I'm Alive: Responding to the Cry of the Oppressed (Transcript)

Announcer: Today on Family Talk.

Dr. Dobson: Well, greetings, everyone, and welcome to Family Talk. This is a listener-supported ministry of The James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. James Dobson and we thank you for joining us for this broadcast. I think it's a very important one. I want to begin today by reading a few words from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Once you hear what I'm about to read, you will understand where we're going today. I'll begin with Matthew 25:34.

Dr. Dobson: "Then The King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer Him saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and take you in, or naked, and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and will say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you in as much as you did it to one of the least of these, My brethren, you did it for Me.'"

Dr. Dobson: We're going to talk today about some of the least of these, our brethren, especially children in the country of Romania. Many of them orphans, many of them have no future. Many of them are hungry. Many of them are sick, but we're going to talk today with a woman who was here with us as our guest nine years ago. The guest was Sarah Vienna and we talked that day about her great heart for the people of Romania, and especially the orphaned children. Sarah, you went to Romania with Youth With A Mission on a six-week trip and I recall that was back in 2002 and you caught the vision of what was going on there. Sarah, I don't think I'll ever forget the way you described the orphans that you saw in that first encounter. Describe it for us.

Sarah Vienna: Yeah, it was in 2005 when my colleague and I were asked to sing Christmas carols at the Brasov State Children's Hospital. It wasn't an orphanage, but it was similar to an orphanage becoming a holding tank until these social workers can find proper homes for these kids that were abandoned. When we walked on these hospital floors, we found these children alone wrapped in several layers of rags used as diapers, bald spots on the back of their heads, and not one cry because they learned that crying did not answer their need.

Dr. Dobson: Whenever you hear many children within a room and they're not crying, there's trouble. Crying is a message, crying is a healthy response. These children didn't cry.

Sarah Vienna: Right. Can you imagine these kids getting to that point? Reaching this point of silence because no one was there to answer their need? We know that touch is so important. Research has determined that even down to cellular brain development, a child, a human being needs touch in order to properly develop. This is why it's so important that we run our volunteer programs in Romania because children, babies need touch in order to survive.

Dr. Dobson: In the 13th century, King Frederick II conducted an experiment with 50 infants to see what language they would speak if they never had opportunity to hear the spoken word. He assigned foster mothers to bathe and suckle the children, but he forbade them to fondle, pet, or even talk to their charges and the experiment ended in failure because all 50 infants died. Since then, it's been documented conclusively that babies who aren't touched or cuddled often fail to thrive. That's what you witnessed there in a Romanian orphanage, wasn't it?

Sarah Vienna: Right. We were talking about God's creation, God's precious creation and the value of life. The Bible speaks about children being a gift from The Lord and I just can't imagine not understanding the value and not understanding the precious gift. When you give birth to a baby and to give that baby up and just say, "Oh, I can't handle this baby. I can't take care of this child." I can't imagine it, but this is where God can intervene and bring back that initial love.

Dr. Dobson: Now, you've been working in that vineyard for 16 years?

Sarah Vienna: I've been in living in the country of Romania for 16 years.

Dr. Dobson: Working in those areas?

Sarah Vienna: Yeah. We're volunteering at the Brasov State Children's Hospital, so we run an international volunteer program five days a week where volunteers from around the world can come and hold, feed, change, cuddle these babies, these children who so desperately need to be touched and our volunteers become like surrogate parents to these kids. Many of these children that are being abandoned or temporarily abandoned come from the Roma, otherwise known as Gypsy villages, and so the Roma ethnicity is considered one of the most persecuted ethnicities in Europe. They're considered countryless and Romania has one of the largest populations of these people that live in segregated-

Dr. Dobson: They're looked down on, aren't they?

Sarah Vienna: Yes, yes. Yeah, they're highly segregated, they're not educated. They live in poverty. They're dropping out of school and we need to pay attention to this ethnicity and educate them and also teach that God loves them and God doesn't care about their skin color. God doesn't care if they don't have the fanciest iPhone. God cares for these people and wants them to know that He loves them unconditionally.

Dr. Dobson: Sarah, describe in more detail for us those family situations in Roma culture. We know them as Gypsies, and those of us who have been there and seen them on the street begging, little children all around, they deliberately produce more children because they get a small stipend from the government-

Sarah Vienna: That's correct.

Dr. Dobson: If they do, but that runs out and then you have up to six or more children per family on average. Is that correct?

Sarah Vienna: That's correct-

Dr. Dobson: Do I have the statistics right?

Sarah Vienna: Yeah. The average Roma family has between six to eight children.

Dr. Dobson: They can't take care of them.

Sarah Vienna: Right.

Dr. Dobson: They don't have the money to feed them or take care of them, so all they can do is really beg. It's a tragic situation. So many of the children in those orphanages that you're talking about come from that community.

Sarah Vienna: That's correct.

Dr. Dobson: What is being done for them?

Sarah Vienna: Well, nonprofits like ours, we're teaching them, we're educating them. Firm Foundations Romania, we run an afterschool program for children from preschool age to seventh grade. We have 170 children enrolled in our programs and we're meeting them where they're at educationally. We're teaching them about the foundations of the Bible, teaching them that they are valued and they have a calling and they have a purpose. We-

Dr. Dobson: You teach them about Jesus?

Sarah Vienna: We teach them about Jesus. Oh yes, they love to-

Dr. Dobson: They will allow you to do that?

Sarah Vienna: Yes, yes. We can teach them anything from the Bible. The children love to sing Bible songs, they love to learn new stories from the Bible, learning about Moses and David. Their smiles are so bright when they can sing about the joy of The Lord and the love of a Savior that loves them unconditionally. This is what life is about, teaching children that they are loved by God.

Dr. Dobson: Sarah, you are not married and you have given your life to this cause. Where does that passion come from?

Sarah Vienna: I am driven by The Holy Spirit, and my passion comes from standing up for truth, being the voice of the voiceless, and I do this through the power of music. I'm writing music to share about humanity.

Dr. Dobson: Your mother is a musician, isn't she?

Sarah Vienna: Yes, my mother was a musician. She writes her own music and she is still writing to this day. She taught me how to harmonize, she taught me how to play the guitar. She taught me about the need to stand up for truth and she introduced books about Heroes of Faith, of like Corrie ten Boom and Gladys Aylward and Smith Wigglesworth, and probably you, and-

Dr. Dobson: You use your guitar and your music to teach the children to sing about Jesus?

Sarah Vienna: Right. I use my guitar to share a message. You know that music is so powerful-

Dr. Dobson: It is.

Sarah Vienna: And I believe and I know that music can save a life and it can stir action deep within someone's soul where words cannot do alone. I'm writing music about experiences. If it's about a volunteer or if it's about a child that has felt abandoned or rejected, or about my own circumstances. We all are going through this life and we're in these experiences that sometimes we need to just stop and pray, and so I'm writing music to go deeper into this message and deeper into our feelings so that we can make choices that God wants us to make.

Dr. Dobson: Are the Roma people open to you? Do they resent you being there? How do they look at you? How do they-

Sarah Vienna: Oh, they-

Dr. Dobson: See you?

Sarah Vienna: They respect us. We've been working with them since 2005. Whenever we drive through their village, they are always waving to us and, of course, they always want to stop us and say, "Hello". We don't want to just give, give, give. We want to teach them to stand on their own two feet, and as you can-

Dr. Dobson: Do you know them by name?

Sarah Vienna: Yes.

Dr. Dobson: You know the children by name?

Sarah Vienna: Oh yes. Our organization truly has become a friend to these people and-

Dr. Dobson: Tell us what the organization's name is.

Sarah Vienna: Firm Foundations Romania.

Dr. Dobson: You're funded by gifts from America?

Sarah Vienna: Yeah, from America, from Canada, from Germany, primarily volunteers that come through our organization and volunteer, they go back to their churches or home groups, their companies and they say, "Hey, you have to hear about this organization that's transforming lives in the country of Romania."

Dr. Dobson: I told you when we were chatting in my office that when the last time I was in Europe, I don't think I was in Romania, but we were in various places in Europe, Italy primarily. There are a lot of what we call Gypsies on the street begging, desperate people. They had nothing. You talk about he least of these my brothers, they would qualify for that from my point of view, and the women would be holding sleeping babies. They hold them all day and you know they had to be drugged in order for a baby to sleep all the time. That's not natural, and also young children were sleeping on the street, but imagine what that does to child development, what that does to intellectual development. My heart went out to these people and there are millions and millions of them, aren't there?

Sarah Vienna: Right.

Dr. Dobson: You're dealing primarily with Romania?

Sarah Vienna: Correct, and this happens worldwide, begging and people who reach such a low and desperation that they have to go out to the public and put their hand out. Why I believe volunteering is so important is because we stand with the poor like Jesus would do and it is so important to reach out and help humanity, help our brother, and if it's overseas, if that's where God is calling you to reach out, it is so important. This is what life is about. We're on this Earth for so short of a period. What are we doing for our fellow man? Always comes back to the value of life, God's most precious creation.

Dr. Dobson: In fact, you are very strong in your pro life beliefs, aren't you?

Sarah Vienna: Yes.

Dr. Dobson: You teach that.

Sarah Vienna: Yes.

Dr. Dobson: Are they open to that at all? They probably don't even know what contraception is.

Sarah Vienna: No, they don't fully understand contraception, and what we're teaching them is the value of life. We're teaching them the Biblical passages in the Bible, teaching them that children are a gift from The Lord and that they should be respected. Sadly, Romania has a high amount of abortions, but this can change through the power of prayer, and so we are raising awareness that the babies inside their womb, they're alive and they want to breathe and they want to see and they want to be loved.

Dr. Dobson: The general population of Romania limits their family. They're not required by the government but themselves to two children. That's average.

Sarah Vienna: That's the average.

Dr. Dobson: We can imagine what happens to the rest of them. Abortion is very, very common.

Sarah Vienna: Correct.

Dr. Dobson: Are the people there open at all to the pro life message?

Sarah Vienna: Personally, I think everyone is open, it's just making a decision out of feeling versus sometimes what their spirit says. The country of Romania, they're open for change, but sometimes people make decisions out of desperation or-

Dr. Dobson: "How will I deal with another child?"

Sarah Vienna: Right, right, so where I come in with my pro life message is not out of judgment, it's out of having this person, this mother, this father, understand the value of life that they created together inside of the womb and that this is God's precious, precious creation and that God knows them even before they are created. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture where David talks about how God says, "I've knitted you in the womb", and I can just imagine God actually knitting these cells together forming a baby and just knitting us together. We have to create awareness and understanding for those that may be blinded by this concept of God's creation that this is precious. The value of life needs to breathe.

Dr. Dobson: Talk about the state of the church in Romania. The orthodox church is predominant-

Sarah Vienna: Correct.

Dr. Dobson: And as far as a Bible-believing Christian expression, that's not very evident, is it?

Sarah Vienna: Right. Well, 96% of the country of Romania is orthodox, and there's a very small percentage of evangelical churches, but I love sharing with Romania orthodox that we can go directly to our Heavenly Father.

Dr. Dobson: They don't believe that.

Sarah Vienna: Right.

Dr. Dobson: Or don't teach it.

Sarah Vienna: They don't teach it, but Christianity is really... it's an easy faith because we can go directly to our Heavenly Father if we have a need or if we need to ask forgiveness. We don't have to go to a building. We have The Holy Spirit.

Dr. Dobson: Shirley and I in our personal devotions often will start our prayer by saying, "Lord, how unbelievable that The King of the Universe Who built everything there is knows everything, cares about us, knows our thoughts and our feelings and our fears and the things that are oppressing us." He knows every bit of that. We were reading just recently the opening chapters of Exodus and the people in Chapter 2 were oppressed by the Egyptians and they were fearful and they were slaves and they were whipped and going through all these difficult things. It says The Lord saw their plea and heard their cry. Not quoting the Scripture now, but sent Moses to rescue them. The Lord heard their cry. Isn't that amazing? When we talk, we say, "Lord, we find it hard to believe but we do that You are in this room. You are listening to us. You care about us and every other person around the world." You're trying to teach that, aren't you?

Sarah Vienna: Right, and Psalm 82:3 really represents our ministry where it says, "Defend the weak, the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed." God wants us to minister to those in need, those who have been abandoned, rejected, pushed down, and that's really our motto for Firm Foundations Romania and for Sarah Vienna Ministries through the power of music, defending humanity.

Dr. Dobson: Sarah, we only have a few minutes left. There are two things I want to do with it. One is let people know, how do they get in touch with you?

Sarah Vienna: They can reach me at sarahvienna.com and our ministry in Romania, firmfoundationsromania.com.

Dr. Dobson: It's V-I-E-N-N-A.

Sarah Vienna: That's right.

Dr. Dobson: They can reach you and make arrangements for you to come?

Sarah Vienna: Yep-

Dr. Dobson: And sing?

Sarah Vienna: Yep.

Dr. Dobson: Sarah, before you go, I really want to find out exactly what your plans are. You're leaving the United States, going back to Romania tomorrow. We're going to air this in a few days, but you're leaving tomorrow and picking up the mantle there again, aren't you?

Sarah Vienna: That's correct.

Dr. Dobson: You'll be back in January, and if people would like you to come and speak and sing and give your message, they could contact you by the email address that we just gave?

Sarah Vienna: Yes.

Dr. Dobson: Well, I can't let you leave without singing for us. You brought your guitar. Will you do that for us?

Sarah Vienna: Sure.

Dr. Dobson: You're going to sing your own composition I'm Alive. Now, this story was written from the viewpoint of a baby inside the mother's womb saying, "I'm alive. Give me a chance."

Sarah Vienna: (singing)

Dr. Dobson: Oh, Sarah, that is absolutely beautiful. You have a wonderful voice. Does that song have a Romanian version to it?

Sarah Vienna: Not yet, but it's in the works.

Dr. Dobson: Do you speak Romanian?

Sarah Vienna: I speak a little bit, yes I do.

Dr. Dobson: You're writing in their native language?

Sarah Vienna: I am starting to do that, yes.

Dr. Dobson: You're a brave lady-

Sarah Vienna: Thank you.

Dr. Dobson: And I appreciate your taking the time to come and share this ministry. It all really grew out of YWAM, didn't it?

Sarah Vienna: Yes, that was the start.

Dr. Dobson: That was the start. Sarah, we have 15 seconds left, we have mutual friends. I'm speaking of Jon and Marylois Gibson. They're the ones that told me about you. They have a great passion and heart for Romania, and they introduced me to you eight years ago and you can be sure they're listening today. Those are great people with a heart for The Lord and for children and the children of Romania especially. I want to give them my best regards today and thank them for calling you to my attention again.

Sarah Vienna: Thank you so much.

Roger Marsh: This is Roger Marsh, and you've been listening to Dr. Dobson's uplifting conversation with Sarah Vienna. What an amazing kingdom work she is doing to provide for the poor and destitute in Romania. You can visit today's broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org for more information about her ministry which is called Firm Foundations Romania. Once you're there, you'll also see a link to her new song that she sang today. You'll find all this and much more when you visit the broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org.

Roger Marsh: I also want to quickly tell you about a new promotion we have this month for our listeners. We have compiled some of Dr. Dobson's and Dr. Tim Clinton's most popular broadcasts to create The Family Resource Collection. These interviews focus on celebrating Moms and Dads, creating a lasting marriage, and the value of every life. You'll also hear from incredible guests such as Abby Johnson, The Reverend Franklin Graham, and Dr. Will Lyle. The Family Resource Collection can be yours for a gift of any amount to our ministry so get your hands on this insightful toolkit for your family by visiting drjamesdobson.org. That's drjamesdobson.org or by calling 877-732-6825.

Roger Marsh: Be sure to join us again tomorrow for a classic presentation from the late Dr. Gary Smalley. He'll talk about the importance of husbands valuing their wives. That's coming up next time right here on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Thanks for listening.

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