While Bev and I are glad to be home, we cannot say enough about what a wonderful journey this has been for all of us. The places we go to may to some seem glamorous and even approaching exotic, this is not true at this time of year. Unless you come here to ski in January, this is definitely not the time to travel here.
First, I want to give credit to my unbelievably wonderful wife Beverly who travels with me to all these places and provides priceless and invaluable support. While the place to take your wife in January may be Florida or Hawaii, Beverly is "OK" with going to the Arctic where daylight is short and the days, not to say the nights are cold. She involves herself in every aspect of this ministry. It involves our involving ourselves with the work of the Church and the spiritual well-being of those who have come to understand Jesus Christ and a better wasy of life. It also involves the work of helping people by "doing good" physically. In this part of the world we work with street children, orphans, computer education, Chernobyl aftereffects, teen alcohol abuse and more. We do this through LifeNets. If you want to keep up with what we do in both spiritual and physical spheres we have newsletters for both that you can easily subscribe to by clicking on one or both links;
Nordic/Baltic/Eastern European eNews
One very interesting aspect of our work in Eastern Europe which has now continued for 20 years (since 1989) covering the USSR and Post-USSR periods, is the diversity in people, outlooks, history, economic status, just to name a few. We have had to build bridges, network and partner. We have had to venture in uncharted territory in relationship-building and learning to working with people who are similar to us in Christian values, but also with people who are quite different. We have loved building and cultivating these relationships.
In Ukraine we were able continue our spiritual dialog with those of common belief with whom we have worked since 1991. We have worked on producing reading literature. This time we discussed further printing projects of Russian booklets and the Bible Study Course. As always, it was satisfying to worship God together in Church with common beliefs.
We have partnered on humanitarian projects, most notably working with Vinogradov, Ukraine street children and orphans. We were happy to have spent extremely enjoyable time with Scott and Carolyn Scharpen who have a special interest in these children.
In Poland we visited isolated Christians. In Latvia we spent the weekend with a Baptist pastor who has adopted beliefs similar to ours and in whose church we felt very much at home. We are planning to keep the Feast of Tabernacles together in Estonia this fall.
In Estonia we visited with our Church people, but also did a major mailing of periodicals and booklets. We also made some preparations for the Feast of Tabernacles by visiting almost every hotel in the center of Tartu. For our Feast we plan to include the people form Smiltene, Latvia and we want to make sure that our Feast venue, activities and schedule fits with the new people.
Here I want to again express deepest gratitude to my fellow-worker Johnnie Lambert for his setting up a base of operations in Estonia. He has led a team of people to translate a 12 lesson Bible Study Course into both Estonian and Russian. His team has translated Good News articles into Estonian and Russian and they are continually being sent out to interested people in many of the former Iron Curtain and Soviet Union republics. An opportunity to reach many people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being exercised by a team of people. The reports of our travels are just the tip of the iceberg of the activity in motion to make it happen.
In Estonia I'd like to express special commendation for Toomas Schvak. He is a conscientious young man who works for the National Library. He works with the Parliament and European matters and often travels on his work to Brussels, Belgium and other European capitals in the course of his work. Toomas is a brilliant translator and know a lot of what there is to know about lots of things in Estonia. He has been a big help in Festival organization and other organizational work within Estonia.
Finally in Estonia, we visit with a prisoner in Tartu, Valdur Vesingi, who has translated several articles and now a booklet Jesus Christ, the Real Story. I have visited him in prison four times now.
The last module of this trip was in Sweden. We only had time for one stop and it was at Paul and Kira Spenser's home where others came to fellowship and worship. Paul and Kira are a remarkable family who in isolation does not lament that fact, but does everything they can to model a Christian life to others, but have the uncommon desire to evangelize and think how they can do more to promote the Gospel message. They are always discussing ideas about further development of the Church. They have a sweet family with four year-old twin sons Isak and Aaron and daughter Viktoria who is almost two.
Bev and I come away with our heads spinning with all the experiences and places. We both agree that our visiting here is vital and necessary. As support, we often quote Acts 15:36 which reads "Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.'"
So ended our trip. We saw dozens of people, sent out a lot of literature....the biggest single mailing so far, prepared for the Feast and worshipped God. Now it's time to get back home and be with our own congregations who are also needing care and attention.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States