Leach Biography

Larry Leach, Jr., along with his wife and five children went to Romania as missionaries in November of 2004. In 2006, by leading of the Holy Spirit, they moved to Bulgaria where they now minister. Larry preaches in church meetings, helps with food distribution, helps get the gospel out by making and handing out the CDs and DVDs (used instead of tracts to the illiterate), and helps out wherever he can.
 

 
 

The Leaches

Missionaries to the Turks in Bulgaria

 

Supporting and Mailing Address:
Charity Baptist Mission Inc.
P.O. Box 692
Bristol, TN 37621-0692
Tel.(423) 878-8231
 


Sending Church:  Emmanuel Baptist Church
 Pastor Thomas Guertin  635 E. Forester Rd.
Sandusky, MI 48471  (810) 648-3495
  


Field and Mailing Address:
Larry Leach, Jr. 9900 Novi Pazar P.O. Box 42 BULGARIA   larcarleach2002@yahoo.com

 

The Leach Family Missionaries in Bulgaria

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Dear Brethren,         January 2023

James tells us, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Paul tells us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praise-worthy. The above verse in Isaiah directs our minds to stay on God. The promises and admonitions we find in scripture are key to managing our Christian walk, and I can attest to these managing my OCD. Since arriving back in Bulgaria, OCD has not miraculously left me, nor did I expect it to, but I’m learning to manage it. Or, rather, when I focus on the things of God rather than my own things, God manages it. This is my thorn: the thing that keeps me humbly in prayer. I appreciate everyone continuing to pray for me, and for sending words of encouragement. I have no strength in myself to overcome, but when I walk in the strength of God, He gets work done and He alone gets the glory.

The work in Bulgaria continues and we’re thankful for faithful missionaries, national Pastors, and church members. Pastor Ismail is struggling with some major dental problems and I know he would appreciate your prayers. A few months back he talked to me about his aging knees and how it was getting more difficult for him to go visiting in town, walking to the hospital or even house-to-house. So we were able to find a threewheeled scooter for him and he’s so thankful. He’s able to get out daily and do the work of a Pastor, and that’s a blessing to both him and the church folks. If he knew I was writing this he would tell me to send greetings from him and the church in Novi Pazar, so I will send you greetings now on his behalf. The church in Novi Pazar is growing and is a church full of love and faith.

The work on the Coat Closet expansion is slow, but happening. This winter we purchased nearly 900 coats and even more socks. I do not know how many of those were actually distributed since we’ve had a fairly warm winter, but whatever is not given out will be ready and waiting for next year. One of the national Pastors needed a coat and we looked through the stock at the Closet and couldn’t find his size. Everything we had was either smaller or larger. We sent a few possible options along with many others in bags for the kids at one of his churches, but he didn’t find one that fit. He didn’t tell us this, however. So last week when we were in Shumen we ran into him and his daughter told us they were going to look for a cheap coat for him. I knew it was no coincidence we ran into him, so we took him to a few stores to look for a coat. When we found just the right one, he cried and praised God in the middle of the store. And so did we. He was thankful for a warm coat, and we were thankful we got to be part of helping him with that need.

In my last letter I mentioned Carrie’s car. When we returned to Bulgaria we fixed a few things on the car and then gave it to a national Pastor. Thankfully it wasn’t as damaged as we expected, and repairs were minimal. And now it’s being used by a Pastor. We’re praying about a big van for Coat Closet and church work, and we would appreciate all who would pray with us about this need. Thank you all for your faithful prayers for us, Pastor Ismail, the Coat Closet, the churches, and the many ministries going on here in Bulgaria and Romania.

Because He First Loved Me,         (A printable PDF version is available here)

Larry Leach, Jr.

P.S. Somehow in our packing and preparing to return to the field last fall, there was a miscommunication and our fall prayer letter didn’t end up being sent out. We apologize to all those who usually receive our letters via mail. We’ve included the lost letter in with this one. Thank you for understanding.

- Support Address: Charity Baptist Mission: P.O. Box 692, Bristol, TN 37621-

- Field Address: 9900 Novi Pazar, P.K. 42, BULGARIA. larcarleach@gmail.com -

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Dear Brethren,         August 28, 2022

My last prayer letter, and especially my last email update, came from a very discouraged missionary. I had a lot of questions, a ton of concerns, very little direction, an excess of bills, and lower monthly support. And all of that on top of the daily battle that is OCD, which severely affects my routines. I recall back in May standing before a precious congregation in rural Michigan and saying, “If God doesn’t do something, I’m done. I can’t continue on the field like this.” From the back pew a man called out, “We will pray you through it!” Shortly afterward I received a call from a deacon in Southeast Tennessee telling me that the church wanted to know how they could help, and that no matter how long this valley lasted they were with me because, as he put it, “We don’t believe in kicking our soldiers when they’re down.”

One individual after another - one pastor after another - one church after another encouragement came slowly, but surely, through God’s people. My medical bills, which had drained my reserves, were taken care of by generous gifts. A Pastor called and asked me to come so his church could be a blessing to us. Another Pastor called and asked me to come, simply with the intention of praying over me. Weekends spent in Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina… moments around a preacher’s table or at a restaurant with a pastor and his family… God’s people listened. They didn’t offer endless advice; they listened. One dear lady held my wife’s hand across the table and cried with her. These small moments wrought a big work in our hearts.

God, as He is faithful to do, worked on our hearts. Some time in July it occurred to me that I probably would not find any answers medically/supplementally/nutritionally, and that I will likely battle OCD for the remainder of my life. I don’t have to tell you how discouraging this thought was, but a day or so afterward a sister at a supporting church just this side of the North Carolina line shook my hand and said, “I hope this isn’t out of line, but I feel the need to tell you that a broken vessel lets the light out better than a whole one.” So I came to America seeking, with questions about how to be victorious over OCD, but instead came away with the answer that this thorn in the flesh, though it will remain, will be the very thing that will help me minister.

I came with many questions, but am either getting the answers I didn’t ask for… or getting answers to questions I never asked.

Which brings me to the next part - God is leading us to expand the Coat Closet in Avren to a year-round clothing distribution. That thought never entered my mind, and wasn’t part of the questions I was seeking answers for, but Carrie and I both are excited about this expansion. The need is there, and we already know distributors. I already know Pastor Ismail will be excited to help the kids in his impoverished neighborhood. It will be a lot of work to get up and running, but churches are already asking how they can help. As of right now we plan to return to Bulgaria September 14th, and we will have a lot of work to do right away. First to take our house back from potential mildew and rat squatters. I will also have to tend to our vehicle situation, since my wife’s car was hit while in its parking space outside of our front gate. But it will also be time to reach out to coat distributors for our yearly coats and socks distribution. I hope to begin the closet expansion after the Coats for Kids distribution. Pray with us.

One more random story and I’ll try to close: A few weeks ago when in prayer I told the Lord I’d sure like to have my teeth cleaned. I know that sounds like such a small thing, but I don’t like going to the dentist in Bulgaria. OCD and Bulgarian dentists don’t mix well. Also, American dentists are expensive and usually booked up for months out. But I told the Lord I’d really like to have my teeth cleaned. Carrie called several places and not only were no appointments available any time before November, it would cost nearly $400 (because as a new patient it would also require x-rays and exam). Let’s back up just a bit… Cherith called us from Michigan with severe tooth pain a couple months ago. We went and got her and took her to her dentist here in Bristol, TN and she underwent an urgent root canal. After the root canal there was a scratchy piece on a tooth behind it, but she said she wanted to wait and see if it smoothed out. Now fast forward to that day I talked to the Lord about my teeth. Cherith asked to go back to the dentist to have him look at that scratchy spot. We went in the office and they scheduled her for the next day. I decided to ask if they had any openings for cleanings. The receptionist said they had two cancellations for the following day and they could get me in. Carrie, too. I took those two appointments. Just then a dear old friend came out from the back. She’s a dental hygienist we met years ago. Come to find out, we were scheduled to see her. She texted Carrie later and said she spoke to the dentist and the cleaning and x-rays would be free, and that we only needed to pay for the exam. So we got our teeth examined and cleaned and talked about the Lord the whole time during our appointments. Afterward we got a call from the pastor of our dear friend, inviting me to speak at their church. We went and enjoyed time with them, and the church chose to begin supporting us and also one of our fellow missionaries. Every morning I wake up and thank God for not only removing this dental burden from my shoulders, but also using something so trivial to me to connect us with a precious church in Virginia. God’s ways are amazing to watch.

We’re at the hardest part of furlough: the goodbyes stage. Saying goodbye is such a common thing for a missionary, but we never get used to it. It seems it gets harder and harder every time, especially with grandchildren in the picture now. But God knows, and He will provide grace. Goodbye Grace. We try not to dwell there, instead trying to focus on the great times we’ve had here. The powerful church meetings. The echoes of the Prayer Room. Spending a little time with all of our children. Watching our grandbabies crawl. Laughing with friends - and sometimes belly laughing. Speaking English. Eating steak. Watching baseball. Experiencing heart healing in the church. Being reminded time and time again we are not alone in this war.

We need your continued prayers. As the man yelled out in Michigan, keep praying us through it all. The only way anything is going to get done is by prayer, I firmly believe it. Thank you all… for everything.

Because He First Loved Me,             (A printable PDF version is available here)
Missionary Larry Leach, Jr.

- Support Address: Charity Baptist Mission: P.O. Box 692, Bristol, TN 37621 -

- Field Address: 9900 Novi Pazar, P.K. 42, BULGARIA. larcarleach@gmail.com -

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Dear Brethren,   August 2020

Though we are living in uncertain, precarious days we are held fast by the hands of Almighty God and His omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, and faithfulness have not, and will not be, diminished. Though what we see and hear around us all day everyday are held in suspect, the truth of God changes not. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is still our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. And there is still only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ His Son. Bless His Name!

God is still saving lost souls! Our son-in-law, Chris Jackson, trusted Christ as his personal Savior two weeks ago and we continue to rejoice. He’s a good young man, an honest, hard worker... but until recently he didn’t know he had such a deep need for Christ. He asked a lot of questions and listened intently to the preaching, pondering his need for weeks. That Sunday, he couldn’t hold back any longer and found himself drawn to the altar. When he video called us, his face shone brightly with a joy we know only comes from Christ. We shouted and cried for joy ourselves. Our son, who was lost, is now found in Christ!

Pastor Ismail and his wife Naziye are faring well, given the circumstances of the day. They had problems with the city septic backing up on their property, but we asked for help from American churches and the need was quickly met. They can once again use their washing machine, wash dishes in the outside sink, use the outhouse... all things we take for granted. Her health is never the best, so please continue to pray for her. She is concerned her yearly bronchitis and breathing issues will put her at risk, either for contracting the virus, or for everyone thinking she has it when she doesn’t. Their younger son in Belgium is battling cancer and this weighs heavily on her heart. Please pray for him as well.

Back in January we made plans to go to America in September for our oldest son’s wedding. As has happened to many, our plans were changed. Jonathan will still be getting married, but we will only be able to attend via video chat, and we’re thankful that is an option! We requested our airfare ticket refund a couple months ago, but the major operators are simply not giving them at this time. Our chosen airline has over two billion dollars’ worth of refunds held in limbo... with our three tickets being a part of that. So, we wait, hoping we don’t take a loss.

We apologize for the lateness of correspondence. Everything has been so up in the air and unsettled. The ministry here continues, though we work in different ways than before. We appreciate all the faithful prayers and support on our behalf. In the future we hope to move from a paper prayer letter to an emailed one, as this seems more certain in this day than postal systems. To be added to our e-mailing list, please write us at larcarleach@gmail.com.

Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                 September 2019

The month of August was a blur, but full of blessings upon blessings. We were able to go to America as a family and get Esther Mae set up to live there. Carrie got that hug from her Mom that she had been craving for months. We took a quick road trip and saw Hannah in Tennessee, along with many friends. Then Joshua flew up from Florida and spent a few days with us. We also got to see Jonathan and meet his fiancée, Jana. We got to as many supporting churches as we could in that short time and were refreshed by the fellowship. It was a quick trip, but we are so thankful for everything God did for us, and through us, while we were there. We bless His Name.

We landed in Sofia, Bulgaria on August 28th. Oddly, we were awake and full of energy the next day. That however, was just fool’s gold, and jetlag hit hard. We also contracted a virus. Needless to say, we were pretty much useless for about ten days. But after rest and recuperation we jumped back into the ministry schedule, and are very happy to be home.

Fall is here - winter quickly approaching. Now that we have Esther Mae settled, my focus has switched to preparing for winter. Working in the Coat Closet, winterizing our house, and buying firewood. To get a good start on the winter firewood, I’m needing $700, which would buy wood for Pastor Ismail, the church in Novi Pazar and my house (this is the early bird price - it goes up the colder it gets). Please pray with us about all these winter preparations.

The churches continue to do well and send their greetings. Though it still seems as if we are in a time of transition after the passing of Brother Ralph, the ministry continues. We ask that you remember to pray for us. Pray for the missionaries, national pastors, and churches. Pray for our children. And pray for souls. Thank you all for your faithfulness.

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                           July 2018

 

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

 

Missionary Ralph Cheatwood, hero of the faith, went on to be with the Lord last month. He was our Field Director and Pastor figure but also like a father to so many of us. Our children even called him Grandad. His presence will be greatly missed but we fully intend to carry on the work he began all those years ago.

 

Time marches on, and we strive to “Redeem the time”… The churches continue to do well. In Zlatina a lady stopped us outside on the sidewalk to inquire after the church there because she had heard about it from a believer she met while working in Western Europe. What a blessing that the testimony of the church stands strong even as it travels. Our family is doing well. I remain busy tending the flock with Pastor Ismail while Carrie and Cherith stay home on weekdays so Cherith can finish her home school work. Esther is in America for a few more weeks – she had an unexpected opportunity arise to visit a university, work a summer job, and spend a bit of time with some children in foster care. Our older children are doing well also but could always use your prayers.

 

In my last prayer letter I wrote at length about our vehicle situation. The situation remains unchanged and we continue to pray the Lord keeps this car going while we wait, but some money has come in for a new vehicle. Of our $18,000 goal we now have a little over $4,000.

 

There are so many financial needs of the ministry but at the moment I feel compelled to highlight this one: Winter Firewood. The mindset here is to always be preparing for winter, and at this time firewood (which is controlled by the government) is more available and 20% cheaper. The closer winter gets, the less available firewood is, and it gets more expensive with each passing month. I would like to see Pastor Ismail and the church in Novi Pazar get firewood yet this month. My family also.

 

In closing we ask that you pray for the following: 1) The upcoming American camp meeting: the first without Brother Ralph. There are many young people yet unsaved. 2) Our children in America. Guidance. Wisdom. 3) The ministry here. Pastors and families, missionaries, churches, believers. 4) Avren. Work is going on in Avren as we strive to follow Brother Ralph’s vision and carry on what he started.

 

Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support. Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

 

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Dear Brethren,        January 2018

 

Happy New Year! It is our hope and prayer that this letter finds you all well and warm. Our holidays were a little difficult without the older children home, but we had a nice, quiet time together and even tried to make new traditions.

The response this winter to Coats for Kids has been overwhelming, and for that we are thankful. We have been very busy with the distributions, only taking a forced break when the flu hit our house for a few weeks. Hundreds of coats and socks (and this year some hats) have been bought, sorted, and distributed. Today Carrie and I were sitting at the table planning our next step when a request for coats came in. We felt like we should go get coats for this need right at that moment in order to be ahead of the ice storm. We hope to keep working until we have exhausted all suppliers and/or resources.

The churches are doing very well. I love the people, and I'm so glad they love me too. Yesterday five folks from the church in Mihailovski came to my house to check on me because they heard I had been very sick. They also brought bags of fruit. Unfortunately I was not home to visit with them, but it blessed my heart that they would figure out a way to get out here to my house to see about me. What a blessing!

Our time in America was bittersweet, but mostly sweet. The Lord did such big things for our family, and we returned to the field encouraged and helped. While in America we were able to visit many churches - both supporting churches and new contacts. The Lord blessed as we presented the work. When asked about our personal needs, I told of those - each time highlighting the need of the moment (getting our older children set up, Pastor Ismail, Widow Minka, getting Carrie some medical help, Coats for Kids, etc.). I felt at peace about the direction of each and every meeting. However, after returning to the field and finding costs had risen while I was gone, I find that I ran out of time in America to highlight every need and our personal monthly support ended up feeling the lack. I cannot visit new churches in America while working here in Bulgaria, but I know God answers prayers; so I would like to ask all of our supporters to make this a matter of prayer for the Leach Family.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your faithfulness. You have been faithful to pray and support and give to special needs. We are thankful that God put us together in His ministry. Praying for you.

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

 

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Dear Brethren,                  September 2017

 

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Psalm 103:1

 

This verse has become our personal psalm of praise and instead of a typical update and prayer letter, I would just like to praise the Lord a while for what great things He has done. He is worthy to be praised. He continues to prove Himself faithful and has provided above and beyond all that we hoped or imagined. He has heard our cries and answered our prayers. I better just jump into telling you about all the good things that have taken place during this furlough - take a minute to consider the depth of each one:

 

Hannah and Joshua are settled in, here in America. Carrie’s health is in hand and she has been given the all clear to return to the field. National Pastor Ismail’s monthly support needs have been met. We all underwent Christian counseling for PTSD and our counselors praise the Lord with us for our quick progress. Carrie is singing again. We’ve had times of rest and relaxation with friends who encouraged us more than words. We got to spend quality time with family, both immediate and extended. A dear family - a missionary to missionaries - let us stay in one of their rental homes in Florida, allowing us to rest. We made many new friends, laughed a lot, and have new supporting churches. I got to preach a lot in English. We got the clothes and shoes we all needed. And, Carrie and I got to go on many dates, including one tubing adventure down a river in Tennessee. A lot has been packed into six months and I bless the Lord.

 

We plan to fly back to Bulgaria on the 18th of this month and will resume our ministry among the Turkish speaking people there. We ask for your prayers. Pray for our safety and encouragement as we travel and for our grown children who will remain. We will begin fundraising for this year’s Coats for Kids drive this month, so pray about that. And pray for the ministry vehicle fund. This is one need that has not yet been fully met, but we trust God to meet this need. Of the $18,000 we need, we have a little over $1,100. Pray.

 

A heartfelt thanks to everyone for your faithful prayers and support of our family and the ministries.

 

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

 

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Dear Brethren,                                                May 2017

 

We arrived in America about nine weeks ago and have already traveled over 10,000 miles. Our travels have taken us as far west as Missouri and as far south as Florida, with a trip north to Michigan planned in a couple weeks. We also spent some time in North Carolina as well as Tennessee, where Hannah and Joshua graduated high school.

 

Our furlough goals were many, some of which were graduation for the kids, getting the kids set up to live in America, raising money to rebuild Widow Minka’s house after the fire, raising a little more monthly support for Pastor Ismail, and raising money for a ministry vehicle. Graduation has already taken place, Hannah has moved and is doing well, and over half of the money needed for Widow Minka has come in. We praise the Lord for faithfully leading us and providing.

 

We still plan to return to Bulgaria in September, even though so much still needs to be accomplished. We would love to visit all our supporting churches, but some phone numbers have changed and we have lost ability to contact some. If you would like to have us visit and give an update on the work among the Turks in Bulgaria and Romania, my current cell phone number is: 276.469.9294.

 

Prayer Requests:

 

1. Naziye, Ismail’s wife has been very sick. They are running tests for suspected cancer and need your prayers.

 

2. Our children, both grown and still at home.

 

3. Our personal needs, both medical and financial.

 

4. The ministry in Bulgaria and Romania - the churches, the outreaches, the missionaries, and the national pastors.

 

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

 

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Dear Brethren,                                    October 2016

 

Much has happened since my last prayer letter in May. Several camp meetings, baptisms, continued work on the printing house in Avren, and the regular care of the churches have kept us very busy. But, it is all very good and we thank the Lord for it. Though I may complain on occasion out of sheer exhaustion, at the end of the day I’m so thankful I was called to be a missionary.

 

Carrie is much improved since my last letter, though she still has episodes of sickness where she is weak and has to go rest until it passes. Keep praying that she will recover totally. The children have begun the school year and the younger two are doing the A Beka online streaming program, which has been such a help to them and to Carrie. Hannah and Joshua are in their senior year and will be graduating in the spring. Pray for them as they make plans to leave the nest after graduation. Hannah has plans to attend community college while tending to some health concerns. Joshua has learned much working on the various building projects over here and hopes to put this knowledge and experience to use working for a home construction contractor.

 

Pastor Ismail and his wife Naziye have endured a very rough summer. A few months back she slipped and fell and broke her leg in three places. The doctor put a cast on it and ordered her to rest for fifty days. Ismail had to help her with everything. It took a long time to heal, but, praise the Lord, I saw her walking last week and she seems to be gaining strength every day. This time was trying for them, but the care of the churches was always on their minds and he remained faithful to go. I’m thankful for faithful National Pastors.

 

The churches are doing well. Attendance was down during the summer because everyone was working every hour they could, knowing winter would soon be upon them and there would be no work. But now that most of the harvest is past, the churches are full once again. Last week eight visitors came to the church in Stoyan Mihailovski. They said their son/brother was sick and needed a surgery and they heard the church was a place they could come and pray. I’m so thankful the communities know where the churches are from the testimonies of the believers of their answered prayers.

 

Work on our unfinished upstairs has finally begun. Carrie’s health scare and the many needs of the ministry required my attention, so that delayed my plans a while. But it has begun and already we have begun the work to level the old concrete floors, start on the plumbing, remove a load bearing wall, and hire an electrician. Some of the work was under quoted and will be more costly than I thought, but I’m going to keep going until the money runs out and hope and pray it doesn’t run out before we hit the finish line. Keep praying about this. I’m happy to be getting to work on this and happy to get to work on this final project with Joshua before he leaves. These moments are precious.

 

And don’t forget to pray for this year’s Coats for Kids drive. Thank you all for your faithful prayers!

 

Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

 

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Dear Brethren, May 2016

Since my last prayer letter, there is one very big praise to report: We were informed by Bulgaria’s Department of Migration that we have permanent residency, instead of the five year residency visa we thought we had. The gravity of this is enormous, and though it has been a while since we found out, we still rejoice.

Because of this news, along with plans of taking a furlough in the spring of 2017 for Hannah and Joshua to graduate, I felt peace about this being the time to finish our village house here in Bulgaria. I planned a nearly three week trip back to America to bring attention to the various financial needs of the work here among the Turks and to encourage Jonathan, but primarily to raise the necessary funds to finish the house.

I took eight planes, was in three countries and five states, and went to 25 church meetings in just a little over two weeks. It was exhausting, but everywhere I went, everyone was such a blessing. Everyone was so receptive to the updates from oversees and even after telling so much, they wanted to hear more. This blesses a missionary’s heart more than I can express. With the Lord’s help I was able to bring encouragement in the churches, all while being encouraged myself. And, many, many thanks to the Lord, I was able to come home with 80% of the money needed to finish our house here in the village.

While I was in America, Carrie and the kids put the pedal to the metal and got their home school year done early. They also stacked wood, cleaned up the yard and gardens, and did a spring cleaning of the house. Everything was so nice to come home to, but more than the nice yard and house, I was so happy to be back home with my family.

After a short time of settling in, we were preparing to leave for English camp meeting in Romania when Carrie fell ill suddenly. After a trip to the ER to rule out heart attack, she has been in bed for the better part of a week and a half. The doctor said it was a bad virus, but we are still unsure of the cause of these episodes. Even though she is beginning to regain strength, she often has to go rest to calm the racing and thudding of her heart. We ask that you pray for her very much as she tries to recover. And pray for our family as we try to finish the work on our house, even as the summer ministry schedule of special meetings and baptisms is on the horizon and the work on the printing house in Avren continues.

Thank you for your faithful prayers!

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Coats for Kids 2015 Distribution Bulgaria/Romania

Part 1a

We set out this morning with Hannah and Esther and a car so full of bags of coats and socks, they each had bags on their laps. Our plan was to distribute as many coats as we could, and we did, but God had even bigger plans for us. As we sit down near the close of the day to reflect on everything the Lord has allowed us to be a part of, we feel honored.

But let me back up… first things first… the purchasing of the coats and socks. A week and a half ago Larry and I went into the city and bought new socks. We got a good deal on them, so we really stocked up. It’s always a shock for the cashier to see us coming with an overflowing cart of socks, but we’ve been doing this so long now, we knew how to have them already organized in sections to make her job easier. Then this past Monday we went back into the city to the second hand store to stock up on coats. It was pretty slim pickins, but we did our best. Unfortunately we only filled one of the vehicles. Two more empty vehicles were with us, so we took off in search of another location. It was much better than the first place and a new contact was made there. We filled the remaining vehicles and headed back to our house where Hannah had brownies and refreshments waiting. Here are two pictures—one of the cart of socks and one of our entryway so full of bags of coats, we could hardly get up the stairs. At last count there were well over 40 bags in the entry and halls.

We then organized coats and socks each afternoon for the past week, as our schedule permitted, and felt we were ready to begin distribution in nearby villages.

First stop this morning: Novi Pazar. Pastor Ismael was already gathering the local children and organizing them in lines. We carried the bags inside and Esther and I organized them to make distribution easier, while Hannah got set up to take pictures and Larry controlled the crowd. Working together, we were able to give out around 50 coats in under an hour. In between influxes of children, we were able to encourage Sister Naziye, who is having a hard time with her blood sugar. Here are a few pictures from that distribution:

 

 

The girl standing next to Larry above is Sinem, Pastor Ismael’s granddaughter. Every time I see her, I am reminded of God’s hand in her young life. When she was four, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her lung and required surgery, which cost a lot of money and the family simply did not have it to pay. We asked you all to pray and one friend forwarded the email on to other friends and shortly a man we had never met wrote and told us he wanted to help. He paid for her surgery and the trip to the capital for the family to be with her. The surgery was a success and today she is in good health. We praise the Lord for His faithful lovingkindness.
 

Please click on this link to view the four part story.

 

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                               December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As we reflect on the past year, we see many ups and downs. I lost my Dad back in May, but in July two of my children were born again. Then in July, Essie Mae was baptized and in late August, Joshua and Hannah were baptized. Jonathan joined up with a contractor coming to Romania to work on the Children’s Home and we got to see him a little. Challenges have been numerous, but the joy at the salvation on our children has overshadowed them all.

Since our last email, much has happened here in Bulgaria. Joshua and I have been helping the other missionaries work on the church/printing house in Avren and that has taken much of our time. Also, we have been purchasing, sorting, and distributing coats and socks to many nearby villages. We were also able to meet some precious children in Romania, who are some of our neediest, and give them coats, socks, and shoes. They were some of the most thankful, lovable children we have ever met and our hearts are thankful to have had a part in helping them. Pastor Ismael and his wife Naziye are doing fairly well and we continue together to care for nine churches in our area. The churches are doing well also and continue in prayer and hymns, testifying of their joy in knowing Christ. The ministry is heavy, the laborers are few, but the joy is abundant. I count it an honor to be a part of this work.

In my last letter, I spoke of the house I inherited with the attached mortgage. It was our hope to sell the house and get what little equity remained after paying the reverse mortgage and using it to finish our house here in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the given time frame to sell has come and gone and it is uncertain what will happen next. We rest in the knowledge that God is in control and whether he chooses to sell this house or for it to go back to the bank and do things another way, we are following Him.

Last month we received unexpected news that our children would need new passports earlier that we thought. We were unprepared for this, but it was urgent that we take care of this passport issue, so our mission fronted us the money to handle it. $550 remains to be given back to the mission for this need. We ask that you all pray with us about this need.

In closing I want to thank you all for your faithfulness. Your unwavering prayers have kept us on the field these eleven years and we find strength in knowing that we are loved and prayed for earnestly. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
 

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Dear Brethren, August 2015

My how time flies! So many things have happened in the last few months and time has gotten away from me since our last prayer letter. I will try to write it all, but the Lord has done so much it can’t fit on one page.

In May, my father passed away and our family went back to Michigan for a month for the funeral and to take care of his personal business matters. It was a difficult time, but Dad was saved so we know we will see him again. Hannah was needing to take care of some things and we were able to combine the trip to take care of her needs as well. While in Michigan, we saw the Lord provide for our needs over and over and we bless His name. My father left me his house (with attached reverse mortgage) and one matter of prayer is that the house sells by November 16 or the bank will take it. The remaining equity in the home, if it sells, may be enough for me to finish our house here in Bulgaria. Please pray with us.

Shortly after we got back to Bulgaria, we traveled a few hours north to the Children’s Home in Romania for the summer English camp meeting. The meetings were all very good and we rejoice in that, but we rejoice even more that two of our children, Esther and Hannah, both received Christ on July 15th, along with five other children. A baptism was held the following Sunday at the Black Sea near Navodari, Romania and Esther wanted to be baptized. As our group of around sixty people walked down to the water to baptize, onlookers stopped what they were doing and listened to us sing and baptize the new believers. What a testimony! Hannah requires special things to be able to get in the water, which were left behind at home, so she chose to be baptized later this summer in Bulgaria. She and Joshua. We rejoice in the salvation of our children!

Though the regular village church meetings are going very well, the summer heat and lack of rain have really been hard on the believers. One man in Kaspichan had a stroke and just today I was told he is back in the hospital. Pastor Ismael’s grandson had surgery yesterday and is in recovery. Many others have been sick. Please pray for the missionaries and nationals.

The remainder of the summer, which includes four of our children’s birthdays, special meetings, and perhaps another baptism or two, will be over before we know it. Our attention will then turn to preparing for winter and making plans for Coats for Kids. Please be in prayer for the many ministry needs and for our family.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers; they are invaluable.

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren, January 2015

I apologize for the tardiness of this letter. Many challenges have been faced since the writing of our last letter, which caused time to slip away and before we knew it, months had gone by in between letters. But, praise the Lord for His continued faithfulness in bringing us through each challenge.

We had a wonderful Christmas season. Carrie’s Mother came for a two week visit and the family was encouraged. Though we missed Jonathan, this being his first Christmas away from home, we found joy around the table, competing in a tense game of Mayberry-opoly. While Carrie’s Mom was here, we took her to see many historical sites. On one such excursion, we stopped at the little store in the village of Pliska to get batteries for her camera. As she stepped up onto the sidewalk and adjusted her hat, her ring got caught on her earring and pulled it out. It was a very special earring and she and Carrie looked and looked but could not find it. We eventually left, thinking it was lost for good. Five hours or so later, after seeing many more sites, we had to drive through Pliska yet again and I told Carrie I thought it would be good to stop and look one more time. This time the kids jumped out of the car and joined the search. Esther Mae looked in every sidewalk crack and picked up what appeared to be a pebble – but it was her grandmother’s opal earring. We all shouted for joy on the sidewalk of a little village store. On the way home, we were able to point out to the children that our joy was similar to the lady in the Bible who lost a coin and swept her house until she found it. We encouraged them to keep seeking the Lord and He will be found.

We have begun purchasing this year’s coats and socks and should be out in the villages distributing them very soon. Please remember the poor in your prayers. Their needs are great and winter is a tough time for them. And pray for us as we do what we can to help.

Prayer Requests: 1. Jonathan. 2. Carrie’s health. She has been diagnosed with arrhythmia. 3. Pastor Ismael and his wife Naziye. 4. Unspoken. 5. All the missionaries and their children, both here and in America.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers for our family and for this ministry.

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
 

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                          August 2014

It has been a very strange summer. There has been so much rain that in all the villages I go to, the common complaint is that gardens have been so damaged that there will be very little to preserve for the long winter ahead. Yet, they are thankful because it could have been worse - While we in the villages were complaining of erosion, lost gardens, and collapsing outbuildings, in one area on the outskirts of Varna (a large city about an hour’s drive from our home), lives were lost in a flash flood that destroyed or seriously damaged around two hundred homes and washed away even more cars. One of our national pastors used to live in that area and he has been able to go into this flood stricken area and be a blessing to the people. We are hearing testimonies of people turning to Christ as a result.

This past weekend I was able to take a group of people from the church in Zlatina to an all-night camp meeting in Dabravino. The roads to the river had turned to marsh from the rains, so we drove through the fields. The river was swift, but even so, many were baptized. Entering the baptismal waters is a huge step of faith for these former Muslims and it is such a blessing to see such a wonderful event. Following the baptism, we had a good meeting, full of singing, praying, testifying, and preaching. The believers were refreshed and recharged.

Last month we joined six other missionary families for American camp meeting in Romania. It was to be a ten day meeting and I admit we had our concerns about spending that much time away from our home. But, it was the best camp meeting we have ever had. Two nights, the young people were on the altar, pleading with God. The preaching was some of the best we’ve heard, as was the singing. The fellowship was wonderful and we spent some time resting and relaxing. We appreciate this great time for our family.

The family is doing well. Jonathan is employed in America, though he is hoping for more hours. He has some decisions to make regarding his long-term goals and needs much prayer. Hannah just had a birthday and is 16. It doesn’t seem possible. Last week Joshua turned 15. Next week Esther will be 13. And at the end of the month, Cherith, the baby of the family, will be 10. They’re growing way too fast. Joshua noticed the other day that the sunflower fields were ready to be harvested and he sighed. I asked why he was sad and he said that when the sunflowers are harvested, he knows it’s time for school again. I suppose this can be a bummer for a kid.

Prayer Requests: 1. Jonathan. 2. Carrie’s health. 3. National Pastor Ismael and his wife Naziye. 4. The national Pastors and churches in Bulgaria and Romania. 5. The missionaries. 6. Our personal financial need of $700 for the winterizing maintenance and tires for our vehicle.

Thank you very much for your faithful prayers for our family and for this work.

Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                                                May 2014

Yesterday I had the honor of being invited to a Turkish feast. It is their custom when God answers an important prayer of theirs, they hold a feast. The lady of the house stood and testified about what God had done for her, we sang hymns, I preached in Bulgarian, and Ismael preached in Turkish. It was a really good day and a very nice feast.

We have many things to thank God for as well and I would like to share just a few of them with you in this letter:

At the end of winter, we had the privilege of being involved in the yearly flour and oil distribution. This distribution helps feed the poor families in the churches and is very needed and very appreciated. Ismael and I oversaw the distribution to over 200 families in the churches we work with.

This spring we were able to attend two camp meetings: One in English and one in Turkish. For the English camp meeting, all the American missionaries in our group get together in Romania for several days and enjoy preaching, singing, testifying, and fellowship in English. This is a time of physical and spiritual refreshing, as well as a time for the kids to get caught up with all their friends. For the Turkish camp meeting, the missionaries in Bulgaria bring several car loads of believers across the border into Romania where the missionaries there, along with many believers from the churches in that area, are waiting. The people find great strength during these meetings and it’s a blessing to all.

Our family has seen some changes—some good and some bittersweet. The first is that after seven years of waiting and working, Carrie and I have a finished room upstairs. Also, a structural issue of great concern to me personally has been repaired. The second is that Jonathan David-Eugene has graduated from high school. The bittersweet part is that he has gone back to America—bitter because he is not living at home with us anymore and sweet because we know this is what is best for him. Though we miss him, we cheer him on. The other kids are all out of school for the summer and excited to fill their days with anything but book learning.

Prayer Requests: 1. Jonathan. 2. Carrie’s health. 3. The churches in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as all the national Pastors and missionaries. There is a great work to be done and we need the prayers of the believers. Thank you all for your fervent prayers on our behalf.

Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                                      February 2014

A lot has happened since our last prayer letter. I will try to sum up:

Hannah’s foot, then bearing a pinhole where a terrible wound used to be, is now healed completely. Just a few days before our flight to Bulgaria, we saw the Orthopedic Surgeon one last time and when she looked at the foot, she said to Hannah, “Go! Walk!” We put her special shoes on her and she walked better than she ever has. Carrie and I cried as much that day as the first day she walked when she was two. The Lord has certainly taken care of her and we remain grateful.


Our trip back to Bulgaria was our best one yet. We took one more plane than we usually do, but that allowed us to fly into Varna, which is only an hour from our house. None of our baggage was lost.

We jumped right into home repairs and within our first two weeks, had the subfloor and flooring installed in the family room. Unfortunately we had to replace the stove and water heater but the good news is, we were able to purchase some furniture that has made the family more comfortable. We are still in the middle of home repairs and hope to see this through to completion. We were able to buy a truck load of building supplies and have them delivered to the house. The work on the upstairs has begun. It is our hope and prayer that as we try to finish the house completely, the funds will be there for each need.

We also jumped right in to Coats for Kids. The weather was unseasonably warm through the holidays, allowing us to get quite a bit done. And, praise the Lord, we were able to get to many villages before the bad weather hit in January. Thank you to all who helped, either financially, physically, or through prayer.

I have been back to my regular meetings since November and it has been good to be with the church folks again. Pastor Ismael was able to get some medical care while we were in America, and, though he is still not in the best of health, is still able to stand and preach with authority. He and his wife, Naziye, could use your daily prayers. It has also been good to get back to the morning prayer meeting in our village. Pastor Alish and his wife, Safet, testify that they receive strength from this meeting day after day. It is an encouragement to me to see the believers standing strong in the faith.

Thank you all for your faithfulness to support and pray for our family. You are a blessing to us.

Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                                                Fall 2013

Almost immediately after writing our summer prayer letter, our plans and focus changed unexpectedly - we took Hannah to the pediatric ER at a local hospital because the wound on her foot had taken a turn for the worse and required immediate attention.  After numerous tests, she was admitted to the Children’s Hospital to await surgery to debride the wound.  She came through surgery fine and after having a PICC line inserted in her right arm, was released for in-home care.  Carrie and I had to learn how to administer her antibiotic infusions four times each day, in addition to oral antibiotics.  This was to take care of the infection that had tunneled in to the bones of the foot.  Nurses came for a while to tend the wound vacuum attached to her foot.  Her doctors put her on a “no weight-bearing” order, which meant she was confined to a wheelchair, chair, or bed.  It was a trying and exhausting time for all of us.  But, Praise the Lord, Hannah is doing great now.  The wound that was once an ulcer that would not heal, is now a pin hole.  The infections that affected the bones of the foot are gone.  Special shoes have been ordered and when they arrive, we are to see the Orthopedic Surgeon again and get Hannah up on her feet.  It has been ten weeks since she has walked and even though we have been able to do some physical therapy at home, walking may be quite a challenge for her at first.  We ask for your prayers as she continues to heal, as well as strength for the challenges ahead.  Getting help for Hannah has made our trip to America worth it all.  But, because of everything Hannah needed at the time, such as doctors’ appointments, wound care, etc. we needed to stay close to home and couldn’t travel to many places we intended to visit.  We apologize to those we were unable to see during our furlough.

We have some good news to share - very good news - a good portion of money has come in for the finishing of the house in Bulgaria.  Already we have sent some over to complete the insulating of the lower half of the outside of the house.  This will make for a much more comfortable winter.  But, as prices usually do, we have been informed that the cost of building supplies has again risen.  This causes us some concern that the original figure we were praying about won’t be quite enough.  But, God knows.  He has been faithful to provide and we know He will continue to take care of us.

We have four weeks until we return to Bulgaria and they promise to be busy ones.  We are trying to get to a few more churches, as well as have camp meeting here in Bristol at the end of this month.  In the next few weeks we will take care of final medical/dental/optical appointments, ship over a few of our belongings (as well as some donated socks and shoes for the kids overseas), pack up, and say our goodbyes.  It’s bittersweet.  We will miss our friends and loved ones here, but our hearts are still in Bulgaria.  Please remember us in your prayers. 

Because He First Loved Me,  Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

P.S.  We still plan on doing the Coats for Kids distribution this winter.  If you would like to help with this project, there is still time.  Please send donations designated “Coats for Kids” to the support address above.

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                                                    Summer 2013

Our time in America has been busy and blessed. In April we were able to spend time in Michigan with family, friends, our Home church, and supporting churches. It was so good to see everyone again. We also took the kids to see our old stomping grounds—the house I grew up in, the park where I played baseball for several years, the camp where Carrie and I met, the church we were in youth group together, places we went during our courtship, the church where we married, where each of them were born, etc. The kids weren’t too excited about it, but we surely enjoyed the drive down memory lane. We looked back over our life and remembered things God had done for us and it was a blessing.

We just finished two weeks of meetings, first in Milan, TN at a missions conference and then here in Bristol, TN for camp meeting. The church in Milan had sent over a couple hundred coats a couple years back for the Coats for Kids drive. It was a blessing to us to be able to thank them in person, on behalf of the people they helped clothe. The Pastor and church family there were gracious hosts and we appreciate our time there. When we returned to Bristol, camp meeting began. We were again able to tell about the work overseas, particularly about the coats and socks the Lord lets us give out each year. The preaching and singing was very good and we were encouraged by it.

Even though it seems as if we’ve only just arrived in America, we’re already beginning to shift our focus to what we need to do to make sure we have what we need to return to Bulgaria in three months. We’re believing God to take care of the balance on our plane tickets, as well as the needed funds to finish our house in Bulgaria. It’s a large amount of $20,000, but we’ve seen God work before and we feel certain He can and will do it again. Nothing is too big for our God.

Please remember us in your prayers. We have some traveling we have yet to do, as well as some personal goals to accomplish. Remember also the work in Bulgaria and Romania. They are in camp meeting and baptism season and the work is great—pray for strength for the missionaries and encouragement for the churches. Pastor Ismael’s health is still poor; keep praying for him. And finally, keep Hannah’s foot wound in your prayers. It is the best we’ve seen it yet, but we’d like to see it heal completely before we return to Bulgaria. Thank you all for your faithful prayers!

Because He First Loved Me,   Brother Larry Leach, Jr.

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Dear Brethren,                                                                                                                   Spring 2013

 God is doing big things and I wish there was more room on the page so I could share them all with you.  I will do my best to briefly share a few: About three weeks ago we hurried to distribute the yearly flour and oil to the two hundred and four families in the nine churches Pastor Ismael and I care for.  It was timely because the needs are many.  Immediately afterward, our family went to Romania for English camp meeting.  It was a Thursday evening and we were about to finish with the congregational singing when Brother Dave Turner requested we sing one more song.  While we sang, the Lord moved in our midst and three were saved: Dave and Dara’s