The history of RESCUE begins somewhere in the second half of 1991, when Cosmin Giurgiu – who is now the director of the foundation – was visiting a hospital in Cluj Napoca. There he met ESBEN CHRISTENSEN – a Danish man aged about 40-45 – who was a patient of that hospital. The dialog between the two overpassed the usual polite lines and reached the issue concerning the opportunities open in Romania after the communist regime. Esben Christensen appeared to be very interested in some agricultural projects. He was specifically interested in bringing agricultural machines from Denmark in order to develop a project in Sannicoara and Aiud. In December 1991, Cosmin Giurgiu received an invitation to attend a meeting of the Farmers for Christ Association in Denmark, whose president was Thorkil Jorgensen. Thorkil was praying for a vision about getting involved in supporting a different country with agricultural machines. The meeting in December 1991 was an answer to their prayers and expectations in this area. Cosmin Giurgiu showed them the opportunities in the Romanian context and the board of the association was absolutely convinced that it was God's answer to the prayers.
In January the 3rd 1993, a team made of 4 people together with Thorkil Jorgensen – a cameraman included – arrived to Romania in order to get some information concerning the specific needs within the region. They made a film, took notes and samples of the Romanian soil from around Cluj and then in March 1992 they sent the first transportation of agricultural machines. The beneficiaries of this first project were family groups, churches, humanitarian associations and foundations, and State institutions, such as penitentiaries and orphanages. The project was developed in about 10 Romanian localities.
In a short while after the beginning of the project, some other institutions – such as hospitals, old people's homes, orphanages and penitentiaries - started asking for support. Our friends from Denmark and some other associations sent some medical equipment and furniture for schools and hospitals and so on.
MENTALITY – a problem
Still, the projects haven't managed to determine major changes in the institutions that had been supported. A change of mentality was needed; something that would only come from the inside and that would motivate them to renew the working system. Based on this idea, Cosmin Giurgiu and his main Danish partners developed a new project based on the exchange of experience. Teachers, journalists, custom clerks, jurists, judges, lawyers and so on were invited to lecture on specific themes in order to shape a comparison between the two systems: Danish and Romanian. The ones selected were key-people in the institutions they were representing, for they were to set an example for the Romanians regarding the ability to determine changes within each institution. The seminaries were held in representative institutions such as the General Penitentiaries Department, universities, town halls and local counsels etc.
In this way, the people involved in the projects managed to become partners and even friends and open new opportunities for their institutions. A number of representatives of the Romanian institutions were also invited to Denmark. Year by year, the Romanian mentality, deeply rooted in the communist activism, was radically changed in this way.
The beginning of the RESCUE Foundation
In 1996, due to a great development of the projects and activities mentioned above, the forming of an organization was needed, which would legitimize these efforts. This is how the RESCUE Humanitarian Foundation was created. The main areas of activity within the Rescue organization since 1996 until now are:
* agricultural projects
* experience exchange
* humanitarian aid
* moral and social support
* spiritual support
* seminars on specific themes
Our motto is HELP PEOPLE TO HELP THEMSELVES… This goal can only be achieved by a fundamental change of mentality, a change that must be generated from the inside. People can determine the development of their environment and it is important that they all become aware of it. The RESCUE Foundation has already made the first steps in this direction.
”In 1982 my wife, Sonja, and I had a farm with cattle. At that time we were not used to hear prophetic messages. But one day some friends told us about a house meeting, near to the place where we lived. We went there mostly because of curiosity, also because it was an English preacher. During his speech, the preacher stopped, comes over and stands before me and says:”The Lord is saying that you will cross many borders one day to preach the gospel in another country and in another language”. I thought: He must be crazy, he doesn’t know that we have 110 milk cows, which are waiting for us both tonight, tomorrow, and every day! Besides I only know Danish!
This prophetic word started its fulfilment 10 years later in 1992. Today – 25 years later – this word has often been an encouragement to me, when the work in Romania has not been so easy.”
The first contact with Romania.
The last years we had the farm, I was chairman for an association called”Farmers for Christ”. In the autumn of 1991 we had a leaders’ meeting in this association, and we talked about how we would like to reach out to another country and help them with used farm machines. We could not find out which country it should be. In the end we asked God to show us specifically, which country we should choose, if we were to start this mission. About one month later I was contacted by two young men, who asked for the leader of”Farmers for Christ”, Thorkil Jørgensen. They were two young Romanians, who had heard about our association and in faith had made the long journey to Denmark and ask for used farm machines. One of these young men was Cosmin Giurgiu, who is now the leader of the Rescue Foundation. I felt this visit as an answer on our prayers from God, that if we had to help another country, it should probably be Romania. And the result of all this was, that the first truck with farm machines go to Romania in the spring 1992.
Outreach in Romania.
January 1992 was the time for the first trip to Romania. Sonja and I were students at International Apostolic Bible College in Kolding, where we were challenged to make contacts to churches in Romania. In 1993 we went on one Outreach to the town Aiud. One night I woke up with a strong calling to go and knock at the door to the big prison in Aiud the next morning. My Romanian friend and interpreter was not so happy about that idea, because he was afraid for the directors reaction. The following night I had the same calling again to go and knock at the prison door. And the next day my friend agreed to follow me to the prison.
The meeting with the prison director
When we knocked on the gate, we were asked who we were, and what we wanted. I replied that I had come from Denmark, and that I would like to talk to the director. In the beginning the prison officer was not too happy to let us in, but finally we were guided to one nearby building and wait for the director. After half an hour the director arrived, but it was not easy to communicate with him. With a little patience we managed to have a short conversation with him, after which he invited us for coffee. Never before I have met somebody, who was so much DIRECTOR! He was wondering about the great interest that we showed in the west to see their prisons, but at the same time he would like to go to Denmark to see our prisons.
Open prison doors in Denmark
When we come home from Romania, I was reminded many times, that I had promised to find out about the opportunities for the Romanian prison director to visit some prisons in Denmark. But I didn’t know who to call, or what I should do. In the end I called Horsens State Prison and told them about my experiences. Suddenly, I felt that God was specifically opening some doors, as I within a very short time could give an official invitation to the director and the vice director in Aiud prison from the Directory of the welfare of criminals – all paid for by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs via the Democratic Fund.
The visit in Denmark had a significant impact on the future
For one week I guided the two directors to different prisons in Denmark, and they got a good knowledge about the Danish prison system.
The director was informed about the Danish association”Farmers for Christ”, for which I was the chairman at that time. The Romaninas heard about one of the purposes of this association, which was to collect used farm machines, repair them and transport them to private farmers in Romania. As the prison was 70 % self supporting with food from their own farm, where the prisoners were working, the director was very interested in the help of these farm machines from Denmark. In few months a big load of farm machines were brought to the prison in Aiud, which broke down the barriers between the Romanian prison director, the other people from Denmark and myself. A relation was established at this time, a new friendship, which grew stronger over the years.
The first meeting with the prisoners
The Danes get entering the Romanian prison
The time has now come, when I asked the direct question if my Danish friends and I could come and see, how the prisoners were living.
”We were guided through several heavy iron doors, which had to be opened and closed behind us. But at last we were standing by the doors to the prisoners’ cells. In the closed section for the most dangerous prisoners, we saw 4 cells looking exactly the same. In about 6 m2, there were 2 x 3 bunk beds, a toilet and a sink. There were not six, but eight men in every cell – all with prison sentences for more than 10 years. Due to lack of space in Romanian prisons, there were more prisoners in a cell, than beds. We also went to see the section, which they call the holding area. This is where the prisoners are kept before they receive their sentence. (If a prisoner in Romania makes an appeal, up to three years can pass before the case is closed.) In these cells there were 7 x 4 bunk beds – i.e. 28 beds. Also here they had a toilet and a sink, but not enough floor space for all prisoners to stand here at the same time. There were not”only” 28 either, but 32 in a cell. The worst thing about these cells was the air condition. There was very little oxygen in there and a bad smell. I had a very strong picture of the prisoners in my heart. It was as if I had seen something I never will forget. ” At this point God put a strong and deep call in my heart for these prisoners.”
Possibility of evangelisation in the prison
When we come back from the visit to the prisoners, the director asked:”Well, in what way can you help us?”” I knew immediately that it was not a matter of physical or practical help. As the prison had 2.700 prisoners, they would need large sums to improve the physical conditions for the prisoners. Instead I suggested that I wanted to come back with a small group of Danes and arrange “meetings” for the prisoners. I said: ”We can’t help the prisoners with the physical surroundings, but perhaps we can help them mental”. The director was thinking a little, and after a short while he agreed and allowed us to come and have a few meetings.
The first meeting with the prisoners
At International Apostolic Bible College, I found a small group who wanted to go with me to the prison. When we entered the prison, we were shown a room, where there was enough space for 100 people. The group from Denmark had prepared singing and music, personal testimonies and small speeches from God’s Word. When it was time to start the meeting, 100 prisoners entered the room accompanied by 8 armed prison officers, who remained as long as the meeting lasted.
”In the beginning it was hard to break through. Talking to the prisoners was like talking to a brick wall, but little by little we experienced that the Holy Spirit came, and we saw life and light came into the eyes of the prisoners. We pointed out for them that Gods love is very great, and that God loves them as people and not as prisoners. Every 5 minutes the director came into the room, and watched what was going on. Every time this happened, he caught the attention from the prisoners, and it was difficult to make the first meeting going well.”
After the meeting I asked the director about his opinion, if he thought it could have some value for the prisoners. Especially for rehabilitation after their release. The director was fairly positive, and he allowed us another meeting the following day.
My personal conclusion
Today, when I look at the fruit of preaching God’s Word and work in the prison in Aiud, where hundreds of prisoners have given their lives to Jesus Christ, I get silent, but also enthusiastic. When I visit the prisoners, where iron door after iron door is opened and closed after us, and we are finally inside the prison, I experience an incredible peace and joy deep in my heart: This is where my calling are, telling them about the love of Jesus and his salvation! I look at these men as my friends, and the pictures of their faces are forever burned in my heart.
15 years have now passed.
Cosmin and I have now been working close together for 15 years, where we have been involved in many different kinds of work, which started with farm machines. At least I think we have spent most of our time with the prison mission, as it is the work, my heart is burning for, and that is the reason for my visits to the prisons 6 times a year. If I try to count how many men I have faced in the prison and preached the gospel of Jesus and salvation, hope and love for, I would think about 40.000.
Romania is my second country
During these last 15 years I have been to Romania more than 100 times, and I have come to love the Romanians very much. I have many close friends among the Romanians, and I love to be in the country. As long as the strong call is in my heart, my health allows and God bless the work, I intend to continue my mission in the future.