At one time Gardene was a flourishing community, but now it was smitten by poverty. Electricity and heating was something everyone now only hoped for. Buildings which had housed the Soviet army had been completely destroyed as the departing army stripped them of everything they could carry away. Local families, left with nothing, now hoped for a better life in future. The more fortunate had moved to bigger cities like Riga, Jelgava or nearby Dobele in search of a better life. It was a very difficult time but hope was in the air.
Marija was there to start a feeding program in an old building for small children abandoned in Gardene. For these children she was their only means of food. She started with less than 5 Latvian Lats (less than $10 USD) a month to feed 15 children a day. It was a walk of faith. More and more children started arriving and there was now a need for a bigger place. New challenges and hardships did not scare Marija; she trusted Jesus and the Lord faithfully rewarded her with just enough to keep basic food on the table.
Life was not easy, but the grace of God carried the feeding ministry through these tough times. The village of Gardene saw little prosperity even as the Latvia economy improved in later years. People continued to move away, leaving behind those that had no other place to go. But Marija’s family chose to move from a bigger city to Gardene to serve these people.
Today, more than twenty years after the feeding ministry started, the church planted by Marija in Gardene is feeding 65 children daily. They are still walking by faith and trusting the Lord for “daily bread” to feed those in need, trusting in the hand of God to meet the needs.
In the year 2000 Pastor Marija took another step of faith and moved into a rundown building with the vision it would become a local center for young people. Today this building houses a congregation of 50 people, along with the feeding program and a small gym for young people to come and exercise.
One step at a time, with much prayer and the help of others, they were able to keep the building heated during the winter, while also providing food for the children and even completing some of the desperately needed renovations. We have enjoyed the privilege of providing the heating resources for a number of years and recently the new heating system that the Center has desperately needed.
Someone said “It is better to see one time than to hear 100 times.” When I look at the children’s faces, I cannot help but marvel at God’s mercy and grace for these kids. Many of them from the early years are grown up and now have their own families. They are forever thankful to the Lord for that daily meal they received from Marija’s hands.
It’s with much respect that we think of people like Mother Teresa. She was a great servant of God. There are many others like Mother Teresa, who have sacrificed much to care for little children and the desperately needy – Marija is one of them. A very special servant of God.
Please pray for her and her family. Please consider helping her with this burden to feed the hungry and save the lost. Your financial help would be greatly appreciated. If you are able to help, please mark your gift for “Gardene” and we will make sure it gets straight to her.