Today’s story began two years ago on our last trip to Slovakia. We did a program where the director of the school was not happy with us when we arrived. However, God softened her heart and was thankful at the end of the show, even treating us to coffee. Often this is our experience, no matter which country we are in at the time. Often we see God turn people’s hearts as you pray!
Now, God has placed a Christian as the director at the School. She had the children come to the local culture center. These buildings are scattered across Eastern Europe by the former regime as places of political indoctrination. Today, we stood in that place and proclaimed the love of God to the children. When we gave the invitation, we heard adults, Gypsy parents praying out loud. Though they began out loud, they became shy and quiet, but we trust that since they had begun with such courage, they finished the prayer in their hearts. Everyone was amazed that they came and prayed. The children called on Jesus with soft whispers and we were blessed.
Slavo is Bevan Stein’s son and an amazing young man that Bevan and his wife Laura adopted from a children’s home when he was ten. Today, twenty years old, he joined with the puppet team and shared his story with the children. He talked about where he grew up, being sent to the children’s home at age three, and how God had provided him with a family. He said God blessed him with parents and he encouraged the children to talk to God. "He will not disappoint you", Slavo said.
A "potraviny" is a grocery store and sells wonderful bread and delicious Orion chocolate. I have enjoyed daisy/orange tea. All kinds of fruit flavored teas are very popular here. Pizza is different, often served with carrots and corn on top. The other night, Bevan ordered tuna fish pizza.
Children here play "Red rover, red rover, send ______ right over." However, they say "king, give us a soldier and then name the child. In Ireland, Sam calls this game "bulldog."
On top of some telephone poles are large nests, made of sticks. Some are three feet across. Storks live in them.
Kosice, where we have been based the first week of our stay in Slovakia, is a city of 300,000. However, we have spent most of our time in neighboring villages and towns where there is so little Gospel and where many Gypsy settlements are located.
It has been an incredible first week. We have heard many children and even some adults praying out loud, asking Jesus to be their Savior. Some of the places where we shared are Boliaro, Secovce, Hlinne, Hostovice, Zdana, and Moldova Nad Bodvou. Please pray for God to grow many strong churches in these places!
The children walked with crutches, sat in wheelchairs, or walked very slowly. Most of these children did not need to live in an institution, but this is where they were. At age eighteen, they will leave this place with no real job skills. Most will not know what to do and have no place to go. A few will spend their entire lives in an institution,simply because no one wants them.
It was a special privilege to tell these children about Jesus Christ. Sam told a fantastic story and I drew the pictures for him. All of us were so blessed by these children and broken by their hardships. One little boy, blonde headed and blue eyed, kindly offered me a seat. He could barely walk, but he saw other’s needs. I want to be like this little boy.
A Gypsy Village
As I looked out the office of the school’s Director, I could see the Gypsy homes. Honestly they looked like squatter camp homes from Africa. Ten by nine feet, they huddled close together, looking more like a pile of trash than someone’s homes. I cannot imagine what life must be like for these children.
There is only one Christian teacher in this school and we had a great conversation with her. She is committed to sharing with all of these children and teachers. Please pray that God will use our show to start many good discussions about Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow at 3:30 A.M, we leave Kosice for a new location. It takes three hours to travel there and we have five shows scheduled on the day we arrive. The next few days will give us the opportunity to share with children, adults, and teenagers at 13 shows. Please pray for strength, God’s spirit to move in the children’s hearts, and the next 2 teams that we will train. We are finishing our time in Kosice by training with the team from "the Father’s Heart."
Linda for the team,
Sam Shaw (Assistant Director)