Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back Home But Still Much To Do

The team has now been home for a week and as everyone's jet lag winds down, the question is often asked... "What now?" Good question. I'm glad you asked!

We have always approached our ministry to Bulgaria, and now Macedonia, as a relationship-based ministry of encouragement and support to the Body of Christ there. Furthermore, we view that ministry as a 52-week ministry, not two weeks. We do a lot of work while we are in Bulgaria. We get our hands dirty in construction, we help with a kids' camp, we teach in churches, we share Christ out in public... but let's be honest, the work that we do is minor in the big scheme of things. We are not going to impact a nation in only two weeks a year. And we don't need to. That's why God has raised up His Church there. We have Christian brothers and sisters in Bulgaria and Macedonia who God is working through to establish His kingdom in those countries. Unless the Lord sends me to live and serve there full-time, I will never be able to serve the way that my family there does.

However, God has called us to serve those who are building the Kingdom there. The most important thing we do in our time overseas is to build and strengthen the relationships that we have with our Church family there. We meet people, we pray together, we share our lives, and we serve side-by-side for the short time that we have together. Then, we go back home and spend the rest of the year building on those relationships. Much has been said about the negative impact of Facebook and other social networking media on this generation's ability to build real relationships. However, I want to note that when a real relationship has already been established, the internet can be a powerful tool to maintain that relationship over long distances. I am able to stay in regular contact with the Body of Christ overseas, praying for the needs that arise, offering support when needed, even sharing God's word and wise counsel for situations that a brother may be facing.

I can genuinely say that not a day goes by all year when I am not thinking and praying about Bulgaria and my friends and family there. The heart God has given to me and others on the team is a genuine burden that cannot be laid down when I desire. It weighs upon me and demands my constant attention. Even if I were unable to travel to Bulgaria every summer, my heart and service to that country would remain untouched.

I am blessed that the Lord has expanded our reach this year. Our time spent in Fakulteta was not about construction or kids ministry, but about beginning to build a new relationship with a part of the Body that was previously unknown to us. Our visit to Macedonia opened our eyes to a great need in the Body of Christ for encouragement in a nation where the Church is small and struggling, but filled with the Lord's grace and love. We look forward to building on these new relationships in the coming years and seeing how the Lord will use us to support His work in these places.

And, of course, we are already looking ahead to next summer. If anyone is interested in traveling with us next year as a part of our team, please get ahold of me soon. I don't need a commitment at this stage, I just want to know who's interested so I can begin to pray for direction. We'll also start fundraising soon for next year. We'll hold our first yard sale in September with four more every two months after. Anyone that wants to donate or has ideas for fundraising should contact me as well.

Above all else, we will be praying... praying... and praying! God is doing a good thing in Bulgaria and Macedonia and the prayers of the saints around the world are needed to come alongside what He is doing. God is good!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Camp Experience

Now that we are here at the Black Sea for a weeklong kids camp, I thought I'd take just a minute to share with you what our daily schedule looks like. :-)
 6:30am Wake up and grab a quick cup of coffee
6:45am Meet with Bulgarian leaders to discuss the day
7:30am Wake up all the kids
7:45am Physical fitness with Brittany and Raya
8:00am Breakfast
9:00am Small group prayer
9:15am Beach time (3 hours)... We watch out for the children's safety and play with them.
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm Naptime (1 hr & 45 min!) But... not for us. We take this time to plan our afternoon and visit town for supplies.
4:00pm Daily bible lessons... Our group is responsible for 2 days of teaching.
4:45pm Group projects
5:30pm Game / craft rotation (30 min. each and switch)... Our group is responsible for this.
6:30pm Daily recap... using dramas and group discussion to go over bible lesson of the day. I lead this discussion.
7:30pm Dinner
8:15pm Evening service... Our group is responsible for 3 nights of teaching.

 After 9:00pm, we stay up for a few hours with the teenagers, then put everyone to bed. Afterward, we hide toys all over the camp for the morning and handle any last minute crafts, etc. We usually get to bed after midnight, sometimes much later! So that's our schedule. Its exhausting but fulfilling... God is doing mighty things! Keep us in prayer...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back at the Black Sea

After a 6 hour drive across the country today, the team has arrived at the Black Sea for a week long kids camp. We are working with the Blaga Vest church from Sofia to hold the camp for about 60 kids from ages 5 to 18 in the town of Chernomoretz near Burgas.

The theme of the camp is "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and uses five mountaintop experiences to relate spiritual truths.

  1. Mount Sinai - God is with his people.
  2. Mount Carmel - The Lord shows that He is the One True God.
  3. Mount of Transfiguration - Jesus is God's Son.
  4. Golgotha - Jesus Saves Us All.
  5. (Unnamed Mountain) - Jesus says, "Go to all!"
We will be relating these spiritual truths through teaching lessons, games and crafts, activities and nightly messages. We spend several hours a day with the kids in the Black sea in addition to plenty of other opportunities to hang out and fellowship. Each of the team members will have ministry responsibilities throughout the week so keep us all in prayer.

Also, we're running a little low on energy right now and a few have been fighting off colds. Please pray for our strength and health. We know that when we are weak, He is strong! God is good and we look forward to sharing the amazing things He is going to do this week at camp. In the meantime, here's a link to some pictures of our time in Macedonia over the weekend.

Pictures of Macedonia