Village Knits: Christmas Presents with Purpose

Want to give your loved ones gifts that have a long-lasting impact? Choose some of the lovely knitted scarves, hats, fingerless gloves, warm headbands, and more at Village Knits from Albania! Village Knits is a collective of women in a small village who are struggling financially, and the proceeds from the sales of these items help them purchase necessities like cooking oil, medicine, and other things they need for their families and homes. Missionaries Nathan and Cydil Waggoner are partnering with the ladies in this project.

From the Village Knits store:

“Economic opportunities for women in rural communities are difficult to come by.  Where we serve in Albania,  limited education and resources, not to mention the expense and difficulty of commuting and responsibilities for family care all represent barriers for women to contribute financially to their families. Our attempt has been to develop skills (or take advantage of existing skills) to empower women create commodities which can be sold and thereby help their families economically. We bring in much of the goods used in the products they create (yarns, jewelry components, paper goods, etc.) and the price of the inputs is deducted from their profits.”

Some of the beautiful products available for purchase at Village Knits

Some of the beautiful products available for purchase at Village Knits (Photos by Cydil Waggoner)

If you’d like a little piece of handiwork from Albania, pay the shop a visit and drop Cydil an e-mail. She can answer any questions you might have about payment and shipping. Right now, a shipment to the United States is scheduled for December 16, so act fast!

While you’re browsing the merchandise, take a gander at the Meet the Knitters page to see the names and faces of the ladies who are benefiting from Village Knits. From Cydil: “Last year [the knitters] rolled out a bunch of goodies for the winter season and many friends in the States responded very well, purchasing dozens of scarves and headbands for a chilly winter in America. I was tickled to surprise them with their payment envelopes at Christmas time. THAT was fun.  Giggles, tears, stunned silence.”

Happy shopping!

 

Missionaries Help Refugees in Hungary

We’ve all seen the heart-breaking stories on the news about the refugee crisis in Europe. In recent weeks, the main train station in Budapest has been filled with families seeking a better life and safety. Missionaries from a number of organizations have joined in the relief efforts, including those who serve with WGM. Here’s Katy Beth Searls sharing what her family has been a part of in the last several days:

“God’s been answering in specific ways. He’s working! Many of the refugees have been able to move on and He’s given us plans on how to help on the ground now. I was able to go into the city and interact with children and mothers on Friday in the name of Jesus! Oh, how GLAD I am to be able to name HIS NAME and just speak the name of JESUS as I loved on and prayed for these ones.

Dan and I helped take a group of high schoolers with Abby and Sadie today back downtown to give out food and water, toys, and ponchos. The sweet ones I’d seen on Friday morning were not there Saturday afternoon. On Friday, they were mostly from Syria. Most of the ones we talked to on Saturday were from Afghanistan. Dan talked to a bunch of young men from Pakistan.

Dan Searls took a group of high school students to hand out water and supplies to refugees in Budapest.

Dan and Katy Beth Searls took a group of high school students to hand out water and supplies to refugees in Budapest.

Our teammates, Mark and Eszti Landerholm, had a great group from several churches set up a “Bathe your Baby” station and a soup kitchen with a hot meal for supper. Amazing what creativity Jesus gave them. He’s answering your prayers. THANK YOU!!

The situation is very fluid and changing rapidly but we were looking for how God is working and it was great to pray with the high schoolers in the park and outside the train station for the ones who were there and the ones  who have traveled on and for the ones still coming.”

Yesterday, Dan wrote about traveling to one of the refugee camps to help clean it up for more who were about to arrive.

“Today I was able to go down to where many are crossing the border into Hungary from Serbia. It is not a place where many are staying long, as Hungary is working on getting them registered and on their way. They usually arrive at night and need a place to rest until they are able to move on. High turnover has created chaos and a lot of trash! We picked up trash, organized, helped make a tent village and PRAYED! I prayed over the mother and her little ones who were there last night as I cleaned out a tent with a baby hat that had been left. There was a pacifier left in the dirt that made my heart hurt as I bent over to pick it up and prayed for the family that moved on without it. I prayed for the families coming tonight who will sleep in the tents that we cleaned out and re-positioned for them.

Dan Searls and Mark Landerholm joined a number of volunteers to clean up this camp site for refugees.

Dan Searls and Mark Landerholm joined a number of volunteers to clean up this campsite for refugees.

There were volunteers from France and Germany and Great Britain who were working with us as we struggled to bring some chaos out of  the disorder. As we were heading home, we saw newly arriving refugees coming down the railroad tracks from Serbia.

So many questions that are unanswerable, but we can PRAY!!”

ACT

Pray for God’s grace and peace to be with the refugees who are fleeing violence and poverty. Pray for missionaries as they reach out to them in Christ’s name. Pray for open doors to sharing His love.

If you would like to be a part of meeting these needs, please donate here.

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-24 NIV)

 

Was that thunder?

Brower FamilyBill and Oksana Brower, WGM missionaries in Berdyansk, Ukraine, recently sent this update to their ministry partners. Please lift them  up in prayer. 

“Was that thunder?”

Oksana and I were standing outside our house and felt the ground shudder. We looked up at the clear blue sky and realized the rumbling wasn’t thunder; it was the Ukrainian army doing target practice. Another reminder that the Ukraine-Russia conflict is still an active war zone situation.

The war hasn’t been in the American news much lately, but I assure you that it’s still going on. There’s been some back and forth but no major advances on either side. Sadly, we hear that approximately 5 people are losing their lives every day in the conflict zone.

Still, we’re doing fine; we’re still in Berdyansk, and if it gets worse, we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We are seeking God’s wisdom regarding our next steps, and we pray that we will follow Him in all things.

But life goes on! I’ve been staying active in our church youth group, and even preached last Sunday in the main service. Oksana’s girls’ group is still meeting. With it being summer break, we’ve been involved in camps and special events. One new fun thing we’ve done several times this summer is teach various teen groups to play baseball. We’re not too serious about the rules (having fun is more important than rules – a good reminder for us all!) and the kids seem to like it. One group near the Home of Hope started with just 10 kids showing up, and now there are over 35 who come!

We always include an invitation to come to the youth center, where they will hear Bible lessons. At a BBQ we had recently, over 40 students came to play baseball and have some good food. I did a Bible lesson there. Many Ukrainians are really wary of churches because non-Catholic churches are often perceived as cults. So we do these fun things to start building relationships and tearing down those stereotypes.

One refugee family is still living in the Home of Hope, but everyone else has either moved farther west or they’ve found jobs and apartments here in town. We are still happy to help refugees, but our focus has shifted to helping locals. Prices for gas, food, and electricity have gone up and salaries haven’t. Berdyansk is a tourist town, and tourists have stopped coming. People are really struggling financially. We try to help as we can through our Samaritan’s Fund, which gives humanitarian aid.

What’s our biggest need right now? Prayer!

Pray for peace and calm. People are anxious, nervous, and that is really wearing people down.

Pray that we can convince people that God is still in control. We hope that our example of staying here and continuing in ministry is a testimony of God’s work in our lives. We want to be His light in this dark place. Pray that God will guide us to be better “light-carriers.”

Friends, I can’t thank you enough for standing with us in prayer and financial support. We know that God has us here in Berdyansk, Ukraine, at this time for His purposes. It’s not easy, but when did He promise us an easy life? We just hope we will always be faithful to listen and follow Him.

Your co-workers,

Bill, Oksana, and Denis Brower

“Do you love Jesus?”

Nathan and Cydil Waggoner serve in Albania with their children Ellie and Reni.

Nathan and Cydil Waggoner serve in Albania with their children Ellie and Reni.

“You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength...” (Psalm 8:2a)

God often uses the black-and-white wisdom of children to remind us of His eternal truths. For 8-year-old Ellie Waggoner, MK from Albania, the reason their family exists is to tell people about Jesus, whether in their rural home in Albania or traveling around the United States. Missionary activity is not something that is confined to a foreign location; we are called to share the love of Jesus everywhere we go. Here’s her parents, Nathan and Cydil, sharing a recent moment:

“Why are we going back to America this summer? Has everyone in America forgotten about Jesus? Have we finished our job here in Albania? Has everyone here heard about Jesus?”

Ellie sometimes asks the most penetrating questions!

This past year’s homeschool curriculum has focused on countries and cultures around the world and included reading the biographies of Christian heroes who brought the Light of Jesus into dark places for the first time.

As  she processed the meaning of “Homeland Ministry Assignment” – what we call our time spent in the U.S. — her understanding was that our family’s role is to do the same:  bring the Light with us wherever we go! After all, we were in Albania to tell people about Jesus, therefore if we go to America, it must be because people there need to know about him too!

As parents, we are proud of her little evangelistic heart. Since arriving in the States two weeks ago, we’ve been at stores and garage sales, restaurants and churches, and Ellie will ask total strangers, “Do you love Jesus?”  While it might be easy for us to think that we’re simply coming back to report about the work in Albania, Ellie reminds us that our job is to take the Light everywhere! Not just Albania!

ACT

What steps can you take today to be more missions-active like Ellie? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take a batch of cookies to your neighbor’s house and invite them to go to church with you on Sunday.
  • Volunteer in your church’s children’s or outreach ministry.
  • Be kind to everyone in the service industry you interact with – servers, cashiers, mechanics, your barista, etc. Be an active testimony of the love and grace of Jesus Christ.