People raising their hand in response to the Gospel!
People at the front to receive Christ
We have two large outreaches coming up next Sunday, March 17th in Moldovan villages.
Two churches in Moldova will be inviting the community to special worship concerts where Donna and I and our worship team will lead songs in English and Moldovan.
After the concerts we will give a gospel presentation, offer prayer for needs and connect them with believers from the local congregation to begin discipleship and follow-up.
At last month’s concert there were 9 new converts. Please pray that God will draw more people to this month’s concerts, that the music will minister to their hearts, and that God would draw more people to Himself.
America has mother’s day and father’s day. Moldova has men’s and women’s day. As a “want to be but kidless” father, I appreciate that Moldova honors all men/women, including the childless.
Today, on men’s day, we had the opportunity to minister in music at a church in Nisporeni. This is the same village where I helped to tear down the ceiling two years ago. (The church where buttons fell out of the attic.) We traveled with a/g missionaries Troy and Heidi Darrin.
The church was planning a special outreach for all of the men in the village. They had a special gift (a shovel) for each man in attendance.
When we arrived at the church I was impressed by how beautiful the building was. They have a new ceiling, tore out a wall to make the sanctuary bigger, painted, laid tile. It looked really sharp and inviting.
By 5:30 the church was already almost full. By 6:00 when the event was to start, it was so packed that the aisle was filled with chairs and people stood three deep on the sides and back. We ministered some music in English and Romanian after which Troy preached a powerful Gospel message. Many raised their hands to accept Christ. Others came forward for prayer afterwards. We gave out over 50 Bible (thank you light for the lost!)
The most inspiring thing for me was to meet an elderly woman named Maria. She is in her 70’s but looks much older. The strain of living in complete poverty was evident by her wrinkled skin. But, she loves Jesus more than anyone I have ever met. We prayed for healing in her body as her back and knees were in pain. You would never know it by the smile she wore on her face.
When we finished praying for her, she opened a small hymn book and began to sing praise to God. There was passion in her voice. It brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could have recorded it to share with the world. It was a reminder that money does not bring happiness, nor do things. True happiness comes from the Father.
Everyone should have a Maria in their life to remind them of this.
For July and part of August, We are in America enjoying a few weeks of much needed rest and relaxation. We have also been connecting with some of our supporters.
This week we are together with my wife’s side of the family. It is one of the best weeks of the summer. It is a week when all of Donna’s siblings and their familes meet at a fun location.
This year it is Montague, Michigan.
While enjoying the time with family, as we approach Independence day, my thoughts turn to Freedom Home. This is the ministry to trafficked women in Moldova. We miss them as we’re far away.
I find myself remembering dinners around their table. Every time that we would get up to try to help we would hear “sit down please” from one of the girls. It’s one of the few phrases that she knows in English.
I’m reminded of holidays where we gathered at Freedom Home. Praying in the New Year. Painting eggs and enjoying a feast at Easter. They won’t celebrate Independence day of course because it is a U.S. holiday.
But, for these girls, everyday is “Independence Day.”
Nat is free to be the baker of sweets that she always dreamed of being as she interns at a local market.
Amy is free to be a loving mother to her daughter. Neva is free to go to college and finish her degree.
They are Free. Free to be who God has created them to be!
I’m not quite sure how to start this blog post. It’s been a crazy month. As our MA term is quickly coming to an end, Donna and I have been praying about God’s next step for us. We have very much enjoyed our time in Moldova and know that there is so much more to do here.
Andy’s encouragement to me was to consider taking a step back, finding a church in the US and becoming a senior pastor. Learn how to be a good shepherd and then return to Moldova more equipped to help the pastors in this country.
We felt led to apply to a church in southern IL. It seemed perfect. With only 30 people, we couldn’t mess them up too much. They had recently moved into an upgraded facility, and it had a parsonage! It was equal distance from both of our families. This must be God’s plan for us. So… we applied. But about a month later received a phone call that we were not their choice.
Unsure of what to do, we applied to five or six more senior pastor positions. None of them called us back or seemed very interested when we could call them.
Out of the blue, QSI, the school where I teach called me into their office. Even as a grown up, being summoned to the principal’s office causes a bit of unrest in my stomach. She shut the door and asked me if my wife had plans for next fall. She (of course) didn’t as all of her students will be moving away next year. I was informed that a teacher was leaving and that they would like Donna to apply for the position.
We prayed and felt a peace in applying. Then came several weeks of waiting. A week ago Monday the school called and wanted to meet with Donna in person. In this meeting she was offered and accepted a job teaching second grade!
What does this mean for us? First of all, it means God is not finished with us in Moldova! We knew this to be true, and are so excited at how He opened up an opportunity for us to stay longer!
Second, it means that starting this Fall, we will no longer need financial support to stay here. Our teaching positions will cover our living expenses.
Many things will be similar. I will continue to pastor the kids and music ministry at our church, International Christian Fellowship. I will also continue encouraging churches in the area of children’s ministry. My role with the Assembly of God World Missions team will change from being a “team member” to being a “volunteer.” Andy himself said “What better volunteers can we ask for than these two who have already worked with us for two years?”
We are excited about putting more time and effort into the International community. We hope to have a Bible study with interested teachers in our home.
Please pray for us as we transition into our new roles next Fall.
One thing I have learned on the mission field is this: If possible, do not schedule two mission teams back-to-back. But, it doesn’t always work out that way. Nonetheless, we were excited to welcome a team from Helena, Montana to Moldova. Some had been before but for many it was their first time.
This church has a long history with Moldova as they have played a large part in building the church in Bubuieci. In four previous trips, this church helped to pour the foundation, build the walls, set up electricity. This time the team would level the floor and drywall the entire building.
In addition to the construction work, we also did two children’s outreaches (with around 150 kids in attendance!) One of the highlights of these two weeks for me was to minister in the village of Humulesti. In my next blog post you will see why this was so exciting for me.
Thanks Helena Montana for your partnership with the churches in Moldova!
Those of you that follow our ministry know that every Thursday I teach music at an International school called QSI. We went into the school last Fall to meet the teachers and kids and to see how we could be of help. They asked if I would teach music and I accepted.
The kids in my school teamed up with some of the kids from Donna’s school to perform the play “The Wizard of Oz.” Last Thursday after months of hard work we had our performance. It was a packed house! The kids did super, far exceeding my expectations. They grew in their acting abilities so much! They sang out nice and loud on the chorus parts and their solos.
I haven’t seen my wife in days. Seriously, I haven’t. Sometimes she bites off a bit more than she can chew. I love that about her. She gets great ideas and runs with them. More often than not, she succeeds.
This is no exception. A woman who has been a missionary in Moldova for many years has befriended Donna. She has also taken special interest in the school. About a month ago the kids had an idea of how to recognize all of the teachers at CATS. They wanted to make them all quilts. A couple of weeks later, Donna is helping the kids to make their gift happen.
The kids traced their feet onto fabric and cut it out. They stitched the feet to 4 pieces of fabric. Then they embroidered their names below their feet. This is where their work ended and Donna’s begins. She and her friend have spent the last three days working to sew quilts to thank the teachers for their hard work this school year.
She’s tired. She sews all day and into the night. She is even sleeping at her friend’s home so that she doesn’t waste time commuting. I know what is keeping her going. The joy that these quilts will bring to the faces of each teacher.
(Update) The recognition service is over. Donna finished 2 of the 4 quilts in time. The teachers were surprised at the gift and were very grateful. Donna spent the next day and a half finishing the third quilt in time to give to the Science teacher. Just today she finished her own quilt. What a great final memory of two years of teaching missionary kids!
My sister in law has a passion for unreached people groups. An unreached people group refers to any ethnic or linguistically distinct culture that has never heard the Gospel message of Christianity.
This weekend, I may have come as close as I ever will to an unreached people group. Pastor Sasha, the pastor of the church in Bubuieci, has a heart to plant new churches in nearby communities.
Recently, God has opened doors for him to start a church in the village of Humulesti. Humulesti can only be reached by car in the summer. The car must have 4 wheel drive or it will probably get stuck. Most of the people in this village have been there for their entire lives. Most have never been to the city of Chisinau even though it is less than ten miles away. Their only way to the city would be to walk several miles over a hill and catch a van from Bubuieci.
They are a self-sustaining people, living off of their gardens. They have no running water, but use a community well. There are about 400 people in the village. As far as we know there are no believers in this village.
There is a small one room school house where the church will meet. The mayor will let them hold services there for no rent in exchange for fixing up the school house. It has no windows, no doors. No heat. The team from Montana spent several days cleaning up the building, preparing it to be used as a church.
On Sunday afternoon, our team went with Pastor Sasha to begin ministering to the people of Humulesti. We had permission to drive through somebody’s field to get into the village. There are no roads leading out of Humulesti.
We went door to door, meeting the residents of the village. We brought food packets for those in need. We prayed with any who has requests. We invited them to our first service in Humulesti.
We had 18 people show up for church that day. While no-one accepted Christ that day, many came forward at the end for prayer. Mothers brought their children forward to be prayed for. Words of knowledge were spoken over these kids as the Lord enabled. The door is open for Pastor Sasha and people from the church in Bubuieci to begin weekly ministry in Humulesti.
Donna’s school has a lot of exciting events coming up as they head towards the end of the school year. Recently they ministered a special song at the Easter service at the Ambassador’s home.
Last month the school took a field trip to see Vice President Biden speak in downtown Chisinau. There was special reserved space for Americans. Donna and the kids were ten feet away from the VP as he spoke to the crowd. It was a day the kids will remember for many years.
This month, the children will perform a Spring recital. It will include piano, voice, recorder, trumpet, and violin songs. They will also do several dance numbers. They have invited a local orphanage to attend the event. To make it fun for the kids, they will give away a gift to every child and they have also prepared two puppet plays that share the Gospel message with these orphans.
Also, the school has a field day and a recognition ceremony scheduled for later this month before the year comes to a close on May 31st.
On the Saturday before Easter, Donna and I were invited to lead an Easter hymn-sing at the ambassador’s home in Moldova. Around 50 people from the International community gathered to worship Christ and celebrate what He did for us. We are so thankful for opportunities like this to minister to English speakers living in Moldova.
In addition to this, we continue to minister to the kids and to lead worship at International Christian Fellowship, our English speaking congregation in Chisinau. Our church kids just finished a unit that focused on putting God first in their lives. Our theme followed the TV series “American Idol.”
Currently we are working with the International community on a musical which we will perform this June.