The Basics: Family, Friends, and Diapers!

If you’ve been to a baby shower recently, been a parent, or have new parents in your circle, you know that diapers are always a very welcome gift, but especially for these families in need. Baby Basics of Bellevue and its volunteers are pouring out love to parents beyond the baby shower. It is recognizing parents’ most basic needs and helping to provide for them so that they can focus on their children and their goals for the future.

We’d like to share two portraits of families we have been able to serve through Baby Basics of Bellevue:

“When they first started coming to distributions almost a year ago, the family’s new baby daughter, Baby Q, was usually asleep. Now she is an active, happy baby and enjoys any snacks that are available when she attends distributions. Baby Q’s family has struggled with homelessness and underemployment. Her father works nights in Seattle, and her mother works at a human services agency in Bellevue.”

“Baby S has been in the program for just over a year. He is a smiley, bright, and active little boy. Baby S and his mom do not have a car, and they ride the bus to get to Tuesday night distributions. Afterward, they often wait for an hour or more for Baby S’s dad to pick them up after work. Volunteers have offered to give Baby S and his mom a ride, but she wants to be as self-sufficient as possible. She is determined and resourceful. She is learning English so that she can start working once Baby S is in preschool. Recently she asked for help in locating places where she could access free or low-cost English classes, and clothing and toys. We tapped our referral network and gave her information for Jubilee Reach and Bellevue College.” 

Beyond serving the families enrolled in the Baby Basics program we feel compelled to help parents who ask for our help. Often we refer them to other agencies that are equipped to help families in crisis, and sometimes we become more involved. Recently we were asked for help from a homeless mother with a toddler son. We provided diapers, food, and transportation to a night shelter and, the next day, to a day shelter. Other times we have delivered emergency diapers to families in crisis or to volunteers helping those families. We also regift diapers we cannot use to Jubilee Reach and other organizations that serve homeless families and low-income families on the Eastside.

As homelessness on the Eastside grows, Baby Basics is experiencing more requests for diapers for homeless families taking refuge in Eastside shelters. It is heartbreaking to see families shuffled between shelters at night and living out of cars during the day, some with no car or any possessions beyond a suitcase, backpack, and stroller.

Baby Basics: National Development Corporation provides diapers to working families living on the edge of poverty across the United States. Volunteers at the distribution centers offer encouragement and assistance by connecting parents with a network that helps them cope with life’s challenges. Currently, Baby Basics of Bellevue, WA has twenty-six babies in the program. Distribution nights are casual and fun with many little ones either being carried or running about.

Bellevue Presbyterian hosts Baby Basics of Bellevue diaper distribution nights on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month. Contact GetConnected to get involved.

Back to School, Back to Whole

I recently posted an entry to my Facebook page: “Back to school task 1,573,826…hair braided…” Getting your kids, and let’s be honest ourselves, prepared to return to school after summer can be a monumental task. I am a mom of many, and several of my own cherubs have special needs. Already, in the month of August, I have been in perpetual meetings and conversations with talented school professionals, mental health professionals, and support teams. As a result, I have become all the more grateful for the ministry I get to be a part of at Eastside Academy.

Through my own parenting journey, I have recognized that accessing services for a child with special needs can be overwhelming and time consuming. For the courageous and beautiful families we serve at Eastside Academy, we have tried to eliminate some of that struggle. As a wholistic school, our goal is to address as many needs as possible in one place.  While we are a high school, we have recognized that challenges outside of the classroom can frequently interrupt progress IN the classroom. Thus, our students are provided with mental health care, recovery services, and a mentor, all in one location. In addition, we have eliminated what is notably one of the most frustrating tasks for parents/caregivers/guardians everywhere…school supply shopping. (I feel like there should be looming music playing every time those words are uttered. Ugh.) Every one of our students are provided with the school supplies needed to enter their classes; if a child needs one, we also supply backpacks. While this may seem insignificant, as a mom I can tell you, if I could eliminate this task in my own family, I would be singing the hallelujah chorus!

And honestly, that is how we try to approach everything at Eastside Academy: How would we want our own children to be treated? What support would I want or need walking through the situations our students and families face? While we are not perfect, this is definitely the heart to our approach.

I have shared with our team before that no one walks through the doors of Eastside Academy for the first time without having experienced some type of hurt or loss. Students and families come here because something didn’t work out the way they had hoped and dreamed. Our goal is to remind them, or sometimes tell them for the first time, they do not have to carry this heavy burden alone. We have a God who sees every need and has equipped His people to respond. By wrapping our arms around the educational, spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical needs of our students, we desire to model the love we have each been shown through our Savior. A love that knows no boundaries. A love that makes sacrifices while speaking truth. A love that pursues, forgives, and seeks redemption and reconciliation for all.

I am amazed that even after 10 years of working here, that there are still so many times this ministry just takes my breath away. We are so grateful for the support and investment that this community puts into our students, families, and the work that God is accomplishing at Eastside Academy. Could we ask you to join us in prayer for the precious lives that will walk through our doors this year? Additionally, Eastside Academy’s Dinner and Live Auction is being held on October 22, at the Meydenbauer Center. We invite you to join us as we work to provide everything from backpacks to counseling to housing for our amazing students.

If you would like more information about enrolling a child, getting involved with this work, or attending our auction, please contact us at 425-452-9920 or visit our website at www.eastsideacademy.org

 

Christmas in July–A Matt Talbot Center Tradition

Imagine you are ten years old again, and Christmas is a few weeks away. You live with your mom and your little sister in downtown Seattle, sometimes in a rented room and sometimes on the streets. You are familiar with cold, with wet clothes, with hunger in your belly and the cries of your sister at night. She’s afraid of the dark, of the bugs and the vermin idownloadn the room, and of being left alone while your mom is out. You attend 3rd grade and all your friends are excited about Christmas. They talk about presents and Santa and all the food and candy they will get. Some of your friends are like you. They know that there won’t be presents this year, and that Christmas dinner will be at one of the shelters nearby. Your sister talks about a new doll that she’s hoping Santa will bring her. You secretly hope for a new jacket and a toy, but you’re old enough now to know the reality of your mom’s life and that presents are not something she can provide this year.

Now imagine a wonderful Christmas Party at Matt Talbot Center in downtown Seattle. There’s a huge pile of presents, delicious smells and best of all, Santa Claus! Children, like the two described above, line up around the block with their parents as they wait their turn to come inside, sit on Santa’s lap, receive a present, cookies and delicious foods. Someone says “Welcome!” and “Come on in!” Volunteers from all over Seattle are dressed in holiday sweaters helping kids and their parents to feel hope and joy again. Throughout the party, everyone points to the reality that Jesus came to earth as a baby to reconcile humanity to God. Happy laughter, hugs and smiles are everywhere.

In the midst of July sunshine, blue skies and lake-side barbeques, it might seem a bit incongruous to be thinking about Christmas. After all, we have five months before the Big Day. And, if you are like me, I put off thinking about anything related to Christmas until the fall. Longtime BelPres mission partner Matt Talbot Center, on the other hand, are long-range planners when it comes to Christmas knowing that the needs of children and families in the urban core are intensified during the holidays. Every year they host a Christmas Party for families in the downtown area. What began as a small gathering 31 years ago has grown into a huge event, with last year seeing 1000 children coming through their doors the second Saturday in December. With homelessness at a crisis level in Seattle, they are expecting another huge celebration this year.

Matt Talbot Center has an amazing presence in downtown Seattle. Founded in 1985 by a small group of businessmen with a vision for solutions for homelessness in Seattle, MTC has evolved into a place for those who are serious about living drug and alcohol free lives. Members are ministered to through counseling, drug and alcohol treatment services, Bible study and prayer, housing and employment assistance, and literacy training. MTC provides individuals and families with the opportunities they need to overcome obstacles and disabilities that hinder self-sufficiency.

On July 24th, BelPres is hosting “Christmas in July” for Matt Talbot Center. During all morning services MTC will be present in the lobby to share about the ministry of MTC. BelPres members are invited to bring a gift card for MTC so that they can shop for Christmas gifts ahead of time for this year’s party on December 17th. With an annual cost of $20,000 to provide gifts for 1000 kids, gift cards to WalMart, Kohl’s, Target, Toys-R-Us, Costco and Sam’s Club are perfect. Visa/MasterCard Gift Cards work well, too. Matt Talbot staff and volunteers will use the cards to purchase gifts for Santa to give out during the party. You will be helping them provide new clothing, toys and other gifts to needy families this Christmas!

Freedom Schools: Reaching Kids Through Love and Education

As you probably know, the summer months are when many children, especially children in low-income communities, experience a significant loss in what they have learned throughout the school year due to inactivity.

However, beyond even the academic challenges, children in the community often lack the social, emotional and spiritual support that they need to deal with various challenges in their lives.

Here is a story that one of our interns shared with me recently about one of his Urban Impact Freedom School scholars:

One day I was told that one of my scholar’s mom had cancer and that it was getting progressively worse. The following day I expected him to stay at home and spend the day supporting his mother. But when I walked into the Harambee room where we all meet every morning, there he was. Although he showed up, his arms were crossed, his hood covered his face, and he would not say a word.

As we started the day, we were high-fiving, making jokes in the group, cheering and chanting, inspiring, and sharing love all around. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him murmuring and clapping his hands lightly to the Harambee rhythms. As the day passed, those murmurs turned to words and his clapping hands were now willingly receiving high-fives from his peers. The more love we showed him as a Freedom School community, the more he started to open up and share with the group.

The supportive community of Freedom School helped him to cope and process some of the hardship that he and his family were facing. By the end of the day, he had turned in the best work he had ever done in my class. His peers continued to be inviting, understanding, and supportive for anything he may have needed. I was inspired not only by the quality of his work, but by his perseverance and the way the Freedom School community supported him in his time of family hardship.
-Khyree Smith, Urban Impact Freedom School Servant Leader Intern 2015

Students shared some of the things they endure and encounter on a regular basis. What we found to be true is their desire to be in school had little to nothing to do with school itself, but everything to do with what was happening in their homes, their neighborhoods, their thoughts, and emotions.”

 As a BelPres mission partner, Urban Impact is doing incredible work for the kingdom of God in the Rainier Valley. Please pray for this year’s Freedom School, for their staff and for all the youth that are attending. If you are interested in learning more about the Freedom School and how you can help out, please visit www.urbanimpactseattle.org

Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child

In 2013, Christianity Today participated in a study of the effects of Child Sponsorship. The data gathered from that ground-breaking study was a powerful recommendation for sponsoring children as a way that we can truly have kingdom impact. I decided, this week, to share an article from that issue, that, three years later, still sticks in my mind. Please take the time to read Bruce Wydick’s excellent piece –Nan

A top economist shares the astounding news about that little picture hanging on our refrigerator:

“What can an ordinary person like me do to help the poor?” When people find out at parties and social gatherings that I am a development economist (and yes, we economists do attend such events), often they ask me this question. For a long time my response was the same: “Perhaps sponsor a child?”

I suppose I gave this answer because I myself sponsored a child, and if I was supposed to know something about helping the poor, I should encourage people to do what I was doing. After all, child sponsorship makes sense: By focusing on youth instead of adults, it aims to nip poverty in the bud, providing children in the developing world access to education, health services, and, in some programs, spiritual guidance. But over time my autopilot response started to annoy me. The truth was that I hadn’t the slightest clue about the effect child-sponsorship programs had on children.

Dissatisfaction with my pat answer began to inform conversations with my graduate students. “Have you considered researching the impact of child sponsorship?” I would ask. One student was interested, and she followed the topic long enough to find out that no one had ever investigated the topic, despite 9 million children sponsored worldwide, and the more than $5 billion per year being channeled into sponsorship programs from ordinary people wanting to help. But we were having trouble finding a sponsorship organization willing to work with us. What if the research discovered that sponsorship didn’t work? This was the risk that some organization out there had to take.

A couple years later, another graduate student, Joanna Chu, became interested in the topic, in part because she was sponsoring a child with Compassion International. Chu put out some feelers with Compassion’s research director, Joel Vanderhart, who decided to risk what no other child-sponsorship organization was willing to risk at that point: to allow its program to be scrutinized. We were able to carry out the study with one major condition: Compassion would remain anonymous. They would be referred to as “a leading child-sponsorship organization” in any academic publication.

In the course of talking with Vanderhart, we stumbled upon a vein of gold for any development economist: He casually mentioned that Compassion had used an arbitrary age-eligibility rule when they underwent a major worldwide expansion during the 1980s. When one of Compassion’s programs entered a new village, typically only children who were 12 and younger were eligible for sponsorship.

With that, our strategy for identifying the causal impacts of the program became clear. We would obtain early enrollment lists from different village projects introduced during the 1980s, and track down the families of those who were first sponsored in these projects. Then we would obtain information on the life outcomes of these formerly sponsored children—now adults—and compare them to their adult siblings who had been slightly too old to be sponsored when the program arrived in their village. In this way we would be able to control for genetics, family environment, and a host of other factors that the siblings held in common. The only difference that could affect adult life outcomes across the sample would be the fact that Providence had allowed some of these siblings and not others to be age-eligible for child sponsorship.

The Results

Chu found a partner for her research project: Laine Rutledge, now a doctoral student in economics at the University of Washington. The two graduate students spent the summer of 2008 in Uganda, where they obtained data on 809 individuals, including 188 who were sponsored as children. The students had a number of adventures in the field, including a run-in with a wild dog that took a bite out of Rutledge’s leg. A couple of months after they returned, Chu and Rutledge stopped by to share the results. A nervous excitement quickly filled my small office. MORE.

Celebrating Child Sponsorship–May 15!

It was 24 years ago that Ted and I first sponsored a child. We helped a young boy in Kenya get an education and the food that he and his family needed to keep him out of the workforce and in school. At the time, we were having fertility issues (we had our first kiddo 12 years after we were married), and it meant a lot to me to have Nzokia to care for, even from a distance.  We prayed for him, sent him birthday and Christmas gifts (cash, which the project leaders would use to give him gifts) and corresponded with him via snail mail.

Since then, we’ve sponsored a girl in India, and another Kenyan boy. We have sponsored new children as each of our biological kids have come along. Currently we sponsor Putu, a little Balinese guy, and Kelvin, who lives in the Dominican Republic. We’re not the best at sponsorship. I go months without writing my kids sometimes. And we’ve never visited any of our sponsored kids, either, though I sure would love to.

But it is so fun watching these kids grow and develop into healthy adulthood. The opportunity to pray and write to children outside of our own culture is so world-expanding for our kids, too. I love that they have a larger understanding of the kingdom of God through our sponsorship children. And now we can do it through email, though I still love getting Putu’s drawings a few times a year.

Last Sunday, some of our BelPres families who sponsor children shared stories of how sponsorship has impacted them. John Kim was there, and caught their testimonies on video. Hear from Laurel Fortin HERE, and from Brian Los HERE.

If you sponsor a child already, great! We want to celebrate you! Please stop by the giant map in the Lobby and put a pin in your child’s location. You DO NOT have to have sponsored through BelPres Partner ministries to put your pin on the map. We want to get an idea of how many BelPres families have Child Sponsorship as part of their family giving profile. We hope you’ll participate! We praise God for your gift of sponsorship.

Of course, we will also have many children available for sponsorship, as well. Kids from many of our ministry partners.  It is so fun to see the faces of all the kids who have been sponsored through past sponsorship Sundays, and pray over the faces of those in need of sponsors.

So come by, have a snack, pray for the children, put a pin in the map, and maybe pick out a new child for sponsorship. BelPres is a congregation that believes in children!

 

Baby Basics Mother’s Day Diaper Drive

Can you imagine having to choose between disposable diapers for your baby or paying your rent on time? This is the kind of choice low-income Eastside families face daily. Baby Basics Bellevue, a non-profit, all volunteer run organization has been distributing diapers since October 2012 to help meet diaper need in our community.

“Diapers may seem like a simple thing but here are no government subsidies or tax breaks for diapers. Diaper Need is a silent crisis and an important issue in our community. Sadly, diaper b2016.04_FLM_Diapers_Web_1.1anks in King County cannot keep up with the on-going need. Clean diapers are a basic necessity for a baby and helps the entire family,” explains Kim Stone, Co-founder and Director of Baby Basics.

The low-income families that Baby Basics serve are hard-working parents who do not receive federal or state cash funds. They may or may not have access to food stamps, which cannot be used for diapers. The parents may be the single mom working at Bellevue Square or the young father working at one of your favorite restaurants. Many of the parents are working jobs that pay minimum wage or just above.

To help meet the need and raise awareness Baby Basics Bellevue is having their fourth annual May Diaper Drive. The gift of diapers is an ideal way to honor mothers and to show support for low-income working moms (and dads!) on the Eastside.

Your gift of diapers this May will not only help cover a little bottom but will make a difference to a mom and her family. Diapers in sizes 4, 5, and 6 are especially needed.

These community friendly organizations and businesses are springing into action with Baby Basics and collecting diapers:

  • Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, Mother’s Day, May 8
  • Chace’s Pancake Corral, 1606 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, Collecting change for diaper change
  • Café Cesura, 1015 108th NE, Bellevue, Collecting change for diaper change
  • Kirkland Way Storage, 11200 Kirkland Way, Kirkland
  • QFC – Bellevue Village, Saturday, May 7, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Sacred Heart Church, 9460 NE 14th Bellevue, Mother’s Day, May 8

Learn more about Baby Basics HERE!

Break My Heart –Mary McCracken

We here at BelPres Mission & Serve are following all of impact teams as they travel this summer, sharing the love of Jesus as they go.  Last night our own Mary McCracken posted a beautiful, challenging piece on her blog.  Take a look:

“Yesterday we toured an orphanage for kids ages 5 and under. Our plan was to stay for two hours, play with kids, provide a mid-morning snack, and then leave. The front of the orphanage is beautiful, behind walls covered in purple bougainvillea. I stepped into the main building and all was quiet – the children were outside in the back play yard, waiting for us to come in.

As I was at the back of our group, I had a bit more time to look around. The laundry room was filled with baby sleepers, cloth diapers, little boy pants and little girl dresses. Just like all the ones I washed for years as the mother of young children. It was familiar, but overwhelming in the amount of daily wash. The machines never stop running and the clotheslines were full of baby blankets drying in the sun.

I went outside, and immediately a little girl lifted her arms for me to pick her up and claim her. Our team of twenty could not hold all… for more of Mary’s extraordinary blog, please click here!

KidREACH Celebration

It is a known fact that BelPres seeks to actively serve others – bringing revival to the Eastside and around the world. This past year, I have personally seen God’s love manifested through many of you here at this church. God’s heart for His people is so evident to me at BelPres.  Tutors, students and families involved with KidREACH have shown me this. If you are not familiar with this tutoring ministry, you may ask yourself, “how is helping a struggling student with homework a part of Kingdom work”? The first words that come to mind are those of Jesus Christ instructing His disciples “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). These words spoken by God’s Son are powerful, yet humbling. In order to bring God’s Kingdom we must humble ourselves as Jesus teaches.

Tutors, volunteers, parents and students—the KidREACH family—have taught me that humility and dependence on Christ are absolutely necessary in order to be an effective worker for God in building His Kingdom. As children and youth, ranging between the ages of 5-18, begin tutoring often overwhelmed or lost in their studies, I see tutors exemplifying Christ by giving themselves up for these children. That being said, learning disabilities or lack of motivation do not disappear overnight or even over the course of a year, making the consistent commitment by tutors and families a necessity. The challenges are real and complicated for many of these students, but through relying on God and humbly sacrificing time and energy, volunteers are slowly seeing new confidence, motivation and interest in their student.

I am so grateful to God for His faithfulness to this amazing ministry!  In this ministry, much more than solving tricky math problems or preparing for a vocabulary quiz takes place. God’s Kingdom is alive in so many little things: the energy and joy tutors find by serving at the end of their busy days, the smiles and laughter of the students, and the peace seen in the entire family as a result of this supportive community. God’s Kingdom – a place where God is known, loved, and worshipped – is not only being built in the lives of the students and families that come for help, but in the lives of each volunteer as well. Lives are being transformed through snack time, talking about classes and life, and celebrating the culmination of another school year.  Tutors cement the truth that “it is better to give than receive” and that together, by humbly giving ourselves up for others, God’s Kingdom is brought to Earth.

Earlier this month KidREACH celebrated its 14th end-of-year party. The following pictures are proof that God’s Kingdom is alive and tangibly felt in this community.

If you would like to learn more about this tutoring ministry or would like to be involved, please contact GetConnected.

Out of the box

A few summers back, you might remember seeing something called a Blue Box (children’s sermons for everyone) as they were shared in the morning worship services.  We had so much fun with these great messages and having children in worship, we decided to bring Blue Boxes back to all the summer morning worship services beginning June 28. Children will join us in the first half of worship and be dismissed to the Upper Campus just before the sermon for age-appropriate activities that will further their understanding of the message. The Blue Box message will align with the sermon and provide a great opportunity to families to share learning and growth in post-worship discussion. Each Sunday, a conversation starter or two will be provided to encourage families to share what they have learned and how the day’s worship helped them grow and draw closer to God, or what they heard God calling them to do. (more…)

Meal Packing: A Mustard Seed

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that the Kingdom of God is already breaking into our world! And just as the disciples and many others experienced a taste of that kingdom with Jesus, we have moments in our lives when we experience God’s promises. Maybe we see a little of the promise, like the little mustard seed, and begin to see how that will grow, flourish, and bring life in its branches. In that kingdom we are all brothers and sisters – rich or poor – in every part of the world. (more…)

Angel Tree Ministry

By Elizabeth Hayford, Director of Missions Administration

The Angel Tree ministry reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ.  This year, our Angel Tree volunteers here at BelPres have worked tirelessly to contact, prepare and deliver gifts to more than 100 children in the Bellevue and Tacoma areas and also to provide gift cards to almost 50 teenagers in Idaho. This dedicated team spends to fall in preparation and then in organization mode to make sure every child and caregiver receives a gift or gift card when they are all delivered starting December 13. And these special elves don’t just deliver Christmas gifts and cards; they bring the gift of Jesus Christ to each home, too. These volunteers include an age-appropriate Bible and share stories of Jesus with the children when they personally deliver to each home.

BelPres has been blessed in the last couple of years to partner with University Place Presbyterian Church south of Tacoma to help deliver to the families in that area.  It is a joy to share in ministry with our friends in Pierce County.

Here is a quote from an Angel Tree child that shows what these gifts mean:

“I was too young to actually remember my dad. But those Angel Tree presents – I don’t know how to describe it – they made me feel like I was important. I was really happy I got something from him, and to know that he’s OK.”– Akeylah, Angel Tree child

Thank you to this team of volunteers who share the joy and love of Jesus Christ at Christmas time.

Angel tree volunteers, Alice Fong and Jay Baranowski, sort, move and organize the gifts for delivery to Angel Tree children.
Angel tree volunteers, Alice Fong and Jay Baranowski, sort, move and organize the gifts for delivery to Angel Tree children.

If you gave to Angel Tree this year, THANK YOU!  If you want to get involved with this ministry at BelPres next year, contact GetConnected. 

Dog Therapy, Kids on Motorcycles & More!

By Becky Gonzalez, Director of Global Outreach
Highlighted Global Ministry: Children’s Hospice, St. Petersburg, Russia

For 11 years, BelPres has been connected to the Children’s Hospice in St. Petersburg, Russia.  It is a palliative care institution for children and adolescents under 18, suffering from terminal illnesses those with a short life expectancy, as well as children and adolescents who suffer from potentially fatal diseases, whose recovery is possible but unlikely and whose life span can be many years.

Children’s Hospice offers active and comprehensive care, which includes the physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual spheres of aid. The basic attention is focused on providing the best possible quality of life and comprehensive care for the whole family.  They operate beautiful, comfortable facility for rehabilitation and palliative medicine. It has become a model for establishing similar health and social care services in Russia. 

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain,
but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

They had a full month of October with several exciting visitors!  Governmental officials, motor-cycle “gangs,” animals from the zoo, and a performing arts troop!  See pictures below of some exciting events from the fall.

Russia_1Russian President’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Mr. Pavel Astakhov, visited the Inpatient Facility of St. Petersburg Children’s Hospice.

Russia_2Pavel Astakhov helped one of the hospice patients, realize his dream to ride a motorcycle.  He contacted members of the biker club “Night Wolves”. Within an hour they arrived at the hospice and patients & parents immediately gathered around to sit on motorcycles and take pictures with their owners. The excited patient got fully dressed in biker’s equipment and had a ride in a motorcycle sidecar.

Russia_3A visit from the curative education and arts center “Arevik”. This center cares for children with disabilities. They arranged a wonderful concert, full of professionalism and exciting songs and dances!

Russia_4Visit from “Association for Support and Development of Canine Therapy” and the Leningrad Zoo.  Patients saw rabbits, a rooster, a boa constrictor, an owl, and even a skunk. Dog “therapists” provide love and affection to patients and families.*Note: You can help provide services like this to children in need by supporting pet therapy through the BelPres Alternative Gift Market.  Click here for the Russia area page.

For more information on Children’s Hospice, click here.

An Impact Team from BelPres will travel to Russia in May of 2015 and will visit the Children’s Hospice along with several other Russia ministries.  Contact patty@hirz.net for more information.

Disabled Children Get New Mattresses- Thanks to BelPres!

Highlighted Global Ministry: African Inland Church Childcare Center, Kenya

Children at the AIC Childcare Center in Kajiado, Kenya are anxiously awaiting the delivery of the new mattress which were purchased this year by the support of BelPres Global Outreach.  The center (a project of Lift Up Africa) serves children with physical disabilities who are treated with corrective surgeries and physical therapy. They are looking forward to the added comfort and good night’s rest, especially critical in for these children’s recovery.

AIC kids

It is located in a remote area in Kenya, where children with disabilities and their families face have many challenges to overcome. There is widespread poverty in the area, with many families struggling to make ends meet. Dealing with day to day tasks is trying enough, and the extra care these children need is too overwhelming for most to handle on their own. In addition, there is widespread stigma surrounding disabilities which prevents these children from getting the resources they need. AIC Childcare Center address the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of children with disabilities as well as works to educate parents and the community to reduce stigma.

So far this year, 98 children have benefited from corrective surgeries through the center. Physical needs are met for the children living at the center, and also through the home care our outreach program offers. The 57 students living at the center attend integrated schools in the community. We are so proud seeing the kids grow up and succeed; three students are enrolled in college and two are in vocational programs.  AIC Childcare Center does all of this as an extension of the love of Christ. The students are encouraged to be active in the community church, and many show off their musical talents in the church choir.  By connecting these services to Christ’s love and healing, students and their families gain spiritual as well as physical strength.

For more information on the AIC Childcare Center, click here. 

Story of God’s Transforming Love in Costa Rica

By Becky Gonzalez, Director of Global Outreach
Highlighted Ministry: The Abraham Project

Each summer for the past several years, BelPres HS ministry has spent a week serving growing and learning while serving with the Abraham Project, in Villas de Ayarco, Costa Rica. The Abraham Project has the vision of seeing their local community transformed by offering programs and services where people can encounter the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. 

Last summer I had the opportunity to spend 36 hours in Costa Rica, where I met Stephen and Georgiana Thomas, saw the beautiful children’s homes, and toured their extensive campus providing services and outreach to vulnerable children and families.  I was also able to spend a morning watching our students (and several amazing leaders!) work hard together on a construction project in a nearby church and observed them listening intently to the testimony of the local pastor.  The Abraham Project is effective in reaching the most vulnerable in Jesus name, and we are honored to continue to partnering with the they allow us to participate in the work of transformation.

Over the summer on their blog, they shared a story of one of the children in one of their children’s homes.  See an excerpt below.

We want to share a story about one such boy and God’s perfect timing.  Anthony has been struggling in school.  He is super smart, but just dislikes school.  Our house parents, Esteban & Gabby, don’t have any problems with him at home.  They say that he’s obedient and helpful, however, at school and in the daycare it’s like pulling teeth!  He is disobedient and disrupts class by talking and acting out.  We have all been at our wit’s end trying to figure out how to reach him. 

On July 10th, the prayer group (all women) carried out an activity with the kids in the homes.  At one point, they broke off and prayed with the children individually.  We noticed that the lady that was praying for Anthony was leading him in the sinner’s prayer.  Afterwards, she told us that unprompted Anthony told her that he wanted to accept Jesus as his Savior. 

Since that day, he has been a different young man!  You can see the difference on his face.  He’s still working on his behavior at school, but he hasn’t brought home any notes from the teacher (in one week he had brought home 10 notes from the instructor about his conduct!).  Anthony has a servant’s heart.  We have often put him to clean or do something around the homes as a consequence and find him happy as a lark!  Instead of being a consequence, he finds joy in doing and working!  He has very admirable characteristics and we know God is doing good things in his heart!  Even though we would love for Adoptions to find him a family right now, we can see God at work even in the timing of things. 

We have always viewed the children’s homes like a clinic for brokenhearted kids.  Our goal is for every child to leave this place as emotionally and spiritually healthy as they can before integrating into a new family. 

Abraham Project: www.abrahamproject.org

Abraham Project blog: www.abrahamproject.wordpress.com

BelPres High School Program will return to Costa Rica in 2015. Contact DTriller@belpres.org for more information.