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Ukraine Mission Partnership
For the last 12 years, St Andrew’s and All Saints’ churches have made annual mission trips to Mukachevo in the west of the Ukraine.
We started because a member of our congregation saw an advert asking for nurses to go and help out caring for children in an Infection department in a hospital in Beregova (near to Mukachevo). When she got there she found that there was a real health care need on the nearby gypsy camps.
In following this up, she made contact with leaders of the gypsy ‘Church of the Living God’ who really needed some input for the children’s spiritual education. So a mission partnership was set up and a group has beenout each year in October to help in the infection department and to runchildren’s clubs. During our visits, the main thrust was to run the children’s clubs in the afternoon: these are attended by about 150 children. Because of the numbers, we did two shifts! In the evenings, we visited outlying church plants, too, for worship and to run a smaller version of the afternoon club.
Eventually, our work there branched out into caring for the street children that even the Christian gypsies previouslywouldn’t touch: they were given a shower and new clothes bought relatively cheaply in Hungary. You can see in the first picture, taken this year, the queue of children waiting quietly!
Below is a selection the boots that were provided: these are sorely needed because of the climate.
2. Those boots are made for walking
In the third picture, you can see on the left Carlos (Kaché) one of the pastors, who is greatly respected, and some of the helpers. It is highly organised as there are about 30 children to be washed and clothed each morning for a week.
3: Kache checks them in
4: On with the new
5: Chez Etu and Erica
6: It's clean but it needs a cut
7: Getting the knots out
8: Check out those boots
9: Those boots again
10: I think I'll be warm now
11: Going home
12: Don't get those boots dirty
As a result of this initiative, the attitude of the leaders of the church to these children has been transformed and, as they have schooled them and nurtured them, the children themselves have been transformed, too, and their families have been drawn in.
Through our contactswith the Eastern European Outreach in Beregova, some of us have sponsored gypsy children to get them through basic education. We have also delivered English lessons and health education in schools in Beregova.
A further off-shoot of our mission partnershipwas helping to build a new infection department at the local hospital where we had started visiting years before. Our church congregation tithed their giving for our ownchurch extension which was then matched by the local oblast (government region).
In all this, it has been our constant experience that we have received far, far more than we have given, and we hold our brothers and sisters there very dear to our hearts.