Greetings from the Stantons
by Dal and Beth Stanton
Dear Westminster family,
We are thankful to our Lord for your partnership and prayers over the years! Thank you! Our partnership began in 1994 when we responded to God’s calling to Ukraine where we served for 8 years doing church planting work. Our partnership continued when the Lord brought us to Western Europe serving in Madrid, Spain, for 2 years where we restarted a church planting effort. For the last 13 years we have served in Bulgaria with Mission to the World. It has been an amazing path and we’re thankful for your prayerful partnership all along the way.
The pathway with MTW going to Ukraine started with 5 children with us. Now, all our children are in the US and have added to our family, 5 grandchildren. We’re thankful for the advancement of technology allowing us to see our family via FaceTime but we’re also thankful when we can see them either in the US or when they visit us in Bulgaria.
When I became the Team Leader in Bulgaria in 2009, I asked the team members to pray that God would give us a fresh vision why MTW was in Bulgaria. God answered that prayer in ways we were not expecting. He literally opened our eyes to see our community in a different way – to see the ways our community was broken and to see opportunities in our community for the gospel. He shifted our focus from being ON the church to seeing ourselves as BEING the church that was to be FOCUSED on the community. With ‘new’ eyes looking at our community, we saw women and girls who were on the streets selling themselves and who were enslaved, trafficked and sexually exploited. We asked the Lord, “How do we respond?” That was the beginning of what became a movement called, the Daughters of Bulgaria which continues today. This was one effort of ‘being’ the church seeing those in our community who were victimized through this modern-day slavery.
God was opening our eyes to see our community differently. After God opened our eyes to ‘see’ the Daughters on the streets and responding, we started asking another question as a church planting team. “Lord, if we didn’t see the Daughters on the streets until you opened our eyes, what else are we not seeing in our community that you want us to see?” This question propelled us in directions that addressed other areas of brokenness in our community as well as opportunities for the gospel. Some of these community initiatives were reaching out to the elderly via medical teams, reaching out to those seeking a better life and job with teaching English and business principles. Other relational contacts points with our community have been sports ministry, knitting, book clubs, Cuisine Connection, English as a foreign language, camps for at risk children, disabled people/children and their families – to mention some. All these community contact points, including the Daughters of Bulgaria, become relational bridges for people to meet Jesus and to be introduced to His Church – either existing churches or to new church plants.
New Life Church is our current new church plant in Sofia. I work with the emerging leadership through training, preaching, and simply showing what it means to be a church leader – elder in the Church. Pray for New Life Church as it grows and please pray for Bulgarians to become leaders!
To learn more about our work in Bulgaria please see our website: www.mtwbg.com.
Along with our church plant, the other large part of our work in Bulgaria is with the Daughters of Bulgaria. Both Beth and I serve helping with this work as members of the Steering Committee. Beth acts as the DofB Director working with Bulgarian staff and providing much oversight for the work. We continue to visit Daughters on the streets of Bulgaria not only in Sofia, but in other cities as well. Both Beth and I serve on the outreach team.
We have also been very much involved in working with women/girls who have come off the streets and brothels into our long-term residence and training program we call the Rose Garden Project. This effort has been a great challenge and your prayers are much appreciated.
To learn more about the work of the Daughters of Bulgaria, see our website: www.DaughtersofBulgaria.org
In the way of a personal ministry and hobby, I collect and restore vintage smoking pipes and sell them world-wide benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria. This hobby provides a place for me to keep my sanity, but also to be able to speak into a predominantly man’s world about the issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. How do I do this? Each pipe I restore and eventually sell for the Daughters, is written up in a step by step blog, with pictures and descriptions of the process. This write-up is posted on my website, www.ThePipeSteward.com, and publicized on social media. In the write-ups and social media blurbs, I bring attention to why I restore and sell pipes: to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. I’ve had some amazing discussions with people I meet online in the pipe community!
Beth and I thank you for your partnership, your prayers and for simply ‘hanging in there’ with us all these years. Your faithfulness is an encouragement to us!
For the King,
Dal and Beth Stanton