НОВОСТИ 4/2017

“Uncle Roumen, What Am I – Bulgarian or Turkish?”

ROUMEN IVANOV, Director of Mission Possible in Bulgaria

This question was asked by Dani, a handsome nine-year-old young man with a broad smile, sparkling olive-colored eyes, and chocolate-brown skin.

Dani was one of the children at Mission Possible’s Christian camp this summer. He joined seventy other children of Bulgarian, Roma, and Turkish descent for five days of playing, singing, and praying at our Dobromirka center. It didn’t bother any of them that they had different mother tongues and traditions. Their common faith made them friends and everything went smoothly.

Dani’s mother was one of the first Roma girls we met as Sunday school teachers twenty years ago. We trained her to become a teacher and she is an excellent one. From the behavior and tidy appearance of her two sons, it can be seen that she is also an excellent mother. Her husband is of Turkish origin.

When Dani, the younger brother, asked me the peculiar question about his nationality, I wasn’t prepared for it. But I looked into his eyes, gently pinched his cheeks, and said firmly and convincingly:

“Dani, you are something more than Bulgarian and Turkish together! You are a Christian! You are a citizen of Heaven and belong to Jesus!”

And that’s not just true for Dani, but for all the children at our camps and soup kitchens and Sunday schools – they are all of a new, heavenly origin!

These children have a new culture, that of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a new kind of relationship between each other.
They are God’s children and can live together without conflict.
They are friends – and brothers and sisters in Christ!

Two friends praying for each other at the children’s summer camp in Bulgaria

A Baby Box for a Family in a Former Concentration Camp

Dilapidated and gloomy, the three-story buildings all look alike. The plaster on the walls is badly deteriorated, the doorways are dark… We were in Pernik at the notorious concentration camp called Kucyan, one of those built for dissidents after the Communist Revolution in Bulgaria in 1944.
 

Those buildings were made available as houses to Roma people; they live there today. But these residents are prisoners. They are in chains of poverty and hopelessness. Those edifices continue to be a haven of hopelessness and suffering decades later.

The pastor of the local Roma church drove ahead of us to one of the buildings. The place was familiar to him because his son’s family lives there.

“My and my son’s way of life changed completely when we became Christians,” the pastor told us.

A big dog was lying in front of the building.

“Don’t be afraid of it. His job is to chase the rats away when they come at night,” said a smiling young man coming out of the doorway. It was the pastor’s son who is a father of four. We were bringing the baby box for his youngest.

We went up a dark shabby staircase to the second floor. The family’s apartment had a corridor and one room with three beds and a table in it. The small home was tidy and colorful. The mother welcomed us, holding the baby.

On one of the beds a little girl was lying in the fetal position. You would not have thought that she was eight years old. Due to infantile paralysis, she cannot move or speak. Only her big eyes told us that she would like to be running and playing like her two older brothers.

The mother smiled when we gave them the Baby Box. The gift was one of love and hope because it demonstrated that people are thinking about her and her baby.

We prayed for everyone and asked God for help and grace for this family who is trying to build their life in the midst of poverty and illness in this former concentration camp. The mother wiped her tears. God is the only source of hope for this family.

Tanya Konyarova praying for the baby, parents, and three older siblings who live in a former concentration camp.
On the bed next to the Baby Box lies the baby’s paralyzed eight-year-old sister.

We also visited the Roma church in Pernik. The pastor’s wife had found that eighteen mothers in the three Roma ghettos in their area needed a Baby Box. Most of those families live in difficult and modest conditions, residing in low-roofed plywood shacks with thin walls and small windows. In cold and humid conditions, children are often sick.

Ten mothers had come to the house of prayer to receive Baby Boxes. Some were there for the first time. Some were well along in their pregnancies, some had newborns, and others had older children with them. The room was filled with children’s voices, and the atmosphere was curious and expectant.

We talked to mothers about how valuable and important their children are. They were thankful for the boxes and prayers. The women went to their homes knowing there is a place where they are understood and where they can receive support and help.

Roumen Ivanov and Tanya Konyarova giving Baby Boxes to mothers in the Roma church in Pernik.

Baby Boxes are an important gift, but they are also an evangelism tool.
Do you want to help?
The cost for one BabyBox is $60. 

You can send your contribution designated to “Baby Box Project.”
Thank you!

“Genuinely Happy!”

The Tragedy of Three Sisters Changed Into a Story of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Our shelter homes are places where children’s and young people’s life stories get a new turn. The story of Nastya, Farida, and Camilla is one of them. When Nastya, the oldest, shared about their hard experiences, it was painful for her to recall. But all these things are now behind them and the girls have a new life. Here’s their story:

Nastya and her younger sisters, Farida (on the left) and Camilla today.

“I ran to the streets to escape my horrible life at home.”

When Nastya’s father died, her mother started to drink. She sank into great immorality and didn’t care for her children. Nastya and her older siblings ran with the street children. One of them ended up in prison.

“I learned to smoke and drink beer. School went very badly for me because I was absent so often.”

“There were drinking parties and fights in our home all the time. It was terrible. My mother’s new husband and drinking companions kicked and beat her before my very eyes! When I turned ten years old my stepfather began to abuse me and said he would kill me and my mom if we told anyone. I was afraid, so I didn’t tell…”

The police found the girls on the tracks

“Two more girls were born to my mother: Farida and Camilla. They have different fathers and my sisters know nothing about them. I fell in love with my lovely little sisters. Sadly, their lives were also rough. Once the police rescued them as they were walking on the railroad tracks, crying for help. Mom was lying drunk on the rails…”

When the police needed to come to the sisters’ aid a second time, they brought them to Mission Possible’s shelter home. The girls were miserable with lice and hunger.

After a few days, Andrey and Natasha, the shelter home’s leaders, found Nastya and invited her to visit her sisters. Coming to the shelter home completely changed the lives of the three girls!

“God, would You give me a normal life for one week?”

“I had always believed in God, although I knew almost nothing about Him. I thought that something good must exist. I looked into the sky and said, ‘Hey, God!’ Before we arrived at the shelter I had prayed, ‘God, would You give me a normal life for just one week?’ I didn’t even know what normal life was, but when I got to the shelter, I realized this was it!”

“My sisters and I had never had any relationship with our fathers. At the shelter home Uncle Andrey became like a father to us. When he welcomed me, I felt something new, warm, and safe.”

“Please promise you won’t ever give us away,” the younger sisters pleaded with Aunt Natasha. Their custody issues were arranged so they could stay at the shelter home. They also began attending Sunday school and were acquainted with the Heavenly Father.

Attending church and art courses

The sisters are artistically talented, and they have had opportunity to develop their skills. Nastya took singing lessons. Camilla takes ballet classes and has already participated in real performances. Farida is very good at drawing and design and attends art school.

A Christian youth conference was a spiritual turning point for Nastya. “There I really met God, and my inner life changed. God’s presence in my life became real and important.”

A new family is created!

Nastya joined the church’s worship team, and that’s where she met Dmitry. A year later we celebrated their wedding!

The beautiful couple now serves together on the worship team. They have begun studies at the university and are employed. They went to training to become foster parents and received custody of Farida and Camilla.

The one week of normal life that Nastya prayed for became a whole new life! Now twenty-two years old, she is actively involved at the shelter home and helps children who are in situations that she can personally relate to.

Thank you for your support that has enabled us to impact the lives of these sisters and many others in the shelter homes!

“It was as if my eyes had opened!”

Lyuda, 14 years old, found a new direction for her life at summer camp

Mission Possible held its summer camps again this year. Hundreds of children and teens from the various places MP works were given an opportunity to spend one week together to hear the gospel.

In the Ukraine, several camps were organized in the villages where our team holds regular Bible clubs for children. There was also a large youth camp with participants coming from many different villages. Some kids participated in these camps for the first time, but everyone had one thing in common: they came from very difficult living situations.

Lyuda was one of them. She comes from a family broken by alcoholism. Her mother left the family when Lyuda was very young. She later took her little girl in but couldn’t take care of her. During that period Lyuda didn’t go to school. Her mother abandoned her a second time when she was ten. Lyuda went to her father, but that was short-lived because he was called to military service. Lyuda went to stay with her aunt, but she also was an alcoholic and the living conditions were terrible.

Lyuda is a teenager now, and along with some of her peers, she accepted Jesus at camp. There were discussions every day about fundamental issues of life, and the intent of the camps was to clearly present the gospel.

“Now I understand who Jesus is and why He came to the world!
It was as if my eyes had opened! If I had known this before I would have lived differently,” Lyuda said.

The verse in the Bible that especially touched her was Psalm 27:10: 
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”
 

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