A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow our New Thing ministry in Belarus...
For those who feel hopeless...
You serve up HOPE
It’s not easy being homeless. Especially in Belarus.
There’s little or no official acknowledgment that homelessness exists.
(There’s actually a tax on the unemployed.)
But generous friends of New Thing have enabled our “Response of the Heart” team to respond from the heart.
We rented part of an abandoned kindergarten building, and welcomed “Pastor Sasha” and his team.
They’ve been feeding the homeless, usually in borrowed church facilities, every day for nearly two decades, with the help of churches and groups in other countries.
Now, up to 100 of Minsk’s homeless and poor are eating a hearty lunch here every day.
Most arrive early for a brief Bible study and prayer.
We can squeeze in maybe 50 people max, so lunch is served in shifts.
Our cook, Valery, is also an energetic negotiator.
He’s swung great deals for free and discounted food.
Also — I don’t know how — a brand-new fridge also appeared!
This luxury allows Valery to preserve and store far more varied types of food than ever before.
Valery is a great cook, unfazed by the incredibly tiny kitchen. Meals are more delicious and nutritious than ever.
It’s astonishing to see actual beef on the plates some days. The homeless are thrilled.
In fact, when word got around about the quality of food, neighbors began showing up for lunch.
The team had to set up a meal-ticket system in order to keep serving the homeless and poor.
Sasha’s volunteers are beautiful.
When I saw Valentina taking the hand of a homeless man, I was delighted.
Many homeless people go months without the physical touch of another human.
Viktor is a longtime servant with Sasha’s ministry. He was once homeless himself.
(He actually has a beautiful smile; but when he’s working, he’s all business!)
It’s heartbreaking to see children here, but it happens.
This little guy has epilepsy; his mom has applied to the state for a flat, but nothing has come through yet.
My “girlfriend,” another Valentina, has greeted me on every visit over the years.
(It felt like old times to have Vadim, son of the late great translator Yuri Smirnov, interpreting for me.)
Renting this facility also gives us space for warehousing more humanitarian aid than can fit in our containers (located elsewhere in the city).
Sasha is now in charge of our aid distribution. At the moment he’s lamenting the lack of donated winter clothes — the most urgent need.
In the world of humanitarian aid, you simply pray for what you need — and gratefully receive what’s given.
Utilities have been so expensive in this old building, special friends have had to step up to sponsor utilities for specific months of the year.
But Valery kept pushing the authorities to let him put in a new electric meter.
The day I visited, the work was under way.
We’re hoping this will cut the power bill significantly. I’ll keep you posted!
Homelessness isn’t pretty. It would be easy to look the other way.
But about 1 in 10 of these dear souls will turn out to be a “success story,” with a job and a home.
You just can’t tell in advance which one will be “the one.”
So you have to love them all.
And you do ... through your generous support of New Thing.
On their behalf, and on behalf of those who serve them every day ... thank you!
Thanks for journeying with us!
More photos to come!
To follow our photo blog — click here and choose “Follow”
To support New Thing online or sign up for regular email updates — click here
To auto-give each month — click here
To send a check by snail mail — New Thing, 403 Linebrook Road, Ipswich MA 01938