Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Humanitarian Aid


This last weekend, David and I rode an overnight train (14 hours) to the capital city of Kiev to attend a conference for Humanitarian Aid. Simferopol Baptist Church has been receiving Humanitarian Aid from an American organization for about 12 years now. Since we have been working in this church for two years and since we are still "learning the ropes" of all of the ministries here, we decided to attend this yearly conference to learn more about the "whats," whys," "whos" etc...

An organization "Christ for Humanity" located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, contacted Bob and Judy Van Sant 12 years ago, wanting to know if they could help them distribute used clothing, shoes, and medical supplies. The Van Sants agreed, which was the start of a yearly distribution of humanitarian aid here in Simferopol. Of course, all distribution is done in the name of Christ, under the leadership of Simferopol Baptist Church. This has been a tremendous way to show concern for people in our community, thus giving them an open door to attend church in order that they will hear how to receive Christ as their Savior.

I would like to share an interesting story that Mrs. Judy told me today that brought tears to my eyes. Many years ago, three large crates of used shoes were sent for distribution. She and Pastor Bob spent an entire day sorting through the shoes and pairing them off. They were left with a large box of unmated shoes. They felt frustrated that Americans would be so rude as to bother sending "rubbish," when, moments later, a man walked in the door and explained that he was in need of single shoes for people in the amputation center he worked in! Wow! God knew several months earlier that people in Ukraine with only one leg were in need of shoes too.... and that they only needed one of each! She shared that they both wept and thanked God for using them to distribute single shoes to such needy people. I am constantly amazed at how God works in very mysterious ways!


The conference we attended was helpful in teaching us about the new laws that have been passed in Ukraine for receiving and distributing humanitarian aid. Several representatives from Ukrainian congress spoke to us on that subject. Then, a few representatives from Counterpart International (the humanitarian aid organization) spoke to us on how to work better with our donors in America, in order for us to be more efficient on our end of distributing. The U.S. State Department provides grants for humanitarian aid organizations to send this aid to third-world countries; therefore, they too sent a representative to speak to us about these grants. It was a long day of meetings, but well worth our time and effort. Counterpart International paid our train trips, put us in a hotel for the night, and fed us a nice dinner as well. We learned that we are allowed to make specific requests, and they actually strongly encourage this. I am excited about this new information because I plan to request children's clothing and shoes for our orphanage ministry! God is sufficient to provide for all our needs!

We plan to continue receiving and distributing humanitarian aid for many years to come, or as the Lord allows. If only one person receives Christ because their needs have been met through this ministry, all of our efforts will have been worth it!

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