Summer 2017 transform   

   On a recent FACEBOOK posting,  I wrote ‘our Bulgarian Baby Box project is more than just  handouts’. 
The marginalised, poor and forgotten do not need just material aid.  They need friendship, love and both emotional and spiritual support.    Our partners share the gospel with the people they help, assisting them to find faith in Christ and grow in it. As I like to say ‘we offer life before and after death’.  
Pictured is team member Daniela in Bulgaria engaging with a mother who has just received a baby box.

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   This newsletter will focus on the ministries we support in Eastern Europe and it is so good that we now have Ian Sinkinson, our new Eastern Europe Development Officer (EEDO), as a volunteer team member helping us manage these projects and fund raise for them. By far our biggest project in Eastern Europe this year has been the baby box project in Bulgaria which we have been able to support in a substantial way due to the most generous response to our Christmas appeal.  Also in this newsletter, you will read about other ministries ranging from Bible Clubs for children with disabilities in Moldova to two testimonies of children who have  lived in our shelter homes in Russia.

 

Bulgaria: First mothers receive baby boxes

 

   The first baby box for Roma mothers on the foothills of the Balkan Mountains was delivered just before the end of December.  Freezing wind penetrated to the bone as team members Tanya Konyarova and Daniela Encheva carried a baby box to Zlatka’s home where a new life has just begun. The dilapidated  home does not even have a place for the baby to sleep.  The box is filled with clothing and hygiene products but also the box itself will become a safe crib for the baby.  

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   Before moving onto another Roma home, Tanya and Daniela pray for the family. To date, over 250 baby Boxes have been delivered in Bulgaria.
Our ministry to the marginalised Roma communities in Bulgaria involves far more than the distribution of baby boxes and related antenatal and postnatal support. Mission Possible operates soup kitchens, provides adult literacy courses, vocational training and supports Roma Churches.  

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   Please pray for our team in Bulgaria as they seek to show the love of Jesus in these Roma communities. The new baby box project has added to their already heavy workload.

 

Russia: Two inspiring stories from a shelter home director
The Young Bandit with Blonde Hair
   The police brought Alina to our shelter home.
‘This young bandit is a very difficult girl. We don’t know what you can do to help her, but please try to keep her here for two or three days while we look for an orphanage or a youth prison where we can take her.’ 
This is what our team was told about the young girl with blonde hair who had run away from her home and travelled by train to another city.

 

   Alina’s memory of her childhood was one of moving from house to house with relatives who partied and drank.  Her mother even signed away her parental rights. 
Eventually Alina ran away from home and slept in doorways.The amazing thing is that two days after arriving at our shelter home, it was impossible to believe the police reports on Alina.
She was always ready to help and easily made friends with the other children and staff.

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   When she came to church for the first time in her life she listened to everything in tears and opened her heart to God.  She has forgiven her mother, praying for her and travelling to visit her.  She was so close to spending her life in a youth prison -  but now has a family.

 

The Drug Addict with Curly Hair
   It was evening and we were having tea and planning the next day’s activities and work at the shelter home, when a young man with curly hair, blue eyes and a broad smile appeared at the door. It took a few moments before we recognized Kiril.
Two years earlier, when he first came to our centre, he was a 16-year-old rude and undisciplined drug addict who only did what he wanted and had an exhausted and hopeless mother. The following six months were an ordeal for us, the workers and the other children. Kiril did foolish things and kept causing problems one after another.
 

 

Finally he left our centre but we didn’t know that the time he spent here became a turning point in his life. ‘I realized that my life was bringing only sorrow and destruction. I decided to go to a Christian rehabilitation centre.’ There Kiril came to understand even deeper the emptiness and unworthiness of his life. ‘I pulled the blanket over my head and began to cry and pray.  That’s when I surrendered my life sincerely and seriously to God.’ 
Soon after that, Kiril was struck by a sermon about how we should talk to God about everything, not just difficulties, because He is like a good father who is interested in our life. ‘I wanted to have this kind of relationship with God.’ 

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Everyone who had known Kiril before could see the full and miraculous transformation in the life of this young man who became a follower of Christ. He now studies in a college in Moscow.
I very much wanted to come and see you’, Kiril said, standing at the door. ‘I have prayed about this moment a lot and thought over and over how it would be. I want to ask for your forgiveness for all the trouble I caused you, and to thank you from all my heart!’  His words were followed by many tears and hugs... Again, we had witnessed a miracle! 

Pictured above:  Celebrating Kiril’s return

Please pray for the teams in our 10 shelter homes in Russia.  This is very much a 24/7 ministry and the homes are now increasingly being used as bases for a wider family ministry.

 

Transnistria:  Nastra  -  the girl who smiles
   Transnistria is designated by the Republic of Moldova as an autonomous territorial unit within Moldova.  Mission Possible organises weekly Christian activities and a summer camp for disabled children in this territory.
When Nastra was 18 months old, she broke her leg.  Instead of putting her leg in a cast, the doctor prescribed massage therapy. As a result her leg ceased to grow.  In spite of her disability, Nastra has a positive outlook on life. She smiles a lot and is determine to be independent.
The highlight of her year is the Mission Possible summer camp.
Below is a picture of Nastra on a river trip at the camp last year and in the other picture you can see Nastra again sitting on the front row.
Please thank God for the testimony of Nastra, for the other disabled children and for the Mission Possible team as they prepare for the summer camp.

 

 

Albania:  Ian Sinkinson, our new EEDO, encounters poverty during his first trip to this once atheist country

 

Ian writes,
   "When I travelled with Richard to Albania in March, I expected to find a poor country still living in the shadow of its communist past.  In fact, we found that Albania had moved on. Tirana the capital is a modern busy city and Bathore, where our partners Mission Possible Albania (MPA) work, has been transformed from a collection of wooden shacks on a muddy hillside that Richard had seen back in 2008 into a thriving suburb with modern houses and paved roads.
However, there are still families living with poverty in the community, and MPA is active in supporting them.  

 

   We visited a number of these families, taking gifts of food, listening to their stories and praying with them. I remember in particular Violet and her family of two girls at school and a small boy toddler. They live on the edge of the community reached by a muddy track in a one bedroom house with a leaky roof and a rather insanitary pit latrine on the side of the house.
In spite of the difficulties, Violet keeps the house spotless and the children, happy and lively, are clean and neatly dressed. One of the girls had an eye infection when we visited but Violet could not afford to buy eye cream for her.  MPA was able to provide this, and at the end of our visit we were able to agree that MPUK would provide funding to refurbish Violet’s house.  Please pray for Violet and her family.
   MPA is based at the Hope Centre in Bathore which is used for outreach activities including the Miracle Club for young people.  On the top floor, there is a much used community library and we agreed to purchase some new computers for this library.  We are also hoping to support a new ministry with young people based at the centre."

 

Some snippets

There is another kind of famine.
Before Easter, Bible distribution took place in Burundi at Rutana prison, Kiremba High School and Mutamba Peace Villages. 
There were some powerful testimonies. One church leader exclaimed ‘From now I will share the Gospel from my very own Bible. Oh Lord my God, thank you!’ A prisoner whispered ‘The Lord has visited us today’ while a school student shared ‘By reading it for sure I will know the truth’. Unexpectedly a security officer at the prison could not wait to get hold of one of the Bibles so he could read it together with his family.
See picture right.

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Clean water is basic to life
On May 1 we launched a trial clean water and hygiene project with 150 Red Zone families on Nkombo Island in Rwanda.  The purpose of the trial is to evaluate the exact benefits of providing ceramic water filters and basic handwashing facilities to this community. 
Even buying soap is a challenge and can involve a canoe ride followed by a long walk.
There were queues when a couple from Cambridgeshire recently visited the island to distribute some very basic bars of soap. 
Pictured is a simple handwashing facility

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Mud for concrete
Do you recall those treacherous mud steps at the Star School that I have shown in previous newsletters? 

At last we have funds to replace them with concrete steps and a ramp as part of our commitment to safeguarding at the school. 

And in February we completed our project to install lightning conductors on school buildings which was another part of this commitment.  

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Strictly Come Dancing
Since supporting a dance project for street girls in Brazil back in the 1990s I have known that dance is important in building up the self-esteem of people who are marginalised.
Hence the dance and music group we support in the Batwa communities in Rwanda.

Recently we sent further funds to buy more costumes and musical instruments.
Beware Craig Revel Horwood!

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 … and finally 

Living in Africa in the 1970s and more than once relying on the ingenuity of the local people, I know the truth that those we are serving are not ‘weak’. 
On the contrary many of these children and adults are much stronger than us.  They have learnt to live with circumstances that are intolerable to us. 
They are not ‘weak’ but they do value our support.

Through prayer and giving, you are partners in a life transforming ministry.
That so excites me and I hope it excites you.

 Let’s be excited!

 Richard

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