Thursday, August 4, 2022

This past weekend Erika and I visited friends of ours from Moldova. 

My friend Erika has gone to Moldova numerous times and offered to drive the 2 1/2 hours from Arnhem to our Moldovan friends' current home in North Holland. (Erika, far right)


They have come to North Holland to work in the greenhouses that grow tomatoes. 

In high season, they work 10 hours/day, but usually the work day starts at 7 AM and only includes 8 hours of work. 

They made time, on their day off, to prepare a festive meal for us.

Our friend Marlute graciously agreed to join us. She and her infant child are staying in the same area. Marlute translated from Romanian or Ursari Romani into English or Dutch.


Grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ . . . who are also friends!

Mary





Friday, July 22, 2022

This past Sunday I visited a friend's church. A group there were getting ready to pass out tracts on the streets of their city and invite people to a Christian film later the same day. 

I will probably never do street evangelism. But I am glad someone does. I know people who have become believers through encounters like this.

This particular set of brothers and sisters are probably never going to join an open-air activity focusing on racial justice (it's not perceived as an issue in their country). I'm not likely to organize that, either, but I'm glad somebody does. 

I'm sure you can think of other examples. Churches who organize hour-long praise and worship sessions. Churches who practice and teach time-tested spiritual disciplines. There are many gifts in the body of Christ. Individual gifts and group gifts. Thank God for giving us each other!


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ninety Children



These are some of the 80-90 children who are in one of the Moldovan refugee centers set aside for Ukrainian refugees who happen to be Romany. 





These are supplies our Moldovan partners brought for the children and their parents. There are about 200 adults at this center.



This is the Moldovan lawyer who is already helping the Romany refugees from Ukraine. She is a Christian and also Romany. Our partners plan to partner with her further. 

Many of the refugees at this center do not have legal identity papers. They may have relatives and family in other countries they could go to, but without the proper papers they cannot travel further. The officials who would grant those papers see these refugees as Romany, not as Ukrainian citizens, even though these people have also been born and raised in Ukraine.

Pray with us for this work, for these children, and for the adults who accompany them.



Saturday, April 30, 2022

A Very Special Easter


How did you celebrate Easter? Keith and I celebrated in a hotel on the Catalonian coast of Spain. No, we were not on vacation. We were at the first face-to-face CBF Europe Team gathering since COVID struck. Part of our time overlapped with CBF's Africa/Middle East Team. We were blessed to have them organize Easter Sunday worship.
Testimonies came from members of both teams. Jeff Lee sent us all this image of the risen Christ. Paintings like this often appears in the Orthodox churches of N. Macedonia, where he and his wife Alicia serve. 




Musicians from both teams led music. (Note: some of the members of the Africa/Middle East Team cannot have their names or images published.)

Paul Baxley, executive coordinator of CBF and a gifted speaker, shared how Easter happened While it was still dark. We had talked about darkness in our team gatherings in the days before Easter.  Some of us work directly with refugees, now mostly from Ukraine but also from places like Syria. Some of grew up in places like Columbia, where (to reference another famous sermon) Sunday never comes; it's always Friday. 
Dr. Baxley reminded us that "Jesus comes to His people while it is still dark." Jeff's picture shows Jesus rescuing people from hell. It doesn't get much darker than that.  


Then we broke bread together.
And after we shared the bread and the wine/grape juice, we broke bread together again at a traditional Catalonian restaurant.  

We pray your Easter was as blessed as ours!




Friday, April 22, 2022

Women's Voices--Resurrection!

This Sunday our sisters and brothers in Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other places who follow the Julian calendar will be celebrating Easter. One year, when I visited Moldova in April, I got to celebrate Easter twice!

My friends in Romania tell me that every year a film about Jesus comes on TV at this time. This year it will be Magdalena, the story of Jesus told by Mary Magdalene to a group of women. 

That is very encouraging to us. Here you see Keith at the Operation Mobilisation Center outside of Brussels recording the voice of Magdalena for the Flemish version of this film. The smiling lady is Magdalena. The thoughtful-looking man also speaks Flemish as his first language and is "proof-listening." 

Keith was part of a team that recorded the voices for Magdalena, the Story of Jesus for Children, and the Jesus film all in Flemish, all in 2 weeks' time. Flemish and the Dutch Keith and I learned are different dialects of the same language. As we were recording, we discovered how different!

These films all exist in the standard Dutch of the Netherlands. But at the review, one of the Flemish-speakers said, "This is the first time I've heard a Christian film in Flemish. I was surprised by how much it really touched me."

Perhaps you would like to watch one of these films in your own language, too? https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch.html


Friday, March 25, 2022

The Rest of the Story . . .

 So last week Pastor Petru Ciochina in Moldova helped "Olga", her teenaged brother, and her five small children get a train ticket towards Munich, where she hoped to join other family members who had fled Ukraine (Petru pictured here with the family).

They got as far as Budapest, Hungary, and ran into
difficulties. Olga called Petru. Petru called Zoltan, an ethnic Hungarian who works with Romany in Romania. They know each other because Zoltan has often gone with me to help with volunteer teams in the church Petru pastors. I know Zoltan because he is part of a Wycliffe/SIL group working in Romani languages.

Petru, far left; Zoltan center,
visiting Romany in Moldova

Zoltan, a missionary with Wycliffe Romania, contacted Wycliffe Hungary. They gave him the phone number of a doctor in Budapest. She gave Zoltan the number of a free hotline for Ukrainian refugees. The hotline is in Ukrainian, Hungarian, and English. Anyone calling it can receive assistance. 

Petru told Olga. He also passed the number on to any other refugees who might be traveling through Hungary. Olga and her family were helped.

This is how the body of Christ works. Because people like you support missions like CBF, I am here. I connected Zoltan and Petru. Petru is in Moldova. I am not. You are not. He could help Olga, partly with funds that Christians like you gave in America and I, in the Netherlands, sent on to Petru. Someone none of us know in Budapest could help Zoltan. Zoltan could help Petru help Olga. Thank you for being part of the body of Christ. Together we do great good, sometimes in small ways that make a huge difference!


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

UKRAINIAN RELIEF At Work

Pastor Petru Ciochina wrote:  

Because I like to be with people and communicate with them, I focused my activity on refugees from the center in Nisporeni, Moldova, who are without money and with many children. I buy them medicine and some baby food. Among them I met a woman named Olga* who moved me to tears. With a good and patient heart, who ran away from the war with 5 children, all of her own. She told me about the hardships she went through before arriving in Moldova. 

Olga is 25 years old, her husband left her before the war started. When the war began, they fled to the shelters. Every time the sirens sounded, she couldn't dress all five of her children quickly, and she was the last to reach the bomb shelter. And because of this her father forced her to go to Moldova with her brother David. Later she asked me to help her go to Romania so that she could reach a relative of hers who took refuge from war in Germany.  Olga had no money. I bought them train tickets. I gave them some pocket money. She said that when she came back, she would give me back everything I had spent for her and her children. That moved me, and I said no. I told her I was doing this because I had Jesus in my heart. And He brought me to you, and He loves children. And He teaches me „And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” 

We hugged her and we said goodbye as if she were a child of mine. Now I don't know anything about her, I prayed with the whole church to be on God's guard. She was to arrive in Munich.


*Name changed to protect privacy.