Because children’s ministries are such a large part of what we do, the summer is always an extremely busy and chaotic part of our yearly cycle. Typically, we host multiple short-term missionary teams and minister in multiple cities. It is often a stream of activities that both seems to never end and finishes before we can blink twice.
As the fall season arrives and the children return to school, it’s always good to survey what God has done during the summer months.
After about 1.5 years of building design, trying and replacing architects, resolving a seemingly never-ending land border dispute with our new neighbors, and paying lots of money, we are very excited to have received the building permits for our Ministry Center!
The Ministry Center will provide a home in the Roma village for us, a place to house and train missionaries to the Roma, and a location embedded in the Roma village from which to minister to the community and host a church fellowship.
The Ministry Center will consist of two buildings, the larger main building and the smaller “cottage.” We are currently raising funds (about $41,000 to go!) to build the cottage, which will allow us to live and minister in the Roma village. Learn more >here<.
Intern & National Workers!
This summer we were blessed to work alongside our first summer intern, Rebekah. Rebekah joined us for the summer after serving with us in Sisak on two previous short-term ministries. For much of the summer, she was joined by Violeta, who has served with us frequently in the past. Violeta, who is from Sisak, Croatia, and Rebekah both have a heart for the Roma of Capraške Poljane, located just outside of Sisak.
We were also blessed to work with Vedrana again this summer. Vedrana grew up around Roma ministries and has a deep desire for the Roma to know the love of Christ.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to raise up workers and provide finances to pay nationals who wish to work full time!
Special Mladice Clubs in Capraške Poljane
We have been doing seasonal ministries in Capraške Poljane for a number of years. During that time, we felt the Lord moving as the ministry and the openness grew. This year, because we had Rebekah and Violeta with us all summer, we kicked off a special four weeks of Mladice Bible Clubs in Capraške Poljane. Over those four clubs we focused on the life and ministry of Jesus. It was a great success, although a bit chaotic, and really helped to prepare the kids for the Mladice Carnival, which we had soon after the last club.
Mladice Carnival in Capraške Poljane and Palanjek
At the conclusion of the four Mladice Clubs, we had a 4-day Mladice Carnival. For the first three days we had biblical skits, crafts, and songs. This was followed by a day of fun and games.
We were grateful to have a team from Master’s Community Church in Kansas City to help with the Carnival. Since many of them served in Mladice Carnivals in Capraške Poljane in previous years, it was really wonderful to see them continue their relationships by loving the children! When people return multiple times to minister to a village, it makes a big impact on the kids. This year, we were also able to go to a nearby smaller village Palanjek to have a one day mini-carnival! This was our second year of ministries in Palanjek.
Please pray that the Lord would raise up more workers in Capraške Poljane and Palanjek!
Klema Teen Camp
Once we returned from Capraške Poljane, we had just a few days to catch our breath and prepare for our Klema Teen Camp. This was the second year we had a camp, but our first year of busing teens to a remote location. We hosted about 30 teens from the Roma villages of Slavonski Brod and Darda in the city of Orahovica. We were joined by Margaret, Lenna, and Abigayl from the USA; Đeno, Biljana and family from the EPC church in Darda; and the Price family from Slavonski Brod.
The primary goal of the Klema Teen Camp is to encourage youth to think about and make spiritual decisions as they very quickly approach adulthood. Secondarily, we desire to provide an opportunity for the Roma youth to connect, in the name of Christ, across their distributed and isolated communities.
Please pray that a church would “adopt” this very important yearly ministry and support it by sending regular teams!
Mladice Carnival in Slavonski Brod
After the Klema Camp, we all headed back to Slavonski Brod for our Mladice Carnival with “our” children. As always, it was a joy to bring all of our kids together and learn about Jesus.
Mini-Preschool in Slavonski Brod
One of the desires of RCF is to encourage and help children to do well in school. This is especially true for Lim and Željka. Because of a generous gift from the USA and the endurance of Lim, Željka, and Pam, we held our annual 5-day “mini” preschool. We are very thankful for the Slavonski Brod Baptist Church for, once again, hosting our preschool.
Roma children have special challenges when they enter the public school system. Our mini-preschool tries to prepare the children for the structure and methodologies the kids will encounter when they start school. We very much desire this program to expand, especially after our Ministry Center is realized.
Please pray that we may one day have a “full” preschool for the children!
Computer Programming Club
Lastly, Sergej and I (Andy) started a computer programming club this summer. As I have worked as a computer programmer and manager of other programmers, I have always desired to encourage Roma children to consider a profession in computers. This summer we met with 4 children, introducing them to the fundamentals of computer programming.
The Year Ahead
We had a very busy and productive summer! As we adjust to the “normal” ministries, we are excited about what God is doing here in Slavonski Brod. Please pray with us that this year we see the realization of the Ministry Center and that Slavonski Brod would be a base from which God’s blessings are poured out to the Roma communities of Croatia!