A Postcard from Romania

Well, I’m in the middle of a grand tour. Over a week ago I left Estonia, driving south for three days to Montenegro. My time there was excellent and full of life. I spoke at the Word of God Evangelical Church in Podgorica and had great fellowship with family, friends and ministry partners. It would have been nice to have more time and hopefully Olga, Val and I will visit next year.

Then I drove to visit friends in Serbia and a few days ago arrived in Sighișoara, Romania (in the heart of Transylvania, above). Yesterday was a full and joyful day. I spoke at three churches (one Romanian and two gypsy/Hungarian) and felt that the Lord encouraged and comforted many people. It’s gratifying to return to minister in fellowships, to see familiar faces. Last year I was here with a team that prayed for many people. Last night a man told me how much that blessed him and prepared him for the year.

Here is my view at one of the village churches last night, just before I spoke:

This week I’ll have other meetings and on Friday or Saturday I will drive to Odessa, Ukraine in preparation for our Stoneworks conference next week, where we will welcome over 30 adults and about 20 children.

One lesson that continues to resonate with me: if anyone wants to be fit for service in the Kingdom of God, they can not put their hand to the plow and look back.

From Russia to Montenegro

Last week we made the drive from Russia to Montenegro. We traveled in two cars with our friends Sergei and Christina and their twin girls. Here is a photo record of the trip. (You can see a slideshow/video of a previous trip here).

We started early in the morning from dacha in Russia. Sergei said his goodbyes to Olga’s grandfather, Orest Grotten.

Olga posed for a portrait with her grandparents, Orest and Ludmilla

Orest said goodbye from the kitchen window

We packed up our cars and headed out!

The sun came up as we headed South, past Pskov to the Latvian border. Continue reading

To Hungary and Serbia

I’ve just returned from a trip to Budapest for a conference and a visit to Serbia where I spoke at a church.   I traveled with John Bull, a Stoneworks missionary based in St. Petersburg.  The picture above is of the Danube flowing through Budapest, taken from the Citadel overlooking the city, with the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in the background.

We attended the Free Methodist European missions conference. The European director and good friend, Jerry Coleman, invited us to attend.  We met missionaries and local leaders from 14 countries — from Bulgaria to the Canary Islands.

It was a great conference, and I’m hopeful that these new relationships will lead to future partnerships in ministry.  I was especially blessed by meeting missionaries from Ukraine and Romania.  I was also asked to play my guitar for two services, and it was good to be able to minister in that way.

We were all very encouraged in our work, and it was great to see and experience spiritual unity with brothers and sisters from so many countries.

After the conference, we drove to Batcki Petrovac, Serbia to visit a church.  Last summer I met one of the elders, Jan Dudas, in Montenegro, and he invited me to visit when I had a chance.   I was very happy to be able to speak at their church on my birthday.

Their hometown is a small farming village (about 6000 people) in north Serbia.  The town is 90% Slovak, so they all speak Slovak as well as Serbian, and quite a few people speak English as well.

This part of Serbia is a sort of Bible belt — many churches there were established over 100 years ago and survived through the communist regimes.  It reminded me of visiting believers in small farming towns in the US and Finland — people are the same all over the world it seems.

My relationship with Jan (pronounced Yahn) is very good; his family is great.  I’d love to help send a missionary there to serve that church.  Jan was the best man for Vladimir Cizmanski, a dear friend who is the pastor of the Brethren Assembly in Montenegro (where we’ve recently sent a missionary). I believe that God is setting us all together as living stones.

Olga and I hope to visit there again early next year.  Above at left I’m with John, Jan and his wife Nada, and their three children.

John and I drove quite a distance — about 1300 miles each way. We drove from the Balkans through the heart of central Europe and the Baltics: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.

I have a sense that the Lord is calling us to do more work in that area.  It was very good to have more experience there, deepen relationships and meet new people.

It was a very blessed trip, and I look forward to seeing how God opens doors for future ministry.