Back to Romania, back to the children
In 2009, Justin Brodie Clark was about to graduate from high school in Durham and was bound for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that fall. But first, he was going on his third mission trip to Romania. He told The Herald-Sun in June 2009 that he was humbled by the Roma children, who lived in poverty but were willing to give what they had.
Four years and more trips to Romania later, Clark is headed back again to work with Roma children. He will start a job at the Caminul Felix orphanage in the city of Oradea, through Assist International. Assist International is a humanitarian organization whose orphanage programs include working with non-government organizations in Romania and four other countries. Clark is fundraising his living expenses and hopes to go in August.
Clark, 22, lives in Creedmoor now, at the residential site for Converting Hearts, where he works in administration. Converting hearts is a recovery network for addicted men and collaborates with religious and non-religious organizations. He previously interned and then worked at Vintage Church, which meets in Raleigh and Durham.
Clark was a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for two years, but it got really expensive, he said, so he’s taking classes at Durham Technical Community College now. After two years at the Roma orphanage, he plans to return and hopefully qualify for financial aid to finish his bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies at Southeastern. Then he wants to earn a master’s degree in social work.
“Social work will give me the clinical aspect. Assist International isn’t denominational. I don’t believe our charge to take the Gospel to the nations is defined by denominations,” Clark said. “My job is to love people and point them to Christ.”
Clark said working for Converting Hearts is “the most beautiful exhaustion I’ve experienced. I’m living there, so it’s daily life. If I want to do orphan work, I’m going to be living [with the orphans] day to day, too,” he said. “It’s taught me a lot about what relational ministry is.”
At Caminul Felix, Clark will tutor English and help out wherever he’s needed. He visited the orphanage in March. Children live in villages with houses, with a married couple who serve as house parents to 10 to 12 kids. They grow up as a family unit, he said, and once they turn 18, the orphanage supports them in their pursuit of college. A good number come back to work there, he said.
“I just want to be there to serve. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn,” Clark said. On Clark’s left wrist is a tattoo of the Hebrew word for “Life.” On his right wrist is the Christian fish symbol, ichthys. He has another tattoo on his arm, he said, that is in Romanian. It translates as “God is love.”
To find out more about Clark’s plans, visit www.brodieinromania.com.