May 17, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I woke up to spend some time with the Lord; then I clicked on some news. In a few minutes I found out hundreds of awful things that were happening all over the world. Did I gasp with horror? Was I moved in my heart to do something to help? Did I become overwhelmed with sorrow? No. I simply clicked on the red “X” and went to the kitchen to fix myself some coffee.
Before we discovered Hana had autism, I would act the very same way toward people with disabilities - listen politely to their stories, hear about their struggles, pain, and all the discrimination they experience, maybe pray with them a bit, and then…..CLICK!
The Lord has used Hana to open our eyes to a world we never saw before, to feel pain we have never felt before, to experience trials we have never gone through…. All for the purpose of deepening our character and creating compassion in our hearts toward those we really couldn’t relate to before:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. - II Cor. 1:3,4
No, we don’t click the big red “X” anymore. We’re keeping the window open. We’ve now decided to do something about the needs that we see.
In April, after months of prayer and preparation, we finally had one of our first great acts of service to the disabled community in Serbia – a fun, relaxing retreat sponsored by “Joni and Friends.” Everything turned out wonderfully! Thank you for your prayers! 12 families, mostly non-Christian, with children that have various disabilities (from Down’s Syndrome to Autism) attended the five-day event at a beautiful hotel a few hours south of Belgrade.
 
We had volunteers from: a Serbian Bible School, various churches (including our own), and even the U.S! (Representatives of “Joni and Friends” and people from Jennifer’s church in Fullerton, CA).

There were all kinds of activities going on: arts and crafts, karaoke parties, clown performances, teaching and workshops on the subject of “God’s perspective of people with disabilities,” testimonies, evangelistic music and worship, swimming, fancy dinner for couples, pizza parties, movies, etc. Here are some of the comments of the people that attended:

“I just don’t understand why you all are doing this for us. I feel like I won the lottery or something!”

“My husband and I haven’t had a break like this in years. We simply have no one that will offer to take care of our child; even for a few hours. Your volunteers have cared for our child and shown more love toward her than even our own families or relatives.”

“Seeing all of this has really convinced me that there is a God!”

“This has truly been a wonderful rest for us. Even if we could have afforded to come to this hotel on our own, which we couldn’t have, we wouldn’t have really had an enjoyable time without you all. We would’ve just run around chasing our child the whole time, without any help and left more nervous than when we arrived!”

“You know, before I came to this place, I thought that God was punishing me by giving me a child with a disability. Now I realize that this is not true – that He loves us all equally and created my child in His image for a special purpose.”


There really are no words I could write that would accurately convey all that happened at that retreat. God did an amazing, indescribable work that we will never forget! The youth director of our church here in Sombor, who also volunteered, put together a great slide presentation that you can check out at – www.SerbianOutreach.com under the “Videos” option.
Thanks again for your prayers and financial support. We are so thankful to have you behind us!
Love in Christ,

Greg
 














Urgent Request

Just a few days ago we had to apply for a special permit that will allow our church building to become officially approved for public use. There are certain unfinished parts of the building that we’ll have to fix up within the next month in order to prepare it for inspection: upstairs ceilings and insulation, inside railing for staircase, lighting for upstairs level, inside doors, balcony, etc. We will also need to prepare special documentation by a registered architect with the blueprints of the entire building.
I have been putting this off for months because of the fact that we have completely run out of money for the building project and still have a huge debt of 20,000 Euros that we are paying monthly interest on from the churches’ tithes and offerings. We cannot prolong obtaining this permit any longer and if we aren’t careful, we could lose our right to use the building for our worship services and other public gatherings.
We have absolutely no idea how we are going to pay for these new expenses for the fixing up I mentioned and the necessary documentation. The approximate cost of all this is going to be somewhere between the equivalent of 5-6 thousand dollars. Would you possibly be willing to help?
As I was praying this morning, asking God to give me wisdom to figure out what to do, a thought came to mind – there are about 170 of you receiving this newsletter by email and several others by “snail-mail.” If each of you were to send $35, this would completely cover what we need to get this problem taken care of! Here is the info you’ll need:

1. Make check payable to:

Calvary Chapel of Vista

2. Write in memo section of check:

Sombor Church

3. Send check to:

Calvary Chapel of Vista
885 E. Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084

I don’t mean to sound like a T.V. evangelist and I really feel uncomfortable doing this, but I just can’t think of any other options at this point. We’re out of time and desperately need your help! Please think about it, pray and give (if possible).

Thank God I Can Now Understand Them (by Jelena)

About two and a half years ago after we discovered Hana has autism I suddenly felt like my eyes had been opened to a whole new world. The statistics of those diagnosed with autism or other disabilities are nothing different than in America, though a visit to this country might deceive you. Such people are simply not seen in public. You usually only find them in special institutes, homes, etc. shut away from the rest of the world. The parents of children with special needs are tired of the funny looks, comments, attitudes they observe in public.
The retreat we just recently had enabled us to be hospitable hosts to these dear people. We had the wonderful opportunity to spend five days having fun and sharing burdens together with them. What a blessing!
Just a few days ago the director of a local school for disabled children here in Sombor gave us the opportunity to get to know the parents of these children and speak to them about some of the trials we have gone through and how we found hope. This was such an amazing time for us. It was wonderful to be around others who were going through the same kind of difficulties we were; to meet those who had lived in the shadows of this city.
As the mother of a child with special needs, I realized that a door into a new world and subculture had suddenly opened. I had the privilege of meeting and enjoying the company of sad, heavy-burdened people of rich deep character. I was given the chance to talk to them about Christ and what He has done for me in my troubles, how He has lifted me up time and time again. And wow, did they listen! Their hurts were mine; their fears of the future of their children I shared, the dreams that were stolen from them were also stolen from me. I was given the ability to understand them, to cry with them, to rejoice with them… What a privilege!
Thanks for praying for us and caring. We serve a great God!


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