candlelight service, children, Christmas, ESL, faith, language, missionaries, missionary, missions, Moldova, New Year's Eve, praise, Praises, prayer, Soroca, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, village, year review
In the last several months, God has opened the doors for our outreach in Soroca to expand to several neighboring villages.
The town of Soroca, where I live, is the region’s capital city. On one of the two main streets in town, we have our church plant, and are greatly encouraged to have a small but growing number of regular attendees. As of yet, we do not have any whole family units coming – we have widows, unmarried people, and partial family units with one spouse of a different belief or unsaved. Please continue to pray with us for those in our church, that they would remain faithful, and that families would desire to come. Looking back over the last year, we are thankful for several believers who have begun coming to services and who have been godly examples of faithfulness and Christian service.
Several months ago, we began a project of collecting funds within our church to purchase Bibles for a missions program in another country. It has been a joy to see the excitement those in our church have had of contributing their change to this project. Almost every person in our church has the limited income of being a pensioner or unemployed, and yet, our first collection was able to purchase seven Bibles, and we are close to filling the collection container a second time.
In addition to our Sunday and mid-week services, we are able to use our church building for outreach with adult English lessons and a Bible study on Tuesday evenings, and a children’s English class that I teach on Thursday afternoons. This last week, four new students joined my class. While the class is not evangelical, when I informed the new students why I open every class with prayer, it was good to see them agreeing with me that God is the One who directs our lives, that we need Him, and that He can help us, even in our academic studies. From relationships built in the class, we are able to invite the children to our VBS programs, Sunday School, and other outreaches.
In September, we expanded Sunday School from one week a month to every Sunday. I teach the first half of each month, and my missionary partners teach the other weeks. The analytical side of me has been enjoying putting together the curriculum (with the help of my teammate Viola for the Russian portion). The monthly Russian Ladies’ Bible Study that Viola has been leading since autumn has been well – received by the ladies in our church, as well as several of their friends and family members.
On the other side of the ridgeline that parallels the Nistru River is the village of Zastînca. There, our coworkers, David and his family live, and every Sunday evening at their house is a Bible study. It has been encouraging to see those who come expanding their participation in the study.
Following the river north from us is the village of Cosăuţi, a small quarry village of about 3,000 people. We are continuing our weekly program at the center there. The youth and young mothers who live there have nowhere else to go and have come from heart-breaking circumstances. Many are hardened from their past while others are becoming open and receptive. Please pray that they would receive the truth of the Gospel. We held a Christmas party there with the Christmas story, carols, games, pizza (and much more food). It was so good to have extra time to spend with these children and the staff at the center, in a more relaxed and personal setting, and with fewer time constraints than we usually have.
This fall, the men of our team took on the leadership of an existing house church in the village of Bulboci, about 40 minutes west of Soroca. Those in the group come from several religious backgrounds, and our prayer is that they may grow in unity and the true Gospel rather than existing religious tenets that are not always aligned with Scripture.
New News: Our candlelight service before Christmas was a time of reading passages of the Christmas story and singing Christmas carols in both Romanian and Russian. It was good to see several people who do not normally come to our mid-week service come for this event.
Last month, we held our first Winter VBS, for three days of the Christmas break. While not as many children came as we had hoped, we were encouraged to see children from our summer Vacation Bible School come.
Over the Christmas break, I spent several days in the capital city due to illness and needing to be close to medical facilities. I am so thankful for good friends that I was able to stay with, decent medical care, and swift recovery. For those of you whom I informed about this during the course of events, thank you so much for your prayers. A nice part of it all is that while the impromptu stay was not in my plans, because it was over Old Christmas weekend (Jan. 7), I was able to see and attend a few traditional Christmas events that I would not have been able to see in Soroca.
With New Year’s Eve being on a Sunday, we expanded our usual fifth-Sunday fellowship dinner to include a time of Bible-related games and trivia contests. We invited those from the church in Bulboci to join us and were greatly encouraged to have thirty people almost filling the church to capacity for Sunday School, worship services, dinner, and the fellowship time after.
Spring brings continued ministry, an extra hour a week of Romanian lessons for me, and the annual process of renewing my residency permit. My last two have been single-year permits, and I am praying for a two-year permit this time.
Thank you much for your prayers, and may God bless you in this new year.
In His Service,