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Trips

Romania Summer 2012

Iasi, Romania May 24 - June 4, 2012

Iasi is the second largest city in Romania, with a population of 400.000 people, majority of them nominal Eastern Orthodox Christians. Actually Iasi is like a "Mecca" for Eastern Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe and the spiritual oppression it's very high. There are very few Evangelicals (less than 4000 -Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics and Brethren all together) and most of the leaders of the churches there are untrained. We will be working with Second Baptist Church of Iasi to host a pastors conference. You will be teaching the TLI hermeneutics curriculum. You will also have a chance to preach in churches

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Romania Summer 2012

Jun  2nd,  2012Iasi (Yash) Day 9

The Lord has granted a remarkable unity and mutual love between our brothers from Iasi and ourselves.  Over the last couple of days it feels like we have labored night and day in preparation and delivery but our brothers have voraciously consumed all that we have prepared for them.  We have felt great joy despite the long days.  Sometimes we find ourselves debriefing at the end of a day until midnight because the teaching and fellowship has continued long after the lessons ended at 9:00 PM.  Yet none of us feel it as a burden. 

 Last night was our final night and several men stood up to share how the course has completely changed their thinking.  One brother commented about how the teachers continually pointed them back to the context when they were tempted to rely on their own understanding or use their own arguments.  He described how he was beginning to do this for himself and is even beginning to show others how to do the same.  His joy was however mixed with sadness as he considered the way he previously handled the Scriptures.  The transformation from both their perspective as students and our perspective as teachers has been beyond our expectations. 

 I realize that this sounds like I am making a plug for Training Leaders International, I am not.  It is a fact that these men have grown in their understanding of how to handle the text and that they are rejoicing because of this fact.  Two factors are necessary for this outcome to occur.  Good teachers and good curriculum.  I have served with these brothers and have witnessed men who have sacrificed hundreds of hours in preparation, but in addition to being well prepared these brothers are both humble and passionately committed to ensuring that truth is communicated and received.  Their commitment to communicating the truth resulted in a several eager conversations but because these teachers were committed to their students and to the goal of making them into better interpreters and because of their humility, those brothers who were initially skeptical of were won over early in the week and deep friendships from mutual love and respect were formed

 This course was entirely dependent upon the curriculum and the translators.  I praise God for the authors and especially for being able to have the man who developed it with us.  Every one of us thanks you Philemon!  The curriculum had to be thorough and clear but it also had to be able to bridge the cultural and language barrier.  It quickly became apparent that despite some important differences between the Romanian text and the English text this material was able to do both of these tasks.  It is impossible to appreciate how deeply this can hinder communication if a person has not had to work at translating thoughts and ideas that from two translations that are themselves translations from the original languages.  Fortunately, much of the difficulty in interpretation was bridged by our American Romania brothers who served as our translators for the week.  They were essential to bridging the language gap.  Thank-you brothers

 Pray for power as several of us preach, that God would be glorified and the churches here would be edified.  Throughout the week we have spoken about areas that we would have like to develop further and curriculum that would be beneficial.  Pray that the right curriculum would be developed.  We also see much more clearly where we can be a help and feel the burden to continue to equip the pastors here in Iasi.  Unfortunately, until this fall these Pastors will be on their own.  Pray that God would protect them from the devil who wants to destroy them and that he would grant unity to the churches.  Pray that the plan to return in October would in fact occur and that God would raise-up the right men and women to be on this team.  Again, as was mentioned in the last update pray that God would raise-up someone who could continue this kind of training on a long-term basis.

 

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May  31st,  2012Yasi - Day 6

Wow, the last two days have disappeared like my ten year old son’s ice cream on a hot August day in Kentucky.  Between the ladies meeting with pastor’s wives and missionaries and the men meeting with pastors, preparing to teach, teaching, strategizing improvements to our teaching, and reviewing our teaching we haven’t wasted a moment’s time…but efficiency is not the biggest obstacle we face.

 Yasi is a dark city.  Being located in the economically depressed part of northeastern Romania makes it a difficult city to make one’s home yet even more evident is the permeating presence of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Like a cold wind on a winter’s day it is an unwelcome presence that is always felt.  The Romanian pastors say that the closer one gets to Moscow the greater the influence that the church has on the culture and we feel it at many levels.  They identify the effects of its presence in evangelical churches as they describe the culture of pride in the Eastern Orthodox leadership that spills over into the evangelical church at both the leadership and church body level.  Moreover, tradition slips into soft legalism that exchanges the power of the believer’s identity in Christ to transform the Christian into a holy man or woman of God with weak and lifeless commands.

 But the Lord has been especially kind in answering prayers.

 We had been warned about these realities by our team leader Andrei Sava (a native Romanian) and asked for prayer that we would come with humble hearts that would make it easy for the Romanians to receive us.   We also asked that you pray that the Lord would grant humility to the men and women that attend these training sessions to hear our teaching.  The Lord has been very gracious to hear and answer on both fronts.  We have had great favor with the people that God has brought and they have responded with a Berean like eagerness to know how to interpret the word of God.  Truly it has been a great blessing to teach in Yasi and spend hours pouring over the Scriptures with men who love the Word as much as we do!  In addition, the Lord has turned our hearts with great affection towards each another. 

 This morning Philemon Yong described an unusual burden that he felt towards the church here in Yasi and challenged us to consider whether God was calling any of us to leave our families and homes and follow Christ to Yasi.  His words strike hard because we know that very little help has come to this area and they are asking to be equipped!  What is more, God in his providence has brought us here!

 The church in Yasi is at war with the enemy, please join us in praying for her; that God would raise up men and women who would continue to teach and train with all humility, that he would continue to do this through TLI and with a leader/s on the ground here in Yasi, that the presentation of the curriculum would continue to be helpful and clear, that God would continue to raise up men and women to go over the next three years to complete the curriculum, and that we would listen to the Spirit as he leads us to consider how he would have us continue to serve our brothers and sisters in Yasi in the future.  In Him, Keith.

 

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May  27th,  2012Brasov Day 2

Today was an opportunity for recovery from jetlag.  We relaxed by enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Carpathian Mountains that provided the backdrop for the two Romanian castles that we visited.  The first stop was to the Peles castle (pronounced Pelesh), a lavishly decorated summer residence of the Romanian King Charles in the Village of Sinaia.  I felt at home in the southeastern Carpathian Mountains where the Peles Castle is located as the geography and vegetation closely resembled my own home province in British Columbia Canada, with lush green forests and towering mountains.  However, the constant chatter of the Romanian language was a continual reminder of our true location.  After enjoying a meal of traditional Romanian soup we headed for the Bran Castle more famously known as Dracula’s Castle.

The mere mention of the name Dracula provokes dark and morbid thoughts, thoughts that seem to underscore the disparity that we witnessed.  Though we didn’t have enough time to walk through this castle I was struck by the gulf between the wealth of the ruling class and the poverty of the underprivileged.  On the one hand the majestic buildings testified to the extreme wealth and greed of a bygone era while at the same time on the streets children were instructed to beg and lie in order to earn a living for their parents.   Don’t mishear me, this situation is not unique to Romania, it is merely a reminder of the human sinfulness evident in every nation and human experience.  Sin is no respecter of class, it reveals the idolatry of greed characteristic of the rich and the desperate plight of the poor that makes them willing to lie and steal in order to survive.  All men everywhere are subject to the same sinful desires expressed in different ways.

But all is not dark in Romania and the deep darkness only makes the light of what God is doing shine brighter.  Despite being a nation that lives in the wake of 44 years of godless communism it is strangely dominated by the lifeless religion of Eastern Orthodoxy.  This backdrop makes what God is doing in Brasov more breath taking than the Carpathian Mountains were for the castles we visited today.  We were able to worship with Providenta Baptist Church and what we witnessed among these brothers and sisters was nothing short of breath taking.  God is at work saving men and women, and bringing light into a dark city.  Like a light on a hill Providenta Baptist Church is truly a beacon of hope.  We heard testimonies of God freeing men and women from their enslavement to sin but we also heard the reverberating desire of the church to see their city come under their conviction of sin and turn to Jesus to save them.  Appropriately, Philemon Yong exhorted this church to live in the unity that Christ’s death purchased (Eph 4:3).  Brothers and sisters, this is a church that we must continue to pray for…our enemy would like nothing more than to see her divided and destroyed.  In Him, Keith

 

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May  26th,  2012Romania Team Update #1

NO Preconceptions
Dear friends,
 
   We finally made it to Romania! After months of preparations and prayers, God has brought all of us in Bucharest safe and sound. Me (Andrei) and my wife had the privilege to arrive in Romania few days ago and had experienced once again the great need for the Gospel among both the believers and non-believers. Today we all met at the airport and we drove  from there, three hours north, to Brasov to visit Sorin Prodan. Sorin is a graduate from Southern Baptist  Theo Seminary and since he returned back to Romania two years ago, he has planted a church in Brasov, that has around 40 members.  Even though most of the team members were exhausted after the long flight, most of them were awakened by Sorin and Trisha's hospitality and by the beautiful buildings we visited in downtown Brasov after dinner.
   In God's grace we are spending our time in Brasov at a Reformed Traditional Church, which sadly, even though seems to be "reformed" it does not hold to any conservative beliefs anymore.
   Pray for our time and protection for tomorrow and pray that God will use us mightily for His glory when we'll lead our brothers and sisters from Providenta Baptist Church in worship in singing and preaching. thank you for your support for us!  In Christ's grace, Andrei

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