When she came to New York City in 1980 as a 28-year-old refugee, Genovieva Sfatcu was amazed by the huge volume of Bibles, religious books, cards and novelty items openly displayed in Christian bookstores. She says she spent hours just gazing, fascinated by the abundance and easy availability of these materials which were forbidden in her native Romania.
The "Precious Moments" illustrations of Missouri artist Samuel Butcher especially were appealing to the young woman, and she wondered how she could buy them to use in the Christian children's books she wanted to write and send back to Romania.
Skeptical sales clerks told her Butcher's art was big business and out of her reach. Sfatcu persisted, obtained his number and reached him by phone. During a 20-minute conversation, he gave her permission to use his illustrations at no charge in her books for Romania. Although they never have met, the association continues. Butcher has paid thousands of dollars in color processing costs for more than 200,000 copies of her books.