Our Church's Wider Mission
At the end of 2001 we were introduced to the work and mission of S.A.R.A. for the first time. We heard about the wonderful work that had been accomplished already in countries like the Ukraine & Hungary. After initial contact with Rev. Stephen Szilagyi we began exploring the possibilities for S.A.R.A. to get involved in Serbia.
Early in 2002 I had the privilege to join my first S.A.R.A. mission trip (Ukraine & Hungary). Which also led a few of us on an exploratory first trip to Serbia. The obvious needs we encountered were of a great pressing nature. The ten years of Civil War on the territories of the former Yugoslavia had left deep wounds on the hearts and souls of the people. It also left the imprint of neglect in every aspect of life especially the area of health care. Through the generous support of the Christian Reformed Church in Serbia and the mediation of Bishop Csete-Szemesi and a team of local pastors S.A.R.A.'s mission in Serbia had begun.
We have had almost annually medical mission trips to Serbia since that time. The Amherst Congregational United Church of Christ with great enthusiasm and faithfulness has supported this endeavor. Many lives have been impacted and changed in the process and we praise the Lord for that. The work has been manifold and here we will only highlight a few.
Miss Valentina Papp came with her mother Julia to the U.S.A. At the Children's Hospital in Erie Pennsylvania Valentina received corrective surgery on her spine.
Two doctors from the Institute of Oncology in Novi Sad, Serbia came to the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas for further training. Taking back their newly gained knowledge, they have served and effectively helped hundreds of lives since.
Through the generous donation of one of our church members ( Dr. John Barb) we shipped a mammography machine to the Vojvodina region of Serbia. This is an area of approximately 2 million people and at that time there were only 2 or 3 mammography machines available for the entire region. This donation has enabled a local small health center to conduct a breast cancer screening for the very first time, saving lives, all this fully funded through S.A.R.A. Serbia funds. We pioneered to establish in collaboration with EHO ( Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization) and the American Caner Society a cancer information center called RAK-INFO a Hotline. This ministry helps individuals affected by cancer through professional counseling and practical support. One such example of this practical support is handing out free wigs for women going through chemotherapy.
Who other wise would have to do without. S.A.R.A. sponsored Mrs. Eva Berenji in partnership with the American Cancer Society to travel to Atlanta Georgia for training and educational purposes. This training helped her acquire the knowledge needed to start a cancer hotline in an economically struggling environment. All this and more we were able to accomplish with the help and blessing of God.
We further support hospitals, day care centers for beneficiaries with disabilities, orphanages, mental hospitals and numerous other local ministry outreaches. All through the mediation of local Christian Reformed churches and their pastors.
SARA (Sharing America's Resources Abroad) is a nonprofit organization incorporated in Ohio. It is an ecumenical ministry affiliated with the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ. SARA distributes medical supplies, equipment and expertise throughout the world. SARA believes that by helping people to help themselves, and by giving them a boost towards self-sufficiency, the world will become a better place.
Resources to accomplish SARA's mission come from volunteer participation and charitable donations provided by health-care providers, religious organizations, businesses, not-for-profit corporations and concerned individuals. SARA is particularly interested in working with other not-for-profit organizations who are seeking to serve others in the same way.
Visit SARA on the web at http://www.saragroup.org.