Church team from Holy Trinity Nailsea loading a truck with parcels
HfTH quickly attracted increasing support across the UK. Derek commissioned a local manufacturer to supply strong boxes for HfTH use. That first year of HfTH, the boxes were flown out to Zagreb.
From then on, TEN, with growing support started their own appeals – led by Derek. Soon annual deliveries were made to Russia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, and other countries.
“My goal was to get at least one TEN-supporting church or school in every postcode area”
Each year larger mailshots, more days on the road for Derek, and presentations made right across the UK. “My goal was to get at least one TEN-supporting church or school in every postcode area,” Derek explained, “and by the time I retired, I succeeded.” As HfTH grew, it was not just churches and schools who got involved. Factories, head offices and all sorts of businesses joined in the appeal, often through a Christian employee sharing the need.
Over the decades Derek collected many amazing stories to share, but one sticks in his mind – when the local mafia came to help! Derek explained: “One year my wife and I were in a car accompanying one of our trucks travelling south through Bulgaria. We got to a town called Blagoevgrad and the truck driver parked his truck perfectly legally, so we could unload some parcels for the local church to distribute. We had just completed this when two large policemen approached us stating that the driver had to follow them to the police station where he would be dealt with for illegal parking! We started praying, as we needed the truck to be able to carry on and delivery its full load.
“Our protests led to nothing. We couldn’t find the local church — who had been with us only minutes before when we handed over their parcels… Jane and I remained in the car and prayed our socks off! Sometime later, the missing pastor and another man went into the police station. It turned out the pastor, knowing the police would cause trouble, went to find his brother — who happened to be the leader of the mafia in the area! As a result of his ‘creative’ intervention in the police station, the truck was allowed to proceed!”
by Revd Paul Eddy