Doing good in the name of God can result in fundamental changes – in the lives of those who receive help, but very often far beyond these lives, as well. This is also the experience of Liepa UMC in Latvia.
As single mother, she lived with her three children in the small city of Liepa in Latvia. But there came a day of shock: The mother had done some bad things, which were – according to the responsible Social Services – a sufficient reason for the removal of custody for her children. Searching for help, the mother got in touch with Liepa UMC – where she was warmly received. After this surprising experience of love and openness she kept in touch with the people of this local church. Deep in her heart she realized that it would help her to turn her eyes upon Jesus and to have fellowship with these Christians. As a result her attitude slowly changed and something new grew in her life. Spending much time with the responsible Social Services, she could credibly prove these changes and follow up her words with deeds. Finally she received custody for her children again.
The happy end of this touching story is also a beginning: In Liepa, many children and youth are hanging out on the streets because there is nobody at home waiting for them. They are endangered to go astray while still young – drugs and crime are two of the dangers threatening their lives. Leaders of Liepa UMC have therefore established an Afterschool Program – a safe place for children and youth where they are given help with their homework, where they find people who make time for their questions and worries, where they can learn a different kind of social engagement with their peers, or where they just receive a hot meal. This program is faith and love in action, however, the Gospel is also purposely subject of many stories, conversations and discussions. The three children of the single mother often come to the Afterschool Program – and so does their mother. She is a very committed volunteer helping wherever she is needed – and she is very good with all of the children.
This story from Latvia is exemplary for many similar stories from all over Europe. People of every age are committed to serve others in many ways – helping them to hear and experience the Gospel. However, they cannot achieve their aims without the financial support from others. This is true for the leaders of the Afterschool Program – and for the leaders of about 40 other projects. Therefore it is good to know that the Fund for Mission in Europe exists. It has been established more than 20 years ago as an instrument of solidarity between West and East. In the meantime an awareness for mutuality has grown in many countries. Here are not the strong who always give and the weak who always receive. All have something to share and to learn from each other. Against this background a new project list has been published recently, which can be downloaded from http://www.umc-europe.org. This list includes many details regarding the supported faith-sharing projects and serving ministries, and additionally a variety of information on the UMC in more than 15 countries can be found in it. It is an invitation to learn, to share and to be grateful that over and over love in action is passed on, because people somewhere in Europe, who have been helped, start to reach out to others in need.
Source: Urs Schweizer, Manager of the Fund for Mission in Europe
Date: February 21, 2012