Please support Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020
This page is to draw attention to the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020. In this time of physical contact restrictions the appeal has had to move online for this year which leads to some unique challenges. The needs have never been greater in the recipient countries so please #TeamUpForTeamHope and contribute generously to the appeal this year.
Vanya sat on the end of the bed looking subdued. A crowd of mainly strangers were piling into the bedroom he shared with his mother and 3 siblings, one of whom was only a few months old.
Despite the understandable fear of such an intrusion none of them were going to turn away these strangers for they had been welcomed in with some members of the local church. Team Hope have been working with Yuri and the Church of Christ Saviour for nearly 15 years. This year they shipped 17,000 shoe boxes to Transnistria, each one a welcome passport into the heart of a child.
Vanya opened his box and began to loosen up a little. He gave a wow when he saw a picture from the child in Ireland that had put the box together. The best present though was the sunglasses. He put them on and was slow to take them off. He looked cool. And he smiled.
I had heard something of his story before we entered the hovel he called home. His father was an abusive alcoholic who had caused his mother to miscarry. My heart went out to any son of such a man even before I went in.
After handing him the shoe-box I dropped to the floor beside him. I so wanted him to know that the picture his dad had given him of what God was like was so false. But what could I do in such a short time? I prayed and played with him a bit, looked into his eyes and encouraged him with unintelligible words.
There was a nod as we were about to leave as if he had understood something.
I hope he will continue to understand that God his Father loves Him into eternity. There is much hope that he will: Team Hope’s partners in Transnistria are exceptional people. They have a fervent love that carries them throughout the country bringing hope and love wherever they go. Despite their own poverty they are overflowing with joy and abundant giving.
I went out into the car and took a while to process my emotions. And yes I wept.
The Church in Transnistria
Transnistria is post-Soviet breakaway republic which is almost totally unrecognised as a country in the rest of the world. It sits between Moldova and Ukraine and has its own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency and vehicle registration.
Like most countries it also has a number of Christian churches in it. Team Hope work with the Church of Christ Saviour and Pastors Yuri and Oxana Semenyuk. They have congregations up and down the region as well as in the capital Tirasopol where about 600 people meet on Sundays.
They are in a challenging situation in a region afflicted by poverty. However, God keeps them. This has led to Yuri and Oxana being some of the most relaxed people you are likely ever to meet.
During our time there in January 2020, Yuri joined us while we were distributing the shoeboxes including on Sunday. His view of the importance of the Team Hope work to their mission was clear when he left the services in the church to be run by other staff in favour of joining us as we distributed boxes around the region.
In the evenings Yuri and Oxana and other senior members of their staff joined us for meals. Yuri told us some of the stories of how God had miraculously delivered him, his family and the churches from various difficulties. In recent years, the government of Transnistria has recognised the good that the churches they have helped establish do for the country and have been quite supportive. However, things can still be tense at times of difficulty such as during this Covid-19 pandemic.
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