Almost seven years have passed since a devastating economic and financial crisis hit Latvia – a nation of ordinary people. The side effects of that crisis are still vivid and very painful for a lot of people. Needless to say the country has suffered much, but a country is made up of needy people, and the people still haven’t recovered fully.
Probably one of the most painful effects of 2008 financial and economic crisis was and still is, the unstoppable emigration of people. Unfortunately people we are seeing leave the country are the younger generation with young families and the brains of the nation. This is almost at an epidemic stage because it has spread so rapidly. Probably there is not one family in Latvia left that would not have one of their relatives or close friends now seeking a better life in another European country. Many of the emigrants have found life to be more prosperous elsewhere. I can’t blame them, and for the most part I don’t think they will ever come back to Latvia.
The financial crisis brought devastating damage to personal family budgets, causing despair and depression. Some were able to face the challenge, but many gave up, paying no attention to the quality of life or to the future of their children.
Six years ago we saw the challenge and opened the doors for needy families with children to come to the local church for essential groceries. We started in a small way with limited resources but very quickly it got out of control and multitudes started coming in filling the church sanctuary seeking food.
Food is essential, but even more essential is the hope for a better life. People who came to the church were already poisoned with hopelessness and insecurity. Everywhere they searched they heard hopeless reports about the economy and the supply of their needs. This was the tone of the country’s depression. Our challenge was the children. We wanted to rescue them from the mentality of being losers. Wanted to save them from getting involved with destructive street gangs and the drug scene.
We saw a great breakthrough at the camps we arranged for these youngsters by combining them with the church youth. Most successful were the days of special activities that resulted in counselling sessions with our leaders. Many of these youngsters came to a vital faith in Jesus and are now looking forward to a better future. They now have bight hopes and dreams that have been revived in them. They have ambitions they want to achieve but still face limitations caused by their poverty.
For six years Smethurst Ministries has played an incredible key role in providing food packages for starving families and children in need, especially their urgent medical needs. We have gone the extra mile by providing medicines, vitamins and where necessary equipment for disabled children. Throughout the years hundreds of children have been given the opportunity to enjoy the warmth of heating in winter, hot meals, schooling and educational supplies.
Snow on the ground today has brought the reality of another icy winter. It has been reported that this winter in Latvia is expected to be one of the coldest in years. I remember my first winter in Latvia 1991/1992 where it was -20C. This painfully brings me back to the destitute families and children that have no heating, no food and struggling to survive.
Would you please pray for few minutes each day bringing these families and children’s needs before the Lord? Be assured that we tell them that some caring person from another country provided for them. It’s so touching to hear them pray for you as well. Ministry here is always tough and demanding, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a poor child smile and say, “I’m praying for you and those who provided for me”. These words of gratitude are such an encouraging reward.
Food, heating and medical attention are essential, but there is another vital futuristic factor – education. We are constantly urged to help them build their future by embracing their school studies, language courses, driving courses, and work-related diplomas. While some of the orphanages receive small grants from the government, most don’t. The pitiful benefits poor families get from the government don’t cover immediate daily needs, let alone the future education of the children.
So please pray and stand with us to meet these vital needs of God’s precious children.
If you would like to make a donation to help us meet these vital needs it will be greatly appreciated.
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