) AND OTHER CHILDREN LIVING IN A ROMANIAN ORPHANAGE DURING ONE OF BAKER’S VISITS WITH REMEMBER THE CHILDREN.

By Laura McKillip Wood 

One summer afternoon in 2014, Andy Baker visited a friend who pastored a church in a Romanian village. As they ate lunch, he noticed a college-age girl who kept smiling at him as she worked in the kitchen. Andy finally asked who the girl was; she looked so familiar. His friend said her name was Loredana, and she had been an orphan living in a Romanian orphanage. She was staying with him and his family while she attended the nearby university. When the pastor told him the name of the orphanage, Andy realized he had been to it many times over the years.  

“Do you know me?” Andy asked the girl. 

“Yes!” she answered him. “You’re Santa Claus!”  

Andy’s eyes filled with tears as he realized he had visited her at her orphanage one Christmas.  

“Your visits were the best times we had in the orphanage.”  

She explained he had taught her that Jesus loved her and had a purpose for her life. She remembered when Andy sat on the floor with her and helped her open the Box of Hope Remember the Children had sent the orphans. Those moments had inspired her to build a relationship with Jesus and pursue her education at the university. 

THE BEGINNING 
That meeting came after a long ministry for Andy Baker. Growing up in Virginia, he attended Milligan College and Emmanuel School of Religion. Early on, he had a variety of ministry experiences, including church planting, hospital chaplaincy, and pastoral ministry. He and his wife, Gerri, adopted two girls from Russia.  

When a Romanian friend named Mircea Toca invited them to visit Romania in 1996, Andy and his wife jumped at the chance. He had never visited a post-communist country, and he found the idea intriguing.  

“We visited 17 different government orphanages over 21 days, and the horrific conditions many orphans were experiencing was unfathomable,” Andy says.  

Mircea and his wife, Lidia, served with a ministry to orphans, and Andy saw how their ministry changed the orphans’ lives. Mircea and Lidia raised 21 children to adulthood over many years. Before Andy left Romania, Mircea challenged him to “remember the children.”  

Andy and Gerri returned home from that trip with a firm conviction they needed to do something. Remember the Children was born.  

THE WORK 
Remember the Children initially raised funds to help orphans and took medicines to orphanages. Later the ministry began focusing on finding Romanian families for orphans. Soon that work expanded to helping at-risk children living in extreme poverty.  

“This grew into far greater activities which included starting new orphan homes,” Andy explains. Eventually, they saw the need for communities of faith in places where the gospel was not having an impact, and Remember the Children began planting churches. The ministry also hosted training seminars through the years to help strengthen local church leaders.  

In the beginning, Andy maintained his full-time ministry in the United States and traveled several times a year to Romania, but eventually the elders in his church challenged him to consider working full-time in Romania. In 2001, he and Gerri stepped out in faith to begin working full-time with Remember the Children. 

 In 2017, Remember the Children realized they could replicate their work in other countries. They branched out and started working in Tanzania.  

“In five years, we have built ten homes, started four churches, and we have a school that will accommodate 550 students under construction,” Andy says.  

THE CHALLENGES AND INSPIRATION 
Over the years, Andy and Gerri have faced many challenges, but the work has been rewarding.  

“The travel was once fun; now it is more tiring,” he says, “but I have been to some pretty amazing places!”  

Seeing the fruit of this hard work inspires him. Having served in Romania for 26 years, those children he first worked with now are adults. Many are married and have their own children.  

“Seeing orphans given a future and then becoming successful in life is a huge blessing,” Andy says. God has made beautiful lives for those children and healed family legacies of poverty and pain.  

Finding new sources of income is an ongoing challenge. American culture seems to thrive on the immediate crisis, he says. “Keeping supporters long-term takes great communication and helping them see the ministry is actually a part of who they are, not just something they support,” Andy explains. 

ANDY BAKER AND LOREDANA

THE FUTURE 
The Romanian orphan crisis has waned, but Andy’s passion for the local church has grown. He has mentored others to see the church as the future hope for their country.  

“My biggest dream is to work with my Romanian team in a church-planting initiative with the goal of planting a reproducing church in every county in Romania,” he says. He plans to continue the work in Tanzania. With 3.1 million children identified as orphaned there, Remember the Children’s vision is to provide families for as many as possible.  

As for Loredana, God used her in the work of Remember the Children, too. She finished her education and was working with children in her village when she approached Andy in 2018 and told him she had been asked to teach orphans on the mission field in Namibia for a year. Remember the Children helped fund her trip. When she returned after a successful year there, she married Alexandru.  

Loredana’s story is a simple, beautiful one. Because Remember the Children went to her orphanage, she met Jesus. She took what was given to her and returned the blessing by helping the orphans in Namibia.  

“A lot of times we don’t see results of our faithfulness to God by following the Great Commission,” Andy explains. Loredana’s story encourages him to continue working, and she showed him sometimes ministering to one child leads to blessings for many.  

“Disciples making disciples. This is a story of eternal legacy,” he says. “I’m grateful God let me see it in this life.” 

Laura McKillip Wood, former missionary to Ukraine, lives in Papillion, Nebraska, and writes about missions for Christian Standard. 

A GROWN-UP LOREDANA WITH ORPHANS IN NAMIBIA

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