05 March 2014

February/March 2014 Newsletter

Relate – Jekh Drom meeting
   Mission is relational – from fundraising to on-the-ground ministry it is the relationships we nurture which make ministry possible.  Whether the ministry is preaching (who would want a pastor who couldn’t relate?), witnessing (who is going to believe what a person says about a relationship with Christ if they are not interested enough in you as a person to relate to you?), to addressing physical needs (without real relationships this type ministry devolves into unhealthy dependency). 
   For years now we have nurtured healthy relationships with ministry partners in north-central Slovakia.  When I was invited to attend a meeting of the non-profit they formed in order to address the needs of the Roma in their community, I jumped at the opportunity.  Meeting with friends – new and old – to discuss short- and long-term planning, we continued our table fellowship by ending our time together with lunch. 
   Plans were made, encouragement shared, prayers were prayed, and our relationships with each other strengthened.  Praise God for such wonderful friends!

Educate – Womens’ reading club
   A missionary friend was in town and invited me to go along with him (in missionary-speak that means that he wanted me to drive him somewhere) to visit a program which works with Romany women to teach them to read books with their children.  It is an international program which the Slovak government, with the support of local communities, supports to educate these women and strengthen their families. 
   Bozena is the coordinator for these programs in our area and it was a great opportunity for me to meet her.  But the most incredible part of the afternoon was watching the women read a children’s book together – encouraging each other, helping each other with difficult words, thinking about how the lessons of the children’s story applied to their own lives.  How fun!  But the fun did not stop there . . .
. . . a time of refreshments followed by dancing and a game of musical chairs.  For these women, the opportunity to come together is not only about education but about forming a team of mutual support.  For most of them, this is the only time in their week which is devoted to them and their concerns.  The laughter which filled the room gave testimony to the success of this innovative program.

Love – Family update/Prayer requests
   We ask for your continued prayers for our family.  Some health concerns within the family have arisen which meant that Dianne has traveled back to the US for a while as she helps deal with this new issue.  Shane and Sweety – our well-traveled poodle – are staying busy in Slovakia.  Pray for Taylor and Allie as well as for our extended families. 
   As you pray, also remember the Romany team and CBF’s Albanian/Balkan/Ukrainian team – we will all meet together at the end of March to discuss our ministries and learn from each other. 
   Pray for the situation in Ukraine.  As many of you would know, there has been another revolution there.  The interim president is a Baptist pastor.  He, along with others in leadership, face incredible challenges – most important now is the invasion of their country by Russian troops.  Personally we are far from any danger, well within European Union and NATO territory.
   Pray for the continued work on the recording of the Romany Bible which is going on right now near Sabinov, Slovakia.  Pray for Marek specifically as he coordinates everything locally for the project.
   Pray for the five teams we have preparing to come to Slovakia to serve this year.  Pray that God will encourage them and build unity among the teams.  Also pray that God will prepare our local partners who will receive these short-term teams.
   Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for a good season of giving to our projects and to the Offering for Global Missions.
   Pray for local ministry partners who are committed to being the presence of Christ in their own communities and who sometimes need just a little encouragement to realize how gifted they really are.