My Dear Friends,
This email is looong overdue and I ask your apologies for not getting this to you sooner!
My trip (our trip, since you were a big part of it) was amazing! From the moment I landed in Budapest, my friends Csicso and Detty were there to collect me at the airport and then make the trip to their home in Baja. Csicso was the first person Jim baptized when we moved to Baja in 2001. It was wonderful to see all the Lord continues to do in their lives, and their three sons. I was also able to meet with many of the people in the town that were a great part of our lives for those 7 yrs in Hungary. I saw answered prayers with marriages and children and just was overjoyed to be there. Looking forward to a time when Jim and I can go together.
After a week in Baja, I coordinated with my friend in Ukraine and her pastor’s wife to go to Mukachevo. Katya had been making the long drive back and forth from Ukraine to Hungary to get supplies, petrol, and transport people back and forth. Her faith and stamina amaze me! She and her friend met me in Hungary and made the long drive through Slovakian border and eventually to Mukachevo. We stopped at Tesco, a big shopping center, and did a lot of shopping. I have to say that being on the other end this time, rather than the missionary, it was SO exciting to just load up multiple carts with food, toys, etc. while in Baja, I also was able to buy so much gluten free items for my friend Vanessa serving in Mukachevo, buy a bunch of legos for the children who had fled their homes, and purchase petrol for the ride but also extra in the containers. So many of the stations in Ukraine have little to none. All of this was thanks to all of you and your generosity.
At the Slovakian border it was such a long wait, but apparently not as long as other trips they’ve made. So many checkpoints within the border. The fan was filled from the back and all the back seat too. The final guard wanted to know who the American was and then just pointed to one of my big suitcases and had me open it. When he saw it was filled with a ton of kids clothes he just waved his hand for me to close it back up. Whew! I had a bit of fear about having to pay a tax, especially on the brand new laptop for Vanessa. That was a blessing as her old one finally died a week after I left!
Once in Ukraine, I stayed at my friend’s apartment where she also had a family of three living in her family room. They have an incredible story of escaping from Mariupol. I recorded it and need to find someone local to edit so I can put it on fb. It’s quite long but wow, so humbling to sit in the same room as them and know all they endured. I also interviewed a few other people and those videos are on my fb page. I was able to walk most everywhere and go to help teach English classes with Vanessa, teach the Bible study for the kids program Royal Rangers, go to the church and help sort all the medical supplies brought over…cough syrups, bandaids, toothbrushes, ointments, Tylenol, etc. lots of vitamins and supplements too. Many of those items would go to the soldiers fighting on the front lines.
Despite all the atrocities and horrors of war, you see many worshipping and trusting the Lord. Due to many fleeing the eastern part of Ukraine and heading west where Mukachevo is, the church is overflowing. There aren’t even enough seats for everyone. One of the Sunday's we were inside for service and it was like packed sardines. The following Sunday, Pastor Joel held service outside which was nice for the kids to have a lot of place to run around. There is a certain look of sadness and fear in most peoples eyes there but also a glimmer of faith knowing they are safe where they are.
As many of you know by now, I had to leave week and half earlier than expected but it was only one day sooner than my planned time in Ukraine. Marla had given me airline funds to go to Italy the last week but that didn’t happen. It was quite interesting that I never purchased the ticket. The Lord knew I wasn’t going. 😍
It was truly a blessing and honor to go there and see and meet so many who have been uprooted and those who are opening their homes and hearts to take people in. It’s a joy to see how generous people are and the family of God comes together in times of need. I kept telling people when I was there that there are many who love them and gave generously towards all the necessities and fun things for them and their children.
The war is not over and people are tired and still scared. Please continue to pray for them…for the saved and those yet to be saved. For the children, the moms, the wives without their husbands and the husbands fighting for the freedom of their country.
Much love to all of you,
Cooking for the Children
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." – James 1:27
Sometimes individual stories get lost in the big story of what God is doing! So sharing today is about a particular cook—a very special kind of cook!
My name is Lizzie Longwe and I am one of the 44 cooks who help feed the children in SAFE’s 20 preschools. I wake up early to carry water and gather wood to cook the ground maize with soy, sugar and salt for the children’s phala (porridge). Knowing that I am helping to stop malnutrition in our village children brings me so much joy!
I live in Chipayika Village and have been a widow since 2007. Six grandchildren stay with me. This has not been easy. When there was a need for a cook for the little village children attending SAFE’s Muwowo Community Based Childcare Center, I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity. The allowance that I get from my cooking for the CBCC (preschool) cares for most of the daily basic needs of my household. I love what I do! Each morning when I wake up, I don't need to be told what to do -- but go with joy to cook for the children.
Thank you for making stories like Lizzie’s possible!
The cost of fertilizer and other goods for our gogos in Malawi is skyrocketing due to the unrest in the world. Pray about being a part of our 2022 LOVE BOLD Malawi Walkabout to address some of the needs of the gogos and the children in SAFE’s preschools.
Click this link to learn more about walking or donating. https://gogograndmothers.com/walkabout
Thank you for the many ways you partner with us!
“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” -- Psalm 107:9
In His love for the least,
Leslie — for our SAFE staff in Malawi
We hope you are doing well as Spring weather begins to warm the air and bring beauty in the form of flowers and leaves on the trees! You may remember from our last newsletter that we prayed about how we could help in this terrible humanitarian crisis sweeping throughout Europe. We felt the urge to do something, but what?
So many lives displaced, so many stories, so much suffering, yet the Lord allowed us, among so many others, to be a small part of the help. Physical support also brings spiritual benefit to the suffering when accompanied by the Gospel. One of the first things we did when we found out about this crisis was to contact our friends in Ukraine, offering to house people as needed. We also asked our church members to consider this prayerfully. Our first refugee house guest, Tanya, arrived this week. We are glad to be able to offer a drop of help in this ocean of need. Today we worked on the paperwork side of things. Legally she is allowed to be here; though Ukraine is not in the EU, some formalities must be done, which we've begun.
Going back to the time of our last newsletter, we were contacted by The Bridge, a church that wanted to invest through us in bringing help and hope to refugees. After much deliberation, Mike got a ticket to Eastern Germany to join pastor Kurt Ibbotson. During the trip, our church, Calvary Chapel Paris, got behind the project, offering prayer and support for the entire adventure. Once Mike arrived in Leipzig, Kurt and he drove to Krakow and then, every day, filled up the van with as many provisions as could fit in it and brought that to a Refugee Center at the Ukrainian border. They then would walk around, share with people, humanitarian workers, and refugees, and see who needed to be driven. They then would start the shuttling service of moving people from the Refugee Center to the airport or train station.
With Mike back home, Tanya safely settled in, and other families in the church hosting refugees, we realize we are not done. One of the more exciting first reactions this Sunday was the idea that missions trips of this nature, possibly to other parts of the world, may be on our horizons. It’s too soon to be sure how this will play out, but the seed has been planted. Please pray that God will lead us.
The Easter outreach is progressing nicely, which is incredible considering everything else! One team working on tracts and a poster with contact information, one team working on the choir, chocolates for the neighbors, matching outfits… it has been suitable for our little church! We are just a couple of weeks away. Please keep us in your prayers that people will get saved!
The worship band started working with a vocal coach – one of the co-leaders found a Christian who does vocal lessons and happens to have been on the French version of The Voice! It is such an answer to prayer to be growing in this area!
Please be in prayer for the Children’s ministry. With all that has been going on – with the pandemic, confinement, and now the war there is always a reason not to bring children to church. It makes it difficult for the children who come – they want to be with other kids! Let’s pray in all the kids back and then some!
The women’s group is doing well. This week we are going to enjoy fellowship at a café. One of the ladies is a student and must work on the weekends. She has been missing church and is sad about it – and we miss her too! So, we decided to go to her juice bar for fellowship right after she got out at five so that she could join us!
On a personal note, please pray as Sophie needs braces – so expensive. We need to get plane tickets soon to go to Mike’s brother’s wedding this July.
May God bless you this month!
Mike and Becky
We wanted to send out an update and tell you about how things are going here. It’s been strange to hear the news of Russia attacking Ukraine. We’ve been in constant contact with fellow missionaries over there. One of our elder’s is Ukrainian and thankfully he was able to evacuate his mother from Kyiv but his wife’s family is still in a neighboring village in the heart of the country. It’s a heartbreaking moment and although we don’t know the details of our future involvement will be, we are preparing for how the Lord would have us be involved.
In the meantime we can talk about the things we do know more about and that’s what the Lord is currently doing at CC Paris. We wanted to thank you for your prayers, Mike was able to go the Pastor’s conference in Austria. He came back refreshed and bearing chocolate!
In our last newsletter we spoke about the new direction the church is taking and our vision for this season which can be summarized as “connaître Dieu et le faire connaître” or “knowing God and making Him known”. We’ve continued our “pre-glows” and finished with a week of all-church prayer during which the the Conflict in Ukraine began. It was such a help for our church body to be able to gather together daily and pray in the middle of the day - to “cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us” in this hour of uncertainty and need.
We met twice last month as a church and solidified our Easter evangelism project. Here is the basic plan: we will have a Good Friday service mainly for the members of our church, then a special Easter service where we invite all the neighborhood, special welcoming team and evangelistic message. Then after the service we plan to hit the streets with a choir that we are preparing and a bunch of invitations with chocolate. Please pray for us. We have about six weeks to pull it all together. We will also rebuild our Social media presence and replace our live stream (which has been silent for awhile) with a podcast style that will aimed more at connecting with visitors. These ideas are from the church themselves and so we are excited about working with people to see the Lord use them in this new way. Please keep us in your prayers. It has been great to see different groups of people rise up for each project with the goal of reaching Paris with the gospel.
Another high point this month is to see how the Worship ministry is taking shape. We have co-leaders now: one person concentrated on music and another on organization. This is a great step in the right direction for us as we prepare for the Easter outreach and puts us in good shape for future endeavors. Once this gets well underway, we will need to begin to concentrate on the Children and Youth ministry. This will need prayer coverage as it’s a sensitive subject that needs work. Thankfully, Abby and Kris have a huge heart for the youth and some pretty great ideas too. They are thinking about summer projects with the kids as well, like possibly going to the CreationFest in the UK this summer. As these projects are far off, we realize that now is the time to plan and so we wanted to share with you.
Lastly, we wanted to share some other prayer requests. We have a few weddings this summer in California we hope to attend, including Mike’s brother’s. Please pray the Lord would open the doors for us to attend. Also, Becky has been studying at CCU in the Biblical Counselling department but has felt it may be time for a change. She is taking a break to see if Western Seminary might not be a better fit. Please pray the Lord would lead us and provide all that’s needed.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.
Mike and Becky Dente