Several years ago, our team made first contact with the Shakhta Rroma Camp. We met Yura and Darina who were the only Christians in a community of 124 people. They shared how the camp residents would laugh at them and make fun of their faith. When we inquired whether we could visit families and pray over them, Darina doubted that would ever happen. But during that first visit, many peering eyes began to look through the windows of the home of Yura and Darina. They asked what our intentions were in the camp, and when we offered to pray over them, surprisingly they invited us into their homes. The ministry in Shakhta had begun. Over time, a group of interested Rroma began attending a small group Bible study and some gave their lives to Christ.
Yura and Darina lived in a cluster of six homes that practically shared an outer wall with each other. Yura and Darina were caring for a relative, Sasha, who was a drug addict. But there was an evil spirit within the young man, and he instead became jealous of Yura and Darina and plotted to burn their house down. One morning several weeks ago he set a fire in their home, but Darina was able to quickly put it out. Sasha returned in the middle of the night and set one of the outer homes on fire knowing it would spread and engulf Yura and Darina’s home as well. Within minutes the cluster of homes erupted in flames and fortunately the families were able to get their children out and there were no casualties.
Darina woke up just as her house caught on fire. She grabbed her children, and they rushed out of the house. Yura’s grandson, who was his namesake, was only six years old, but he dropped to his knees and prayed to Jesus for protection. The windows were open on that hot night and Darina saw her drapes catch on fire as she ran to the neighbors with her children to bring them to safety. As they ran little Yura assured his mom that everything would be ok because he saw Jesus on the roof protecting their house. In the meantime, the first fire truck arrived but it had no water and could only watch the fire spread. It would be another forty minutes before another fire truck arrived, but by then it was too late.
After dropping her children off at the neighbors, Darina returned to hear the amazed firemen staring at her house which was the only one standing. They pointed to her roof. As the flames entered under her roof, they were immediately expelled as if some invisible force was pushing the fire away. They could not see what Yura had seen. Jesus was on that roof defending that house. When the fire was all out, the children returned and little Yura again dropped to his knees and simply said, “Lord, thank you.” Even though Darina saw her house begin to go up in flames as she fled, there was little damage. Not even the drapes burned up with only the fringes showing evidence that they had indeed caught on fire. The fire had simply stopped.
When we visited the camp, we saw the burnt-out rubble of five homes and miraculously Yura and Darina’s home still standing. The city had provided a tent that slept ten people for the now fifteen homeless to share. The tent was full of holes, and it had been a stormy weekend, so most of them could not sleep as their beds were soaked. We saw mothers holding little children who showed great fear on their faces as they did not know what the future had for them. One young woman was pregnant with twins and now had no house for the newborns to start their life. But what we heard were the testimonies on their lips of a miracle they had just witnessed from a God they did not know. After patching up all the holes in their tent and inspecting the damage we left to make plans.
As I was walking later that day, I was feeling a little angry that God allowed that fire to happen to those families who already had nothing, remembering the fear in the eyes of those children. But then I felt Jesus reply that this fire happened so that He could begin a ministry among these hard-hearted people who had laughed at Yura and Darina. Jesus reminded me that they were no longer laughing but amazed that God had done such a miracle for His people. And now followers of Jesus would come to their rescue and rebuild their homes. Jesus was using this tragedy for good. Sure, it will cause a few months of suffering, but it will result in many of them spending eternity in heaven.
And so I now come to you as followers of Christ to join with us in coming alongside these suffering families. Fifteen are without homes, and another hundred in the camp are watching. We need to raise another $2000 to complete the last home. We need another 80 people to give $25 to make this happen. Look at the number of friends you have in your social media; you could help us raise this quickly if you shared this need with your friends. Would you prayerfully consider joining together with us?