NEWSLETTER issue 5/2017

“People in Europe are no longer interested in the gospel!” Can it be?

– Mission Possible’s president’s greetings from Albania

 

”Now there is no revival!”

This has been said about the West, and now it said also about Eastern Europe. After the fall of Communism, it was easy to assemble large audiences to hear the gospel. But now many say churches are experiencing a “time of stagnation.” Instead of considering God and the Bible, people are consumed with raising their standard of living.

I just visited Albania, a Muslim-majority country where Mission Possible began ministry twenty-five years ago when the country opened up. Even there, people don’t come to a church service anymore by simple announcement. A different approach is needed.

People, both young and old, are interested in the gospel.
But they must be led to the gospel in a natural way related to their practical needs.

Day club, family course, art class, football, public library...

The focus of our work in Albania is in the neighborhood of Bathore near Tirana, a place with many needs. That is where our Hope Center is located. Our team uses different means and looks for new ideas to create contact with the residents, like organizing life skills classes and special events.

The courses deal with subjects that genuinely benefit the people and community, such as family life, health, and computers. 

While being instructed, participants get to know the Christian worldview and hear the gospel, many of them for the first time.

In the photos: Hope Center’s lawn was packed when our team organized an evangelical concert, which included a performance by the youth group. People are familiar with the center because various courses, the children’s club, and the public library are held there.

Young people come to the center and to the church

Hope Center is full of children and teenagers. I was delighted with their enthusiasm. Leaders organize the youth and coordinate various activities. The center provides recreation, like football, for these children from poor families.

“I teach the boys values and principles of good friendship and fair play, and I use these gatherings to teach about faith,” said our youth worker.

Klevis made his decision!

Klevis is a teenager who was drawn to Hope Center by our art class. Upon completion of the course, he wanted to share his thoughts about faith and God with us. He had been contemplating the decision to follow Jesus.

“Tell me what to do: to believe in Jesus and go against my whole family, or to be on good terms with my family and not believe in Jesus? It is such a difficult decision for me to make!”

Klevis began attending our youth activities. In one of our recent meetings (see the picture below), he shared the following in front of the youth group:

“I believe in Jesus! I pray to Him, and I have read from my Bible each evening for a month now.”

Klevis made his decision!

Love and practical help for those who are forgotten

Our team provides help for needy and troubled families who have struggled to finance groceries and clothing, repair their homes, and cover the costs of high medical expenses.

When people understand that they are important to someone and are genuinely loved, their next response is to ask why we do these things for them. It is easy to answer this question, and then they want to hear more.

When help and the gospel are shared people come to believe
– all the time and everywhere.

 

 


“Baby Box” Gains New Meaning in Russia

 

 

Mission Possible’s Baby Box project has now begun in Russia! As in Bulgaria, it includes more than just the package.

In Russia the term “baby box” (”бэби бокс”) has been used to describe a hatch in the outside wall of a hospital or other building into which a mother can anonymously leave her newborn baby. But now this term refers to something completely contrary: a resource to help a mother keep her baby!

Lyuba, the leader of Mission Possible’s work in Krasnoyarsk (pictured on the left), serves as a shelter home mother and organizes a Christian day club for poor children. In addition to this she ministers to expecting mothers with the hope they will not abort or abandon their babies. Lyuba began a Baby Box program in Russia to support these mothers.

“I went to the hospital and talked with a woman who had just given birth,” says Lyuba. “She had decided to give away the baby when she found out she was pregnant. ‘But how could she?’” I thought. “A precious little baby is born, but the mother doesn’t want her?

“I talked more with this woman. Then I went back to our shelter home and prepared a Baby Box with clothes, blankets, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, and the other things a mother and baby need, hoping and believing that I would be able to give it to this mother.

“And a miracle took place! During the weekend the mother’s thoughts changed; her heart softened toward this little person and she decided to keep her child! One more baby who is not abandoned and won’t spend her childhood in an orphanage. We will continue to take care of this mother and baby.

In the photo: Lyuba assembling a Baby Box. On the wall of the shelter home there are many pictures of children rescued from the street. Lyuba and her husband have several foster children.

“It was particularly touching for me to prepare a Baby Box for a seventeen-year-old mother. Her son was born one month early. She herself grew up in an orphanage and has no close family members. But now my team and I have become the friends and support she needs, and we’ll help her care for and raise her son. I feel great joy and happiness when taking care of them!”

 Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

In the photo: This seventeen-year-old mother received a Baby Box and found Lyuba to be a much-needed mentor.

This is what “baby box” has meant in Russia:

The sad meaning of “baby box” (“бэби бокс”) is a hatch where a mother places a baby she wants to abandon anonymously. On the other side of the hatch there is a heated or air conditioned space with a baby bed. The hatch is locked automatically after thirty seconds and an alarm alerts the personnel on the other side. The baby is given to childcare authorities. There is no accurate information available on how many such hatches there are and how many children have been left in them.

Baby boxes have also been called “windows of life” or “cradles of salvation,” because they may save a baby’s life. However, these hatches have been criticized because this practice inhibits the child from tracing his or her parents.

A baby box on the wall of St. Innocentius Church in Yekaterinburg (photo: Wikipedia)

 

A Message in a Bottle Led Vadim and Tanya to Become Shelter Home Leaders and Foster Parents

Vadim and Tanya Taran have been working in St. Petersburg, Russia, for fifteen years to rescue and help children in crisis. Together with the shelter home team, they have impacted the lives of hundreds of children and families. Their own family includes four foster sons and a foster daughter.

Vadim and Tanya share part of their story:

– When we came to St. Petersburg in 2002, we thought we would stay for a year. Our responsibility was to organize Mission Possible’s Bible study program. After that we were at a crossroads and wondered what to do. There were opportunities to join Mission Possible’s street patrol and shelter home work.

– We sought God’s guidance through prayer and fasting. On the fourth day as we were walking along the river, we saw a bottle on the shore that was closed with a cork, and inside there was a greenish rolled up piece of paper, just like in pirate stories. Curious, we opened the bottle. In the letter a young girl poured out her heart:

”I don't know why I live.
Nobody loves me.
I have no friends.
I don't know how to continue.”

– I was convinced this was God’s answer for me and my wife. This is how we became parents at the shelter home.

We didn’t have children of our own, but we were able to adopt foster children from the shelter home into our family.

– In addition to the emergency home in the city’s center, Mission Possible opened another home in the city’s outskirts to house children who can stay long-term. We renovated it and added one more story. It has become a place where youth can gather.

– The greatest challenge for parents is “standing in the gap” for our children. When they came to us they were still young, but now they are fifteen and sixteen years old. It is now most important that they keep their faith and stand firm every day.

– The most difficult thing and our greatest sorrow during this time was when one of our foster children decided to leave when he was fifteen. His life is not what we hoped it would be and is not good for him.

Due to new laws, Mission Possible’s emergency home in the city’s center is no longer permitted to house only children, so it now serves as a shelter home for mothers and their children. This now gives us an opportunity to impact the lives of both!

Vadim and Tanya have been able to meet the longings of many children, whose cries echo that of the girl who wrote the message in the bottle. This is evidenced by the words of children they’ve raised:

“I want to thank them for taking us into their family. They didn’t leave us alone. We feel we are important and worthy. They help and support us in different problems.” Kolya

“The authorities took me into custody and told me there was a place for me at Mission Possible’s shelter home. I remember the moment when my future mom Tanya came for me. And at the shelter home I met Vadim for the first time. I liked them right away.” Nikita

“We go to the church together. In the evenings we read, talk about different things, and share about the day.” Younger Nikita
“Every night we all meet at home, spend time together, read the Bible, and pray for various things.” Dasha

“I am grateful that they came into my life. They have guided me to make the right choices and instruct me in everything. I am grateful to them for their love. It is difficult to describe all the love that I have experienced here.” Vlad

In the photo: Tanya with the mothers and children in the St. Petersburg emergency home

No longer abandoned!
More than two hundred children and young people
live in Mission Possible’s shelter homes every year.
Thank you for your help that makes this possible!


Bible clubs, camps, and a program for the disabled -
Reaching out to children and families in Transnistria

Transnistria is a small territory between Moldova and the Ukraine. Several years ago Mission Possible and a group of volunteers launched a village evangelism program for children there. Additionally, we run children’s summer camps and a year-round program including camps for disabled children and their parents.

There are dozens of volunteers who help conduct the weekly Bible clubs throughout ten villages. They also arrange the summer youth camps. Each camp has more than one hundred participants and provides a variety of activities and Christian programs. Svetlana, the coordinator of the camps, sees them as an excellent opportunity to share the gospel and God’s love to the families.

“The camp for disabled children and youth is especially challenging. But we are inspired by the smiles on their faces! This camp is equally important for the parents who accompany the children and carry the burden of taking care of them every day under difficult circumstances. Here they can meet other parents, rest, and be encouraged. We pray that we would be a blessing to them and lead them to faith in Christ Jesus.

“During this summer’s camp I was talking with one mother at the craft tables. She had attended last year, too. We could hear the children singing in another room and she began to sing along. Then she turned to me and said, smiling, ‘It is so good to be here. I forget about all my troubles and I so love these children’s songs. I keep singing them at home.’”

Svetlana continues, “Her child became handicapped because the doctors made a mistake. But instead of becoming bitter at God she has turned to Him for help and sings these joyful songs about God’s love. For me, this is a great testimony and encouragement. We believe that this ministry will bear a lot of fruit.”

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