By Jeff Thompson, Director, Mercy Projects, Special to ASSIST News Service
MURRIETA, CA (ANS – November 28, 2017) — Who is on your shopping list? At Mercy Projects, we answer this question with a spreadsheet of about 1,000 at risk kids and their families. Yes, the task is daunting, however, our staff in Ukraine and Kosovo, personally know every child and family that receives a gift.
Whether they have two parents, one parent, a grandparent, a foster parent, or perhaps come from a large family, practical presents of sheets, sweets, blankets, or school supplies are provided to each child. This personal approach, as opposed to large events with thousands of children, allows us to connect with each family, breaking the isolation they so often feel during the holidays.
The Christmas presents, provided through donations of $25 each, help us share the joy and love of Christ with each family. Our staff in Ukraine actually purchase and distribute the bed sheets, sweets, blankets or school supplies, depending on the family. They give your gift of $25 the “personal touch” and give out each present with love.
Christmas Camp in January?
The Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas is January 7th. This year during the first week of January we are inviting 70 teenagers from poor families to join us for a Christmas camp of discipleship and growing deeper in Christian faith.
They are so appreciative for the opportunity to attend this camp. Many of the kids come from small towns or villages where only an Orthodox church is present. Thus they desperately look forward to this time of fun, making friends, and growing in their faith in Christ.
To sponsor one young person for the entire week is only $150. This includes transportation, all meals, activities and growing in God’s love.
Firewood for Widows
In Kosovo your Christmas support will provide firewood for widows and warmth for the poor. The firewood project provides heat for widows in Kosovo. They use a wood burning stove to heat one room in the house during winter. The kids huddle together in the one room for warmth. Most sleep in this room as well. With your help, a gift of $75 provides one month of firewood for a needy family. We hope to provide three months of firewood ($225) to each family.
To give a gift, please go to https://mercyprojects.org/christmas/
Photo captions: 1) Jeff and Paula Thompson in Kyiv, Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas. 2) Winter camp for at-risk teens in Ukraine. 3) Pastor Urim in Kosovo delivers firewood to widow, Ajne, and her children. 4) Book cover.
Note: Mercy Projects was founded in 1980 by its president, Jeff Thompson. Its previous name was Eastern European Outreach (EEO). Jeff and his wife Paula lived in Berlin and regularly crossed “Checkpoint Charlie” to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. This exciting story is told in his book, Leaving The American Sector. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Jeff signed an agreement with the Russian military to teach a rehabilitation program for 25,000 teenage prisoners in 59 youth prisons. (The breakdown of the family due to alcoholism, unemployment, and poverty played a significant role creating the “social orphan” and “teen prisoner crisis” in the former Soviet Union.) Jeff traveled for eight years throughout Russia and Siberia to share the gospel with thousands of young prisoners. In 1994, Jeff also opened a Charity Fund in Kyiv, Ukraine to address the problem of preventing kids from becoming orphaned, thus reaching them before they possibly end up in a youth prison. This was the beginning of the child and family sponsorship ministry. 20 years later, Mercy Projects provides assistance to thousands of children and their families all over Ukraine through Christian Camps, education, grocery support, and medical help using their network of childcare coordinators. Their focus remains on child and family development. More information on Mercy Projects, Murrieta, California, phone 951-696-5244 or e-mail email@example.com
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