October 18, 2018 – This past Sunday we were at Hope Church in Lancaster, England. This church has partnered with us for many years and sent teams over, the most recent came this past April. They have become very interested...

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Al & Diane Mellinger's Missionary Adventure - 5 new articles

Hope Church lives up to its name it offers HOPE!

October 18, 2018 – This past Sunday we were at Hope Church in Lancaster, England. This church has partnered with us for many years and sent teams over, the most recent came this past April.  They have become very interested in the St John’s Home.

Several from the church are part of a “Netball Team” (A Europe version of Basketball) – they were sharing with their team about the Girl’s home and proposed that they try and raise some funds to buy a "Wardrobe" for one of the bedrooms. The team talked and asked if they could sponsor an entire room (that would be 1100 Pounds - $1400 or 2500 lev)... Well, this past Sunday the team attended church (some of the team for the first time) and presented us with the total of their fundraising for the furnishing of the St John’s Home – and it was 2412 Pounds! More than enough for 2 of the bedrooms and more!

Additionally, Hope Church has several recovery type groups and one of them called Adullam (a ladies group) also heard of the Girls home and they wanted to help and provide hope for the girls who would eventually use the home.  They do crafts as part of their group's activities and so they decided to hand make dolls for each of the first 10 girls who will be part of the home.  Each one is different with their own personalities.  Here we are pictured holding many of them!

These two presentations touched my heart!  They all gave of their time and talents to help girls at risk – people they do not know but know the pain that they might encounter if someone does not do something. 

Team Bulgaria is so glad to have Partners like Hope church and the people who not only attend but also share what they hear and know with those beyond the church walls and engage them in ministry. (I was told that a couple of the ladies from Adullam were heard talking about the service and said they thought it was good and that they would most likely come back – these ladies had never come to church before)

God was working and ministering on so many levels this past Sunday, I am still brought to tears when I think about it.  God loves the folks and is using the needs of other to reach out to those who are not part of the family at the same time!  We serve an awesome God!

This week pray for…

…Hope Church in Lancaster UK and all the ways they touch the people in their community – pray God Blesses them as they bless others!

…Our church in Petrich as we have had some local visitors come recently – pray that we would find a way to connect them to our services.

… the locals who are using the building for Cultural Dance lessons and exercise.  Diane is part of this group that normally meets in a local school – it is being remodeled and so the group could not meet this fall – we offered our space and they jumped at the chance to use it.  Not sure where it will lead but we are praying and have 2 of our members who are part of the group!


Economic Workshop Idea!

October 11, 2018 – As we are working on more ways to develop economic support for the folks we serve an idea came to me – why not do some workshops where folks are brought together to help assemble/make a product to add to our store(s).  We do not need these made on a regular basis but doing for one day would provide us with the inventory we need for a season.  We pay a fair wage for their time and we get a product that once sold will allow us to reinvest the surplus funds in other projects.


This past Saturday we held our first Workshop with a group from our Krynitzi church.  The helped us be sanding, painting, cutting and the start of assembling home décor items for the Holidays.  They helped with a nativity set, a candle holder set, and a tree set.  It turned out to be pretty good (we learned a few things about how to be a bit better prepared) and we will be doing other projects with these and other folks in the future! 

These items will be shipped to the US for our Around the World Shop in Jackson, Michigan and online at Marketplacemanna.biz later this fall.


This week pray for:

  • The start of our English Homework Club for the kids in Petrich.
  • The ongoing details for the Jackson Store opening in November.
  • The Virtual Christmas Gift Box Ministry – we have the names of more than 650 kids in our churches we plan to serve this Christmas season (click here to watch the video)

PS – If you are in the southern Michigan area and are crafty or like to make things and have some time on your hand we want to know as we have some idea we want to try while stateside for our economic sabbatical this winter.


Fall Check-Up Time

October 4, 2018 – People are encouraged to get regular check-ups to make sure they are healthy and on target with their lifestyle.  Ministries are no different they too need to have regular check-ups to see how they are doing.


Last week I shared what God has done over the past decade.  This week I want to share the financial health of the work we have here in the Balkans.

There are 3 financial areas I want to look at:

  • The Missionary Support – There are 3 missionary families here as part of the team. Each family has to raise their own support and all 3 families could use some extra contributions right now.  We do not talk a great deal about our own support because of the projects and special needs but there is still a need here.  Without the missionaries, there would not be anyone to oversee the other areas.
  • Our Church Planting & Development – (formerly Country Support) these are the in-country cost needed to do the work that we do – It does help some with church planting but most of it goes into developing leaders and launch new programs as well as our support staff
  • Extra Mile projects – these are the special things we do like the Girls Home, Christmas Gifts and other things we share about from time to time.

As you look at your year-end giving – please consider giving to help keep the ministries here strong. Starting with the staff, then the Country and finally the projects. 

Staff Support Links

Galloways - https://give.fmcusa.org/galloway

Sweets - https://give.fmcusa.org/donation/df-vibgsweet

Mellinger - https://give.fmcusa.org/mellinger

Church Planting & Development - https://give.fmcusa.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=620

Emp’s  - https://almellinger.typepad.com/giving/

Thanks again for your partnership with Team Balkans – Thanks for taking part in our check-UP

This week pray for…

Our finances that God would provide for them as He sees fit

Our first Livelihood Group Workshop – a one day project to help raise some short-term funds. (We hope to do different projects each month rather than the same thing all the time.)

Our US store opening –working on all the details from Bulgaria with the help of my son until we arrive.


I am in Awe! We serve a great God!

September 27, 2018 - Today I have been thinking about the last 12 or so years and the changes that have taken place in our ministry.  When we arrived, we were it! Nothing had been started. No churches had been planted. No pastors had been trained. We were really explorers scoping out the land and meeting the local people to see what if anything could develop.  Most of our days were focused on meeting people and figuring out ways to connect.

Fast forward to now.  Most of my time is spent with organization, paperwork, forms, paying bills, finding the funds needed to pay the bills and a whole host of necessary but non-glamorous or as fulfilling a role to do.   Although this role is now needed! 

Why you might ask? Here is what is now going on and what we are involved with (I do not do all of this but they fall under the organizations that I am responsible for or a part of):

  • 19 church plants – keeping them legal with documents and forms
  • Regular (often monthly) Pastor’s Training Programs
  • 6 Elders and 8 Ministerial Candidates – tracking and encouraging
  • 50+ Employees through the Livelihood groups, translators and store employees
  • 7 livelihood groups we work with monthly producing goods that are sold
  • 2 retail shops in BG – helping the livelihood groups and other artisans
  • A Bible School with 3 distribution Points
  • A Safe House for girls (about finished and ready for launching).
  • Multiple groups coming to serve that need to be cared for.
  • Property and agricultural land that need tracking and maintained.
  • Humanitarian Aid – Christmas gift, feeding programs, and many misc things.
  • English training from time to time has been done or is being done
  • Annual Camps/Conferences for Families, Youth, Kids, and Pastors

There are now 3 full-time Missionary Families and a team of Nationals that are doing all this and I try and make sure that we are all on the same page. We are always thinking of more ways to serve so the list keeps growing.

When I write this all down I am amazed at all that is happening and has happened over the last dozen years.  When we were starting out we prayed that God would use us and the work that we were to start would become a flourishing program for the kingdom – like a small acorn has the potential to be a huge oak tree.  We are seeing that tree grow and flourish here in the Balkans.  That is because of your support and prayers and God’s faithfulness.  Thanks for your participation in what God is up to – continue to help us reach the lost in the Balkans.

This week pray for:

The Sweets as they are working through MOUNTAINS of paperwork for their adoption.

The Galloways as they are completing a 29-day partnership trip in the US that has taken them from Colorado to New York to Michigan to Washington (State) to Illinois and Georgia. (Team Balkans likes to get around)

The Mellingers as we are working toward our US mission project (November – January) to help the Livelihood groups expand their market and help us expand the people we can serve here in the Balkans.


Christmas on My Mind!

September 20, 2018 – People like to complain about Christmas starting too early and I do not want to upset anyone mentioning it now in September.  (Although I think about Christmas all year round) We have on ministry program that needs advance planning.  If you wait until closer to Christmas to do it – it does not give us the time we need to make it happen. 

It is our Virtual Christmas Gift Box Program: The video below explains it and how to get involved.


This year we are anticipating about 800 kids (working with our 19 churches).  It runs about $12 a kid so you can see we need some fund to make this happen.  We need those funds by early November at the latest so we have time to shop here in the Balkans, organize, wrap and get these to the Pastors in early December for their Christmas outreach and ministries.


You can give online by clicking here.  Additionally, more information and downloadable materials can be found at Virtualchristmasgiftbox.com

If your church, small group or class is participating in this please give us a heads up so we know to watch for your contribution and plan accordingly.

Thanks for your interest and Help!

This week pray for:

  • Our local church registration process – some are getting declined for no reason and some are being made to jump through lots of red tape. (which means I am jumping through the red tape to get documents that they really do not need)
  • Our stateside plans and the Around the World Shop we will be operating in Michigan. Many details go into making this happen over the ocean.

Praise God for an amazing summer here in the Balkans – for now, contacts, new dreams, and new plans. Including a new Microloan that we will talk about in a future blog post.


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