By ELLEN DILBECK and
Ebenezer UMC in Conyers has placed mission outreach at the top of its priority list this year.
When an earthquake devastated Haiti in January, the Ebenezer family answered the call for health and layette kits, providing more than 200.
In June, a member of Ebenezer, who is also a teacher at a middle school that sits adjacent to the church, informed the congregation of the need for school supplies. More than 500 students at Edwards Middle School qualify for free or reduced lunch and many times the dedicated staff provide for these students and for the needs of the classrooms out of their own pockets.
The Ebenezer family provided more than 70 new book bags and two cafeteria tables stacked with paper towels, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, composition notebooks, three-ring binders, pencils, pens and other basic supplies.
Ebenezer’s largest outreach involved a mission trip to Romania. In late June, 20 Ebenezer short-term missionaries embarked on a life-changing trip to the Targu Mures area of Romania. The group worked with Livada Orphan Care to minister to abandoned babies, orphans, and gypsy children.
In Romania, babies can be abandoned at hospitals at anytime between birth and 3 years old. Nurses in the hospitals provide these children with basic care, but do not have the supplies or time to nurture their development. Children’s diapers are changed only twice a day and babies drink milk from coffee cups, due to a lack of funding.
Our team ministered to the babies and toddlers at the Ludus hospital by holding them, helping them learn to walk, sit, use sippy cups, and develop other basic skills. The team also bought needed supplies such as diapers, strollers, walkers, and sippy cups.
Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse are common problems in these state-run orphanages. Livada runs two Christian homes for children who were among the worst abuse cases in the orphanages. These children, mostly teenagers, are growing up with their siblings and with “house mothers” in a Christian environment that includes counseling, love, and support. The EUMC team spent much quality time with these children.
Our team worked at VBS style day camps for gypsy children in the village of Apalina. Unlike the circumstances of Romania’s orphans, many of these gypsy children had someone in their life who loved and cared for them. The children lived in extreme poverty and separated from society.
They do not have the basic training in behavior, hygiene, and nutrition. We were able to visit the gypsy village and meet the mothers, grandmothers, and siblings of many of our children. Houses had no running water or electricity, and most were one- or two-room concrete structures with dirt floors occupied by 5-15 people.
A team of ladies from EUMC made more than 200 rag quilts to give to the children in Romania and each blanket was prayed over by the church. Each quilt had a cross in the middle and a tag that stated, “You are wrapped in our love and prayers.” On the last day of camp, blankets were presented to each child who was then individually prayed over.
“The children who had not been able to sit still or look us in the eye at the start of the week, sat there wrapped in those blankets and did not move until we finished praying over them. It was a very powerful moment,” stated Pablo Dopico.
Ebenezer takes seriously Christ’s call to take care of the needs of the needy and in turn they have seen their own needs as a congregation taken care of by God’s generosity.
This article recently ran in the North Georgia Advocate, the official print source of the North Georgia United Methodist Conference. For more information about the North Georgia Advocate, or to subscribe, please visit www.ngumc.org/advocate or call 678.533.1376.