Betsy Blanchard

Prayer Letter/Ministry Update

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May 16th, 2022

Dear Prayer Partners,
My departure from Spain is quickly approaching! I leave on June 27th after a total of 24 years here, and 36 years of overseas ministry!
As you can imagine. this is a season of MUCH change and many areas of closure; a bittersweet season for me.

This last term has been full of changes. Early in the term I lost coworkers that came to Spain via Envision/ CAMA to help re-establish the residential program of Cinderella's House. Due to very difficult family issues, they were only here for 2 1/2 years before having to leave the field indefinitely. As a result, we as a field decided that it was wisest to put an end to our efforts of reopening the residential program, particularly because of my approaching retirement. As a result, my ministry shifted completely to working with our sister organization, Project Pearl, with whom we have partnered to some extent since 2013. Our ministry focus continued to be working with women still trapped in sexual exploitation, and for a season, working also in the city of Tangier (Morocco) mostly with Sub-Saharan African women who were awaiting their opportunity to cross the sea into Europe- thus very vulnerable to becoming victims of Human Trafficking for sexual exploitation. Their circumstances of vulnerability are extremely high while living in Morocco, with almost no access to healthcare and under terrible living conditions. But once the Pandemic hit, the ministry in Morocco came to an abrupt halt, with that country closing it's boarders completely. We have now focused our efforts in another direction. During the Pandemic, God lead is very clearly to minister more intentionally in the province of Almería in an area known as the Sea of Plastic. This is a massive area of plastic greenhouses where much of the produce shipped to Central Europe is grown. The workers in these greenhouses are almost exclusively Sub-Saharan Africans working in almost slave labor conditions. In addition there is much in the way of clandestine brothels with a strong mafia controlling what happens in the area. Spain provides 50% of all produce for Europe. This is one of the largest areas where the produce is grown. Because it is such a large part of Spain's economy, there is not much interest in changing the conditions of the workers. (Use this link to see the vastness of this area. https://www.google.com/maps/@36.725844,-2.697903,39200m/data=!3m1!1e3 . All the white area seen from the map represents the plastic greenhouses!)
We had special permission to travel to the area to distribute food during Spain's almost 3 month lock-down. During that time, we made a providential connection with an organization who has allowed us to use their facilities for giving trainings for the African laborers and for a big Christmas children's program. The relationship has continued to get stronger with a new Cultural Center being prepared, where we can continue to expand our ministry. This area has now become a much larger aspect of our ministry focus. We now have an Argentine coworker who has moved to an area nearby, providing hands and feet on the ground, for a more permanent presence and expansion of the ministry more easily planned. Pray for my coworkers: Paula- team leader, Vanesa- Argentine nurse who recently joined the team and lives in the area, and Berenice- founder of the Project Pearl ministry.

Prayer and Praise

•Thank God with us for our Community Center here in Málaga, shared with our coworkers from Project Pearl, where we can connect with women who have not yet left their situation of sexual exploitation and bondage, give classes, prepare for outings, store food items to donate to our needy target group, and plan new ministry options, etc.

1. During the pandemic we were given permission as an NGO to deliver food and medical supplies to the women to whom we minister in Málaga, as well as to the victims of Labor Trafficking in the province of Almería, 2.5 hours west. As a result, especially amongst those in Almería, we have a vast new opportunity for ministry- even to the children whose parents are caught in a horrible labor situation or are being prostituted. So many opportunities have opened in fact, that we now have a woman on our team who moved to the area to be more hands-on. Very shortly we hope to have a weekly children's ministry taking place there, besides the teaching events and various one-off programs we run, via the hospitality in the space of an NGO run by some of the African day laborers from Guinea Bissau.
2. In the middle of 2020, my coworkers met an 18-yr-old guy named Dennis from Ghana. He had come as a minor and was in a minor's program until his 18th birthday. He was given a non-working residence card and then basically turned out to fend for himself. But his card was going to expire, so he was looking for someone who might help him renew his card. After doing some research and strongly feeling God's leading to help him, he agreed to move to Málaga. We were anxious to remove him from the terrible environment that surrounded him in the Sea of Plastic, fearing he might fall into any number of horrible situations. I gave him temporary housing, until it became abundantly clear that God was leading me to offer him a home longer term. Here, we were able to get him enrolled in high school and get his card renewed- though once again a non-working card. He has been living with me as my 'adoptive son' ever since, and graduates just before I head back to the US at the end of June. God's leading and work in Dennis's life has been wonderful. He came as a Believer, though not yet baptized. He has grown Spiritually by leaps and bounds and was baptized early this year (2022). He will be taking a big step toward independence when I leave. We're anxious to see what amazing plans God has for his life. It has been a joy to 'mother' this gentle, sweet, and God-fearing 'son' God gave me for this last season of ministry here in Spain.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of faith as we Live the Call Together...

I count on your PRAYERS! They are my lifeline!

Spain

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Updated: May 16, 2022

Status
Home Assignment
Country of Service
Spain

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