What a brilliant summer! Great weather (too hot for some), a team, which we believe was put together by God, which led to a varied programme of gospel proclamation. People saw and heard and gave their lives to Jesus. We praise God that we have all been part of His plan this summer.
On the 29th of June, Julie and I left Ruddington and drove to Hull for the overnight ferry to Zebrugge. Thoughts were in our heads of the next two months, what would happen, would it be 'good' Only God knew. We arrived in Romania on the 2nd July and left again on the 6th heading for Vienna with Traian, Cip, Lidia and the puppet equipment. It was the first time Lidia & Cip had left Romania.
Stefan (OAC Austria) organised a week of training and open-airs. There were 107 participants from 11 countries. During four evenings there were three teams in the city centre sharing the gospel with puppets, dance, mime, magic and sketchboard. Bible studies and seminars took place in the mornings, training in the afternoons (we did the puppet training) and open-airs in the evenings. The centre of Vienna is a very busy place with lots of street artists but every night God went before us and gave us a place to preach. People came to trust Jesus. One man whose name was Innocent decided to follow Jesus after having a conversation with Cip & Traian. This was quite special as he was one of the main drug dealers in that part of the city. Cip & Traian were greatly encouraged. There were 19 other conversions and many contacts for the local churches to follow up. From Vienna some of the team went to Poland and others came back to Romania with us.
Team: - Cip, Traian, Lidia, Julie & me (OAC Romania) Greg Burton (OAC New Zealand) Paul & Sue Blocksidge (currently training with OAC West Country Branch GB) Roger & Rosemary Gray (OAC Scotland) Paul & Carmenia Adams (OAC USA) with their team, Mike, Tim, K. Lee, Courtney, Joe & Natasha.
We had 20 trainees from Timisoara and Bucharest plus Paul's team became trainees. Everyday they had the chance to learn something different, puppetry, sketchboard adults, sketchboard children, took part in one-to-one conversations and drama. One of the trainees realised he wasn't a Christian when he joined the one-to-one conversation seminar. He prayed and gave his life to Jesus. All the trainees had the chance to put into practice what they had learnt in the evening open airs. Similar to last year we had large crowds of all ages and many conversations afterwards. Many hundreds of people heard the gospel with 25 definite conversions.
Paul Blocksidge and myself are planning to go to Bucharest in November to spend more time with the trainees. They showed great talent, one in particular, Catalina, a 15yr old had never used the sketchboard before and took to it like a duck to water!
After Timisoara we all moved on to Dragonesti. This is a very different place to Timisoara with no evangelical church within a 50 kilometre radius. Raul & Anna (evangelists & church planters) had planned the week for us. Little did we know what was ahead. We arrived on the Saturday evening and on the Sunday we were preaching in different places, twice!
From the Monday to the following Saturday (21-26 July) we were involved in door-to-door work in the mornings, sometimes afternoon meetings and meetings every evening. We visited the gypsy parts of the town preaching to the very rich and the very poor. People were saved at every meeting. Raul & myself planned to do open-airs in the centre of Dragonesti on the Saturday and therefore had to ask the Mayor for permission. Our plans were about to be changed. Opposition came from the local priests who also had talks with the mayor and the police chief. Our permission for Saturday was denied so was our preaching in all areas of the town. They were very angry priests indeed.
Paul Adams sent the following e-mail to supporters:-
"Greetings from Dragonesti, Romania. The outreaches have been fantastic. People are being saved daily. However, please pray for us because we are facing great opposition from the priests and the town officials here. They have been trying to close down our outreaches and have been spreading lies to the people in the town. One priest is telling the people that we are giving drugs to children and that we are giving them poisoned food, we also take out their hearts to make salami with them. They have also been threatening to close down the church that we are working with. Pastor and missionary Raul and OAC evangelist Paul Wakefield have had to meet with town officials daily. We are encouraged by the fact that God is in control and that the opposition is proof that God is at work but we do need your prayers."
Our strategy was changed, through prayer God told us to concentrate on the surrounding villages, which we did and people were saved.
In the village of Coteana, Raul, Paul Adams and myself went to talk with the mayor. "Can we do our programme in your village?" "Of course you can but I have some questions. Why are you people different?" Four hours later we left his office, the programme had gone ahead and Raul had organised bible studies with him. P.T.L. On future visits to that village people were also saved. On the final Saturday we travelled to another town called Caracal. Here there is a small Baptist church (13 members, nice building, has prospects) in the middle of the town. We split into three teams and went into the park. Many heard the gospel and lots of conversations followed.
Monday 28th was the departure date. Paul Adams, his family and team together with Roger & Rosemary got the hire coach back to Vienna and flew home, while the Blocksidge family, Julie, myself and a lot of Romanians drove over the Fagaras mountains back to Alba Iulia. Everybody has their own individual favourite moments but we all agree it was 'awesome' to see God at work.
Please pray for Tim (19yrs) member of Paul Adams team from America who starts training with Korky (OAC GB) in January 2004. He wants to do evangelism full time and thinks it may be in Romania. Pray also for Mike who is going to Bible college in America and wants to be involved in missions.
We had ten days in Alba Iulia before going up to Sighet and a children's holiday club. On the 6th August Ian Moore (Sutton Coldfield) joined us from GB he was soon put to work sorting out toys and knocking down walls at the back of the house. Link European had delivered 2 pallets of shoe boxes containing toiletries collected by Mornington Crescent Primary School in Nottingham and some containing toys. Some were going to Sighet to be distributed and the others will be given out in Alba Iulia and villages. Thank you to 'Clearway' for free storage and giving us a van to transport the boxes from Nottingham to Worthing and thank you Martin Woolgar for giving his time driving it for us.
We were also able to show the Blocksidge family around Alba Iulia. Please pray for them as they seek Gods guidance for their future ministry. They have felt a 'certain something' about Romania and think that God might be calling them to spend more time there. Pray for Paul as he completes his OAC training and pray for the necessary finance to become available.
On the 11th Ian, Traian, Lidia, Cip, Mickey, Julie and me drove to Sighet 5kms from the Ukrainian border. We had up to 130 children attend the sort of 'Powerpack' type meetings and some gave their lives to Jesus. Names and addresses of all the children were handed to the church for follow up. I also spoke to the children's leaders about planning the visits to the children's homes. We gave out the shoe boxes to several families and used some of them for prizes. It was a good time and we have been invited back next year.
While all this was happening work on the house was ongoing. The front of the house which comprises of our bathroom and bedroom is now complete, the office is also finished so is the dining room and corridor. As I write this letter we are waiting for the gas people to connect to the mains. These rooms now need equipping. we need worktops for the kitchen and office and we need tables and chairs for the dining room. The other three rooms and bathroom are about half way finished. The house is almost finished but we have exceeded our budget and are in debt. The name Beracah (NIV) means blessing and it's from 2 Chronicles 20 verse 26. The story starts at the beginning of Chapter 20.
King Jehoshaphat and Judah are about to be attacked by the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites - a vast army...
The work we are doing in Romania is under attack, it was plain to see in Dragonesti. Those who preach the same message as us are the Baptists and Pentecostals and they are seen as cults.
King Jehoshaphat and all the people, men, women, children and little ones turned to God and said, "We do not know what to do"
Julie, myself and our colleagues in Romania turn to God, we do not know what to do. We are under attack
God spoke through someone
God showed us the way forward and made it possible for OAC to have a base in Romania.
The enemy was confused and defeated
God supplied this house to be a place of refuge, but also a place to do battle. Already the dining room is being used for children's meetings, we are winning the battle the enemy is confused. It is a sanctuary in God's name.
The people of Judah praised God
We praise God too for the work He has done through us. But there are still more battles to fight, more souls to be saved.
We need money to fight with, the house needs to be completed so it can be used properly. Will you help? Remember prices for materials are about the same as here, labour is a fraction of the cost. Average salary in Romania is £80 per month. You can send us a one-off gift or you can send us as little as £5 per month (more if you want) it goes a very long way. Will you stand with us?
We have on average 35 children coming to church every week having given their lives to Jesus during our open-airs in May. A church member collects them and takes them home again in his mini-bus. The programme is a little basic, there isn't even an over head projector to show the words of the songs. We are collecting Sunday school material for them in Romania. They have just come back from a week at Bethany camp with Alina, Lidia, Traian, Cip, Michella + cook. First reports from Traian are "they loved it but we are shattered, it was a good time, some of the children had never been away before".
Rebecca is getting ready to go back to Lincoln University to start her final year. She has a bigger room than last year which she is pleased about. She has worked all summer at Asda and a day nursery. Andrew is waiting for his results having now finished University. He is undecided about what to do. In the meantime he is waiting for a second interview for a job he has applied for. Please remember them in your prayers.
Sept 26th - Oct 2nd . Paul and friend Gerry in Romania. Fact finding mission.
Oct 6th - 22nd ...... Paul, Julie, John Yates (Committee member) Heather Thompson (Powerpack), Marilyn Zumsteg (Powerpack co-ordinator) visit to Romania (overland)
Nov 3rd - 7th ....... Paul & Paul Blocksidge (OAC trainee) fly to Bucharest to train open-air team
Nov 10th - 14th ..... Paul at OAC Staff conference, Cardiff
Nov 18th - 22nd ..... Paul at OACI mini conference for European Directors. Belgium.
Nov 22nd ............ Lidia and Traian arrive from Romania for Christmas puppet tour.
Dec 1st - 21st ...... Christmas puppet tour with Kevin Skillings, OAC Nottingham.
Dec 22nd ............ Traian & Lidia fly home
Thank you very much for your prayers and support. Because we know that you are praying for us we can go forward. God Bless