Slovakia 2004 (Scroll down for updates in correct order)
Posted February 15, 2004
We arrived safely home late Friday after being snow delayed in Vienna. I was so thrilled to see Mike, but sad to leave our good friends in Slovakia at The Father’s Heart. Because you prayed , God did awesome things! Watch for a final report!
Now, we ask that you pray for the family of our dear friend Ken Whaley, Director of World Missions at First Baptist Atlanta, who arrived safely home on Friday afternoon as we traveled to the United States. He finished a 4 year battle with cancer and went home to be with Jesus. We are so sad, but rejoice in Ken’s life as he lived with true passion for Christ. Even after he was diagnosed with cancer and in great pain, he went on numerous mission trips, determined to participate in His Father’s work around the world. I went to Slovakia and so many other places in large part because Ken challenged me to take the puppet ministry to the children of the world.
At a time when many churches dismissed the puppet ministry as “not real missionary work”, Ken encouraged his church to pick us up for monthly support. More, he proved to be the best friend that our national friends ( Sam Shaw in Northern Ireland, Pavel Chiva in Khzakstan,and many more) could have as helped many of them raise their support. He was awesome in the kingdom! Please pray for Ken’s wife, Gayla and their three sons, Drew (10), Grant (7) and Jacob (3) who will need our prayers more than ever to carry them through this week and the months ahead.
If you would like to send a message to Gayla, I will be glad to give her a copy of anything you email back to me, or you can send notes directly to:
Mrs. Gayla Whaley
2095 Huntington Hill Trace
Buford, GA 30519-5296
With Thanksgiving, Linda for Sam , Jonlyn, and Dennis
Posted February 12, 2004
In a couple of hours we begin our journey home. We have seen God do incredible things in the last few days. Because it is so late and we have to pack, I will share only one of these things.
In a distant village near the Polish border, the mayor gathered everyone for a puppet show. His wife is the Director of a day care facility in Kosice where we performed earlier in the week and she had begged us to come to Forbussy to perform for their children. Today, we drove over 2 hours in the snow. When we arrived at the village, we were greeted by a large crowd of small children, teenagers, adults and old people who had walked through the snow and cold to see the show.
They laughed, clapped and were extremely enthusiastic. When we gave the invitation to pray, we heard small children, teenagers, some adults and even one old man praying to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Most in this village had never heard that “salvation is by faith alone and not by works lest any man should boast.”
Hold us in your prayers as we travel home.
Love in Jesus,
Linda…… for Sam, Dennis and Jonlyn
Posted February 10, 2004
Tonight, we performed two programs at a home for physically handicapped children. Some had no arms, others were in wheel chairs, and one little boy had been burned all over his face. Two weeks ago, our friends at “The Fathers’s Heart” were visiting the children. The young man who had been burned won a prize from the team. Later he won a second prize, but declined to accept the second prize the he had won. He said, “I already have one prize. Give my second prize to that other boy who doesn’t’t have anything. I only need one prize. It shows me how God loves me and you love me, and love is all I need.”
At a school club full of Gypsy children, we heard the sweetest sound. Dozens of voices prayed out loud, asking Jesus to be their Savior. They were very enthusiastic! Praise God! Sam’s luggage is found and will arrive tomorrow. The supplies inside will be used long after we are gone to bless many children and orphanage directors. Please pray for the nice lady at the airport who helped find the bag. We want to find a way to thank her for her effort and to share Christ with her.
We will place our equipment with the Father’s Heart team in Bratislava. They are working with children in Petrzalka and a nearby Gypsy housing project. The children are surrounded by drugs and alcohol abuse and experience all of the problems that go with that. Janka came with her friend from that area and we met with her for two days. She said in a note that she left for us, “I thank to God for your love to us and for children.” I offer her gratitude to all of you who prayed and gave to make this trip possible.
A Director of one of the schools told us today that God sent us there. Then, she shared how when she was 12 years old, her mother died. That night, she got down on her knees and asked Jesus to be her Savior. She now has weekly Bible lessons for the children. She was thrilled with the message that we had shared with the children and she asked us to come again. A Director of another school and day care facility for children told us that her husband was the mayor of a small remote village. She begged us to come and do a program for the children in their village. Tomorrow, we will travel to several far away places, including this village.
Love in Jesus, Linda for Sam, Dennis and Jonlyn
Posted February 9, 2004
Many things that we see give us great joy, but some things break our hearts. Money lenders are a big problem among the Gypsies. Consider the following story of a man that we met. His story is the testimony of lots of Gypsies.
His father-in-law died and they had no money to bury him, so they borrowed the 10,000 crowns that were needed. Usually, they do not borrow money for frivolous things, but for real needs. However, since the interest is 100% each month, another problem soon develops. They cannot repay the debt, even if they could pay the interest. When our friend could not pay, they beat up both he and his wife.
These money lenders only care about money. Nothing else matters. They began to beat up the children, and have even been known to hurt babies. Our friend’s little 3 year old daughter had every finger broken by these men. Her thumb was so badly smashed that it required amputation. The family went into hiding and the money lenders began to beat our friend’s relatives. In the process, all of their coats were stolen by the very same relatives that were hiding them. The children that we are sharing with suffer terribly with no hope. They must hear about the hope that Jesus gives!
Today, we did a puppet show at Thalia, a local theater where 400 people gathered to watch. It was an evangelistic meeting that the Lutheran church plans every 4 to 6 weeks as an outreach to Kosice. Besides our program, there were clowns, skits, wonderful music, and preaching. Most of the people who came were not believers but they loved the program and they listened. Thank you for praying! My favorite part was when a little girl came up to me after the program, thanked me, and hugged me.
Earlier in the day, we shared at the Lutheran church which had sponsored the event. I gave a missionary report in the service and then we shared with the children. We challenged the children to tell others about Jesus. We had a request for training from a Baptist church who said, We do not have such nice pictures.
A little boy in an orphanage wanted to thank me for the story that I had told, so he sang me an American song. He did a great job, but did not know the meaning of the words. He sang, I love you, I love you, I want to hold you all through the night. I smiled very big as I thanked him.
We drove 3 hours to reach a group of young people who lived in a housing project. Different churches had tried to start a work in this place, but all had failed. For many of these rough apartment complexes, that is the testimony.
Most adults were not really interested in the Gospel, as their hearts were hard. The children who came had deep hurts in their eyes. Four teenagers heckled us the entire program. I imagined them as believers, men like Peter and Paul, who would never abandon their faith.
FOUR DAYS LEFT
There are only 4 days left for us to work. Please pray for us to be wise as to how we spend our remaining time. Praise God for the friendships that are growing between us and the Slovak young people that we work with each day.
In Jesus, Linda for Sam, Dennis, and Jonlyn
Posted February 6, 2004
I was finally about to talk to the team by phone last night. They are great and feeling fine.
However, Linda slipped or fell and twisted her “BAD” knee. She says,” I am fine” with only some swelling. (Right, I don’t believe her either!!) anyway, don’t tell her that I asked for prayer, this is our secret.
Please pray that the swelling will go down and she will not have any serious problems with the injury.
In Christ, Mike
Posted February 5, 2004
Rejoice with us in what we are seeing God do in Slovakia:
- Last night, we heard many Gypsy children praying out loud, asking Jesus Christ to be their Savior.
- Today, a Director of an orphanage spoke to the children when we finished. She gave a wonderful testimony to them and encouraged all to trust Christ as Savior. This was most unusual for a person in her position.
- God used the puppet show to open a door when Bevan received a request to put a new weekly children’s Bible club in the orphanage after our program.
- Children and some parents in Lunit 9, a desperately poor Gypsy apartment complex, stood and listened for an hour to the program. Would you stand for an hour in a cold room to hear about Jesus?
- This afternoon we gave a private drawing lesson to a Gypsy storyteller. We had no translator, but were able to get our lesson taught by using a mixture of Russian, English, Slovak, and sign language. When he succeeded in drawing the picture correctly, he cheered. I love his enthusiasm.
Please pray against lost opportunities because of the flu epidemic. Ask God to keep our eyes on Him and our hearts tender to the needs of these children. Pray for Sunday afternoon when we will be sharing at a theater in the center of Kosice.
Love in Jesus, Linda for Sam, Dennis, & Jonlyn
Posted February 3, 2004
Today Jonlyn was playing her violin at an orphanage. Before she played, she said to the children, “Jesus said, come to me all who are weak.” Immediately 3 children got up and came forward. I love the faith of children!
We have traveled as far as 2 1/2 hours from Kosice and shared in places with unpronounceable names, such as Prakovce, Zakarovece, Ratkova, and Hrachovo! Always the children ask, “When will you return?” Yesterday, several boys asked me how we could afford to come. They told us that they knew it was very expensive to travel. I replied, “Yes, but my friends sent me so that I could tell you about Jesus. Please,” they shouted, “tell them thank you.” So, I write to thank you for the wonderful gift that you have given all of us. Our hearts are full of joy!
Life in an orphanage is very difficult. Usually, they are warm enough and the food is good, though not abundant, but we are speaking to children who are hungry for love. If a child cries at night, he can be locked in a boiler room where his screaming will not bother anyone and sometimes they are tied to their bed. Many are sexually abused by older children or worse, by those who should care for them.
Parents will visit the orphanages and promise to come for the children at Christmas. The break is three weeks long and often, Bevan told us, they will see children spend their entire vacation sitting by a door, waiting for parents who never come.
Most these children were removed from their homes because of some type of abuse, because of this, a visit with their parents is often dangerous and life in their homes is terrible.
We heard the story today of a young boy from an orphanage who went home for a visit. His father attacked him, stabbing him multiple times in the stomach and beating him in the head. He nearly died from his wounds and became mentally handicapped from brain damage as a resulty of the attack. These children have seen and experienced so many terrible things and they receive a very poor education since no one expects them to succeed.
These children are raised without hope, but in Jesus they can have hope.
Please hold us in your prayers.
Ask God to call many gypsy children to faith.
In His Grip,
Linda for Jonlyn, Sam, and Dennis
Posted February 2, 2004
We are in Slovakia! It is cold, the ground is covered with snow, and the country side is beautiful!
The group that we are working with is called “The Father’s Heart”. Bevan Stein trains and equips national Slovak young people to reach their own country for Jesus. They target at risk children and teenagers, those who are often forgotten or ignored. Around the country, they have clubs that meet in orphanages and in apartment complexes where life is very difficult for the children.
The first program was at an orphanage for mentally handicapped teens. One of the Slovak leaders was amazed at how well they listened. He told me, “It is not easy to keep their eyes. You had their eyes.” This is the result of your prayers.
I confess that I enjoyed it when they called me beautiful and shouted, “I love you.” It was an incredible time as Sam juggled, Dennis introduced himself with a 6 foot tall bird and Jonlin played “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” on her violin.
Our second program was at an orphanage for children between 5 & 18 years old. We had a wonderful time telling them about the Father who wants them. Most of the children in the orphanages have parents but they are not wanted or were removed because of their homelife. A young Slovak said to me today, “Their only hope is Jesus.” They showered us with handmade gifts, clay horses and a homemade necklace for me. At both shows, we received hugs and kisses and so many “thank you’s”. All of us know that we received much more than we gave.
Please pray for:
- Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will go to a very poor orphanage. Ask God to make us light.
- Sam’s bag is still missing. It has all of his clothes and our “thank you” gifts for principals and orphanage directors. Please ask God to send it to us.
- A flu epidemic is sweeping the area and all visitors are forbidden at certain orphanages and hospitals. Ask God to reopen these doors for us. Your prayers are needed!
Linda, for Sam Dennis, and Jonlin