Ignat Ivanov, President
Can my meager help change anything in the life of a mother of four living in a shack in a ghetto? Does my involvement have any significance on a handicapped girl's life in Transnistria?
The aid we give is not merely material because not all problems are material. Abandoned and brokenhearted people who feel worthless do not need material goods but friendship, love, and emotional and spiritual support.
We share the gospel with the people we help. We help them find faith in Christ or to grow in it, and in this way they are connected to the greatest Source of help.
It is through locals that aid is given. When they receive assistance, the recipients get to know caring and trustworthy people in the communities where they live.
When the work is done prayerfully, allowing God to guide it, the relief is timely and can make a great impact. In this issue you will read about a stranger who met a homeless mother and child at a bus station and led them to our emergency center. That is one of many instances where God Himself has enabled the hopeless and forgotten to find their way to us.
We help others with the hope God will save and change lives.
Mission Possible organizes weekly Christian activities for handicapped children in Transnistria (a territory between Moldova and the Ukraine). Bible clubs and summer camps for village children are also conducted. The following story is written by a volunteer with Mission Possible in Transnistria.
Nastya is twelve years old and has participated in the program for handicapped children for four years. She lives with her mother and stepfather in a communal apartment complex with less than twenty square meters of living space and frequent electricity outages.
When Nastya was about eighteen months old she broke her leg at daycare. Instead of putting her leg in a cast, the doctor prescribed massage therapy. As a result, the leg ceased to grow.
During the last ten years, she has undergone twenty-six surgeries. She lies in bed for long periods of time - up to eight months! - for “leg stretching,” where her leg is fastened to a metal stretching frame or is in a cast. Her doctor believes that one day Nastya will be able to walk again unaided, but now she can only move using crutches, so she stays inside most of the time.
Soon she will spend three months alone in a hospital in another city. Her mother will not be able to visit because they cannot afford the travel costs.
In spite of all these difficulties Nastya has a positive outlook on life. She smiles a lot and is very social. Her favorite hobby is beadwork. She wants to be independent and hopes to find a job after completing ninth grade. She is schooled at home due to her physical limitations.
Our handicapped children’s summer camps and weekly Christian program are very important to Nastya. She attends when she is not in the hospital or undergoing leg stretching at home.
We visited Nastya in her home, and the optimism of this amazing girl is contagious! Yet although she is strong and brave she needs support and help in many ways.
It is erroneous to think that we help someone because he or she is “weak.”
On the contrary, many of these children and adults are stronger than others because of their character, endurance, and values. They deserve our admiration for being able to cope with their limitations and circumstances.
They are not “weak,” but they still very much need our help!
We have already distributed two hundred Baby Boxes in Bulgaria!
By contributing to the costs of the packages ($60 per box) you can help us touch the lives of many more families.
Thank you for your help!
OUR GOAL: 50 BABY BOXES EACH MONTH
Petruna, a young Roma gypsy mother in the town of Ihtiman, Bulgaria, was just fourteen years old when she gave birth to her first child. Now she is twenty.
She is tall and slim and calm. She radiates something noble. She speaks with a very quiet voice, but her eyes speak more. In them you can see worry about the nearing delivery of her fourth child and concern about who will care for the other three while she is away. And there is the constant uncertainty of whether her husband Angel will find work.
When we asked Angel if he takes his family to church, he confessed, “Petruna is the one who attends more often and takes the children with her.”
We opened the box of baby clothes and equipment, and clearly it was precious to this family. We told them where the box was sent from, but you could tell they believed it had come from heaven.
There are two beds in the home. One is where the family sleeps. The other one is where Angel’s seriously ill father lies. The good news is that he, like Petruna, is a believer.
Soon a new baby will join the family, and life must continue as usual. Petruna will have four little ones plus a very sick father-in-law to care for – in a one-room home.
We closed our visit with prayer: “Lord, please help this family. Heal the sickness! Help Angel find work and help Petruna as she goes to give birth to the baby! Teach the children to learn your ways. Lord, be merciful!”
Rumen Ivanov and Tanya Konyarova giving Baby Boxes to young mothers in the Ihtiman church. Petruna is in the front row.
Marina has experienced incredible tribulation, including serving a prison term for a crime she didn’t commit. Baby Dmitry was unwanted and homeless at birth. Mission Possible’s shelter homes have been a refuge for this mother and child twice. Here is their story:
In the beginning my marriage was happy. We had a sweet baby girl. However, my husband began to drink more and more and to do drugs. He said that I too could use them without negative effect so I could relax in the company of friends.
I was too lax on this issue and gave in to the temptation. I was also gullible when my brother-in-law was accused of theft and my husband and a lawyer convinced me to take the blame. “You won’t be convicted since you’re the mother of a young child,” they assured me.
On the contrary I was given a two-and-a-half-year sentence! I was taken from the court straight to prison without being allowed to see my daughter. Two months later I received a letter that my husband had divorced me and custody of my child had been taken from me and given to my parents!
During my time in prison, no one came to see me. I cried every day, thinking about my child, what she looked like, and what she was doing. The only thing that carried me through that time was the hope of seeing her again and hearing her call me “Mommy”…
Finally the day of freedom came! I felt like I had wings on my way home. But when my mother and I went to get my daughter from daycare, she ran to my mother, calling her “Mommy,” not me. She thought I was her sister. “We thought it would be easier this way for her and us,” my mother said.
Living as my child’s “sister” was impossible. To protect my heart from breaking more, I moved away and got a job. In the evenings I drank and then cried myself to sleep, and in the mornings I somehow gathered myself and went to work.
I started partying regularly with my colleagues. At one party, after I’d had a lot to drink, a stranger raped me. I later discovered I was pregnant. I was ashamed of that whole situation and hated myself, as well as the child that would be born. One acquaintance encouraged me against having an abortion, convincing me that the child was innocent.
During my pregnancy I met a man who wanted to support me and the baby. In spite of his problems with alcohol and the law, I began to dream about a happy future and family.
But when Dmitry was born he was a constant reminder to me of my painful experiences. I wanted to leave him at the hospital, but the doctors convinced me to change my mind. A child of HIV positive parents would be doomed to live in an orphanage, after all. Nobody would adopt him and he would be unwanted all his life…
At first I had no love for my baby. But when he was four months old and became sick, I realized that he was a gift from heaven to replace the child that had been cruelly taken from me. I then decided to do everything I could for his healing and well-being.
My boyfriend, however, got sentenced to prison for a couple months, which left me and Dmitry without support and a place to live. Fortunately, I heard about Mission Possible’s shelter home for mothers in Chelyabinsk and traveled there. It was an enormous help for me and my son!
When my boyfriend’s sentence was over we returned to our home city to reunite. I don’t know why, but he never showed up. Again, we had nothing and no place to go.
I took the baby and my bags and went to the bus station. There I sat, desperate, not knowing what to do.
“Where are you going?” a stranger asked me.
“Nowhere. I have nobody and nothing,” I replied.
“I know a place for you and the child,” she said.
And then she called Mission Possible’s center in Asbest. I remembered having heard about it when I was in the Chelyabinsk home. This wonderful woman then proceeded to buy us a ticket and escort us to the bus!
* * *
This is how Marina and little Dmitry, who understood nothing about what was going on, came to our center. Marina was confused and tired from all she had been through. Every one of her relationships had been broken. She was depressed and cried often. She smiled only when she was with her child.
Soon after coming, Marina accepted Christ. Now she reads the Bible and participates in our devotional times. Whenever she hears about God the loving Father she cries. She had never experienced a father’s love…
We do all we can to help Marina’s wounds heal, and we encourage her to look to the future with hope and faith in God.
Mission Possible's camp in Transnistria for children with disabilities. Nastya, whose story you read in this issue, is in the front row.
This Christian summer camp is the highlight of the year for many children and their families. You can participate by sending a donation designated for “Transnistria.” Thank you!