Smiles is a Christian charity based in Oradea and the surrounding Bihor County region of North West Romania, working with Gypsy families, children, the elderly and homeless people in desperate need of a helping hand. Warren is a praise leader at Ballydown Presbyterian Church in Banbridge and this was his first time on a mission trip team. Warren got to know of the exciting work of The Smiles Foundation after his time as a radio presenter at Downtown Radio and through his recent involvement with a Christian radio station, Radio Cracker in Ballymena.
One of the inspirational Bible verses that has become a motto for the Smiles organisation is James 2: 15-17 – ‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead’.
Smiles seeks to relieve poverty, promote education, and provide hope and opportunity for the Romanian people through a variety of projects. Some of these include; evangelistic outreach, food and clothing distribution to the homeless, medical support, social assistance and family care, elderly care and housing provision. The trip made quite an impact on Warren and he hopes to return again next summer.
Warren said, “I was shocked by the poverty and horrendous conditions that these communities are living in, but also very humbled by how thankful the families were for the small blessings and love they had received in a practical way from Smiles.
“It certainly has re-calibrated my heart back to what really matters in life and I now recognise just how fortunate we are to live in a country where we take so much for granted! The Smiles Foundation was given a 40-foot container to bring food aid, clothing and hygiene products out to Romania from Northern Ireland and with the support of local hauliers, this has become a real lifeline. “I have discovered that a mission trip can be a life-changing experience, drawing one much closer to God and realising that with Him, all things are possible.”