Cantina Ministry In Pictures
August is in full swing. Which means long, dry, blisteringly hot days, people gone on vacation, and the farmers' market overflowing with the sun-soaked fruits and vegetables. Our days are simultaneously slower and busier; slower because the Cantina Ministry is paused for August, busier because we are preparing for the launch of music and English lessons in September as well as starting a new little program on Saturdays for children in the Turkish village where our church recently built and planted a baby church.
We're preparing an update video for everyone with what things are looking like for us lately as well as some news about the Delia house project. In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures I've been sitting on for awhile from our Cantina route. I hope they give you a little glimpse into the streets of Medgidia and beyond and a look at the faces of some of the widows and orphans that benefit from the food ministry here.
If a face or family sticks out to you - I encourage you to pray for that particular person/people! The stories behind some of these families are truly heart-breaking and more prayer is needed than you know.
Praying With The People
As we mentioned before, spreading the gospel and sharing the light of Christ is a big part of this ministry because as Christ-followers, we're not here to do social work primarily. We want to show the love of Christ in helping these people's immediate problems while also sharing the gospel to tackle their long-term problem of sin. Because the food is usually hot and we have to get to over 100 families, we usually only have time to say a short prayer, invite them to church / remind them of upcoming events, ask about updates on their individual situations, and ask them how their relationship with the Lord is doing.
The picture directly under this section shows Nate and another brother in the church who is a very faithful, famously reliable and hard-working servant in various church ministries. Two young men featured in the other pictures are youth from the church who sometimes help out with the ministry.
Some of the people that receive food are unsaved or not church attenders like this family that was absolutely ecstatic to be photographed (fun fact, Nate was asked to pray here in English). The sweet little old lady in the pink is a newer Christian and attends the church in Medgidia. It was really interesting for us to realize that about 90% of our home church in Medgidia have come to the faith within the last 5 years, and some still find themselves in difficult situations from their past. This is such a change for us coming from a church of people primarily raised in the Christian faith who have a lifetime of experience walking with Christ and creates a big opportunity for Nate particularly to help teach theology and educate these believers who are fervent and thirsty to know more about their new faith.
Medgidia and the surrounding villages have a high Turkish population. Our church recently built a small building and planted a church in one of the predominantly Turkish neighborhoods. Here, we stopped in one of the Turkish areas that has a a small grouping of houses with lots and lots of children who live with their mothers but no fathers. Some of these faces are truly unforgettable.
The picture directly below this section is the only one I got of another group of families that lives by the city dump. When I say "lives by," I mean two things. First of all, they physically live by it. The smell is absolutely sickening and it is an effort to get out of the car and bring these food people because of the stench of the place. Secondly, they make their living by the dump. Every single morning, every member of the family, from the children to the adults, go to the dump and scavenge for objects that they can sell and use that money to support themselves. As you may have read in my previous post Delia, the city of Medgidia is very poor and the sad situation is that there aren't enough job opportunities to go around, especially for the uneducated and unskilled.
The rest of the pictures are more snaps I got from the route. The last family (the woman in the blue shirt, her husband and family) are recent converts from Islam and faithful attenders at the Medgidia church.
We hope you enjoyed this little look at the Cantina Ministry and some of the people of Medgidia. We are so, so thankful for the financial support that enables us to be here and help the church help these people. Please keep them in your prayers if any of these faces ever come to mind.
The poverty and suffering is disheartening, but at the same time it's so encouraging to see the open hearts towards God and the message of the gospel that true need creates. Many of these people don't have the pride to reject the gospel message because the sin and suffering in their lives is so glaring, God's answer so full of hope, and His love so evident when He reaches out to them and calls them His own.