NEWSLETTER issue 1/2018

What is Eastern Europe’s greatest need?

By IGNAT IVANOV, President

In Eastern Europe today, many things are better than they were twenty-five years ago when we started street children’s ministry in Russia. For example, it is said that Moscow today has more Mercedes than the whole of Germany. While there is great wealth, there is still great poverty.

“Why don’t the rich in Russia help their people?” many have asked.
There is a great disparity in the distribution of wealth and a large population is seemingly forgotten.
There are so many children and whole families who are helpless, destitute, and hopeless.

They desperately need help and support - and they desperately need to hear the Gospel!

The kind of work Mission Possible does in Eastern Europe exceeds the capacity of local churches and organizations. Support from the West will still be needed for a long time.

In this issue we tell about the shelter home in Yekaterinburg, Russia, that we opened eight years ago. Every time I visit that home I see hungry, ragged, and terrified children who have just come from alcoholic families and situations where they have witnessed fights, deaths, and other horrible things. And each time I return those same children are happy, healthy, and full of hope. There is no greater joy than seeing this transformation take place in these little ones!

These changes have been possible because of all of you who have partnered with us to make long-term investments in these children’s lives. Thank you that you care!

 

“Our Work is Focused on Everyone’s Greatest and Most Important Need.”

This is how Andrey Ivanov, who leads the Yekaterinburg shelter home with his wife Natasha, describes their ministry.

Andrey Ivanov, the father of the shelter home in Yekaterinburg.

What is people’s greatest need?

Andrey continues, “Fourteen years ago we began to help street children. We fed, clothed, and washed them and looked for their family members. Very soon we realized that all problems had the same root: a dysfunctional or abusive family or the absence of family.

“The greatest need of every human being,
regardless of age, gender, or background,
is to feel important and loved,
to experience communion and safety,
and to feel that life has purpose.”

How can this need be filled?

“The natural environment for meeting these needs is the family. For this reason, when we were opening our shelter home, we wanted it to be like a large family.”

“Since we opened, more than 460 children and their mothers have lived in this home. We have seen how children heal with 24-hour care and family-like relationships and communication.”

“We always try to work with the entire family and to change their lives by providing help and sharing the Gospel. Our hope and goal is, when possible, to return the child to his or her own changed family.”

The kitchen is the heart of the home! Here, children dine at the Yekaterinburg shelter.

FAMILY MEANS

  • that we are all together
  • we do things together
  • we feel safe
  • help and counsel are always near
  • we understand each other
  • we love each other.


Natasha Ivanov is like a mother for the children in the shelter home.

 

Lisa and Lena:
Out of isolation and into life with a large family!

Lisa and Lena, sisters who are only one year apart, had lived in isolation from the outside world. Their mother was seriously ill through their entire childhood. Lena, the younger sister, was unwell at birth and didn’t develop normally. After their mother passed away, their father left the girls in their grandmother’s care.

The sisters’ life with their poor and elderly grandmother was confined to the walls of a 150 square-foot room. It had a couch on which all three slept and piles of junk, dishes, and books their grandmother had collected from the trash. The girls were always dirty and wore ragged clothes. Due to progressing dementia, their grandmother didn’t require or enable the girls to go to school, so they mostly spent their days at home.

Finally, neighbors who were concerned about the girls’ situation contacted childcare officials. Because of the grandmother’s age and mental condition, the custodial rights over her granddaughters were taken from her.  The officials turned to us, asking if Lisa and Lena could come to our shelter home.

Our director Andrey went to pick up the sisters, but we were worried about their reactions to such a great change. We had been informed of Lena’s psychological problems and thought she might find the move to a new home frightening.

When Andrey knocked on the door of the tiny apartment, an angry grandmother answered. Andrey kept smiling as he quietly considered what to do when Lena, to everyone’s surprise, stepped forward from behind her grandmother, smiled, and jumped to hug Andrey, as if she had been waiting for him!

At the shelter home, Lena and Lisa became acquainted with their new family. Lena’s handicaps were obvious from the start, and everyone, adults and children, made efforts to help her adjust to her new home.

We had many discussions with doctors and specialists about the care Lena needed, but in the meantime, a healthy home life and the company of other children began to produce results! The teachers at the special needs school were surprised at how quickly Lena’s speech and vocabulary improved.

Lisa, the older sister, also flourished. She applied herself in school and got excellent grades, and she found a new hobby: skiing. Lisa is eager to know God and to pray. When the girls went to church with us for the first time, it seemed as if they had come home.

The sisters are allowed to live in our shelter home until they turn eighteen. Their grandmother comes often to see them and enjoys the visits, staying for several hours at a time. She, too, has become like one of the family!

We believe there is a purpose why Lisa and Lena came to our home. Besides physical help and a loving family, we can give them the most important thing: truth to lead them to believe in and trust the Heavenly Father.

Lena (on the right) and Lisa with their new sisters and brothers in the yard of the Yekaterinburg shelter home

 

The parents of five children in a 130 square-foot home:
“The Lord Has Not Forsaken Our Family or Left Us Hungry."

On a snowy winter day our team visited Vakarel, a mountain village not far from Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. At the end of the village there is a slum where Roma families live in their shack homes. Because of the snow, we couldn’t drive into the village.

The men from the church helped our team carry twenty Baby Boxes and packages of children’s clothes from the main road to the small evangelical congregation’s house of prayer. We held a special event there and gave the packages to families who were in great need.

Roumen Ivanov (the director for Mission Possible in Bulgaria) addressing the mothers in the Vakarel church. Eric and his mother are on the left.

We also visited several homes. Little Eric was one of the children for whom we brought a Baby Box. He is the fifth child in Georgy and Ana’s family. All seven live in a shack that is 130 square-feet and has no water or septic.

The one-room shack could fit only the beds and an old wardrobe – but in spite of the lack of space, a small Christmas tree was tucked in the corner! The children’s shoes were lined up on the windowsill. The home was as tidy as is possible where seven people, one being a baby, live, sleep, and eat.

The parents have been unemployed for many years. Georgy seeks work every day. If he is fortunate, he may get hired to cut firewood or to assist on a construction site. There is no hope for long-term employment.

It is nothing short of a miracle that Eric’s family is able to live with the small social allowances they receive for the five children (160 levas = 100 dollars per month). Yet even with the tight budget, the parents are hopeful and happy.

The family’s home.

Georgy says, “We are grateful! The Lord has not forgotten us or left us hungry. He has given us wisdom to make the ends meet. Every month we have even been able to save some money to buy bricks to build an addition to our house.” 

The family’s home is right next to the church. The congregation was established three years ago when the first evangelism event was held. New believers then built the small church building by themselves. It is modest and still needs some final work, but the believers and their families gather there every day.

“The Lord has not forgotten us.” Ana and Georgy’s words continued to echo in our minds as we left this small home. We don’t want to forget this family and this village!

Little Eric and his mother Ana in the church. Ana is one of the twelve mothers who received a Baby Box.

What is needed right now?

A Baby Box is more than a package of necessary items.
It is followed by a teaching and counseling program for mothers in the local churches with whom we cooperate.
All mothers in the village or town are invited to participate.

We have received a huge amount of baby clothes. Now we need financial support for the Boxes, distribution, and other expenses. Your help is very important. Please designate your gift to "Baby Box Project."

Thank you very much for your help!

 

MEET OUR WORKER: Irina Nikolaeva from Mission Possible's Bulgaria team

“I Am Happy When Children Are Happy!”

Irina is the youngest member of our Bulgarian team. She has become familiar to many families and children in the Roma villages. Multi-talented Irina studied to become a psychologist.

“Three years ago I participated in an event for women arranged by Mission Possible. It had a great impact on my life. After that I began to volunteer with Mission Possible. It gave me an avenue to do something meaningful and important. I am grateful to God that I have been a full-time worker for six months!”

“I love children and working with them. I am actively involved in the Baby Box Project, preparing and distributing the Boxes. During the cold winter months I visit children’s soup kitchens in the Roma villages.”

“Last summer I served at the camps for children and teens. I organized a “Master Chef” program for the children. Cooking is one of my hobbies and it was great to see children having fun and learning something new and useful!”

Irina handing out Christmas gifts in the village of Karnare. A new church began there in December following our help and evangelism program. 

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