Editorial: To Romania with Love
by Kevin Sims
To Romania with Love
WHEN my Gran – Mrs Auxiliary-Captain Muriel Sims – died in February this year the world lost an amazing woman. Her death was unexpected – even though she was 86 – but in some ways that suited her. No gradual winding down, just here one day, gone the next. In many ways, she never became old!
My Grandad died a few years after he and Gran retired and, having cared for him for some time, Gran seemed to get a new lease of life. She learned to drive in her late 60s and, through sheer force of will, became involved in taking relief supplies to Romania. This became her passion and she spent her last 18 years helping the people of Romania and giving huge support to the Army’s fledgling work there. Even in her 80s she was still travelling to Romania to help the new officers with the energy of someone 60 years her junior.
I travelled to Romania with her twice – both times a great adventure. With hindsight we did some crazy things, completely trusting that God would keep us safe. On the first journey we stopped for the night and slept in a caravan on the side of the road, way up in the mountains of central Romania. We woke to the sound of around 20 Romany children playing outside our caravan and I joined in their soccer game.
We were waved off as we headed back on our journey and eventually reached the mining town where we were providing help. When we told our hosts what we had done they went pale and explained that we had stopped in ‘bandit country’ where most people feared to drive during the day, let alone stop at night with a van full of relief supplies. God was good!
I suppose some readers could be saying, ‘... and so what?’ at this point; but this isn’t just about one woman who was special to me. Throughout the international Salvation Army there are unsung heroes and untold stories; tales of courage and faith; moments of inspiration and imagination. My Gran’s story is extraordinary but not exceptional. For 125 years, All the World has featured stories of little-known heroes and heroines who help get people out of poverty and hardship and do it all in Christ’s name. This very issue includes such stories from Australia to Uganda, from present-day Iraq to the streets of 19th-century London.
Gran was hugely proud of what The Salvation Army is doing in Romania and one of her greatest pleasures was being presented with an ‘Others’ award in Moscow by the Eastern Europe Territory, in recognition of her prayerful and practical support. Since her death we have received many messages from people in the UK and Romania whose lives are better because of this little, white-haired woman’s influence.
She was very driven and had little time for people who couldn’t see things the way she did – but that’s often the way with visionaries! All I know is that she was incredibly encouraging to me and I miss her terribly.
Someone at Gran’s funeral told me that, through the international focus to what I do at International Headquarters, I was carrying on my Gran’s work. They could have given no better compliment.
Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army Founder William Booth, is often referred to as the Army Mother. Her daughter, Catherine ‘Katie’ Booth, was known as ‘La Marèchale’ [The Field-Marshall] by her followers in France who were amazed by her tenacity as, against all odds and huge opposition, she began Salvation Army work there.
I don’t know what name my Gran could be given but there must be something appropriate. According to the online Google translator, Romanian for Mother is ‘Mama’ and Field-Marshall is ‘Câmp-Marshall’. Neither has the right ring though.
Interestingly enough, Romanian for Gran is ‘Gran’. That’ll do for me.