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Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

The last week of August, Phyllis and Merri, from Ward Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Northville, Michigan, their suitcases full of craft fixin’s and their hearts full of love for Christ, His kids and His Kingdom, came to Ramnicu Valcea and our church to help us do one more VBS. We had an awesome time and were able to reach even more kids than with the first week. If you watch the video to the end (around the 3.12 mark) you can hear the kids singing songs of praise in Romanian language, as well as practicing their memory verses (2.47). (The song at the beginning is “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, but in Romanian it is “Bunule Pastor”,  from “Inmuri Vechi din inimi noi” by Continental.)

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Eggs Anyone?

I wanted to send a big thank you and these photos to all of you who prayed for our 2011 Women’s Day outreach. It went great! OF COURSE, the week before, there were the usual trials and pressures. Of course, Anca, our speaker AND worship leader, got sick around Wednesday and started losing her voice. True to form, she was determined to speak anyway, but figured trying to lead worship would be pushing it.  But we prayed, God heard and He gave her a window of grace on Saturday, where she felt so much better. She not only received strength to teach AND lead worship, but had energy to be right in the thick of things, greeting the ladies and having a great time! God is able to do so much more than we could ask or think!

Another cause for praise was the way God heard our prayers and brought the ladies, extricating them from their busy schedules and/or responsibilities as moms. Without ladies there would be no outreach. But forty-two ladies came!  And though two had an emergency and weren’t able to stay, God had a special message for the rest of us, twenty-five of which were guests from the outside community or friendly evangelical churches.

Speaking of that message, Anca chose her text from Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom.” Anca had been so struck by the disastrous way we as women often try to give one another advice or sympathy, while completely overlooking the wisdom of God. So her message was an exhortation to counsel one another with the most powerful and hope-filled truth that exists: the Gospel. May God use that message in all of our hearts.

Personally, every time we host an event like this, all Tim and I can do is thank God for His strength in our weakness. And this event was no different. Among the flying flour and grated zucchini for the muffins and the assembling of egg casseroles, the mountains of dirty dishes and the aching muscles from moving furniture, I am sometimes tempted to wonder, who do I think I am? I’m no chef or decorator! (It was always the other ladies that were comfortable being in charge of events like this back home in California.) And yet, He is there as we trust Him, not letting our strength fail or our hearts fear. He is the One who pulls the helpers together, rearranges work schedules so ladies can attend and it is He who gives them joy in hearing His Word.He is the One who advances His Kingdom! I don’t know why I ever try to depend upon myself! Without His presence, none of our labor has any eternal value, it’s just us spinning our wheels. But with His gracious touch the imperishable seed of the Word of God penetrates the heart of yet one more Romanian lady. It may seem slow. It may be a lot of work. But what a joy to be part of His eternal work!

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Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for our “Day of the Woman” ladies Bible study/brunch.  I know God used your prayers. He definitely did exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think in terms of helping our preparations and in bringing in the ladies. In fact there was a time, the day before the event, when I was tempted to ask Him to stop bringing them!

I guess I should explain that! In my prayer times I had been asking God to bring forty ladies to the brunch, since that’s how many chairs can fit in our meeting room and I was thinking, “Why think small?” Accordingly, we had made 60 invitations and fervently prayed over who to invite, especially targeting unsaved friends and Christian ladies from other churches. And Friday, when I started off to the supermarket with my carefully crafted grocery list in hand, we had had  35 confirmations and I was thinking, “So far, so good!”  But then somewhere near the cottage cheese, with my cart already piled high with fruit, drinks and quiche ingredients, my phone rang and I received the startling news that fourteen more ladies had confirmed!

Gulp! Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined MORE than 40 ladies would want to come!  At that point, I was seriously tempted to fear. Though I was pretty sure we had enough food, I knew it was physically impossible to cram 49 ladies into our meeting room and that our “overflow” room was just a tiny room with a baby monitor, a place suitable for a few nursing mothers. Would the extra ladies have to sit in there? Would they be offended?

There in my helplessness, on the cheese aisle,  I had no choice but to give it all to God. I knew we had already covered the event in prayer. I knew it was God’s event and they were His ladies, so why shouldn’t I trust in Him? But it was a battle.

Of course God already knew what He would do, but on Saturday morning I woke up still not knowing what would happen and how He would work it out. It was definitely exciting. Soon  ladies began arriving in twos and threes and the room began to fill up. But right at 42 ladies, as the study began, they stopped coming, which meant that in God’s perfect plan, all our guests would have a seat. Yay!

That was just one of the many visible answers to prayer. But of course it is always easier to judge weighable quantities like seats filled, and tastiness of the food, than it is to evaluate spiritual fruit. And after the dust settles, you can wonder, but what did we really accomplish through all this effort? Were hearts truly moved? Was anyone’s life changed? I don’t know the answers to that yet. Still I believe that God’s message went forth, and Christ was proclaimed and if God cared enough to answer all our prayers about quiche recipes, tablecloths and seating arrangements, I’m sure that He cared far more about our prayers that His women be strengthened to risk for His cause and that His lost daughters be gathered  into His fold. So I will keep praying and keep expecting that fruit to come, remembering that we walk by faith and not by sight.

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Dec. 21 – We were on deadline to shop for our three outreaches to the “Home by the Forest”, the “Home by the Orchard”, and our local shelter for the homeless, so Tim and I set off for our favorite supermarket. (And oh how thankful I am that the days are long past of trudging home from the open air markets with bags so heavy they are dislocating your shoulders). Even so, an hour or so later, I could barely steer my shopping cart as I muscled it towards a waiting row of check-out counters, yogurt, snack cheese, canned fruit, fresh fruit and candy piled high. But in spite of the physical energy expended it was such a joy to know God had provided all that just so we could extend his grace to so many isolated and unloved people.

As for the outreaches themselves, they were greatly blessed in each place.Dec. 22 – At  the “Home by the Orchard” Tim maneuvered our Christmas tree- laden car into a place in the icy snow along the side of the road that gave us most hope of getting out again after the time of ministry. Then we bowed our heads to pray. Before we even opened our eyes, the staff psychologist was there to greet us and to help unload the gifts. We sang carols in several different areas, starting with the men and working our way through the home. Everyone received our homemade tract and a gift. In one room the face of a gentleman who can no longer speak clearly was my most burning memory. His face was just shining. In the room of a suffering woman there were tears as we sang about Christ and as we exited the room I glimpsed one of the care givers crossing herself. In another room a woman warily concentrated on each word of the song, but in the end could find no fault with what she heard. Mostly it was just a warm, sweet, rich time with our friends, full of hugs and laughter and pointing to the love of God in Christ. I treasure the photographs from that day, even though I am not allowed to share them with you. (more…)

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December is a great month for outreach. Our first big event was the Samaritan’s Purse children’s festival here in Valcea, celebrating the birth of Jesus. We were invited by our friend Claudiu Nitisor to join in, along with believers from a few of the other evangelical churches in the area. 1500 children were expected, there was to be a program including a gospel message and each was to receive a shoebox gift. You can imagine that many hands were needed to help with all phases of the program. Tim got drafted to use his art skills to make a puzzle representing Jesus. And then we both got to help handing out gifts. It was great working together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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