Dear Family and Friends,
For us, what began as a summer filled with questions has turned into one of the most encouraging and directionally clear seasons that we’ve had on the mission field.
New Open Doors…
“Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut…” Revelation 3:8
Ministry to Refugee Believers: Since May Suzie and I have had a growing open door to minister among the Muslim refugees from Iran and Afghanistan. I am sure you have noticed this from past updates and comments on facebook regarding the Seeker’s Bible study that I am co-teaching with my friends Kenn Dirrim and Aziz Aslami. In addition to the Seekers Bible study I’ve had many other opportunities to teach and serve at the Helping Hands Refugee Center.
Through our involvement we’ve learned that the Muslims coming to faith in Christ in record numbers in Greece have a lack of opportunity to become a vital part of a local church. Although there are a hand full of places for them to attend there are very few places for them to fully plug in, get discipled, and serve. This is where we see a partnership forming with the refugee ministries in town. The refugee ministries are primarily evangelistic and humanitarian. But church planting by nature is discipleship oriented so our ministries naturally complement one another’s.
So with that after much prayer and counsel, we are broadening our focus to plant a church that facilitates the spiritual needs of anyone who would walk through the door regardless of their ethnicity or culture. Currently this means the Iranians and Afghanis who’ve left Islam to follow Jesus whom God is crossing our paths with. Although we’ve always had the plan to open our doors to anyone who desired to come, we’ve never had the plan to specifically reach out to anyone other than Greeks. Recently our Greek friend Manos reminded us that God does not see Greek or American or Persian, He sees people. “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Col. 3:11 Does this mean that we no longer plan to minister to Greeks? No, it just means that our focus has gone from ministering to the people of Greece to the people in Greece! In fact our new ministry statement is, “Discipling the Nations, in the Nation of Greece”. It’s amazing how God has brought so many people from the 10/40 Window to Greece whom we would have never had a chance to minister to in their own countries.
The last few weeks have brought opportunities for me to share this vision with both Greek pastors and missionary leaders in the refugee ministries whom I am forming relationships with. In each case the vision has been met with overwhelming support and recognition of the need. Several of them have expressed their desire to help in any way they can.
Our overall plan is the same, start with “Bible studies” and allow them to naturally grow into churches over time. Rather than continuing the study that we’ve been doing with Greek translation we will be restarting with translation in either Farsi or Dari. The Greeks we’ve been ministering to speak English well enough to not need translation so they will be able to attend this study if they choose. When the need arises for Greek translation we know that God will provide for it. We will be moving our Bible study to a different day, time and location that we are still praying about with some others who are involved. We’ll let you know when it happens.
Women’s Bible Study: A few months ago Suzie was asked by a fellow missionary named Ruth to help facilitate weekly women’s Bible study/discussion groups. Ruth and her husband James have been serving in Greece for about 18 years. They serve and teach at the Greek Bible College here in Athens. The Bible studies are interactive small group discussions with a wrap up teaching at the end. Both Greek and foreign Christian ladies from different churches in the city will be attending. Suzie and Ruth will be using the facilities at the 1st Greek Evangelical church in Athens to host the studies and will begin Tuesday the 18th of September. Suzie was also asked to help lead a training session for ladies leading the small groups. The training session will be on the following Thursday morning. The subject matter for this series of studies will be “Servants of God” taken from Joshua, Judges, and 1 & 2 Samuel. This is a new step for my wife so please pray!
Over the Summer…
Visitors: In July fellow Calvary Chapel missionaries visited us on two occasions. Our good friends Patrick and Ivetka Higgins and their two sons stopped in for a few days as they vacationed through Greece. Patrick is the pastor of City Lights Christian Fellowship in Bratislava, Slovakia. Soon after the Higgins left our friend Khanh who serves in Vietnam stayed with us for a weekend before attending a conference here in Athens. It’s always a blessing to have fellow missionary friends drop in when they can.
Missions Conference: It’s so important for us as missionaries to attend these events as they give us the chance to connect with others and mutually encourage one another. Needless to say we had a blast, got refreshed and challenged by the Word, made new friends, and strengthened old relationships. During one of the men’s meetings Brian Brodersen had few of us give field updates. Based on what a few others and I shared all the men noticed the trend of God working more notably among the foreigners in the countries that we’re serving in. This particular conference seemed to those that attended to be a celebration over what God is doing in the various parts of Europe and beyond!
Please enjoy some of the snap shots we took of our vistors and the conference in the slideshow below…
Things to Come…
Another visitor: Our friend Felice from CC Costa Mesa missions ministry will be dropping in from October 8-15th on her way back from Israel to visit us and our other cc missionary friends, the Aslamis. We are excited to have her in our home and feed her lots of tasty Greek yummies 🙂
Furlough plans: We have decided to hold off on our next furlough until May or June of next year. Although we had originally hoped to be present at CCCM’s missions’ day in January to represent Greece, we realized that this winter is not the best time to be gone for an extended time in light of current ministry developments. We trust God and know He has the best time picked out!
As you’ve noticed by now we’ve done some remodeling to the Gonzalez Gazette and have updated the information on each page. Please take a minute or two to browse around and read. In addition to the changes on our personal blog Suzie has made some changes to the CC Missionary Women’s site with a little help from some creative friends. Be sure to visit the link on the sidebar menu.
We’d like to conclude this issue of the Gonzo Gazette with some praise reports and a few things we’d like some prayer for:
1) How Can A Man Be Born Again Project: No it’s not finished, but it’s on the way. The first of two Scott Cunningham songs that he donated for this project have been translated and is in the process of being recorded by our friend Manos. It was amazing to hear one of his songs in Greek. Logos, the Greek music translation ministry that did this went above and beyond in their efforts and even gave us a raw recording of it for us to hear.
2) CC Treviso: Thanks for praying for our time at CC Treviso. God blessed the teaching as I shared on how faith enables us, from Hebrews 11:8-10.
1) Ministry Vision: For the Lord to establish the changes in our ministry vision (i.e. the new changes to the CC Hellas Bible study & more) that we shared in this update according to His will.
2) Women’s Bible Study: Please pray for a smooth and fruitful first week, and for the Lord to guide Suzie as she prepares to teach her first few sessions.
3) Language Study: Continued blessing in our lessons and God’s anointing on our teacher!
4) Health: Protection from illness during the season change. Suzie struggles with bronchitis every year at this time.
5) Greece: As we head into the fall the protests and strikes are starting up again. The economic hardships are hitting the people more and more severely. Please pray for the peace of the nation and city and for God to use the desperation to open men’s hearts to the hope of Christ.
6) Seeker’s Bible Study: Please pray for the Lord to draw out open hearts as we continue this outreach with the word on Saturday afternoons. I will continue to co-teach this class with Kenn. We will begin a survey of Mark in October.
7) Provision: Join us in asking the Lord to provide enough monthly financial support to cover all of our personal and ministry needs.
Thanks for taking the time to read and pray! If you are a church or an individual and would like to learn about partnering with us financially with either a one time gift or regular monthly support please click here .
Frank & Suzie