Teleios Ministry

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday: The Longest Day

Sunday was a unique day as we worshipped in four different churches and missions. Each was unique for its worship; but, the Spirit was very real in each service. I marveled at the diversity of Attila’s “normal Sunday”. We began with worship that included the Lord’s Service at Gornesti. The worship was very special as a bond had developed over the past days of being together. Gornesti is blessed with many strong leaders and over the past year many new believers who are serious about their faith and the mission of the church. Gornesti will be the center of a great mission movement in the Mures area of Transylvania. They still have not heating system for their new church. The warmth of the fellowship, their faith, and the worship made me forget how cold it really was. We said goodbye with hope of being together again this year.

We hurried to Attila home (he received notice on Friday that he has to vacate the apartment in 15 days—he had been subleasing and the lease ended) and enjoyed another great meal prepared by his mother. She came with us to Reghin to look after the two of us. I keep wondering if she had a call from Bonnie. But, nevertheless she is a great cook and hostess. I enjoyed trying to learn Hungarian from her through sign language and pointing.

We went to Filpisu Mic for 2 PM worship. The church now has five members with four of them living in the village now. All are older. This was were Baptist work began in the Mures area before WWI. We celebrated the Lord’s Supper together. I found a great deal of energy in their worship. They were very responsive and asked questions about what was happening in Kenya. Bernard Mwangi from Kenya had visited them in 2006. They had heard about the post-election violence on the radio. One of the ladies shared that they had been praying for their Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ. Far from giving up, this church has connected to the world of mission through prayer. We had to hurry off to Reghin for the 4 PM service.

This small church sits between two massive cathedrals under construction (Romanian Orthodox and Roman Catholic). When we arrived, the congregation was started singing. The worship is more traditional than the other two. But, the church has a very kind heart and very gracious in their greetings. A young man, Zoltan from Tirgu Mures was with us. He gave his testimony. Zoltan teaches history in local school. In the morning he had preached at the Reghin church.

We made a brief stop at Attila House before heading for Apalina for our last worship service of the day at 6 PM. They are so loving and kind to me. Once again the joyful, strong singing was such a blessing. The worship ended with many greetings and expressions of their desire for me to return soon with other friends. The transformation of lives that has taken in this community over the past year is overwhelming. God is blessing their sincerity and faithfulness.

Attila’s mom insisted we have a dinner before heading off to Turda and the Pusok family. Attila, his mom, and I arrived in Turda around 11 PM. The two of them headed off to Sarmasag (her home) and I headed to bed. My journey home begins at 4 AM tomorrow morning.

Saturday:Great Day of Fellowship and Faith

The Gornesti church held their first fellowship day beginning at 11AM. Over 40 people participated in a great day designed to strengthen relationships in the new church and enjoy being together. Attila Toth began the morning with signing and prayer. Soon, the serious work of cooking over 200 mici (a Romanian specialty—best described as a spicy, fresh ground meat, skinless sausage cooked like hamburgers) and grilled fresh pork. Istvan, Sandor, and I cooked using sign language. After a shaking start, we got serious. This was the first time that I had grilled out in a sleet and rain storm. Romanian sleet was much bigger than what I am used too in the southern US. The ice seemed much closer to hail than sleet—but it was cold. Eventually the sun came out and Attila joined in a relief effort cooking mici. With bread, mustard, pickled vegetables, and homemade potato salads this was a feast. The emphasis was on meat. How could we not have a good time? We were eating, singing, laughing, cooking, talking, and gesturing. I had the privilege of introducing the group to a first—playing a game together. The relay game proved every exciting and competitive for the first timers. We had a great time. Hopefully, I can figure out how to post the video on the website after I return home. The fellowship day ended with a study on building and strengthening relationships in the church. This was a great day.

With just a few minutes between fellowship at Gornest and evangelistic meetings at Apalina with the gypsy mission, we got quick “grease release” rise offs and headed out the door again. The meeting at Apalina was a great experience of the movement of God. The gypsies with Attila leading sang with great enthusiasm and joy. I think this is what I enjoy most. Following the preaching, we had a time of prayer. The honest confession of sin and desire to be serious in their faith were powerful. After the worship, we visited the family of a recent believer whose wife has serious health issues. We rode and walked through mud and rocks to visit with them. She said that she wanted to follow Jesus Christ. In a one room house where the “poor” section of Apalina begins she knelt in prayer before friends and family and committed her life to Christ. The presence of the Spirit of God was so real. I felt as if we could visibly see its movement among us. In the rain and mud we rejoiced as we walked out down the street to our car.

Our day ended with a meal in the home of one of the finest Christian couples that I have ever met. Mr. and Mrs. Vass are members of the Reghin church and he serves as the leader. We laughed together and enjoyed a delicious meal. Our joy carried us home and the eager anticipation of another day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ten Days in One Blog

March 3-7
Monday morning began with a trip to Oradea with Zoltan and Elisabeth. I taught 1 & 2 Corinthians at the Hungarian Baptist of Romania Seminary in Oradea. I taught four and half hours on Monday, seven hours on Tuesday, seven hours on Wednesday, four hours on Thursday, and two hours on Friday. Tuesday night was a special time with the students as we had supper together at the Piccolo Restaurant—just around the corner from the seminary. A night at the Piccolo has become a tradition for us. Wednesday night, I spoke at the Young People’s Meeting of the Hungarian Baptist Church of Oradea. I was also able to visit with Zoltan and Elisabeth Vekas who were in town for a HBR convention meeting. Gyula Borzasi and I had a couple of hours together sharing and catching up. Thursday was a full day with teaching. Then I had lunch with Adrian, Ruth, Petra, and Rhode Giorgiov. Ruth is a very good cook and hostess. Adrian and I worked on his new ministry of sponsoring Kenyan orphans and displaced families. His trip to Kenya in November and December led to the development of this ministry. Already he has churches and individuals involved. Bringing together the Hungarian speaking Christians and their Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ for a common ministry partnership is a dream come true for Teleios Ministry. I preached Thursday night at the Oradea church and Rogerius (a new church) in Oradea. Rogerius will enter their first building with a celebration on April 27. Pray for them on this special day.

March 7
Friday, I had a change in plan from traveling by train to Turda to be with the Pusok Family to traveling with Istvan Borzasi to his new church field in Perecei. We visited the site of a new camp for Hungarian Baptists and then to meet Marta (Istvan’s wife) and his daughters. The evening was filled with an evangelistic meeting in Varosolt—a village church. The church was filled with people—sitting in the aisle and coat room area. A wood burning stove had it very warm in the building. The Lord’s presence was evident as we worshipped together. We returned to Istvan’s home for a delicious meal with Marta, Johanna, Tabitha, and Miriam (and Istvan).

March 8
Saturday morning marked a new first for me as I boarded a bus to travel 2.5 hours to Cluj to meet Daniel and Adina Pusok. Actually, my two most vivid experiences were that I slept from Zalau to Cluj (most of the trip) and an older gentleman sat next to me who smelled of Salami. By the time, I arrived in Cluj I was hungry and rested.

Adina is expecting as some of you know—due date in May—a girl. Saturday evening I had a special treat of celebrating Lajos’ 74th birthday with his family. This was a unique experience that was not unlike those of our own culture. His four children and their families came together with cousins going away in a separate room to play. They emerged for snacks and cooling off. Adults were catching up and talking. A lot of food, laughter, and story telling-- It was a great evening. Lajos and his wife will have another big celebration in April—50 years of marriage.

March 9
Sunday was a day of preaching. The morning began at the Turda Hungarian Baptist Church with the 10 AM worship service. The children here are amazing with their knowledge of the Bible and their singing. After lunch, we traveled to Ocna Mures for worship at 4 PM and to visit a church leader who was ill from a stroke. Daniel anticipated eight people but twelve were there. We then traveled to Iernut for an evangelistic meeting at 6 PM. During the worship service, several first time visitors came to the church—some of them Romanian. So we had preaching in English and Hungarian with a brief summary in Romania. The evening worship was followed by a fellowship time together. A group of young people from Tirgu Mures church gave testimonies and sang. Otto Suzcs, a former seminary student that I taught, is missionary in residence at the church. His wife is a medical student in Tirgu Mures. He and I share a common love for knives. His father-in-law makes them. Also, a friend of his from his home area makes knives. I am now the proud owner of two new, deer antler, knives—they are really pretty—sharp!

March 10
Daniel and I rested on Monday with another first for me. Daniel learned to play golf while studying in England last year. So we hit the links (only golf course that I have ever seen in Romania). I must say that it was one of the most beautiful settings that I have experienced playing golf. Snow covered mountains and beautiful valleys. The golf course was a little wet from snow melts. We visited an old site of Anabaptists from the 16th century. The day was great.

March 11
On Tuesday Daniel and I went to the Agape Hotel in Aghires near Zalau for the Barnabas Group Meeting. A group of 20 young pastors meet twice a year for leadership development and fellowship. The group was organized by Istvan Gergley, President of the HBCR, and Joseph Kovacs, General Secretary of the HBCR. Here I led a discussion on “Who Is God Today?” and “What this means in my life and ministry?” In the evening, Magdi (Pap) and Arpi Suto picked me up and we had dinner together in their new home. They are very active in their church in Zalau and also in the Salaj district churches. Magdi is enjoying her work as a social worker for a local hospital and medical care. The Agape provides accommodations for the pastors. They cover the cost of their meals. Teleios Ministry is a partner with the Agape and the Hungarian Baptist Convention of Romania (HBCR) in the providing the conference. The pastors decided to contribute to the Agape by splitting wood needed for heating the hotel and the hot water.

March 12
Wednesday, Attila Toth and I left the Agape for Reghin where I will spend the remainder of my time. Attila’s mother traveled with us to provide “support” and to spend some time with her oldest son in his mission work. She is an excellent host but prepares a lot of good food. We arrived in time for the Gornesti church meeting at 6 PM. We were joined by a group from England who work with Istvan Borzasi in church planting. The church filled with Hungarians and Gypsy. After the worship there was a surprise of desserts. The people are so kind, loving, and giving.

March 13
Thursday provided a relaxed morning. In the evening we traveled to Apalina for the gypsy mission work. We visited with my friend, Denes (pronounced “Danish”) and his family. Then, we walked together to the church meeting for the first of three evangelistic meetings. The house was filled with people. The Spirit of the Lord was evident as we sang, prayed, and preached. Three of the gypsies prayed to follow Jesus. One thing that would be strange to most of Americans is that they prayed out loud. They confessed their sins—out loud in prayer. One man had quite a list. The joy was to see all the gypsies who had become believers over the past months. There was only one believer when we visited in October. Now, there are about ten. Claudia, a young lady, featured in one of our newsletters with Bonnie was so excited by her discoveries while reading the Bible. Worshipping with the Apalina gypsies was such a meaningful experience. Seeing God at work with life changing power is a great encouragement.

March 14
Friday we talked about the mission work in the area. Then, we visited the newest mission effort in Dubravioara, a village close to Gornesti. Attila and I visited about 4 PM and there were four who came. It was a little early and the people were still working. We left there to worship with the gypsies at Zozo’s house in Gornesti. In July 2007, Zozo was baptized. At his baptism, his family made decisions to follow Jesus Christ. Now their home is the center of a movement of God in the area. Every member of the family from grandmother to youngest son is believers. Last night, almost 40 people gathered in their home for worship. Joyful singing, passionate prayer, loving fellowship, and testimonies marked the worship time. After the worship, the family surprised us with a feast of cabbage rolls, smoked sausage, wiener schnitzel, fresh fruit, and homemade desserts. It was a great time of Christian fellowship. What was all the more enjoyable was knowing that one year ago there was none of this.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Romania: Satu Mare

The trip to Budapest was good except for a mechanical problem in JFK with the plane. I got on the plane then they stopped the boarding. I waited and finally was told to get off the plane while it was having "more serious repairs". After one hour we were on board and waiting in line to take off. The amazing part was that we were five minutes early landing in Budapest. I had great company on the plane. Sitting beside me was an escape artist (like Houdini). He was very interesting and I had the opportunity to share about my passion for Jesus Christ. Also, I visited with David Rice, a Campus Crusade missionary from Greenville. He was traveling from Mexico on his way to Budapest. Finally, I had the opportunity to meet a professor from Covenant College outside Chattanooga on his way to Budapest and for one day in Satu Mare. I had an uneventful trip otherwise except for waking myself up snoring three times on the plane and two times in the car.

I am having a great time with Zoltan, Elisabeth, Benjamin, and Blanca Vekas and the Satu Mare Church. This morning, I preached in the morning worship service on Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. Today, Zoltan "arranged" for me to preach in an evangelistic meeting in a village mission about two hours from Satu Mare. As he said, "this is a bad road". I would have to say the road had more potholes than any that previously I have ridden in Romania. The meeting at the church in Cehu Silvania was great. A choir group from the Zalau Hungarian Baptist Church came along with testimonies. Before we started, Zoltan asked the church leader how many unbelievers were there. The leader said, "10 I think". I preached from 2 Corinthians 5:16ff. Zoltan gave the invitation. In the end, 10 people made decisions for Christ. He counseled with them and encouraged them. They asked to be prayed for and follow up with contacts from the church leaders and members.

Tomorrow I head from Oradea with Zoltan. My classes on 1 & 2 Corinthians begin at 1 PM. Thank you for your prayers.