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God at Work Among the Roma

A letter from Nadia Ayoub serving in Ukraine

October 2016

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“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, … For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the work of your hands I sing for joy” (Ps. 92:1, 2, 4).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear friends and families.

I greet you all in the name of our God. Thanksgiving is my favorite time to say thank you to the Lord our God and to all of you my friends. Through God’s faithfulness and steadfast love we all are here and well. It is fit to give thanks and sing praises together.

Hot lunch for the after-school program

Hot lunch for the after-school program

Thank God for the work here in Ukraine that continues. Preschool and after-school programs are going very well. In an average day we have 15-22 children in both programs. We see encouraging progress in the children’s lives. The preschoolers’ learning abilities are improving, and also their conduct and behavior. Children from three different Roma settlements are accepting each other and becoming good friends. Parents too meet together and talk about their children with pride of their accomplishments. The older children who went to the regular schools are receiving good marks and praises for their good behavior. Two stories stand out for me.

Chris is in the preschool program, the youngest of three children; his mother, Anita, with joy told us that Chris always reminds his mother to pray before starting to eat their food. Anita knows how to read a little and I encourage her to read the Bible with her children every day and pray with them.

Peter, who is in the after-school program, second grade, with joy told us about the high mark he got in mathematics. Peter is one of five children; his mother cannot read or write. Thank God for helping the children to learn.

Right and left hand

Right and left hand

Counting up to 5

Counting up to 5

The children come after school to get help with their homework, and also we provide lunch for them since they cannot buy lunch at school. Even the government subsided the school with some money, but still the children have to pay 100 Gerivnia, and families with many children cannot pay this. Thank you so much for your support that makes this possible.

On Sundays we continue to have morning service with the families. Few families attend, but they are regular and come with their children, and we have Sunday school too. Some Sundays we have good conversations. We gave New Testaments to them and we encourage the few who know how to read and we read with them.

Life in Ukraine in the east side continues to be peaceful in general. I wrote last time about a problem that many advanced professional people, doctors, nurses, and teachers, left Ukraine to seek jobs with better wages in neighbor countries. But this created jobs for young graduates here in Ukraine. For example, young teachers filled in those vacant positions in the schools, and they are doing good work with the children. God is doing something good out of what we thought was a big problem.

This year Roma families did not work with the walnuts or making baskets as they used to because many of them received visa and duel-citizen passports, Ukrainian and Hungarian, so they are able to go and work across the border or to do small treading, carry goods from Ukraine, and bring others from Hungary. Many of these Roma work under a middleman who charges them a certain fee so they can easily cross the border. And that is what Regina (the young girl I was hoping would become a Roma leader) and her father and mother are doing every day—after they pay for the middle man and transportation these three persons bring home 160 Gervnia (Ukrainian money), equal to $6. But they are happy that they can work and earn money for everyday bread. Although this is elevating the economy of the Roma families, this also means that if the parents are busy working, the older children are not going to school because they have to stay home to take care and watch the younger siblings. I pray for some workers to help homeschooling these children so they will be able to catch up with the schoolwork and obtain their diploma and some how will be able to have better chance for jobs.

David, 11 years old, stopped smoking

David, 11 years old, stopped smoking

This is a story that happened during the summer Christian camp. David, 11 years old, came to the camp for the third time, but this time around evening he was hysterically crying. He wants to go home and, talking with him, we found out he wants to go home because at camp there are no cigarettes, and he was smoking at home—his mother gave him the cigarettes. The camp counselor prayed with him, and he calmed down. The next morning again he was crying, asking to go home again. We talked with him and he went to play. Third day he asked to go home but was not crying; again someone talked with him and engaged him in activity. The fourth and fifth day he was quiet, no problems, and he did not want to go home. One week later I visited David and his family at home, and he said he does not take any more cigarettes from his mom and will not smoke again. Thank God for providing the camp so we found out about David smoking and were able to help and pray for him so that he stopped smoking.

I thank God greatly for all his love and grace and guidance for the wonderful work God is doing among the Roma people and the non-Roma here in Ukraine and other places, and for the support of the U.S.A. and specially among the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I thank you all, my partners in this great mission work among the Roma, one of the most discriminated groups of people. Your prayers, encouragements, and giving support make it possible for me to be in Karpatalja-Ukraine and see all what God is doing among the Roma. Together we can say “for you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands.”

I pray and trust you will have a very joyful time celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and a very blessed New Year.

Serving Christ the Lord with you,

Nadia Ayoub

Please read this important message from Tony De La Rosa, Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1b-2, NRSV)

Dear Friend of the Presbyterian Mission Agency:

Thank you for your prayers and for your financial support of Nadia Ayoub this year, and any previous year. We hear from our mission co-workers how much your prayerful financial support has meant to them. Please know that you are a vital part of ministries throughout Ukraine.

Even as I thank you, I want to let you know that this is a critical time for our congregations and all people of faith to commit themselves to support mission co-workers like Nadia. Our global church partners greatly value her service, and you well know how important this ministry is in building connections between the body of Christ in the U.S. and Ukraine.

We have historically relied on endowment interest and the general offering from congregations to sustain the vital work of all of our mission workers. Those sources of funding have greatly diminished. It is only through the gifts of individuals and congregations that we are able to keep Nadia doing the life-giving work God called her to do. A year ago, in May 2015, we had to recall some mission workers due to a lack of funding. World Mission communicated the challenge to you, and you responded decisively and generously. Through your response, we heard the Spirit remind us, “Fear not!”

Today, I’m asking you to consider an additional gift for this year, and to increase the gift you may consider for 2017. Sending and support costs include not only salary but also health insurance and retirement contributions, orientation, language training, housing, travel to the country of service, children’s education, emergency evacuation costs, and visa/passport costs.

My heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support of our Presbyterian mission co-workers. In the coming season, we will celebrate God’s sending of the Christ child, the source of the good news we share. May you experience anew the hope, peace, joy, and love that are ours because “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).

Thank you for saying “yes” to love.

With you in Christ,

Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


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