International Ministries

Myers, Terry and Tom - International Ministries The latest from Terry and Tom Myers https://internationalministries.org/teams/82-myers-terry-and-tom.rss Coffee Shop News <p>For several years now I have had a vision to open a coffee shop in the new building of First Baptist Church of Sofia. The idea is that the coffee shop will serve as a connection to the local community, a meeting place for the church community and eventually a training ground for girls leaving prostitution and other at-risk individuals.&nbsp;</p><p>Prior to our last time back in Colorado, I began to lay the ground work for this vision, first by confirming with the church that this was a shared vision, and then by working on a business plan with a Bulgarian businessman. As we worked on the business plan we waited for completion of the building which would eventually house the coffee shop.&nbsp;</p><p>While I could not directly work on the coffee shop while on home service, I was able to continue building a foundation by attending barista training and doing research into the necessary equipment. With our return to Bulgaria in August of 2015 and the opening of the building in September of that same year, I was looking forward to seeing quick progress toward the opening of the coffee shop.&nbsp;</p><p>Here we are a year plus later and the coffee shop is still not open. The longest delay was a result of the church needing to work out the final ownership of the building and making sure all the necessary paperwork was in proper order. Getting the basic business framework in place took most of the summer, but we do finally have a name—COFFEEOLOGY! &nbsp;</p><p>Once the rental contract was signed we hired an architect to help with the design of the space and to work on getting all the necessary documents through the various players, including the electrical company, the water company and eventually through the regional government. Each of these steps takes time; often more time than I think is necessary, so progress is slow.&nbsp;</p><p>One advantage to the slow pace of progress on the coffee shop is that it has allowed me more time to find the necessary suppliers. I have an espresso machine selected which will be ordered once we are a bit further along. I have also found a local roaster who will supply the coffee beans as we get started (future plans still include our own roaster, but one step at a time!). We are still looking for someone to supply the pastries, cakes, sandwiches and other items which will be available. I have several leads on potential suppliers and will be making a final determination down the road.&nbsp;</p><p>My original plans had us opening the coffee shop this year, but with the slow progress the opening will not happen until sometime early 2017. Once we have more than an empty space I will share pictures of the progress toward completion. Please continue to pray for all that needs to happen for this vision to become a reality.&nbsp;</p><p>Some may raise the question of why a missionary is working to open a coffee shop as part of their ministry. The vision for Coffeeology is to be more than an ordinary coffee shop.&nbsp;</p><p><ul><li>Coffeeology will be run as a Business as Mission, with a Quadruple Bottom Line in mind.<br></li></ul></p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Profit (Financial)</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Social</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Environmental</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Future-oriented (Sustainability)<br></p><p><ul><li>Coffeeology will be a bridge between the community and the faith community of Sofia Baptist Church.<br></li><li>Coffeeology will be a place for job-training for girls coming out of prostitution and for at-risk youths looking to start their employment careers.<br></li><li>Coffeeology will support the ministries of Sofia Baptist Church and the Baptist Union of Bulgaria.<br></li></ul></p><p>As we continue to look for ways to engage the larger community in Bulgaria while supporting local ministries and creating new ministries, it is our hope and prayer that Coffeeology will be a foundational piece of this process.&nbsp;</p><p>Please pray for:&nbsp;</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the additional paperwork that must be completed for the coffee shop.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the design and construction of the coffee shop space.</p><div><br></div> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 01:28:40 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/63924-coffee-shop-news https://internationalministries.org/read/63924-coffee-shop-news Growing Up <p>The Literacy Program at Sofia Baptist Church got off to a great start in mid-September, with 15 children coming the first day. Since then, between eight and 15 participants have been coming regularly, with the youngest being five years old, and the oldest 16. The five-year-old is our newest student. The others have been attending for several years now, many since they were five or six, but are now “tweens” or teenagers. This makes for a different dynamic in our group this year. They are no longer the sweet little kids of a few years ago, but are acting more like teenagers and the behaviors that age brings with it! On the other hand, we can tell they have made progress in their learning and literacy skills over the years, and this is our desired result. </p><p>Since Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Bulgaria, I brought some traditional Thanksgiving foods to class for the kids and teachers to try on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and apple and pecan pie were on the menu. Some of the children tried everything and liked it; others didn’t touch it! However, the teachers and church staff who were invited were delighted to try some traditional American foods, and liked everything! We gathered in a circle before eating to pray, and each child said one thing they were thankful for—the Literacy Program, its teachers and the hosting church, their families, for healing from sickness, for food and a home, for friends. It was humbling to hear each one of these Roma children say aloud what they are thankful for, and it made them stop to think about the good things in their lives when oftentimes life is so hard for them.<br></p><p>The Literacy Program recently got a donation of ten refurbished laptops from the local international school, the Anglo-American School of Sofia (where our two boys went to school). What a wonderful surprise and a blessed gift! One of the church staff is making us some special computer tables where the laptops can be locked in a drawer after each use. The tables match the cubbies, shelves and other furnishings already in the room. We will soon get them all hooked up and ready for the students to use for learning games and activities. Two of the laptops were given to a small church in Northern Bulgaria for use in their literacy program for Roma children in that area. Please pray with us that God will bless the use of these new devices and that the children will learn new skills that will benefit them in the future.<br></p><p><i>Please pray...<br></i></p><p><i>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the children who are attending the Literacy Program.</i></p><p><i>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>That as the children grow they will continue to attend the Literacy Program and work toward a better life for themselves.</i></p><p><i>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the children's Christmas Program that will be taking place at Sofia Baptist Church on December 18.</i></p> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 01:08:30 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/63919-growing-up https://internationalministries.org/read/63919-growing-up The Story of V <p>Over the years I have shared numerous stories about V, a young woman who has been coming to Sofia Baptist Church since she was a small child. &nbsp;Although she did not go to school, she participated in the literacy program at the church for many years, learning some basic literacy skills. &nbsp;She came regularly to Sunday worship, and she was baptized in the church a few years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>While still a teenager, she “married” (a rather loose, non-binding term in her culture) and had two children, a girl, now six, and a boy who is three years old. &nbsp;Her husband is in and out of jail, and is not involved in their lives. &nbsp;After a long, unexplained absence in church, she showed up again one Sunday a few weeks ago. &nbsp;She told me she had been in England for some months as a “mail order bride” (or “e-mail order bride”, best as I can describe it). &nbsp;She had gone there to meet a man who had paid for her ticket, get to know him and decide if she wanted to stay with him. She decided she did not, so she returned to Bulgaria. &nbsp;After this shocking news, she continued to tell me that she was leaving the following week to go work on the island of Cypress. &nbsp;A “friend” promised her that she could work in a restaurant there and make 800 euros per month, a vast fortune for V. &nbsp;This sounded too good to be true to me, and I warned her about the huge possibility that this was a trap to get her there to work in prostitution as many Bulgarian women are trafficked to Cyprus, but she insisted it would not be. &nbsp;When she told me the following week that the “friend” had arranged and paid for her ticket to Cypress, I was pretty sure what she’d be getting herself into. &nbsp;I’ve not heard a word from her on Facebook since she left, which is another ominous sign. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>She had basically abandoned her two children—the girl to her former mother-in-law who talked of selling the girl when she was first born, and her son to her sister who has no job and already has many children to care for in the Roma ghetto—so that she could go to both England and Cypress unencumbered. &nbsp;V's decision to go to Cypress will change her life, and I fear not for the better. &nbsp;It will also have a huge impact on her children’s lives, whom she may or may not ever see again. This is the kind of situation that makes me wonder what I should have said or done differently to keep her from going, and a feeling of helplessness remains. &nbsp;Please pray for V's safety, and if she is trapped in the web of human trafficking, that she will realize it and be able to escape. &nbsp;Pray for the safety of her two children, and that they may someday be reunited with their mother. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;<br></p> Mon, 05 Sep 2016 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/62981-the-story-of-v https://internationalministries.org/read/62981-the-story-of-v Rejoice With Us <h1 style="text-align: center;">REJOICE WITH US!</h1><p>Terry works in combating human trafficking with a group of committed believers-- Bulgarian, American, Australian—and we call ourselves Daughters of Bulgaria.&nbsp;</p><p>Just last month, after five years of praying, learning, networking, researching, and lots of sweat and tears, Daughters of Bulgaria officially opened the door to our long-term recovery program called The Rose Garden Project. &nbsp;The Rose Garden Project (RGP) is designed to meet the specific recovery needs of sexually exploited/trafficked women. &nbsp;These women may come from within Bulgaria, or they may be wanting to return home after working in Western Europe or elsewhere around the world. &nbsp;RGP will not only be a residential program, but will also include a Day Program with curriculum designed to meet each participant’s specific recovery needs. &nbsp;RGP will provide ongoing support with increasing levels of independence woven in for up to seven years. &nbsp;RGP offers services not only to the women, but also care and programming for their children while the moms participate in the Day Program. &nbsp;RGP provides a home-like environment where live-in volunteers share their lives with the participants as if they were their own family members.&nbsp;</p><p>As our Daughters of Bulgaria team began praying five years ago about how to reach out to our Bulgarian “daughters” who were being sexually exploited, we began an outreach ministry. &nbsp;That ministry has grown and changed over the past five years, but is still a vital part of what we do. &nbsp;Connecting with the women face-to-face and building relationships and trust with them is key to our entire ministry. &nbsp;Things have changed on the road where we have gone to meet the women over the past five years, the Ring Road. The police have cracked down and many of the women we have met there for so long are no longer there. &nbsp;This is both good and bad! &nbsp;We pray that perhaps they are no longer working on the streets, but we fear that they are just working elsewhere, perhaps even being trafficked outside of Bulgaria, where we cannot reach out to them each week. &nbsp;We are trying other options in where we go for outreach, and a couple of them have even returned to the old road, but not all of them. &nbsp;We miss seeing each of them! &nbsp;We find outreach is ever-changing, and this can become a major stressor for us. &nbsp;Pray that we will adapt to each situation and that God will show us exactly where He wants us to be and who He wants us to meet each week on the road. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Our outreach ministry, and now most recently, the Rose Garden Project, are the results of our prayers asking God to show us how we could help build a bridge from brokenness to wholeness for our Daughters. &nbsp;God continues to open doors and show our Daughters of Bulgaria team how we can be planks in that bridge; how we can make a difference in the lives of these precious women should they choose to cross that bridge into freedom.</p><p><br></p><h2><span style="font-weight: normal;">Spring 2016 Matching Gift Campaign</span></h2><p>Are you looking for a way to make a greater impact with your giving? Have you been considering becoming a supporter of our ministry through a financial gift? You can make both these happen now. Starting April 15th, International Ministries will offer donors a chance to have their gifts doubled! This is a great opportunity to have your gift make an even greater impact. It is also a great time to consider committing to support us on an ongoing basis.</p><p>&nbsp;For those of you already supporting us on an ongoing basis--don’t fret because you, too, can take advantage of this opportunity! While your recurring gifts cannot be matched, any additional over-and-above gifts given during this time will be matched.</p><p>&nbsp;Here are the points you need to know:</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>This opportunity runs from April 15, 2016 to June 15, 2016 or until all the matching funds are used.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>If a gift is mailed, it cannot be postmarked prior to April 15, 2016</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Gifts will be matched at 100% with no minimum or maximum amount.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Recurring gifts will not be matched, so these must be over-and-above gifts for those already signed up to give recurring gifts.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>If you are a new donor, you can give a one-time gift which will be matched and then decide to continue with a recurring gift.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Gifts can be made by mailing a check to International Ministries, making a gift on-line by credit card, or making a gift by phone (1-800-222-3872, ext. 2323) with a credit card.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For more information or to donate online visit http://www.internationalministries.org&nbsp;</p><p><b>Please note that however a gift is given, it must be clearly noted that the gift is part of the matching gift opportunity for the support of Tom and Terry Myers.</b></p><p><br></p><h3><i>Prayer requests:</i>&nbsp;</h3><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Pray for our dear N as she prepares to move into the home and become the “house mom” for the women God will be sending us. &nbsp;She’s understandably a little concerned about how all this will go!</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Pray for the girls who will eventually come to the new home. May it be a place of safety and security for them as they put their lives on the right track.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Pray for the outreach team as they search for ways to maintain the relationships with the girls on the road while also following God's leading in how this ministry will grow and change.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Pray for Tom as he continues to navigate all the necessary steps for the opening of the coffee shop.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Pray for the children attending the literacy classes each week.</p><p>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>The team at the literacy program has been working with one of the moms to help her pass the necessary tests to get her 8th grade diploma. This family, a single mom and three children, is currently homeless and has been living in a government shelter. The shelter promised that the family could live there for several months, and that they would help the mother find work, but two weeks ago the family was told they had to leave by the following day. With help from the church, another private shelter was found where she and the children are currently staying, but this is only a temporary place. Please pray for M to find a way to finish her education and pass her tests, find gainful employment, and an affordable place to live. Pray also for those in the church and the new shelter who are working hard to help M, despite governmental rules and regulations which seem to be working against her, keeping her from being able to settle into a real home and routine that the children so badly need. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div><br></div> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 21:04:28 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/61792-rejoice-with-us https://internationalministries.org/read/61792-rejoice-with-us What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">A dentist, a truck driver, a police officer were some of the answers the children in Sofia Baptist Church’s literacy program gave when asked this question by a young man who was visiting the program recently.&nbsp; The young man shared with them his testimony, and that, although he was finally able to finish school and have a good profession and income in spite of many challenges, his very first “profession” is that of being a Christian and living out Godly principles every day, in both his workplace and in his family.</span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Children have dreams for their future. The Roma children in the literacy program have dreams, but it is often hard for them to see beyond today, beyond the poverty they have grown up in and the unfulfilled dreams their parents must once have had.&nbsp; Parents who now sweep streets, are trash collectors or do other manual labor for very low pay, and dig in dumpsters for food.&nbsp;&nbsp; It’s hard for them to see that in order to become any of the professions they listed above, they will need to have at least high school diploma.&nbsp; But school is hard when you are 10 or 12 years old and can barely read or write, and don’t have the proper clothes to attend school anyway.&nbsp; The others in the class make fun of you and the teachers may pick on you, and with no encouragement from home, you will probably drop out of school.&nbsp; What happens to the dreams of what you want to become as an adult then?</span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The literacy program at Sofia Baptist Church was begun 12 years ago to help Roma children try to gain the skills they need to stay in school until graduation, and to believe in themselves and their dreams.&nbsp; They need to be guided, step by step, to know what they need to do in order to realize their dreams—learn to read, write and do math, stay in school (even when it’s hard), persevere in the face of discrimination. &nbsp;For the girls, it’s even harder as their culture expects them to get married and start having children as young as 12 years old. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Over the years of its existence, the literacy program has had dozens of children come in and out.&nbsp; And after meeting for so many years at the old building of Sofia Baptist Church, the literacy program moved in November to the church’s new ministry center.&nbsp; What an exciting time for the children!&nbsp; It was decided that the program would move into the building that sits behind the church, intended to be a soup kitchen for the homeless, but a program that has not yet started (it will in the future, however!).&nbsp; The church staff was great to help get everything set up and running.&nbsp; It looks like a real classroom!&nbsp; The kids were super excited to have a brand new learning center, big rooms--a place to call their own. New furniture and supplies have been purchased.&nbsp; Each child has their own plastic “basket” in which to put their books and other supplies.&nbsp; They like having something to call their own, and are taking great care to get all their things put away after each lesson.&nbsp; Hot, rather than only cold, water comes out of the sink faucets where they can wash their hands and faces till the water runs clean.&nbsp; A beautiful new enclosed shower has been installed in the bathroom where the children can bathe and shampoo their hair. There’s still more to get, such as large whiteboards, some bookshelves and perhaps in the not-so-distant future, a couple of computer stations where the kids can play learning games. But it’s a good start, and we are blessed to have our very own place to learn and have fun together!&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">One day in November, as Terry was telling the children about American Thanksgiving, they were asked what they were thankful for.&nbsp; Some of the answers included:<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Their families—mom, dad and siblings.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That they have a home, and do not have to live on the streets as do some of their friends and families.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That a sibling, parent or grandparent who was sick is now well.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That they were protected from an accident that could have been much worse. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That they have clothes to wear.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">For the new church and their new place to come to learn.</span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">We are thankful for each of YOU!&nbsp; Many of you give to the White Cross or STEP programs which give us grants each year that fund the literacy program.&nbsp; It is humbling to know so many of you care about these children and their futures. THANK YOU for helping us help them into the bright future God has planned for them!&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><br></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><i>Prayer requests:<o:p></o:p></i></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><i>--For the children coming to the literacy program, that they will go to school, remain in school and be able to realize their dreams.<o:p></o:p></i></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><i>--For the coffee shop, as there continue to be other issues that must be dealt with before we can even start the process. This has taken much longer than expected and it is frustrating not being able to get started.<o:p></o:p></i></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><i>--For our health as the cold bug seems to keep hanging around.<o:p></o:p></i></span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"> </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><i>--For the girls working on the road, that they will desire for something better and make the decision to leave their current life.&nbsp;</i><o:p></o:p></span></p> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/61234-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up- https://internationalministries.org/read/61234-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up- Only the Beginning <p>In September of 2004 Sofia Baptist Church broke ground on a building that would serve as a new worship space and ministry center. Their vision was, and still is, to be actively involved in their community seven days a week.</p><p>Fast forward eleven years.</p><p>September 18-20, 2015, celebrations were held for the official opening of the building with over 200 guests and church members in attendance. The celebrations included a night of Bulgarian music, a day of prayer in each of the rooms and for each of the ministries which will eventually be housed in the building, and a wonderful worship service. The Sunday worship service started with a gathering in the old building and a commemoration of all that had happened in that space. Worship services, weddings, marriages, funerals, baptisms and more. Every Sunday and Wednesday since 1923 a worship service was held in this building, even during the days of communism. After a time of thanksgiving and prayer for all God has accomplished since the church started in 1888, the participants walked down the block to the new building.</p><p>The worship service in the new building was a grand occasion of giving thanks to all those who helped with making this vision become a reality. But more than giving thanks to individuals, it was a time of giving thanks to God for His blessings and miracles that were evident throughout the building process. While it was a time to celebrate this new building it was by no means a celebration of the end of something, rather it was a celebration of what is yet to come. The completion of the building is just the first phase of the vision of Sofia Baptist Church; the next phases are the implementation of the ministries which will reach out to the community seven days a week. The opportunity to minister to and in the community are the real vision. The building is only one of the instruments which will be used.</p><p>We were blessed to celebrate with the church in 2004 as they broke ground, and again in 2015 when they celebrated the opening. To those of you who have prayed for and supported this endeavor, THANK YOU! We look forward to seeing, and being a part of, what God has planned for His church in Sofia and throughout Bulgaria.</p><p><br></p><p><i>We would like to take this opportunity to thank each church and individual who gave gifts to help with the purchase of a vehicle. We believe we have found something that will work well for us in the coming years. A young Christian man helped us through the process and went to Germany to find the vehicle and bring it back to Bulgaria. For those who are interested—it is a SEAT Alhambra.<br></i></p><p><br></p><p><b>Prayer Requests:</b></p><p><b>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the current ministries of Sofia Baptist Church, and those still in the planning stages.</b></p><p><b>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the team visiting the girls on the street. There are a lot of issues presenting themselves and the spiritual attacks are becoming more pronounced.</b></p><p><b>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For the Christmas outreach to the girls, which will take place on December 20th.</b></p><p><b>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>There are a few girls talking about leaving the streets. Please pray that they will have the courage to do so and that we will be able to provide the care they need.</b></p><p><b>•<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>For AJ and Nathan as they travel in December to come visit.</b></p><p><br></p><p><br></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/60421-only-the-beginning- https://internationalministries.org/read/60421-only-the-beginning- Back in Bulgaria <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; line-height:107%;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif">It hardly seems possible that a year has passed and we are now back in Bulgaria trying to get settled. &nbsp;Our year based in Colorado was a wonderful time seeing family, friends and visiting our many supporters around the country. For those we were unable to connect with, we still continue to keep you in our prayers and will try our best to see you next time we are back.<br> <br> As we shared stories of our ministry during the year we often spoke of the new church and ministry center being built by Sofia Baptist Church. After being back and seeing the progress all we can say is “WOW”! The building is beautiful and nearly ready. Plans are underway for an official grand opening on September 20<sup>th</sup>. There will be activities all weekend with many guests coming from around the world to celebrate the hard work that has been put in to making this dream a reality. Official permission has been received to occupy the building, so now the work continues to finish up some of the details. There is also a great need for help furnishing the building—chairs for the sanctuary and class rooms, tables, cabinets and many other items. Please pray that the funding for this part of the project will come soon, so all can go without a hitch as they celebrate what God has done, and is continuing to do, through Sofia Baptist Church.<br> <br> The first room we saw when we visited the new building is the space where the coffee shop will one day open. There is still a lot of work to do to make this dream a reality, but just seeing the room and the potential was exciting. As we get settled in, and after the grand opening, Tom will begin to lay the foundation for the coffee shop—creating the business and getting started on the necessary permits.<br> <br> The literacy program had another successful year and they are looking forward to getting started again in September. The plans now are to start a week earlier than usual because they want the children to perform a song or two for the opening ceremonies. Starting early will give them more time for rehearsals. There is also serious consideration being given to expanding the literacy program to five days per week. This would allow for more consistent contact with the children, which will translate into more progress being made.&nbsp; Please pray as the church considers this move as it will involve hiring and salary support for a full-time director.<br> <br> We have had the opportunity to meet with the team that goes on outreach and get an update on all that has happened during the year. A couple of exciting things have taken place during the year. Once a month the team now drives to the town where many of the girls come from and does an outreach on the highway there. This has allowed them to better understand some of the underlining issues facing the girls. The other big news is that the team is now working with one woman who has decided to come off the streets. She is older than many of the others and has been on the streets for many years. The team is walking with her through the process providing support and training. She is coming each day and participating in a Bible study and then working on various types of jewelry and hand work. It is exciting to see the progress she has made and we ask that you pray for her as she works through the many challenges she faces.<br> <br> Transitions are always a challenge, but this one seems to be an even bigger one. After 12+ years in the same house, we moved out last year before our return to Colorado and now find ourselves moving into a new apartment in Sofia. We are thankful that we've found a new home and the rental agreement will soon be signed (pictures later). The other major challenge is adjusting to life with both boys on another continent. They were both away at college last year, but close enough that we saw them on a regular basis so the empty nest did not seem too extreme. Now, however, the distance is greater and our connection with them will be electronic. We are so thankful for technology!<br> &nbsp;<br> Prayer requests:<o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><ul style="margin-top:0in" type="circle"> <li class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;line-height:107%; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif">For our transition as we get settled, especially our adjustment to an empty nest.<o:p></o:p></span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;line-height:107%; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif">For A.J. and Nathan as they begin their new school years.<o:p></o:p></span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;line-height:107%; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif">Sofia Baptist Church as they prepare for the opening of the new ministry center.<o:p></o:p></span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;line-height:107%; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif">The right&nbsp;car for us, and all the necessary funds to purchase one.</span></li></ul> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 04:05:49 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/59626-back-in-bulgaria https://internationalministries.org/read/59626-back-in-bulgaria Keeping Easter <h4>As we look out the window here in Colorado, the sunny days have given way to the clouds and rain. How often do we do the same? We celebrate the resurrection of our Savior on Easter morning, and by mid-week all the worries we pushed out leading up to Easter are slowly creeping back into our lives. How do we, as followers of the resurrected Christ, keep that feeling of joy we experience on Easter fresh each of our days? The purpose of this newsletter is not to provide answers--there are many others, with better credentials, who have taken on this issue. Rather, this is written more as a reminder to us to not let the stress and worries of our lives overtake the joy we have in the risen Savior.</h4><h4>We have been blessed during the past few weeks to have had a break from travel and speaking engagements that usually take most of our time. We were very happy that both our boys had the same spring break, so we got to travel and spend time with them. Following this, we had two weeks of worshiping without speaking as we celebrated Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the wonderful celebration of Easter. It was a refreshing time. NOW...</h4><h4>Easter is over. The joy of the day has the potential to fade as our schedule takes off once again. Our Sundays are full, and each week means a car or plane trip somewhere else. Colorado. Utah. Pennsylvania. Minnesota. Kansas. Worship services. Evening programs. Conferences. Time spent with friends and supporters. All this while thinking about and planning our return to Bulgaria.</h4><h4>Our gaze turns outside again and the sun is trying to peek through the clouds.&nbsp; The risen Son is speaking words of joy through the extraordinary and the everyday events of our lives. The tomb is empty! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! May these be the words we speak each day.</h4><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>Are you looking for a way to make a greater impact with your giving? Have you been considering becoming a supporter of our ministry through a financial gift? You can make both these happen now. Starting April 15<sup>th</sup>, International Ministries will offer donors a chance to have their gifts doubled. This is a great opportunity to have your gift make an even greater impact. It is also a great time to consider committing to support us on an ongoing basis. <o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p>For those of you already supporting us on an ongoing basis--don’t fret because you, too, can take advantage of this opportunity. While your recurring gifts cannot be matched, any additional over-and-above gifts given during this time will be matched.</i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i><o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p>Here are the points you need to remember:</i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><ul><li><i><span style="text-indent: -0.25in; font-family: Symbol;"><span style="font-stretch: normal; font-size: 7pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span></span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">This opportunity runs from April 15 to June 15, 2015 or until all the matching funds are used. Gifts will be matched at 100% with no minimum or maximum amount.</span><br></i></li><li><i><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">Recurring gifts will not be matched, so these must be over-and-above gifts for those already signed up to give recurring gifts.</span><br></i></li><li><i><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">If you are a new donor, you can give a one-time gift which will be matched and then decide to continue with a recurring gift.</span><br></i></li><li><i><span style="text-indent: -0.25in; font-family: Symbol;"><span style="font-stretch: normal; font-size: 7pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span></span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">Gifts can be made by mailing a check to International Ministries, making a gift on-line by credit card, or making a gift by phone with a credit card.</span></i></li><li><i><span style="text-indent: -0.25in; font-family: Symbol;"><span style="font-stretch: normal; font-size: 7pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span></span><b style="text-indent: -0.25in;">Please note that however a gift is given, it must be clearly noted that the gift is part of the matching gift opportunity for the support of Tom and Terry Myers.</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</i></li></ul></p><p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo1"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo1"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo1"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo1"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:57:55 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/57843-keeping-easter https://internationalministries.org/read/57843-keeping-easter Conversations <p><br></p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>As we have spent the last seven months traveling and speaking at churches, conferences and to numerous individuals, I have been thinking about what this time of U.S./P.R. Assignment, also known as furlough, means. Why do we as missionaries come back from our areas of service, leaving behind ministries, homes and friends? I’m not trying to minimize the importance of our being in the United States, just thinking deeper about what it means—both to the missionary and to those we visit. As I thought about this recently a word came to mind: Conversations.</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>I checked that great fountain of knowledge, Wikipedia, to find out what it said about conversations. I learned that no generally accepted definition of conversation exists, that it is typically spoken communication, but some written forms can also be considered conversations and not all spoken communication is considered a conversation.</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>No matter how we define conversation, I have come to realize how important conversations are during our time in the U.S. We are able to connect with family and have direct conversations with them, not limited by the computer sitting between us. Catching up on the mundane details of our lives is special and renews our spirit. The same goes for time together with friends.</p><p>&nbsp;<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Talking about our ministries in large groups is a great way to share some amazing things God is doing around the world, but it is in the conversations before and after these events that we find ourselves being blessed. &nbsp;People asking for more detail, or sharing how something we said has had an impact on them. &nbsp;These conversations are where relationships are born and nurtured. This is the time when we get to move beyond newsletters and cards to really share our hearts and to hear the hearts of those with whom we converse.</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>There is a more important conversation that each of us should be involved in—prayer. This is not something that has to wait for a specific time or place, but can take place in the moment. Jesus sets the example for each of us to follow. We read in the Gospel accounts the importance He placed on getting away to be with his Father.</p><p><ul><li><i>Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed</i>.—Mark 1:35 (NIV)<br></li><li><i>After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray</i>—Matthew 14:23 (NIV)<br></li><li><i>One of those day Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God</i>.—Luke 6:12 (NIV)<br></li><li><i>Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”</i>—Luke 22:39-42 (NIV)<br></li></ul></p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>As we head toward our return to Bulgaria in July we look forward to many more conversations with those we will still have the opportunity to meet. We wish our time would allow for conversations with each of you, but with limited time, newsletters and cards will have to do. We are thankful for each of you who remembers us in your prayers.</p><p><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>During this Lenten season, may each of our conversations lead us, and those with whom we converse, to a deeper walk with the One whose death, burial and resurrection we are journeying toward.</p><p>&nbsp; *******************************************************************************************************</p><p>As we have shared about our ministries we have often mentioned the building project of Sofia Baptist Church and the ways in which this new site will serve the community. After over 10 years of work, the building is nearing completion and a tentative opening celebration has been set for September 20, 2015. We are so excited that we will be back in Sofia for this grand celebration!<br></p><p>&nbsp;*******************************************************************************************************</p><p><b>Outreach update:</b><br></p><p>We have been hearing from our outreach team that goes each Sunday night to reach out to the girls and women working along a highway that goes around our capitol city of Sofia. &nbsp;Please pray for the outreach team as they seem to be facing hardships from all directions—illness, family issues, spiritual and physical attacks, lack of male drivers which makes it impossible for them out on Sunday nights—the list is long.<br></p><p>Please also pray specifically for two ladies who are trying to get out of a life of prostitution. &nbsp;They are facing incredible challenges along this journey, and only through prayer and God’s mercy and grace will they ever have full and whole lives again. &nbsp; &nbsp;<br></p><p><br></p><p>Prayer Requests:</p><p><ul><li>For safe travels as we continue speaking.<br></li><li>For the necessary support so we can return to Bulgaria this summer.<br></li><li>That all the necessary issues such as visas, a new place to live and an automobile will be taken care of and will not cause us worry.<br></li></ul></p><div><br></div> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/57436-conversations https://internationalministries.org/read/57436-conversations Sharing Bulgaria <p>This has been an extremely busy summer for our family!</p><p>At the end of May our youngest son, Nathan, graduated from high school at the Anglo-American School of Sofia. His graduation was followed by two frantic weeks of packing and moving out of our home to prepare for our year back in the United States. We arrived in Colorado on June 19th and had a couple of weeks to unpack and get our rental home ready.</p><p>July was spent visiting family and then heading to Green Lake Wisconsin for two wonderful weeks with our International Ministries family. Week one was a special time with missionaries and staff, all of us gathering for a time of renewal and reflection. It was great to see so many friends and to get acquainted with colleagues we had never had the opportunity to meet. The World Mission Conference occupied our time during the second week, with over 1,000 people in attendance.</p><p>August was spent finishing our move into our house and getting Nathan settled into college at the University of Northern Colorado. AJ headed out for Prague, Czech Republic, to spend a semester studying at Charles University.</p><p>September begins our busy fall visiting churches and sharing about our ministries in Bulgaria. During the fall, we will be in Wyoming, Colorado, Massachusetts, Indiana and Kansas.</p><p>Although our fall schedule is full, we do have plenty of open dates after the first of the year and would love the opportunity to share with you about our ministry in Bulgaria! If you would like us to visit your church, small group or conference, please let us know and we will see what can be worked out.</p><p><br></p> <center><h3><i>Rise to the Challenge</i> is the theme for this year's World Mission Offering (WMO).<br> For 200 years, International Ministries missionaries have been rising to the challenge and touching the lives of tens of thousands of people. Your gifts to the WMO help identify, train, place and sustain IM global mission staff around the world. Thank you for your generous support!</h3></center> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/55784-sharing-bulgaria https://internationalministries.org/read/55784-sharing-bulgaria Here You Are Showing Us Kindness <p><b><i>“In my country we are killing each other, here you are showing us kindness.”</i></b> &nbsp;This quote by a Syrian refugee in Bulgaria reminded us of two important facts. &nbsp;One: these refugees are fleeing a situation we can only faintly even imagine. &nbsp;Two: Christ-like kindness has transforming powers. &nbsp;Current statistics indicate that 1 out of every 157 persons in the world is a Forcibly Displaced Person. &nbsp;This group includes refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. &nbsp;Think about that for a minute, 1 out of every 157 persons. &nbsp; 45.2 million. &nbsp;23,000 added to the number every day. &nbsp; Bulgaria has seen a dramatic increase in the number of refugees entering the country, now estimated to be approximately 10,000, with some estimating that the number will reach 19,000 in 2014. &nbsp;All this in a country with facilities designed for no more than 5000 refugees. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It might be easy to look at the enormity of the situation and feel overwhelmed, as if we could do nothing. &nbsp;These are not only statistics. &nbsp;They are men, women and children, each with their own story. &nbsp;Stories of the young man fleeing Syria with his two young daughters, both under 2 years of age, the youngest one seriously ill. &nbsp;Daughters who will grow up without their mother after she was killed in a bombing. &nbsp;Or the story of the young man also from Syria, who was studying chemical engineering, but now living in a camp in Bulgaria, hoping that someday, somewhere, he might be able to continue his studies. &nbsp;Or the stories of young African men fleeing economic hardship or war, leaving families behind, hoping they can find work in Europe and send money home. &nbsp;45.2 million stories.&nbsp;</p><p>The Bible is full of stories of refugees--Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Ruth, David, just to name a few. &nbsp;Jesus and his parents were also refugees. &nbsp;In Mathew 2:13-15 we read: &nbsp;<i>When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. &nbsp;“Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. &nbsp;Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” &nbsp;So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. &nbsp;And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”</i></p><p>Not only are there stories of refugees in the Bible, but we can also find numerous verses speaking to us about how we are to treat the refugee. &nbsp;Such as Exodus 22:21—<i>Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.</i> &nbsp;Or in Mathew 25:35-36—<i>“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” &nbsp;</i></p><p>The churches in Bulgaria are responding to the needs of the refugees, providing meals, clothing, shoes, furnishings for the camps and other necessities. &nbsp;It has been wonderful to see how the church has responded positively to the new cultures on their doorstep in the midst of a society that often views the refugee with suspicion or downright disdain. &nbsp;Plans are being put in motion to also provide Bulgarian language lessons and activities for the children. &nbsp;Please pray with us, as together with the Bulgarian church, we seek to put Christ-like kindness into action. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>US/PR ASSIGNMENT</p><p>Although it hardly seems possible, four years have passed and we are once again due to be in the United States for a year. We will be based in the Fort Collins area of Colorado. This time will be different for us as both AJ and Nathan will be in college and we will be adjusting to being empty-nesters.</p><p>We are already planning our speaking schedule for the year and if your church or group is interested in hearing more about Bulgaria and the work taking place, please contact us so we can make the necessary arrangements. We would love to come share with you how God is working in Bulgaria!</p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:19:04 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53518-here-you-are-showing-us-kindness https://internationalministries.org/read/53518-here-you-are-showing-us-kindness Stories From The Ring Road... <p>S. is new to the road these past few weeks.&nbsp; She is just 18 years old.&nbsp; Some time ago she had a baby, but because her mother would not help her with the baby, she gave the baby over to an orphanage to take care of. <br><i><b>Pray that S. will see that God has a better plan for her life; that she will find other work before she is in so deeply that she cannot escape</b>.</i> <br><br>Recently, each time we go out, we have been giving the women we see a colorful piece of paper with a scripture printed on it.&nbsp; They have liked pulling out “their” scripture from amongst the papers Nina holds out to them.&nbsp; This, of course, serves the most important purpose of giving the women encouragement from the Scriptures, which they can then take with them and look at during the week.&nbsp; But we have also learned from this that many of the women we meet cannot read.&nbsp; We know those who are illiterate now because they ask us to read it to them, others have some reading skills but struggle to read, a few can read well.&nbsp; We’d discovered most of our women drop out of school before the 6th grade.&nbsp; Very few have completed high school.&nbsp; T. received a scripture card the first day we began giving them out and reported to us later that she had been arrested after that.&nbsp; While the policemen were searching her and her purse, they found the scripture and asked her who these people were who gave it to her.&nbsp; Just “some women who love us” she replied.&nbsp; The past two Sundays we have been giving out packets of school supplies to the women to give to their children to encourage them to attend school.&nbsp; Most of the women have several elementary-school aged children who are taken care of by their grandmothers while the women are working.<br><i><b>Pray that these precious children will attend school, and complete their education so they will be able to get good work later in life.</b>&nbsp; <br></i><br>Most of the women’s husbands/boyfriends/pimps are abusive to them.&nbsp; V.’s boyfriend/pimp is especially so.&nbsp; Last year, he hit her so hard that he broke her ribs and her liver was damaged.&nbsp; She was in the hospital from the beating, in terrible shape, reports her friend and fellow colleague, A.&nbsp; Along with the physical abuse, he forces her to make movie clips of herself with her clients, which he watches later.&nbsp; Two weeks ago V. found her boyfriend/pimp cheating with another colleague.&nbsp; She took off, leaving her child from a previous marriage with the boyfriend and his children from another wife.&nbsp; He already abuses V’s little boy as he’s not his own—he buys food and clothing for his children, but not for V’s boy--so with V. gone, we fear for this small boy’s life.&nbsp; V. has had contact with a Turkish man who promised her work in another country, but we know how that will turn out should V. choose to go with him. <br><i><b>Pray that V. will seek out people who can help to get her and her child out of this terrible situation.&nbsp; Pray that she will not go with the Turkish man as this will most probably lead her back into prostitution and the cycle of abuse she so desperately needs to escape.</b>&nbsp;&nbsp; <br></i><br>R. had a late-term abortion a few months ago.&nbsp; She’s been so unhappy and looks so unhealthy and worn out since then.&nbsp; She will hardly talk to us anymore or take coffee, as she did when she was very visibly pregnant and excited about the baby.&nbsp; We believe that her husband/pimp forced her to do this. K. recently reported that she was pregnant and that she would have an abortion that week, which she did.&nbsp; <br><b><i>Pray that these women will come to know God and the fullness of life that only He can bring.&nbsp; Pray for the outreach team to know the words to say when the women tell us of pregnancies they intend to abort.&nbsp; It breaks our hearts that this is such a common event, a harsh reality of their situation.</i></b><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>Beautiful, young E. has been missing from along the Ring Road all summer.&nbsp; Her phone was turned off and no one heard from her for a long time.&nbsp; Her friends say she has done this before, but they were still quite worried about her. Later, her colleagues reported she had gone off with a “client” (“user” is a more appropriate term) to the Black Sea.&nbsp; Now, she is apparently still working in that area and has become addicted to cocaine, thanks to her user, and is even more dependent on him for the drugs.&nbsp; We recently heard that a woman we met on the Ring Road a few months ago went away with a “client” and died in a bar from an overdose. <br><i><b>Pray that E. will be safe and will seek the help she so desperately needs.&nbsp; Pray for the users that they will see these girls that they so carelessly use and throw away as human beings.</b><br></i><br><br></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 02:06:18 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50603-stories-from-the-ring-road- https://internationalministries.org/read/50603-stories-from-the-ring-road- The Path <p>Thirteen years ago we started down a path not knowing where it would lead, but confident that we were being obedient to God’s call in our lives.&nbsp; Some nine months later we were at Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin being commissioned to head to Nepal.&nbsp; Within a few short weeks, that opportunity disappeared and we were left wondering what God had in store for us.&nbsp; By the end of 2001 we had a new opportunity to head to Bulgaria, and in January of 2002 we landed in Sofia to begin what has been an incredible journey.&nbsp; <br><br>When we are obedient to God’s call in our lives, we are not promised that all will go well and that we will never face trials.&nbsp; But, we are promised that God will be faithful, and the times of blessing along the way are truly amazing. We pray that as we serve in Bulgaria we will in some small way be a blessing to those we meet.&nbsp; We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we have been, and continue to be, blessed in ways too numerous to count.&nbsp; Amazing and wonderful things happen when we are obedient to God’s call in our lives.<br><br>Two hundred years ago, Adoniram and Ann Judson were obedient to God’s call and millions have been blessed as a result.&nbsp; As International ministries celebrates 200 years of sharing the Gospel, we ask each of you to consider what God is calling you to do.<br><br>During September and October American Baptist Churches focus their attention on the World Mission Offering.&nbsp; The WMO supports the work of 109 long-term IM missionaries, and more than 1800 short-term missionaries and volunteers. Your gifts to the WMO are still important in supporting the work of International Ministries, and they allow us, and many others, to respond to God’s call.<br><br></p><h4><i><b>“All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”</b></i> — Genesis 12:3b (NLT)</h4><p><br></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:56:47 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50501-the-path https://internationalministries.org/read/50501-the-path Cast your Net(work) <p><b>CAST YOUR NET(work)</b><br><br>Networking creates bonds which can help make Christians working in the fight against human trafficking a force to be reckoned with against those who seek to sell people into slavery.&nbsp; The dictionary defines a network as people or institutions that have a connection with each other and work together as a system.&nbsp; As I have attended conferences and seminars about human trafficking over the past years, I have discovered how absolutely essential networking is in this global fight. A cord made up of multiple strands is far less likely to break.&nbsp; “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.&nbsp; A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”&nbsp; Ecclesiastes 4:12.&nbsp; You can bet that those who make their living from the sexual exploitation of human beings are well-networked.&nbsp; All the more reason that we Christians who are fighting this evil must be networked as well, with God in the lead!&nbsp; No one of us can do it alone.<br><br>Some gleanings from conferences I have attended recently on the importance of networking:<br><br>&nbsp;<i>Partnering &amp; Paella—Sabadell, Spain&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; April 5-7, 2013</i></p><p>“Co-laborers with God” was the theme for this conference, sponsored by the European Baptist Federation (EBF).&nbsp; Fifty people from 15 different countries were in attendance.&nbsp; The dialogue was about helping each other in the areas of awareness-raising, prevention, collaboration, and reintegration of women who have been working in Western Europe to their home countries.&nbsp; Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine were featured with special presentations, focused especially the Roma women who are so often trafficked from those countries.&nbsp; One session was also devoted to the Nigerian women who mostly come to work in Western Europe.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;<br>How is networking beneficial to each of our ministries?<br></p><p>--It’s ok to ask for help from each other.&nbsp; We have the contact information from each person in attendance, with the aim of helping both people and churches from Eastern and Western Europe to cooperate and connect to better minister to victims of human trafficking.&nbsp; When a Bulgarian woman who has been working in Spain, for instance, wants to come back to her home in Bulgaria, the ministry in Spain knows they can call on us here in Bulgaria for assistance. <br></p><p>--When outreach ministries meet persons of a special language group out on the streets, they can ask the network for materials in that language.&nbsp; We have shared many Bibles and Christian literature in Bulgarian with ministries in Western Europe who have asked us because they meet so many Bulgarian women and girls.&nbsp; We’ve even had materials printed especially for this cause.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br></p><p>--We learned about an organization that was formed by parents whose children were “groomed” into sexual exploitation by their “boyfriends”.&nbsp; This wonderful organization is available to come to other countries to speak about this.&nbsp; Who really knew about this issue or this organization until we networked together?!?!&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>--The goal of the EBF Anti-Trafficking group is to make goals and action plans together, decide what are the most important issues and what to do about them, while doing all of this in mutual respect, two-way dialogue and on common ground.<br><br>Of course, networking and dialogue over meals is an important part of every conference. The gift of hospitality of our Spanish host church was so evident in each of the meals they so lovingly prepared for us, and no more so than in the beautiful and delicious platters of paella they prepared for lunch one day.&nbsp; Is your mouth watering?<br><br><i>Cooperation &amp; Chocolate—Brussels, Belgium&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; April 15-17, 2013</i><br><br>Over 175 people from over 20 countries attended the “Breaking Free” conference, sponsored by the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP Europe) and the Breaking Chains Network, a ministry working on the streets of Antwerp and Brussels.&nbsp; “Prevention to Reintegration” was the main theme of our days together of networking and sharing ideas.&nbsp; “...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” II Corinthians 3:17.&nbsp; <br><br>--Anti-trafficking, aftercare and reintegration initiatives that are life-changing are Christ-centered.&nbsp; In order to be genuinely life-changing, they require an unprecedented level of collaboration.&nbsp; If organized crime can collaborate and work together to create this multi-million dollar business, why can’t the church work together to combat it?&nbsp; We cannot afford to have a “lone ranger” approach!&nbsp; Something very powerful happens when God’s people come together as one. <br><br>--We heard from 22 different Christian organizations working in Europe to combat human trafficking.&nbsp; All of them meet women from Bulgaria in their ministries.&nbsp; What a networking opportunity for us here in Bulgaria to help women and girls who are victims of human trafficking and who want to reintegrate into their home country!&nbsp; <br><br>--An overwhelming number of Nigerian women are being trafficked to Western Europe to work in the sex industry.&nbsp; From Anne, working in awareness and prevention in West Africa:&nbsp; “You in Europe network together to take care of the demand for sex workers.&nbsp; We in Africa will work together to take care of the supply.”&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br>Paella is to Spain what chocolate is to Belgium!&nbsp; Nothing better than conversation over a box of famous Belgian chocolate!&nbsp; Dessert after paella anyone?</p><p><br><br><i>Please Pray For……<br><br>-For Terry as she continues to work with others in Sofia reaching out to the girls working along the road.<br><br>-For strengthening of networks that provide the means for girls wanting to leave prostitution and return to their home countries.</i><br></p><p><br></p><h2><b>Time is Running Out for the Matching Gift Opportunity</b></h2><p><br>Through the generosity of a group of individuals, International Ministries is once again able to match donations given during the months of May and June.&nbsp; In order for the gifts to be matched they must come from individuals, be a new donor or an over-and-above gift of a current donor, and given between May 1—June 30, 2013.<br><br>Last year’s Matching Gift Fund was a tremendous blessing to us.&nbsp; Gifts given through the campaign last year made it possible for us to reach our funding goal for the year.<br><br>More information concerning the Matching Gift Opportunity can be found on the International Ministries website at www.internationalministries.org<br><br>Our sincere thanks to those of you who have already contributed!<br><br>Thank you!&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;<br><br><br>&nbsp; <br><br></p> Sun, 16 Jun 2013 01:01:48 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/49098-cast-your-net-work- https://internationalministries.org/read/49098-cast-your-net-work- Not Hiring <p><b>Not Hiring!</b><br><br><i>The phone rings</i>. The caller on the other end of the line is searching for help for their mother who needs medical care which they cannot afford, and the government insurance will not cover the full costs.&nbsp; While on the phone, they ask if we know of any jobs.&nbsp; They want to work, but finding employment is difficult.<br><br><i>Out on the street</i>. The women are visiting with the girls working in prostitution and the common theme they hear is—“I would not be doing this, but I can’t find a job and I must support my children.” <br>&nbsp;<br>Jobs, or rather a lack thereof, is a constant theme we hear.&nbsp; For many of those we meet the issues are numerous.&nbsp; Most of them have not completed their high school education; some have barely an 8th grade education and some have only gone to school for a few years.&nbsp; Even for those who have completed high school, discrimination based on their ethnic background is a familiar stumbling block. <br><br>The official unemployment rate is currently 12.3 %, but that does not tell the whole story because youth and minority unemployment are significantly higher.&nbsp; Thus, our conversations often turn to the issue of how do we respond?&nbsp; It is a difficult and complex issue, but being difficult and complex does not mean we are allowed to ignore it.</p><p>With this in mind, we are constantly searching for ways to respond to this need.&nbsp; One of the ways which has been constant through our discussions is the possibility of starting a business that we can use as a job training site.&nbsp; As we have discussed business possibilities, I have been researching information about Business as Mission, commonly referred to as BAM.&nbsp; BAM has a variety of faces--from businesses used to support women who have been trafficked, to businesses for whom reaching the lost is equally as important as profit.&nbsp; In the hope of gaining a better understanding of how to create a BAM business, I attended a BAM conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand in April.&nbsp; It was a good time of networking and hearing stories of God using businesses in wonderful ways.&nbsp; In addition to the conference, I also stayed for a few days after and was able to see the work of International Ministries missionary Mike Mann.&nbsp; It was an informative time for me as I saw the work Mike is doing through the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP), and I was able to discuss with Mike the finer points of having a mission business.<br><br>Where we go from here is a subject for a later newsletter.&nbsp; At this point in time I am working on refining a couple of possibilities and would appreciate your prayers as we continue to follow God’s leading as we reach out to the marginalized and oft forgotten of society.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br><br><i>Please Pray For……<br><br>-For Tom as he works on the development of a couple ideas to help train those looking for employment.<br><br>-For the Churches in Bulgaria that they will have the strength and means to reach a lost and hurting people. </i><br><br><br></p><h2><b>Time is Running Out for the Matching Gift Opportunity</b></h2><p><br>Through the generosity of a group of individuals, International Ministries is once again able to match donations given during the months of May and June.&nbsp; In order for the gifts to be matched they must come from individuals, be a new donor or an over-and-above gift of a current donor, and given between May 1—June 30, 2013.<br><br>Last year’s Matching Gift Fund was a tremendous blessing to us.&nbsp; Gifts given through the campaign last year made it possible for us to reach our funding goal for the year.<br></p><p>Additional information on the Matching Gift Fund can be found on the International Ministries website at www.internationalministries.org</p><p>Our sincere thanks to those of you who have already contributed!<br>&nbsp;<br><br><br><br></p> Sun, 16 Jun 2013 00:42:53 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/49095-not-hiring- https://internationalministries.org/read/49095-not-hiring- Building Hope <p>In 2004 Sofia Baptist Church broke ground on a building project that can, in many ways, be called visionary.&nbsp; In addition to a worship hall that will ease the overcrowding of the current church, the new building will serve as a ministry center reaching out to the community.&nbsp; The idea of reaching out to the community is not new, nor is it waiting for the building to be completed.&nbsp; Rather, it is a significant part of the heritage of Sofia Baptist Church and other Baptist Churches throughout Bulgaria. <br></p><p>Baptist work started in Bulgaria in the late 1800’s and social ministries have always been a part of the vision--from the distribution of Bibles and literature to the soldiers and relief work during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 to the early work with the Roma (Gypsy) communities, including literacy and life skills education.&nbsp; In addition to work with the poor, the Baptist Union was also involved in the operation of an orphanage in Sofia which was started to care for the orphaned children of evangelical families.&nbsp; After World War II, social work continued with outside groups providing assistance of food and clothing which the Baptist Churches then distributed to those in need.&nbsp;</p><p><br>Even thorough the difficult years of communism, when social work was banned and became grounds for persecution by the Communist government, Baptists found ways to help those in need.&nbsp; Social ministries previously carried out by the church became personal ministries.&nbsp; When a believer heard of someone in need they provided whatever assistance they could, be it food, clothing or money to buy coal for the winter.&nbsp; Because of the dangers of providing assistance during this time no records were kept, but those who lived through these years can tell fascinating and wondrous stories.</p><p><br>The fall of communism brought renewed optimism for the churches and a rekindled a desire to help those less fortunate.&nbsp; Life was difficult and opportunities for social ministries were abundant.&nbsp; The outreach of the Bulgarian Baptist churches extended into Romania, where the situation was even worse, with the delivery of flour, sugar and other items which were not available in Romania.</p><p>One of the greatest needs for social help was recognized as churches discovered the orphanages that had, for over 40 years, been hidden from society.&nbsp; With the assistance of western churches local churches worked to improve the lives of these neglected children.&nbsp; Work was undertaken to improve the facilities and staples such as flour, sugar, rice and beans were provided to feed the children.&nbsp; Ministry to orphanages continues to this day even as Bulgaria moves to deinstitutionalize these children and young adults.&nbsp; In addition to the work with <br>orphanages, Baptist churches are involved with outreaches to the Roma, the elderly, hospitals, the homeless and prison ministries, just to name a few.</p><p><br>One of the projects currently taking place at Sofia Baptist Church is a literacy program, reaching out to the Roma in the neighborhood.&nbsp; Anywhere from 4 to 14 children attend the program each week receiving instruction in reading, writing, Bulgarian language and basic math skills.&nbsp; The children are encouraged to attend school and are given help with their homework, but unfortunately not many of them actually attend school.&nbsp; In addition, Bible stories are taught and a healthy snack is provided.&nbsp; There is a great desire to see this program expand, but space is limited.&nbsp; This project started and continues under the leadership of Terry Myers with funding from American Baptist Women’s White Cross gifts.</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>Bulgarian Baptists have taken seriously Jesus’ command to care for the outcasts, downtrodden and marginalized of society and they remain committed to this yet today.&nbsp; This is why Sofia Baptist Church broke ground on their new building in 2004, not because they need more space (although they do), but because they believe God has called them to reach out in their community to the poor and marginalized of society.&nbsp;&nbsp; The new building, when finished, will include a medical clinic, space for feeding the homeless, enough space so a long-talked-about job training center can become a reality, expansion of the literacy program, and room for the Spirit to lead in exciting new opportunities for ministry.</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>If you desire to help with the completion of the new Church and Social Center of Sofia you can do so by going to International Ministries at <br>http://www.internationalministries.org/projects/46 and click on the ‘Give’ button.<br>&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br></p> Sun, 21 Apr 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/47843-building-hope https://internationalministries.org/read/47843-building-hope Go Now and Leave Your Life of Sin <p>On these bitterly cold winter nights, we go out on the highway around Sofia expecting to see four or five women.&nbsp; Such had been the case for most of December.&nbsp; We think maybe some of the women took time off due to the cold, or maybe for the holidays.&nbsp; <br><br>For three consecutive Sundays we did Christmas outreaches.&nbsp; Under communism in Bulgaria, when Christmas was not openly celebrated, New Year’s was the big holiday.&nbsp; So we took advantage of December 23, December 30 and January 6 to take the story of Christmas “on the road”.&nbsp; We saw only six or seven girls the first two times, so imagine our surprise when we saw 11 women the night of January 6!&nbsp; It was an interesting and most blessed night for us….<br><br>Word spread quickly that we had Christmas cookies, hot chocolate and coffee, gift bags for the women, and special gifts for their children.&nbsp; At one point, there were four or five women around the car, smiling and talking excitedly.&nbsp; Several of the women told us how they look forward to our Sunday visits, and one shared how she normally did not work on Sundays, but that she now comes out because she knows we will be there with a cup of hot coffee and an encouraging word, and that it is the highlight of her week.&nbsp; WE are encouraged when we hear such words from the girls!<br><br>Then, one of the younger women asked us, “Why do you do this?&nbsp; Why do you come out here in the cold night to see us?”&nbsp; We answered, “Because we love you, and we want to show Jesus’ love to you.”&nbsp; Another woman asked, “But doesn’t Jesus think what we do is a sin?”&nbsp; We responded, “He does see what you are doing and this is a sin, but He loves you and wants a better life for you.&nbsp; Are you really happy doing this work?”&nbsp; Most of the women said they did not like it, but that they could not find any other work.&nbsp; We told those gathered the story of Jesus’ conversation with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, how no stones were thrown at her because none are without sin, and how Jesus is able to forgive our sins, no matter what we do or how terrible we think we are.&nbsp; With His words “Go now and leave your life of sin”, Jesus saved her from stoning as well as from an eternity in hell.&nbsp; <br><br>Then came a whopper of a question.&nbsp; “How is this MY sin, when I am out here night after night, in the cold, working to take care of my family?&nbsp; If I do not come home tonight with some money, my children will not eat.&nbsp; All of these things are being done TO me.&nbsp; I do not have a choice; my family is relying on me.”&nbsp; Tough question.&nbsp; Even tougher to answer.&nbsp; The women run into the trees and bushes along the side of the road to hide whenever the police come around, and this happened right at that moment, before we could reply to her question.&nbsp; Maybe we will be able to address it with her in the coming weeks.&nbsp; <br><br>Please pray for these women as they begin to trust us more and share more of their hearts with us.&nbsp; Pray for us that God will give us the right words to answer their hard questions.&nbsp; Pray for them that they will see that God really does love and value them and wants more for them.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br>January 11 is “Human Trafficking Awareness Day” in the United States.&nbsp; Europe’s day is October 18.&nbsp; No matter the date, please continue to pray for the end of sex trafficking in Bulgaria and around the entire world.&nbsp; Although not original to me, this is a great way to remember to pray for the women and girls who are caught up in this modern-day slavery:<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; --As you drive, at every RED LIGHT pray for the Red Light Districts all over the world. <br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; --Every time you enjoy a CUP OF COFFEE, think of the girls we visit each Sunday, especially on those cold winter nights, giving them a hot cup of coffee, an encouraging word, and sometimes a gift we’ve made especially for them.<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; --Every time you see a STOP SIGN, pray for sex trafficking to stop all over the word, and for those ministries everywhere which are reaching out with the love of Jesus to these women and girls, and even to the men and boys involved.<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; --Every time you see your CHILDREN or grandchildren, pray for those children around the world who are most at risk and vulnerable to falling into the trap of human trafficking.<br><br><i>“If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”&nbsp; Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground.&nbsp; At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they?&nbsp; Has no one condemned you?”<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “No one, sir,” she said.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.&nbsp; “Go now and leave your life of sin.”<br>--John 8: 7-11 (NIV)</i><br><br>&nbsp; <br>&nbsp; <br><br></p> Fri, 11 Jan 2013 16:07:13 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46326-go-now-and-leave-your-life-of-sin https://internationalministries.org/read/46326-go-now-and-leave-your-life-of-sin January 11 - Human Trafficking Awareness Day <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> 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Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; color:black">Friday, January 11, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day</span></h1><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;font-weight:normal; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"><br><b>Human trafficking</b> involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving individuals for the purpose of exploiting them.&nbsp; This is done through the use of force, coercion or duplicity such as a false promise of a better life in another country. <br><br>The United Nations crime-fighting office announced that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time.&nbsp; While some become domestic laborers, 8o% of trafficked persons are exploited as sexual slaves.&nbsp; They are trapped in lives of misery and cruelty; as those who follow the Prince of Peace, we dare not ignore this horrendous abuse of God's precious children. <br><br>Many of your American Baptist missionaries are working to end human trafficking by proclaiming release to the captives and helping the oppressed go free.&nbsp; <br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/109-bethell">Lauran Bethell</a> – global consultant on Human Trafficking<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/96-smith-karen">Karen Smith</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/71-kelsey">Debbie Kelsey </a>– Italy<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/92-ripley">Kit Ripley</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/62-dieselberg">Annie &amp; Jeff Dieselberg</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/82-myers-terry-and-tom">Terry Myers</a> – Bulgaria<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/45-baits">Mylinda Baits</a> – regional missionary for Iberoamerica &amp; Central America<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/107-mann-lori-matt">Lori &amp; Matt Mann</a> – development workers in Laos<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/566-nambu">Jonathan &amp; Thelma Nambu</a> – Philippines<br><br>The Nambus are brand new, having joined International Ministries in December 2012 to work in the Philippines sharing the Gospel among women caught in prostitution.&nbsp; They will work in partnership with others to create&nbsp; prostitution-free societies around the world. <br><br>Please pray for all the missionaries and volunteers.&nbsp; Their ministries can be dangerous as they work to help trafficked women and children, and oppose those who exploit them.&nbsp; Learn more about their ministries by reading their journals posted here on the IM website.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><b><br>Mission Projects to Fight Human Trafficking</b><br>International Ministries has seven mission projects that help those caught up in human trafficking.&nbsp; There are projects to provide care packages to imprisoned maids in Lebanon, to create an outreach center in the heart of the red light district in Thailand, and to help women in Mexico learn sewing skills so they have an alternative way to support themselves and their families.&nbsp; To see the full list of mission projects related to human trafficking <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/ministry_focus_areas/human_trafficking">click here</a>, then scroll down and you’ll see them on the right side.<br><br><b>Podcast Series on Human Trafficking</b><br>The American Baptist Women's Ministries of our own denomination also has an excellent online resource called “In Their Shoes: Women Walking with Women Worldwide.”&nbsp; This podcast series highlights through interviews the work of women engaged in addressing the exploitation of women and girls around the world in positive, life-affirming ways.&nbsp; We encourage you to visit <a href="http://www.intheirshoespodcast.org/">www.intheirshoespodcast.org</a> for some of these informative and inspirational stories.<br><br><b>Additional Information</b><br>The Faith Trust institute, dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence, recommends a number of online sites to learn more about human trafficking and how you can make a difference, including: <a href="http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/news/2011/01/11/jan-11-national-human-trafficking-awareness-day/">The Not For Sale Campaign</a>, <a href="http://humantrafficking.org/">Humantrafficking.org</a>, and <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/human_trafficking/human_trafficking">the FBI site on Human Trafficking</a>. <br><br><br><i>“Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed.&nbsp; And like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can’t just pass by, indifferent.&nbsp; We’ve got to be moved by compassion.&nbsp; We’ve got to bind up the wounds.&nbsp; Let’s come together around a simple truth -- that we are our brother’s keepers and we are our sister’s keepers.” </i><br>&nbsp;President Obama in a 2012 speech on ending human trafficking.</span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;color:black;font-weight:normal; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"></span> <p></p> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46295-january-11-human-trafficking-awareness-day https://internationalministries.org/read/46295-january-11-human-trafficking-awareness-day Christmas Letter from Bulgaria <p>2012 has been a year of changes for the Myers household.&nbsp; After losing Terry’s dad in October 2011, Tom’s dad lost his battle with cancer in May.&nbsp; We were blessed that we were able to spend last Christmas with him and Tom’s stepmom in Boise, ID.&nbsp; Tom’s siblings and families also made visits to Boise, so we had some great times together, although not under the best of circumstances.&nbsp; Tom was also able to make a trip back in May and spend 10 days with his dad.&nbsp; The other big change in our lives was AJ’s&nbsp; graduation from the Anglo-American School in Sofia and his decision to attend the University of Denver, where he is majoring in International Studies and very much enjoying this new phase in life.&nbsp; It has been different having only one child at home!&nbsp; Nathan is enjoying his junior year and his friends, studying hard in the IB program and playing his favorite sport, basketball.<br>&nbsp; <br>As planned, Tom finished his master’s program and graduated from Eastern University with a MA in International Development.&nbsp; Tom continues working with the Baptist Union to find ways to assist local churches and pastors as they struggle to find adequate financial support. The small farming project in north central Bulgaria continues to provide a small amount of assistance to the local church.&nbsp;&nbsp; During the past year he has also become more involved in the issues of trafficking.&nbsp; He is especially interested in job training and employment opportunities for the girls both as a preventative measure and also for those girls who are leaving prostitution.<br><br>Terry, along with several other missionaries, has continued to visit the girls working along the road that goes around Sofia.&nbsp; They visit the girls every Sunday night, offering them coffee, Christian literature and occasionally a small gift.&nbsp; They are planning a special Christmas outreach/party for the 30th of December.&nbsp; She is also still very involved in the literacy program at Sofia Baptist.&nbsp; The children come twice a week and learn to read, write and do simple math.&nbsp; They receive a healthy snack and hear Bible stories. <br><br>We have been privileged to host two teams this year.&nbsp; The first team came from First Baptist Church in Brewster, MA.&nbsp; They spent their time here working on the new Sofia Baptist Church project, helping with the literacy program, visiting an orphanage where they organized games for the children, and doing a bit of sightseeing.&nbsp; During this same time, we enjoyed a visit from our Area Director and other mission board staff and friends.&nbsp; The second team was a group of pastors from churches in Colorado and Nebraska, joined by three mission board staff members.&nbsp; They learned about the work of the Baptists in Bulgaria and the cultural context in which they work, specifically as it relates to the Orthodox Church.&nbsp; They also spent one day working at the new church project.&nbsp;&nbsp; As Christmas approaches we are once again preparing to deliver Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to several communities in Bulgaria.&nbsp; This is always a fun project as we get to see firsthand the smiles on the children’s faces as they open their gift.<br>&nbsp; &nbsp;<br>Wishing each of you a beautiful Christmas and many blessings in the New Year.&nbsp; We’d love to have you come visit us in beautiful Bulgaria! &nbsp;<br><br></p> Fri, 14 Dec 2012 09:25:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/45974-christmas-letter-from-bulgaria https://internationalministries.org/read/45974-christmas-letter-from-bulgaria A Mission Team's Calling <p>It was recently our privilege to host a mission team of thirteen people from the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains, ABC of Nebraska and International Ministries' staff.&nbsp; The team was composed of pastors and region support staff.&nbsp; They spent five days with us in Bulgaria before traveling on to Serbia to visit with members of the Serbian Baptist Churches.<br><br>This mission study team’s purpose was to personally introduce the pastors to on-the-field missions.&nbsp; Their time in Bulgaria began with a day of painting primer on the walls in the new Sofia Baptist Church and Ministry Center.&nbsp; In construction now for eight years, the Center is nearing completion.&nbsp; When completed the building will provide not only worship and Sunday School space, but will also allow the congregation to expand their outreach to the surrounding community and to begin new ministries which will show the love of Jesus to those living in the area near the center of Sofia.<br><br>A visit to the Rila Monastery exposed the pastors to the history and influence of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Bulgarian society, helping them to gain an understanding of the connection between the Orthodox Church and its influence in the lives of Bulgarians.&nbsp; Pastor Teddy Oprenov shared with them the way this influence affects Evangelical Churches and their work in Bulgaria.<br><br>Sunday provided worship opportunities in two different settings—in the morning with the congregation of the large Sofia Baptist Church, and in the afternoon with two smaller new church starts.<br><br>The team also spent time visiting with the children who attend the Literacy Program which Terry helps run at Sofia Baptist Church.&nbsp; Two of the team members gave object lessons to the children about Jesus and salvation, and several of the members taught the children a few English words using flashcards.&nbsp; The children love having visitors and really enjoyed their time with the team.&nbsp; After the literacy program the team met with leaders from the Bulgarian Baptist Union and heard the history of the Bulgarian Baptist churches including the struggles they faced during the years of communism.&nbsp; The team also heard about the struggles faced by today’s church in Bulgaria—some of which they could relate to as being issues in their own churches.<br><br>Each of the individuals on the team has responded to God’s call on their life.&nbsp; For many of them that call has meant serving in the local church, sharing the love of God in their communities.&nbsp; For others the call has been to serve in leadership roles as they minister to pastors and for some the call has been to serve as support for missionaries and partners working around the world.&nbsp; God calls each of us to be involved in the work He is doing—in our own backyard and around the world.&nbsp; It is then up to us to hear and respond to God’s calling. <br>&nbsp;<br>“Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1Samuel 3:10&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br><br><b>“HEAR THE CALL” to support the WORLD MISSION OFFERING!</b></p><p><br>As autumn arrives and the leaves begin to fall, it means that it is time once again to think about giving to the World Mission Offering.&nbsp; We are so grateful for the many churches and individuals whose gifts to WMO are directed to us and our ministry in Bulgaria. We thank you and ask you to give generously again this year to allow us to remain here doing the work God has planned for this country.&nbsp; <br><br>While WMO is a vital source of support for us, it is also the only source of support for International Ministries’ 220 Christian partner organizations around the world, including clinics, seminaries, orphanages, schools and churches.&nbsp; Your gifts to WMO will allow these partners to continue their work all over the globe.&nbsp; Just as the boy Samuel, with the help of his elderly mentor Eli, heard God’s call to become a prophet in Israel, you too can Hear the Call to bring joy through giving generously to the World Mission Offering.&nbsp; Be assured that your gift will be used to glorify God in all the earth by crossing cultural boundaries to help people to <b>come</b> to faith in Jesus, <b>grow</b> in their relationship with God and <b>change</b> their world through the power of the Spirit.</p><p><br><br><b>Personalized Support</b><br><br>As we move into our new fiscal year we want to take this opportunity to update you on our support.&nbsp; Due to the generous gifts received during the Matching Gift Campaign we are ending the year on a positive note. <br><br>THANK YOU to all of you who have supported us in our ministries here in Bulgaria.</p><p>The new fiscal year does bring with it new challenges.&nbsp; The amount of support we are required to raise will be increasing and as it is now, our committed support (that support that comes on a regular basis) needs to increase in order for us to meet our new goal.&nbsp; Our committed support still hovers around 76% and we need that to increase.&nbsp; So, you can help in a couple of ways.</p><ul><li>If you gave to us for the first time during the Matching Fund campaign and plan on making your gift an ongoing gift, please let us know so we can mark it as such.</li></ul><ul><li>If you have given in the past would you please consider committing to our support once again?</li></ul><ul><li>If you have never given to our support would you please consider coming along side our work in Bulgaria?</li></ul><p><br>Please know that no gift is too small.&nbsp; Gifts of $10, $20 or $50 per month are a great help.&nbsp; Instructions on how to give can be found below.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br><b>Prayer Requests:</b><br><i>For the children who attend the Literacy Program at Sofia Baptist Church.<br>For the Churches and pastors in Bulgaria as they minister in difficult cultural situations.<br>For the team members who just returned from their trip, and as they share what they experienced with their congregations and friends.<br>For us as we continue to reach for our support goal.<br>For our family as we continue to adjust to having one son away at university in the U.S.&nbsp;</i></p><p><br><br>If you would like to support the ministry of Tom and Terry Myers please send contributions to:<br>International Ministries<br>P.O. Box 851<br>Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851<br><br>Please indicate that your contribution is for the ministry of <br>Tom and Terry Myers in Bulgaria<br><br>You can also give electronically by going to International Ministries’ web site at:<br>www.internationalministries.org and follow the “Giving” link.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br></p> Mon, 15 Oct 2012 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/45102-a-mission-team-s-calling https://internationalministries.org/read/45102-a-mission-team-s-calling The Coming of Spring <h2>The Coming of Spring<br></h2><p>Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, has had one of the most severe winters in recent memory.&nbsp; Heavy snows and extremely cold temperatures have taken their toll.&nbsp; Lives were lost and those living in remote mountain villages, already struggling with poverty, have faced tremendous hardships.&nbsp; In Bulgaria, a village was destroyed when a dam broke sending water raging through the streets.&nbsp; With the large amounts of snow comes the real possibility of flooding throughout the spring.&nbsp; For us, the cold, snowy winter meant we bundled up more than normal and at times we struggled to get our car out to the main road, but it was nothing compared to the hardships faced by many Bulgarians and others throughout Eastern Europe.<br><br>As the snow continued to pile up, we began to hear more and more the desires for an early spring.&nbsp; We, too, added to the chorus of hope for spring to come, and the sooner the better as far as we were concerned!&nbsp; Spring brings with it the hope of new life and new beginnings.&nbsp; We are able to leave behind the cold dark days of winter.<br><br>While we enjoy the warmth of spring and the signs of new life we see around us, we still see in many places in Bulgaria the dark days of winter lived out on a regular basis, with little hope for a new beginning.&nbsp; It shows itself in:<br></p><ul><li>The faces of the prostitutes working the roads because they feel they have no other options.</li><li>The reality that life for the Roma children will be a struggle unless they can get an education.</li><li>The poverty of the villages as families struggle to make a living.<br></li></ul><p>It is into these dark winter days that, along with the Baptist Union of Bulgaria, we try to bring the joy of spring.&nbsp; Joy shared by taking the time to go out on the road and talk to the girls, giving them hot coffee or tea and sometimes a small gift.&nbsp; Joy shared by inviting the children to a literacy program—teaching them reading, writing, math, and other subjects while also sharing a small meal and learning about the Bible.&nbsp; Joy in knowing the hope Jesus gives.<br><br>*************************************************************<br><br></p><h2>April Visits</h2><p><br>We were blessed by a visit from Brewster Baptist Church, Brewster, MA in April.&nbsp; The team of 18 spent a week in Bulgaria helping at Sofia Baptist Church’s new building site, visiting orphanages, helping with the literacy class, visiting the homeless feeding program, worshiping with Sofia Baptist and two other churches, and they even got to be tourists!<br><br>The time at the church was spent cleaning walls, scrapping plaster off windows and sweeping rooms, all in preparation for painting.&nbsp; Some team members also spent time cutting wallboard into 4 inch strips and then painting them black, to be used in the main hall for the acoustic system.&nbsp; Through their hard work, one floor was completely cleaned and readied for painting and much progress was made getting the acoustic system ready for instillation.<br><br>While at the orphanages, the team helped each child make a picture frame.&nbsp; Pictures of each child where taken and printed so they had something to put in the frame!&nbsp; There was also time for playing games with the children after the frames were completed. <br><br>We saw God’s hand at work in many ways with this team, but the most visible sign of His care was seen when one of the team members was hit by a car.&nbsp; It would take pages to share all of the ways we saw God at work in this situation, but the short version is that she was able to return home with the team and, while still recovering, continues to make progress.&nbsp; We praise God daily for his watch care over her and the entire team during their time in Bulgaria. <br><br>We were also blessed by a visit from our Area Director, Charles Jones along with our colleague, Ray Schooler, and former International Ministries board member, Lonnie Bruce.&nbsp; Their trip overlapped with the visit with Brewster Baptist, so they were able to join us for our visit to the beautiful Belogradchik red rock formations and an orphanage.&nbsp; Tom also took them on a day long tour of central Bulgaria, visiting Veliko Turnovo, home to the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, Etera Ethnographic Village and Shipka, the site of one of the important battles for Bulgarian independence from the Ottoman Empire. <br><br>***************************************************************<br><br></p><h2>COLLEGE</h2><h3>Tom</h3><p>Finished, completed, done, graduated— no matter what word I use, it is still the same great feeling!&nbsp; After two years of studying, reading assignments, and papers I have finally completed my master’s program.&nbsp; It was a great learning experience and the opportunity to study with a diverse group of Christians committed to alleviating poverty and sharing the love of Christ.&nbsp; Our discussions&nbsp; challenged me and have led me to a better understanding of development and our calling as Christians as we strive to reach those society ignores. <br>&nbsp;<br><i>He has showed you, O man, what is good.&nbsp; And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.&nbsp; Micah 6:8 (NIV)</i><br></p><h3>A.J.</h3><p>After applying to 8 colleges and being accepted to all of them, A.J. has decided to attend the University of Denver this fall.&nbsp; The combination of a good International Studies program and being close to family swayed his decision.&nbsp; It will be extremely hard on his mom, dad, and younger brother having him so far away, but we are comforted by the fact that he will be close to family and knowing he is ready to begin this new chapter in his life.&nbsp; <br><br>********************************************************************<br><br></p><h2>Matching Gift Opportunity</h2><p>International Ministries has announced a new matching gift opportunity.&nbsp; This is a chance for you to have your gift to International Ministries doubled through the generosity of others.&nbsp; More information about the program can be found on the International Ministries website but here are a few key points. <br></p><ul><li>The gifts must come from individuals.</li><li>To qualify, the gift must be an over-and-above gift.&nbsp;&nbsp; If you are already regularly giving to International Ministries your regular gift does not qualify, BUT you can give an additional gift that will be matched!<br></li><li>You can give more than once, between May 18-July 31, 2012<br></li></ul><h3>On A Personal Note</h3><p>We are thankful for each of you who has stood with us as we have moved toward raising our own support.&nbsp; Your prayers and financial support are a blessing to us, and we could not do what we do without your continued support.&nbsp; Right now we have 76% of our support committed, and if the current trends continue, our actual support will fall short of our goal for the 2011-12 fiscal year.&nbsp; This would be the first time that actual giving to our support does not meet our goal.&nbsp; This new matching&nbsp; gift campaign presents an opportunity for us to get that extra boost needed to meet our current year goal!&nbsp; We ask you to prayerfully consider giving an extra gift to our ministry between May 18 and July 31.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;<br>At the same time, if any of you are called to come alongside our ministry and commit to ongoing support ,we would appreciate any gift you can give. <br><br>***********************************************************************<br><br></p><h2>Prayer Requests</h2><p><br></p><ul><li>For AJ as he graduates from high school .&nbsp; He will attend the University of Denver this fall.</li><li>For our family as we travel home this summer.&nbsp; We will be cleaning out our farm house in Southern Colorado as it has been sold.&nbsp; There will be lots of emotions involved!</li><li>For our families as we adjust to life without our fathers, with Tom and Terry having lost both their fathers in the past 7 months.</li><li>For the children coming to the literacy program. </li><li>For the bi-monthly outreaches to the girls on the streets.</li></ul><p><br>*****************************************************************<br><br>If you would like to support the ministry of Tom and Terry Myers please send contributions to:<br><br>International Ministries<br>P.O. Box 851<br>Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851<br><br>Please indicate that your contribution is for the ministry of <br>Tom and Terry Myers in Bulgaria<br><br>You can also give electronically by going to International Ministries’ web site at:<br>www.internationalministries.org and follow the “Giving” link.<br><br></p> Sat, 19 May 2012 08:31:47 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/42965-the-coming-of-spring https://internationalministries.org/read/42965-the-coming-of-spring The Bulgaria--Uganda Connection <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal">In May of 2010, I (Tom) shared with you through our newsletter of my acceptance into a master’s program in International Development at Eastern University, and I would like to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on my progress.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>For three weeks in June/July of 2010, and then again in June/July of 2011, I had the opportunity to meet with my classmates and professors for intensive classroom time.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The classroom time is followed by a year of online work for each of the five classes taken each year.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The online work includes discussions with classmates and the professor on various readings, and there are, of course, the many papers to write!<span style="">&nbsp; </span>I am now just over half way done, and if all goes as planned, I will graduate in May 2012.<span style="">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The classroom for both years was located in Kampala, Uganda.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>In 2010 we met at the International School of Uganda and stayed in several guesthouses in the vicinity.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>This past summer we were on the beautiful campus of the African Bible University.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>You may be asking yourself, why choose a program that includes traveling to Africa?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>There are a couple of reasons for this.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">When I first started looking for a master’s program one of the primary requirements for me was the possibility to do the program while still living and working in Bulgaria.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The program at Eastern offered this possibility, along with the added benefit of bringing a Christian perspective to learning more about development work.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>As Eastern developed their master’s programs, they felt their calling was to take the program to the places where development workers were, rather than only offering it on the U.S. campus.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Therefore, they have held the classroom portion of the program in Africa-- first in South Africa, and now, for the past two years, in Uganda.<span style="">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">While I admit to being a bit apprehensive about traveling to Uganda for the first time in 2010, it was an amazing experience.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The time spent in Uganda and the networking I did with other development workers allowed me to see the similarities between my work and the work being done around the world.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>I have also been introduced to vast differences in development.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>But the greatest experience has been the new friends I have made. <span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>When the time came to go again this past summer, I was looking forward to once again traveling to Uganda (except for being away from my family for three weeks).<span style="">&nbsp; </span>It was an opportunity to see friends, and experience once again a different culture and foods.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Fresh Ugandan pineapple and mango alone are worth the trip!<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Uganda is unlike the United States or Bulgaria, and the opportunity to see a different part of God’s creation is always an amazing experience. <span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Is God calling you to something you believe is out of your comfort zone—working with children, ministering to the homeless or traveling to serve on a short or long term mission?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>God’s calling often leads us into the uncomfortable, but when we step out in faith our apprehension gives way and we experience God at work in new and exciting ways.<span style="">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="">&nbsp;<b>SUMMER FUN IN BULGARIA</b><br></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><i>Take 59 kids.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Add food, games, crafts and a Bible story.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>What do you have?<span style=""> </span><br></i></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><i>A great final day of Vacation Bible School, of course!<span style="">&nbsp; </span></i></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">In July we were joined by a family from Colorado, who helped organize a VBS for the children of Klutch.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>We were also joined by Ivan, our Bulgarian pastor friend, his family and two other friends who helped with translation.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Klutch is a small village in Southern Bulgaria where we have previously hosted a children’s weekend, and have also taken Operation Christmas Child boxes to the pre-school children.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>This summer we returned for three days of food, fun and an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the children, many of whom have never heard any Bible stories.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>We thought we would have less than 30 children each day, but Day 1 was a pleasant surprise, with more than 30 children in attendance.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Day 2 attendance was 48 and on Day 3 there were 59 children!<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Having twice as many children as we had planned on could have created problems with having enough supplies, but God knew just what we would need!<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Our friends from Colorado had packed enough supplies for up to 60 children—just to make sure we did not run short!<span style="">&nbsp; </span>We all learned something during the week—the children heard about Jesus and the adults were reminded once again of God’s provision.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Many thanks to the Currier Family for all the love and many hours of work they put into the VBS to make it such a special time for all involved! <span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">&nbsp;<b>WORLD MISSION OFFERING<br></b></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">It is that time once again when American Baptist Churches receive the World Mission Offering.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Even though missionaries now raise most of our own support, WMO is still a very important part of financing the work of International Ministries.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The largest percentage of the funds raised through WMO are still used to supplement the support of more than 100 International Ministries missionaries serving around the world.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>In 2010-11 this was 2.5 million dollars.<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The remaining funds go to help support IM global Christian partners and programs, including schools, seminaries and colleges, health clinics, agricultural projects, peace initiatives and anti-human trafficking programs.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>We thank you in advance for your support of our ministry through personalized gifts and the WMO!</p> Sun, 11 Sep 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/39101-the-bulgaria-uganda-connection https://internationalministries.org/read/39101-the-bulgaria-uganda-connection Outreach and Education <h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-style: italic;">N. is married and started working on the streets of Sofia a few months ago to get enough money for her son to have the surgery he needs.&nbsp; She never thought she'd be doing this kind of work.&nbsp; She believes there is a God, but he does not help everyone because some situations are just too hard.&nbsp; N. asks us if business might be better for her if she went to work in a western European country.&nbsp; </span></span></h4><h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-style: italic;">L. left her abusive husband, who then became her sister’s husband.&nbsp; L. feels betrayed and all her family ties are broken.&nbsp; She knows some people who read the Bible, but she thinks it is nonsense.&nbsp; She’s been working the streets for two years.&nbsp; <br></span></span></h4><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-style: italic;">E., a well-educated woman, returned to Bulgaria after being on the streets of a western European country.&nbsp; She had made a commitment to Christ and was looking forward to returning to her home country to find a good job and start a new life.&nbsp; Her family and the economy made that impossible, so she has returned west.&nbsp; But thanks to six different ministries working in four different countries, E. is now connected with a ministry in the country where she is living and learning a job skill which will hopefully allow her to start a new life in that country.&nbsp;&nbsp; But the lure of fast, easy money is still tempting her.&nbsp; Her situation is precarious, at best.</span></span><h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"></span></h4><h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-style: italic;">G. has been working the streets for only a few months because she has many debts to pay off.&nbsp; She does not speak to her parents at all anymore.&nbsp; She carries mace to protect herself against violence from drunk or drug-addicted clients.&nbsp; </span></span></h4><h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"></span></h4><h4 style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-style: italic;">D., a 40-something-year-old mother and grandmother, came to an outreach in Berlin, wanting to get out and return home to Bulgaria.&nbsp; Working with this ministry, we here in Bulgaria were able to arrange a safe place for her to go and receive counseling once she arrived back home, and the Berlin ministry provided her with a plane ticket.&nbsp; She never went to the shelter.&nbsp; Her pimp had already returned to Bulgaria to look for her, found her, and she has returned to the streets in the west.&nbsp; It seems that escape for women who have been trafficked is next to impossible.&nbsp; But we know we serve a God who can work miracles.&nbsp; Sometimes that’s all that we can hang onto when a problem seems so overwhelming.</span></span></h4><h4><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"></span></h4><p><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;"><br>You are my lamp, O Lord;<br>the Lord turns my darkness into light.<br>With your help I can advance against a troop,<br>with my God I can scale a wall.<br>As for God, his way is perfect;<br>the word of the Lord is flawless.<br>He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.<br><span style="font-style: italic;">2 Samuel 22: 29-31</span><br><br>Each story is different.&nbsp; Each woman’s circumstance is different.&nbsp; But the commonality is that most come from a background of some form of abuse, and all of them are in a desperate situation and see no alternative way of making money to support themselves and the children most of them have at home. <br></span></p> <p><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt;">These mostly sad, but true, stories are the reality I have seen as an outreach ministry to women working on the streets of Sofia has begun to develop over the past five months.&nbsp; I am encouraged to find so many other women, and some men as well, who are feeling led to become involved in the fight against the trafficking of human beings.&nbsp; So many things are beginning to fall into place for an active, vitally-needed ministry to begin in this country.&nbsp; I feel like I am witnessing the birth of a new baby, and I can’t wait to see what she will grow up to be! <br><br>Beginning in January, several of us have been gathering to begin a street outreach to the girls who work along the Ring Road in Sofia (a highway which runs around the outer limits of the city).&nbsp; The first outreach was a frigid night in early January.&nbsp; We took hot coffee and tea and a small gift bag with some cosmetics and cookies to each girl.&nbsp; Not knowing what to expect or how many girls we might meet, we prepared 16 bags, using up all the supplies we had brought.&nbsp; That evening we saw exactly 16 girls!&nbsp; All the girls were talkative and seemed glad to see us and the hot beverages we had to offer.&nbsp; Most asked when we would return.<br><br>We did return twice in February, seeing only five girls total.&nbsp; We believe this is because there was a police operation against the girls and their pimps on that particular part of the Ring Road during that time.&nbsp; We wondered if the girls were in hiding and would return after the operation was over, and apparently this is the case.&nbsp; <br><br>In April we had two outreaches for Easter and were able to talk with 15 girls in total.&nbsp; A Bulgarian sister who goes with us brought CD’s of <span style="font-style: italic;">The Jesus Film</span> for children and <span style="font-style: italic;">Magdalena</span> which we gave to any of the girls who were interested, and most took a copy of one or the other.&nbsp; Easter is celebrated widely in Bulgaria since it is an Orthodox country, so this was a great opportunity to talk with them about their plans for the holiday, and then to delve a bit more into the deeper meaning of Easter.&nbsp; We returned home from this outreach very encouraged and blessed by our time with these beautiful <span style="font-style: italic;">Daughters of Bulgaria</span>, the name we are using for this ministry.&nbsp; <br><br>But outreach is just one dimension of the whole human trafficking issue.&nbsp; Another aspect which I personally feel called to work in is the area of prevention.&nbsp; I heard a quote recently at a meeting which I attended which sums up the aim of prevention.&nbsp; It goes something like this:<br>“Let’s build fences at the top of the hill rather than have ambulances at the bottom of the hill to pick people up after being trafficked”.<br><br>The Literacy Program at our church is my primary focus in the area of prevention.&nbsp; Teaching these Roma children who do not regularly attend school to read and write, and showing them Jesus’ love in tangible ways, will give them options for their lives.&nbsp; As we prepare for the end of the school year and summer vacation, I’m excited that we will be devoting one of our sessions to talk with them about the dangers of being trafficked, and things they should watch out for.&nbsp; We have touched upon this subject, especially with the teenagers, throughout the year as the situation or conversation allowed.<br><br>We will be taking a prevention program which we have developed into some orphanages around Bulgaria, educating these most vulnerable children about the various methods traffickers use to trick them into lives of forced servitude or prostitution.&nbsp; <br><br>Churches also need to be educated on the issue of human trafficking.&nbsp; Many of our church people simply do not know, or can’t believe, that this happens in their own country, and the huge extent of the problem.&nbsp; Churches need to learn how to genuinely welcome, love and care for victims of human trafficking who may come through their doors. <br><br>Around 50 people from all over Bulgaria and from various denominations and organizations have come together through the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance to form the <span style="font-style: italic;">Network Against Trafficking</span>.&nbsp; This group is working on educating the churches in Bulgaria about the problem of human trafficking within the country.&nbsp; Their goal is to create a network of churches to join together to fight human trafficking.&nbsp; Churches will be equipped to know how to help through training, printed materials and informational prayer days.<br><br>The issue is complex.&nbsp; There are no easy or quick answers.&nbsp; But when people begin to come together, to network with one another, the problem does not seem quite so insurmountable.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.</span><span style="font-style: italic;">&nbsp; Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">--Margaret Mead</span><br><br><br><br><br></span></p> Wed, 18 May 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/35940-outreach-and-education https://internationalministries.org/read/35940-outreach-and-education The Long Train to Moldova <h3><span style="font-weight: bold;">ESCAPE 2010</span></h3><span style="font-style: italic;">“He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds…</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">God puts the fallen on their feet again and pushes the wicked into the ditch.”</span><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Psalm 147: 3,6</span><br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In early October, I had the privilege of attending Escape 2010: European Conference on Prostitution, Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.&nbsp; The conference was held in Chisinau, the capitol city of the small country of Moldova.&nbsp; Similar to Bulgaria in many respects, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the top countries for human trafficking.&nbsp; Like Bulgaria, thousands of women and girls, uneducated, living in poverty, and seeing no other way out, are trafficked from the country each year to work in the sex trade.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The four-day conference focused on the plight of these women and how Christian practitioners can help restore dignity and purpose to the lives of victims of human trafficking.&nbsp; More than 160 people from 30 different countries gathered for informative general sessions and workshops on specific topics.&nbsp; The conferees came from various backgrounds— professionals in this ministry, those with outreach ministries in major European cities, people providing shelter and counseling to those rescued, ministries working on keeping girls out of prostitution to begin with by providing education and job training, and many like those of us from Bulgaria who are looking to start something.&nbsp; Networking with each other was the highlight of the conference.&nbsp; Coming together to support and empower each other for work in this area was invaluable.&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There were six of us representing Bulgaria at the conference—a large delegation of women committed to making a difference for the daughters of Bulgaria who have been trafficked and those who are at high risk of going into this “business”.&nbsp; We have planned several times of gathering for prayer over the next couple months to seek God’s leading as to what He would have us do in this area.&nbsp; Please pray with us for direction, and that some of our Bulgarian sisters and the Bulgarian churches will join with us on this effort!<br><br><br>**********************************************************************<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">Financial Support……</span><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; October began the new fiscal year for International Ministries, and with this new year come additional changes in our support structure.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Already, for the past several years, we have been required to raise a portion of our support.&nbsp; We are extremely grateful that so many of you have sacrificially committed to assist us in meeting these goals.&nbsp; But with the start of the new year, our support goal has increased significantly. Over the next three years, we will be required to raise nearly 100% of the costs of keeping us on the field.&nbsp; These costs have previously been covered from other sources, but with the current financial climate and the need for International Ministries to balance their budget, this is no longer possible.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; With this increase, we have now dropped below our support goal for the first time in several years.&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; If you feel God calling you to walk along with us in our ministry in Bulgaria we would love to have you join with us.&nbsp; It is not necessary to commit to large amounts to make a difference.&nbsp; Gifts of $10, $20 or $50 a month are vital to our ministry.&nbsp; We absolutely understand if you are unable to commit at this time, but do ask that you keep us and our ministry partners in your prayers.&nbsp; <br><br><br><br><br><p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><br></span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/28681-the-long-train-to-moldova https://internationalministries.org/read/28681-the-long-train-to-moldova Back to School September 15 marks the beginning date for all Bulgarian public schools.&nbsp; Makes no difference what day of the week this falls on; school always begins on September 15!&nbsp; The tradition is for children and their parents to bring lovely bouquets of flowers to their teacher on the first day of school. Universities usually begin a little later, around the first part of October.&nbsp; So, as we near the end of&nbsp; October, most of Bulgaria’s students are back in the classroom.&nbsp; However, Bulgarian news reported that at least 20,000 Roma (Gypsy) children throughout the country did not start school on September 15.<br>&nbsp; <br>September 15 also marked the beginning of the year for the literacy program at our church near downtown Sofia, after the summer break.&nbsp; The program, which is entering its fourth year, reaches out to local Roma children, most of whom are included in that figure of 20,000 Roma who did not begin school this year.&nbsp; Many of the children who come to the program live in the neighborhood around the church.&nbsp; A few children from a slum area of Sofia come occasionally, on public transport.&nbsp; We’re meeting twice a week this year, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. <br>&nbsp;<br>On “opening day” this year, 16 children came to the literacy program.&nbsp; We were surprised there were so many, but we managed to accommodate in them in our small room, get re-acquainted, and give them a snack!&nbsp; I was so excited to see the children again after being gone for a year (we were on our home assignment in Colorado).&nbsp; Many of the children have been coming to the program since it started, but a few of them are new.&nbsp; There were lots of smiles and hugs along with the (somewhat) organized chaos!<br><br>Since the first day, things have settled down and the group has become smaller.&nbsp; There are usually 6-8 children who come regularly, plus 3-4 others who come sporadically.&nbsp; After the first day when there were only three of us as teachers, two new helpers, Laura and Daffy, have come on board.&nbsp; We are so thankful for them!&nbsp; Laura is a missionary friend who was in Bulgaria several years ago, spent some time in Lithuania, and is now, along with her family, back “home” in Bulgaria.&nbsp; Laura has a heart for working with these Roma children and knows the special challenges they face. <br><br>Daffy is a Bulgarian lady from our church who is an elementary school teacher by profession.&nbsp; She teaches in a public school during the day, then comes to help us twice a week.&nbsp; She brings her years of teaching experience to the program, plus a true desire to help these Roma children become literate.&nbsp; She is passionate about her work, patient with the children, and persistent that they keep trying, even when they say they can’t.&nbsp; More volunteers from the church would be welcome, but I know without a doubt that Laura and Daffy were sent to us by God!&nbsp; They have been an incredible blessing to the program, even in the few short weeks we have been meeting.<br><br>Plami has been with the program for two years now and continues to do a wonderful job.&nbsp; Her education is in social work, and she is young so the children, especially the teen girls, feel open to talk with her.&nbsp; These girls have already shared lots of things with her.&nbsp; They come from dysfunctional homes, with no role models for healthy relationships, so they come to her very confused and with lots of emotional baggage.&nbsp; Many of their problems are things that no girl of 15 or 16 years should have to face.&nbsp; Plami is able to help the girls begin to sort through their issues by simply being available to listen and by giving them sound, Christian advice. <br><br>Maria has been with the program since its beginning.&nbsp; To me, she is the humble servant Jesus talks about in the Bible, working quietly in the background to prepare food for the children, find them clean clothes, clean the church after the children leave, allow them to take a shower, and give each one lice shampoo treatments every few weeks.&nbsp; The program could not operate without Maria.<br>&nbsp; <br>So, each one of us—Plami, Laura, Daffy, Maria, me--brings our God-given gifts and talents to the program, which enables us to reach out to these children, teaching them basic literacy and math skills, bringing them practical life skills, and introducing them to the Giver of Life.<br><br>*******************************************************************<br><br><br>WORLD MISSION OFFERING 2010<br><br>Your gifts to the World Mission Offering make ministry possible in Haiti, in Bulgaria and around the world!<br><br>Special attention is being given to Haiti for this year’s WMO because the ministries being done there after January’s devastating earthquake mirror those being done by American Baptist missionaries and partners around the world.&nbsp; Some of this work is featured in seven promotional videos which can be accessed through the web at www.worldmissionoffering.org.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>Your prayerful contribution to the World Mission Offering this year will help sustain the ministries of International Ministries missionaries and partners in over 70 different countries—including Bulgaria! &nbsp;<br>Empowering your gifts to transform the world!<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br><br><br>&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/28272-back-to-school https://internationalministries.org/read/28272-back-to-school Back Home Again <span style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold;">BACK HOME AGAIN</span><br>After A.J. and Nathan wrapped up their school year in Fort Collins, Colorado at the end of May, we spent a few weeks visiting family and celebrating the milestone of Terry’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.&nbsp; We are now settling back into our home in Sofia, Bulgaria.&nbsp; It is hard to believe that we are already beginning our third term partnering with you as International Ministries missionaries here in Bulgaria!&nbsp; We ask for your prayers that God will direct our path toward fruitful ministries in partnership with the Bulgarian Baptist Union during these next four years.&nbsp; While we are glad to be back in Bulgaria, we thoroughly enjoyed our year back in the U.S.&nbsp; The highlights were time spent with family and time spent in the many churches we visited.&nbsp; It was a blessing to us to be able in be in so many churches throughout the year, seeing long-time friends, making new ones and sharing how God is working in Bulgaria.&nbsp; Your warm hospitality and your enthusiasm for missions was indeed an inspiration and encouragement to us!<br><br>We had a few days to unpack and begin to get settled back in before the boys started school.&nbsp; They attend the Anglo-American School, an English-speaking school here in Sofia.&nbsp; Both boys are ecstatic to be back in their familiar school and to see all their school and church friends once again.&nbsp; A.J, as a junior in high school, has begun the first of what will be two very challenging years in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at this school.&nbsp; Nathan’s freshman year classes will do a good job of preparing him for the demands which will be coming his way when he gets into the IB Diploma Program as well.<br><br>Tom attended three weeks of classes in Kampala, Uganda during the summer in order to begin work on his MA in International Development through Eastern University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.&nbsp; Most of the classes will be done online during his “spare” time, with the exception of two summers in Africa.&nbsp; His experience in Uganda was demanding, but was a good start to the program which he hopes will help him significantly with his development work and ministries in Bulgaria.&nbsp; We are thankful that the bombings in Kampala during the World Cup soccer finals did not directly affect him or any of his classmates, although it certainly did have an emotional impact on everyone.<br><br><br><span style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold;">WORLD MISSION OFFERING</span><br>The theme of this year’s WMO is In Haiti and in the World.&nbsp; This theme celebrates the generous outpouring of love and support for the people of Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake.&nbsp; AB churches sent over $2.3 million in aid!&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br>Even as the help to Haiti continues, although out of the media forefront, we should not forget that there are millions of others around the world still in need.&nbsp; Gifts to the WMO are spread out over 70 countries around the globe, with 100% of the funds helping International Ministries partners, projects and missionaries.<br><br>In Luke 19: 1-10, Zacchaeus’s meeting with Jesus changed his life from one of cheating and dishonesty to one of caring and service to those in need.&nbsp; He CAME to Jesus, GREW in his understanding of what God expected of him, and CHANGED his priorities.&nbsp; This is what Jesus’ mission is all about—Come, Grow, Change—and what IM is all about as well.<br>World Mission Offering—<br>Empowering your gifts to transform the world.<br>(Visit IM’s website at www.international ministries.org to find out more about WMO)<br><br><br><span style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold;">PRAYER REQUESTS:</span><br>—For A.J. and Nathan as they start their new school year.<br><br>—For the people of Bulgaria, especially the Roma people of northwest Bulgaria, who are being hit hard by the current economic times.<br><br>—For Tom and Terry as we discern the direction God is leading us in the next four years.<br><span style="FONT-STYLE: italic;"></span><span style="FONT-STYLE: italic;"></span><br> Fri, 03 Sep 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/25311-back-home-again https://internationalministries.org/read/25311-back-home-again Creating a Future <br>Statistics say that some 10,000 Bulgarian women are trafficked each year out of the country, most to Western Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and yes, even to the United States.&nbsp; Bulgaria is one of the top six countries in the world for human trafficking, the largest percentage of them children.&nbsp; People of Roma ethnicity are one of the highest at-risk groups to be sold into prostitution in all of Europe, and many of the women and girls trafficked out of Bulgaria are Roma.&nbsp; They come from backgrounds of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, abuse and severe discrimination.&nbsp; Any one of these alone would be enough to make them vulnerable, but together they create a lethal environment for exploitation.&nbsp; These girls have little or no education, and are desperate to make a living to support their families.&nbsp; This makes them easy targets for the predators who make their living from the trafficking of human beings.&nbsp; Their futures are not very bright.<br><br>Latinka, Vaska, Maria, Rosa, Gina.&nbsp; These are just a few of the girls who attend the small literacy program held two days a week at Sofia Baptist Church in Bulgaria’s capitol city.&nbsp; They are all Roma, and are all at risk of being trafficked.&nbsp; Their educational level is low and most would not be able to fill out a job application. They live in poverty, often in little more than a plywood shack.&nbsp; Some have children of their own or are forced to take care of their smaller siblings.&nbsp; None of them have the education or job skills to do this.&nbsp; The church offers the program in order to teach the children literacy and math skills, nutrition, personal hygiene skills, as well as Bible lessons.<br><br>Outreach to women and girls at risk of being caught up in the web of human trafficking is multi-faceted, and involves the areas of prevention, outreach, intervention and development.&nbsp; I have chosen to be involved in the ministry of prevention.&nbsp; The literacy program at Sofia Baptist Church is helping in the area of prevention by teaching literacy and math skills so the girls are more likely to be able to find decent employment.&nbsp; If nothing is done to address the issue of unemployment, these girls will continue to be at risk of being lured into prostitution.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>The next step, as I feel called to minister to these girls, is in the area of development.&nbsp; Teaching literacy skills is the first step in preventing them from being trafficked.&nbsp; The second step is teaching them a job skill.&nbsp; Without job training and the subsequent jobs it provides, it is difficult for these at-risk women and girls to avoid prostitution and other forms of exploitative labor.&nbsp; They need the opportunity to become self-supporting, in a job that they are well-trained for, provides a decent income for them and their families, and which, in turn, builds up their self-esteem. &nbsp;<br><br>For the Sofia Baptist Church and my ministry, this next step towards development of a job skills program will have to wait awhile.&nbsp; The funds and the building are not yet available.&nbsp; In the meantime, the literacy program continues to meet and reach at-risk girls and teens.&nbsp; It is my hope, that when the church’s new community outreach center is completed in the next couple years, that it will house a job training center which can provide these girls with the abilities they need to be successful.&nbsp; It is my prayer that this program, combined with their literacy abilities, will give them the necessary skills to keep them out of prostitution in the first place.&nbsp; Education and job training should be the basic foundation to prepare these girls for life.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”&nbsp;</span> Jeremiah 29:11<br><br>It is God’s plan for these girls to come to know Him and to enter into a future bright with hope. &nbsp;<br><br> Tue, 13 Apr 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/19907-creating-a-future https://internationalministries.org/read/19907-creating-a-future A New Year As the snow is falling outside our window here in Colorado to welcome in 2010, we are thinking about the New Year ahead of us, and what it will bring.&nbsp; God has blessed us these last six months as we began our home assignment and transitioned back into life in the United States.&nbsp; Our boys have adjusted well to school and activities here, for which we are very thankful.&nbsp; Tom and I have enjoyed our travels to churches around the country, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, sharing about the work God is doing in Bulgaria. &nbsp;<br><br>At this time of year, we think especially of our friends and co-laborers back in Bulgaria.&nbsp; New Year’s Day is a big holiday for Bulgarians, and a wonderful opportunity to wish others much health, happiness and prosperity for the New Year ahead, but morale is not very high.&nbsp; Our friends in Bulgaria are struggling with many of the same things Americans are—the economic crisis has nearly halted the construction industry which used to provide many jobs, many people are under-employed or unemployed altogether, and it’s hard to get by each day with the rising cost of food and utilities.&nbsp; No matter where in the world people live, we face many of the same problems.&nbsp; But we know that it is the same God who holds each of us in his hand and sees us through the tough times as well as the good. &nbsp;<br><br>The next six months will bring more traveling and more opportunities to network with folks who are excited about missions, wherever that work might be.&nbsp; We are grateful for this opportunity.&nbsp; And we are looking forward to our return this summer to Bulgaria and our friends and ministries there.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand”.&nbsp; Psalms 37:23-24</span><br>&nbsp;<br><br> Fri, 08 Jan 2010 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/16810-a-new-year https://internationalministries.org/read/16810-a-new-year Different Shoes <p>&nbsp;This is my command: Love each other.&nbsp;&nbsp; John 15: 17&nbsp; </p> <p><br>When you have the opportunity, go to your closet and count how many pairs of shoes you have.&nbsp; We have shoes we like for nearly every occasion, activity, season, and a few extra, just because.&nbsp; All this talk about shoes—what does it mean?&nbsp; The question we really want you to reflect on is this:&nbsp; What does it truly mean to walk in someone else’s shoes?&nbsp; What if those shoes are too big, too small, the wrong style, the wrong color, or maybe downright uncomfortable?&nbsp; We like OUR shoes, but sometimes much can be learned from taking the time to step out of our comfortable shoes and walk in a different pair.</p> <p>Dancho is a young Roma man with a passion for bringing the lost into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.&nbsp; He has helped plant churches in four small villages in northeast Bulgaria, the most economically depressed region in the entire country.&nbsp; Dancho knows what it means to be poor, to be marginalized by much of society, and to worry about how to support his family.&nbsp; He knows how those in the village feel—he walks in the same old, mud-caked shoes that they do.&nbsp; In spite of the hardships and difficulties of life in the village, Dancho also knows the joy that comes from being a redeemed child of God and he shares that joy with those around him.&nbsp; It has been a learning experience for us to work alongside Dancho.&nbsp; We see a humble man who despite his own difficulties, is constantly looking for solutions to deal with the poverty others in the community are facing.&nbsp; With Dancho, the needs of others always come first.</p> <p>Working with Dancho, and our own feeble attempts to try walking in his shoes, has meant a great deal to our own spiritual growth.&nbsp; We see what it means to be poor in personal possessions, but yet to be a humble servant of God and to share the riches of God’s love with others.&nbsp; So much can be learned by trying on trying on someone else’s shoes.&nbsp; You never know what surprises might await you!</p> <p>Your gifts to the World Mission Offering (WMO) enable us to walk along-side Dancho and many others in Bulgaria.&nbsp; Your gifts also allow you the opportunity to step into somebody else’s shoes, whether they be Dancho’s, those of a young Roma child learning to read, or a pair belonging to one of the many individuals touched because of the ministries of YOUR International Ministries missionaries.&nbsp; The WMO is vital to the support of missionaries and ministries around the globe, and 100% of your gift goes directly to this cause.&nbsp; On behalf of all IM missionaries serving around the world, we thank you for prayerfully considering your contribution to this year’s World Mission Offering, and thank you for partnering with us to share the love of God around the world. <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;WMO:&nbsp; More important than ever!&nbsp; </p> Thu, 08 Oct 2009 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/14566-different-shoes https://internationalministries.org/read/14566-different-shoes Children’s Weekend Stories, songs, games, and snacks are key ingredients in a successful children’s weekend, no matter where it takes place.&nbsp; All these and more came together for a wonderful three days spent in the village of Klutch in Southwest Bulgaria.<br><br>Klutch is the home village of our good friend, Pastor Ivan, and he is has been looking for opportunities to assist the small church there and share the Gospel with the community.&nbsp; Our first opportunity to go to Klutch came in December when Tom and A.J. joined Pastor Ivan and two of his children to deliver Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to the local kindergarten.&nbsp; This first visit helped open the door for further opportunities to work in the village, and in May that second opportunity was carried out.<br><br>A group of 14 (Pastor Ivan’s family of six, our family of four, two volunteers from Sofia and two volunteers from the town of Blagoevgrad) traveled to Klutch to hold the first of what we hope will be many Children’s’ Weekends.&nbsp; Each of the three days saw about 25 children, plus some parents and grandparents, in attendance.<br>&nbsp; <br>Friday night’s opening session was a full-length children’s movie which had been dubbed into Bulgarian.&nbsp; Saturday and Sunday mornings began with singing, outdoor games and crafts.&nbsp; The time together ended with an object lesson where the children learned some valuable things about issues they face every day, such as the importance of using words that build up others rather than cut them down.&nbsp;&nbsp; One of the aims of the weekend was to begin to build relationships with the children of Klutch, and their families.&nbsp; The building of these relationships, “pre-evangelism” so to speak, lays the groundwork to be able to share one’s faith more effectively.&nbsp; Sharing one’s faith then becomes more relational and less informational. &nbsp;<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br>Pastor Ivan met with interested adults on Sunday morning to tell them a little of the history of Evangelical church in Bulgaria (as opposed to the Orthodox faith), and of the ministry of the local Baptist church in Klutch.&nbsp; Pastor Ivan also spent time in the local coffee shop conversing with people, many of whom have known him since he was a child.&nbsp; What a great testimony he was to them!<br><br>In addition to the time with the children we also spent a couple of hours assembling new toys for the local kindergarten.&nbsp; We were also able to supply them with new bed sheets made by Nina and Emil, the couple in northern Bulgaria whom we helped with a small business loan to start their sewing shop.&nbsp; Nina and Emil only asked us to cover the cost of the fabric for the sheets, and donated their time to sew them.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br>The word “klutch” in Bulgarian translated means “key”.&nbsp; We praise God that a door was unlocked to allow His word to be heard in this village, and that many more doors will be unlocked for ministry here in the future!&nbsp; <br><br>**************************************************************<br><br><h3><span style="font-weight: bold;">Luther Rice Society Matching Gift Fund</span></h3><br>As we mentioned in our last newsletter, any new gifts given to our support, or the support of any IM missionary, between $200 and $2000, can be matched dollar for dollar due to the generosity of several individuals who have formed the Luther Rice Society Matching Gift Fund. &nbsp;<br><br>Time is running out to take advantage of this opportunity!<br><br>In order to qualify, gifts must be:<br><br>--From individuals, churches, or foundations that have not previously given to our support.<br>--Between $200 and $2000.<br>--Sent directly to International Ministries or given through the International Ministries website (see below for information on how to send your gift).<br>--Received before June 30, 2009.<br><br>Thank you to each of you who have been a part of our network of support both through your prayers and your financial gifts.&nbsp; If you feel led to join in our financial support, this is a great time to do so and take advantage of the matching funds.&nbsp; <br><br>**************************************************************<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Packing and Leaving</span><br><br>The time of our leaving Bulgaria for U.S. assignment is fast approaching.&nbsp; We will be flying out of Sofia in just a few weeks, on July 1.<br><br>Many of you have written requesting a visit while we are based in Colorado for the year, and we are trying to visit as many churches as possible.&nbsp; Our schedule for this fall is full, but if your church or group would like to host us in 2010 please let us know and we will work on scheduling a visit.&nbsp; You may contact us via email at:<br>myersbulgaria@msn.com<br><br>*************************************************************<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Please pray for…………</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">..Our family as we prepare for our return to the U.S. and for safe travels.</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">..For our boys as they once again say goodbye to friends and make the transition to new schools.</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">..For the people and ministries we leave behind.</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">..For Pastor Ivan and his family as they minister in various places and ways.</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">..For the children and adults in Klutch who participated in the Children’s Weekend.</span><br><br>**************************************************************<br><br>If you would like to support the ministry of Tom and Terry Myers please send contributions to:<br><br>International Ministries<br>P.O. Box 851<br>Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851<br><br>Please indicate that your contribution is for the ministry of <br>Tom and Terry Myers <br>in Bulgaria<br><br>You can also give electronically by going to International Ministries’ web site at:<br><a href="http://">www.internationalministries.org </a>and follow the “Giving” link.<br><br> Mon, 15 Jun 2009 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/11986-children-s-weekend https://internationalministries.org/read/11986-children-s-weekend Small Steps One of the major issues facing many of the churches in Bulgaria is the difficulty they have in paying the pastor an adequate salary.&nbsp; I have shared on several occasions my desire and my calling to assist these small village churches.&nbsp; It is my prayer that by helping individuals in the churches create better lives for themselves, we can also build a foundation on which the local church can grow.&nbsp; Starting and building a viable business is a slow process, and there are many peaks and valleys.&nbsp; Some days it feels as if progress is being made and other times it seems as if things are moving backwards.&nbsp; Through it all, we know that God is in control and is working in the lives of his people.<br>If you have read previous journals from Bulgaria you know that I have been working with several families to help them start small dairies.&nbsp; While the progress has been slower than anticipated, it is my hope that by the time we leave in July for our U.S. /P.R. Assignment year, each of the three dairies will have completed all the requirements to obtain their “Category 1” rating.&nbsp; This will allow them to receive a higher price for their milk which will make a big difference in their lives.&nbsp; Additional personal income means that they can increase their tithe to the church.<br>Additionally, two families have been assisted in the development of small farming projects.&nbsp; The first is a young man who has grown potatoes for several years, and has done well selling them to his neighbors and to some vegetable vendors in his village.&nbsp; He has wanted to increase his acreage to accommodate a growing demand for his produce, but in order to do so needed a small loan to purchase supplies and to rent additional ground.&nbsp; The potatoes should be in the ground soon and we pray he is on his way to a successful year.<br>The second family lives in north central Bulgaria and is growing wheat and sunflowers.&nbsp; During our second year in Bulgaria a tractor was purchased with One Great Hour of Sharing funds, and it is this tractor that is once again being put to use.<br>Each of these projects are just small steps to providing better lives for families, and with time and hard work I hope and pray they will be the stepping stones to seeing these village churches able to support their pastor and to reach out and minister in greater ways in their communities.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.&nbsp; Nothing will be impossible for you.”&nbsp; Matthew 17:20</span><br>&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br><br> Wed, 08 Apr 2009 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/10494-small-steps https://internationalministries.org/read/10494-small-steps