Welcome to the first newsletter of 2005, we hope you find it an inspirational, informative, interesting read.
While we were in Romania our dog died. We had had Zac since he was a puppy and he died aged 16 years. We all had lumps in our throats, but it got me thinking. If we feel this way about our Zac how does God feel when people He loves pass on without knowing Him? After allowing his son Jesus to die on the cross in our place what must it be like for Him to see the people he loves ignore His son?
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities,
the punishment that bought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah Ch:53v5 NIV
Julie and I flew out to Romania on the 28th January with our friends and colleagues Paul & Sue Blocksidge. Two weeks of sketchboard training were planned for local people. The first week eleven people came and the second week ten. This gives us a larger team of people who can do stuff in the childrens clubs and in the open air.
There will soon be pictures of the training sessions on the web site (hopefully). Paul & Sue left us on the 16th February to return home. Paul has an extensive schools ministry in and around Bristol so please pray for him as he seeks Gods direction for his local ministry and what God might be saying about Bulgaria.
The next day we were joined by another friend and colleague Gerry Barlow. Gerry, who is on our board of reference, is going to be a partner in a Christian coffee shop/restaurant in Alba Iulia. This is a real answer to prayer for us all as the other partner in the project has had many disappointments and broken promises along the way. The location of the project is almost ideal as it is between a school and a busy boulevard and is surrounded by apartments. We also have access to quite a large piece of land on which we could hold our programmes without having to get permission from the mayors office. There is still a lot of work to be done. Please pray that the cultural differences will be overcome.
The local work in Alba Iulia is growing; the weekly childrens clubs for example regularly have 30 40 children in attendance. They are all from non-church backgrounds and to see them grow spiritually is a real privilege to which we give praise to God. The mini bus that collects them is not really big enough; soon well need a coach!!!
Please pray for Traian, Lidia and the team. Pray for unity and the ability to continually hear Gods voice. Traian and Lidia have introduced the team supper idea which comes from OACGB West Country. All the team meet for prayer, bible study, worship and food. It is working very well, it gives people an environment where they are able to share personal stuff and get prayer. Pray also for wisdom for starting a new club in a village near Alba Iulia. Please pray for Lidia as she plans her and Traians wedding (July 9th) completes her studies (she finishes university in June) and her work in the childrens clubs. Praise God for her abilities. Lidia will become a full time staff evangelist with OAC Romania in July.
As Lidia comes in Constantin goes out (not related). It is with sadness and joy that we announce the retirement of Constantin Rodila from OAC Romania. Constantin was part time with OAC and was instrumental in the setting up of the organisation. God used him to open many doors for us in the early years. He will still do some evangelism but at a more relaxed pace, or so he says!! We pray that God will look after him and give him and his wife Lidia a long and happy retirement. Their children are resident in America and they plan to spend more time there.
There are two other exciting doors that seem to be opening for us. The first one is Bulgaria. In January Traian, Paul Blocksidge, Raul (from Draganesti) and myself went over the Danube to the Bulgarian town of Vidin. Raul has a contact there who is a Lutheran vicar and we went to see him and present our work to him. We showed him the OAC website and he was pleased with what he saw. We plan to do some open airs in September/October of this year. Please pray for Paul & Sue Blocksidge who are exploring the possibilities of working there through OAC Romania. Pray that God will confirm a call or not. Paul, Traian and I will be going back to Vidin in May to spend a week with the Church so we can get to know each other more. Please pray for a God conclusion for this.
The other door that seems to be opening is into the Ukraine although this is slightly different to the Bulgaria situation because OAC Ukraine already exists. This contact is in a place called Rovno and it is the contact of committee member John Yates. John visited this Pentecostal church a number of years ago and since his Romania trips the Eastern European flame has been rekindled in him. In September John, Traian, Paul Blocksidge and myself will go on a fact finding trip to Rovno. We will be keeping OAC Ukraine fully informed about the trip. Please pray for the organising of this trip, for visas etc. The Ukraine is not the easiest country to get into.
Because of Constantins retirement we needed someone to administer Bethany camp. This coincided with Cristi feeling that the Lord was leading him into other areas of ministry. Staying in Cluj was becoming a bit of a problem also so he decided to move back to his mums house in the village of Somescu Rece which is also where the camp is. Together Cristi and I have put together a building programme for the camp. The first thing is to install central heating in the house and eventually into the new toilet block which we hope to build this year. This means that the camp will be usable all year round. European style regulations mean we have to bring the camp up to standard with fire, hygiene and other regulations.
We will put pictures of the changes taking place on our website so you will be able to watch the building progress. As the camp develops we want to use it more on a local level also. We hope to offer the facilities to the local villages. Please pray for Cristi as he is a local lad which has its advantages but also its disadvantages. Cristi still continues to sing with the Continentals He does the preaching and God has blessed him by seeing many come to Christ through their programmes. His studies at Oradea Bible University are going well he is now doing his Masters in Theology. The cost of this is £300 which he needs to raise. If you feel that you would like to sponsor him with all this amount or part could you please send us your cheque with a note saying its for Cristi. Thank you.
Andrew and Rebecca are both well. Andrew is working part time in the legal department of his company because his own department cant release him yet so alls well with him. Please join us in prayer that his lifestyle will change. Julie and I think he needs a wife!!! Rebecca is continuing to look for work, but apart from that she is plodding along in her own carefree way. Please pray for a lifestyle change in her also. Julie and I are fine, not much else to say really
The full diary looks like this. (at the moment)
31st March 10th April, Paul & Julie at Spring Harvest, Skegness with Powerpack.
Please pray for all the preparation and that the team gels together. I do not know how many children we will have but it usually in the hundreds!!
10th 15th May, Paul Blocksidge, Traian and I in Vidin, Bulgaria. Please pray that this getting to know each other trip will be just that. Pray for the organising of the open airs in Sept/Oct.
15th 23rd May, Paul with Cristi in Cluj. Please pray as we organise/supervise the building programme at Bethany camp.
9th July, Traian & Lidias wedding.
11th 25th July, Open Airs in Bucharest, Romania.
26th 31st July, Open Airs in the Alba Iulia area.
1st 6th August, Alba Iulia childrens camp at Bethany.
7th 12th August, Open Airs in the Alba Iulia area.
26th 31st August, Traian, Lidia, Julie, Paul at Grapevine, Lincoln.
12th 19th September, Paul Blocksidge, John Yates, Traian, Paul in Rovno, Ukraine.
26th Sept 8th Oct, proposed Open Airs in Bulgaria.
There seem to be some exciting opportunities ahead, please pray that we will only take the ones that are from God. The next newsletter will be with you in June. Until then thank you for your prayers for us as a family and for our extended family in Romania.