Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shoes with a Name

They are known by so many names...the Romani people, the Gypsies, an unreached people group. But for the Pastoral Center in Cakovec, a ministry of the Croatian Baptist Union and First Baptist Knoxville, these are real people with names and needs. For the past four years, First Baptist has partnered with the Pastoral Center in Cakovec, Croatia, to provide resources for ministry in the North Central region of Croatia. We have sent 7 mission teams of youth and college students and adults. Our partnership includes construction for the Pastoral Center, multi-use human needs and worship center on the northern edge of Croatia across the border from Hungary. The center provides a location for a new church start, a training site for current and future Baptists leaders, and home for community ministry to youth in the surrounding area.

In 2007, the Center expanded its ministry to Romani people in the village outside of Cakovec. Karmen Horvac, a Baptist layperson, teaches a Bible club each week to Romani children. In June 2007, Michael McEntyre led a team of First Baptist students and sponsors in a Backyard Bible Club-style mission trip to the Gypsy village. During their visit, the church approached Buckner International to help them provide shoes for these Romani children.

Buckner provided a mechanism through which we could send 500 shoes through the Shoes for Orphan Souls emphasis. In August, the church held a Shoes for Orphan Souls drive in collaboration with Buckner and a local Christian radio station, WYLV. The church collected 800 shoes, 500 which were for Croatia. The community donated 1500 shoes through the efforts of the radio station.

This week, Bill Shiell, Matthew Evans, Cliff Shirley, and Scott Moore delivered the first batch of shoes to the Romani children. Philip, Monica, and Sabina Ignac were the first recipients. The Ignac family hosts the Bible club, and Karmen Horvac will be distributing the rest of the shoes.

Through the collaboration with Buckner, First Baptist has enabled Croatian Baptists to cross another barrier in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. This good news comes to souls who need shoes and are known by so many labels. This week in Croatia, the Ignac family are the first to be a part of Buckner's expansion into Croatia and a new avenue for the Pastoral Center's ministry. Most importantly, Philip, Monica, and Sabina are God's children.

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