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Dear Ministry Partners,
First off, Jeannie and I are truly sorry for missing you with the last quarterly newsletter. We do like the opportunity to fill you in on the challenging and newsworthy mission stories happening in Hungary, Central Europe, and the Balkans. However, our hiatus was due to taking a two-week holiday rest.
It was a good thing that we did! September 22 to the present has been, and is, one of our busiest times in the ministry . . . ever!
It started off when Agron Aga, director of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) Albania, and I headed off to western Ukraine to meet a new would-be CHE partner, Laszlo Kovacs. It was my first experience being in a country while it is actually at full-scale war. Displaced Ukrainian people were prominent everywhere, mostly women and children from the eastern war zone. The food and the hotel we stayed in were much better than we expected. Vladimir Putin has plans to change that in the near future.
Our purpose for being in western Ukraine was to see the status of development in poor and Roma/Gypsy communities and the opportunities for future CHE work there.
Agron and I were humbled by the difficult work being done in a number of communities both large and small by dedicated Christian workers. We were able to see ways that we could help some of them reach deeper into their communities using CHE. Laszlo himself has been bringing the Gospel and physical assistance to a small Roma village on a garbage dump outside the town of Berehove. Most of the families there are burning clothes and shoes to keep warm this winter and recycling materials from the dump for money. Laszlo will be taking CHE training in December, facilitated by our MEK Hungary team. Pray that he might be the one to become our CHE director in Ukraine in the future. When the war does end, much Christian community development will be needed in Ukraine.
The CHE EuroNet Annual Gathering was next on our calendar, September 28 to October 3. This year’s Gathering was at Lake Balaton in Hungary and planned by our MEK Hungary team. They did a super job for the 55 CHE workers and board members from 7 nations who attended. Our theme was “Run Well, Finish Well,” as our workshops challenged our hard-working servants to run well in their exercising, nutrition, finances, soul-care, and time management so they will finish their ministries well in the future. I gave a series of messages on how to finish well, based on lessons I’ve learned in 50+ years in ministry. We also enjoyed field trips and an excellent banquet at a Hungarian Csarda restaurant. The Gathering was a glorious blessing for all of us.
Immediately after the Gathering, Randy Schmor, Hessel Keuter, Erv VanVeldhuizen, Laci Daróczi-Csuhai, Jeannie, and I took part in the annual MEK Hungary Board Meeting. Jeannie and I then hopped into our car with Hessel Keuter and drove 700 miles to Nova Zagora, Bulgaria! There we helped facilitate the first CHE TOT1 training for Bulgarian Roma pastors and members of a mission group working with Turks along the Bulgarian border.
NAB Serbia national worker, Marijana Cizmanski, was also part of our team. In all, we graduated 6 pastors, 3 Roma laypersons, and 4 mission workers. Pray for these dedicated folks as they take the Gospel and CHE strategy into some of the largest and most challenging impoverished environments in Europe. Pray for the CHE EuroNet as we resource these start-ups.
Next stop, 320 miles west to Veles, North Macedonia. We went there representing the NAB at leaders meetings with the directors of CHE Macedonia, CHE Albania, and World Challenge. We are so pleased to report that CHE work in Macedonia is growing with 5 village projects now in operation and 1 ready to do so. This is requiring some restructuring of how partnerships will operate going forward.
We were also preparing for a vision team visit to the CHE projects of Meksiko and Tribagremi, outside Prilep, Macedonia, by Pastor Matt Swiatek, his wife Jane, and leaders of Crosspointe Community Church’s Mission Team, November 4–10. Jeannie and I will be back in Macedonia for that exciting get-together, first imagined in February 2020 before Covid began.
We had one more place to visit, a church team in Prizren, Kosovo, October 20–23. Pastor Bardhyl and his small church are wonderfully bold evangelists in a m*sl*m culture. Their boldness comes from the fact they too were once m*sl*m until they heard the Good News. They now spread the Light regularly in 5 to 7 villages and have begun CHE in one of them. Some of these villages are inhabited by the G*ran*, an unreached people group. Several years ago, God led Rowandale Baptist Church of Winnipeg to adopt the G*ran* people with the goal of planting a church among them. We were in Prizren arranging a 4-day meeting between these would-be partners. That get-together will take place November 10–14. We will be there. Be in prayer!
After Prizren, Jeannie and I drove the 800 miles back to our flat in Hatvan, Hungary. We will be leaving on November 4 to help Marijana in her CHE Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. We will then go on to Veles, Macedonia, to meet the Crosspointe Team and after that the Rowandale team going to Kosovo. On November 15, we will drive back to Hungary. On November 17, we fly back to the US. I have jury duty in Phoenix on November 21!
For His Kingdom Come,