Heart to Heart

The Valley CITIZEN Monthy - January 1999
by Terry Thompson
From Danville To Belgrade


Alamo's Terry Thompson is surrounded by seven of the fourteen Yugoslavian children who received heart surgery in the USA
Why do 14 kids in Yugoslavia love Danville? A few weeks ago I visited some doctors in the Cardiology unit of the Children's Hospital in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Unbeknownst to me, seven families, each with a happy, healthy child, were waiting for me in a separate room. I had never met them before. Why were they waiting for me? The reason is a heart warming story that has to do with hearts. Each one of the children had had successful heart surgery in the United States, made possible by a Danville couple, Haig and Vula Rushdoony. The Rushdoonys founded The Macedonian Outreach, six years ago following their retirement. They had a heart for the people of the Balkans. On a trip to Belgrade in 1993, Vula Rushdoony visited Dr Ida Jovanovic at the Children's hospital and was moved by the plight of young children who were going to die because special treatment for their heart problems were not available in Yugoslavia. When Vula returned from that trip she wrote letters to 150 hospitals around the Untied States asking for help. She got no response.... until six months later Dr. Erickson of Little Rock, Arkansas found Vula's letter which had been misplaced. He wanted to help! That was the start of a dozen children coming to the US for life saving medical treatment. The Macedonian Outreach arranged for transportation, lodging and interfacing with the doctors and hospital staff. In addition either former Danville residents, Wil and Gloria Swihart or the Rushdoonys personally stayed with the children and their parents while they were in the hospital in the US, to offer hope, encouragement and love, as well as to coordinate the necessary logistics.

The children and their families were waiting for me so they could have me pass on their appreciation and love to the Rushdoonys, Swiharts and The Macedonian Outreach. This was a moving experience for me and showed me what a difference on person can make.

In addition to the medical mission, The Macedonian Outreach also assists local Christian workers in the Balkans both financially and physically via mission trips. Further, they supply food, clothing and monetary aid to refugees, orphans and others in the Balkans who are in great need. If you visit the Rushdoonys' home, you'll find their living room stacked with clothing ready to ship to one of the Balkan countries: Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania or Romania. The Macedonian Outreach is a Christian non-profit ministry. If you have a heart for this ministry and would like to help either with time or money, you can contact the Outreach by phone or fax at the same number, (925) 820-4107. As they say in Yugoslavia, "Slave Bogu!", Praise the Lord!