Local aid has global reach
Franklin County Times
Two members of the First Baptist Church of Russellville recently visited an Eastern European country to help provide native children with a warmer winter.
Dr. Gene Balding and Channing Ward spent the last week in November in Moldova, working with Children's Emergency Relief International (CERI) to bring warm winter boots to the country.
"Our church has been working with CERI to bring warm boots to the children of Moldova and Transnistria since 1992," Balding said. "This was my fourth trip to the region."
Balding said CERI brought more than 4,000 pairs of boots for orphans in addition to shoes for younger children and slippers for adults.
"Fifteen-thousand pairs of socks were donated from the U.S. along with gloves, caps and scarves," Balding said.
Boots and shoes were just part of the delivery Balding and Ward made. The shoes and boots were the key that opened the door for the group to share the good news of Christ.
Each child received new socks, shoes that fit, gloves, a cap and fresh fruit.
"We used to take candy, but then we realized how rare it is for them to get fresh fruit," Balding said.
The items were accompanied by the Gospel of John, because John it the clearest on salvation.
The trip helps those abroad in need, and Balding said seeing the way people live in other parts of the world is an eye-opening experience.
"We are so blessed here that we seldom notice the work of God," Balding said. "They have such a limited means that if God doesn't provide, the people do without."
An example of seeing miracles, Balding said, is when the Moldova government held the boots up through customs inspections.
"The government makes it as difficult as possible for us," Balding said. "They held our boots up for days, but fortunately released the shoes for the smaller children."
They received word from CERI that if they boots were not released on Friday afternoon; they would not be released until Monday at the earliest.
"They told us to start praying for the release of the boots and we did," Balding said. "We were in prayer for 45 minutes when we got the call that the boots had been released and to began to praise God for what he'd done."
Balding said that they praised God for his actions for and additional 45 minutes.
"I had never been in an hour and a half prayer meeting in my life, but I could tell that God was there with us."
First Baptist Church will begin to focus on Peru next year because Moldova and Transnistria have seen an influx of organizations wanting to help.
"We want to touch the world that needs the most help," Balding said.