Dear Family & Friends in Christ,
Suzie and I would like to begin expressing our gratitude for each of you who are partnering with us in our ministry. Whether you are one who supports us financially, or by prayer, or through your words of encouragement we are blessed to have you running this race with us.
Training & Equipping the Saints…
Inductive Bible Study Training Seminar: Thank you all for covering this event in prayer over the last few months. God did an amazing work and moved upon the hearts of the attendees in a very noticeable way. Each night began with worship songs provided by some of our local worship leaders from various churches and ministries in town, followed by teaching and interactive instruction. About 28 people in total attended from three different language groups and a variety of ethnic backgrounds. They all sat through four nights of four-hour sessions with great attentiveness! Among them were pastors, church leaders, Bible teachers, and a few who just wanted to come and learn. It was incredible to see their eyes light up as they caught the vision and recognized the value of studying the Bible in this way and teaching through scripture book-by-book and verse-by-verse. Suzie and I were so blessed to have so much help from local missionaries and believers as well as my fellow CC pastors who came from afar , Dan and Patrick. Dan Finfrock covered the actual IBS material, and walked everyone through several different passages of scripture, giving example of how much one can draw from the word by careful observation. Our friend Patrick Higgins of City Light Church in Bratislava, Slovakia, shared a powerful testimony and exhortation about how verse-by-verse teaching had impacted his life and was impacting the life of the church he is pastoring. I (Frank) taught Philemon over a two-night period to give an example of working through an entire book of the Bible. Suzie manned the registration table with our friend and Greek teacher Vicky, as well as serving food during the dinner break. God provided for us to hire a catering company owned by a brother from Pakistan who cooked amazing food each night, and also sat in as a student. Out of the 28 attendees about 16 of them have signed up for subsequent follow up meetings with me to continue learning to study and teach the word. Out of all of this it is or prayerful hope to see this vision of inductive Bible study and expository teaching of the word not only understood but also implemented in the various churches that were represented. At the very least we can walk away from this event knowing that seeds were planted and we will continue to pray for God to bring them to bear much fruit. We want to give a special thanks to the various Calvary Chapels that financially contributed to this event and want to encourage you that your money was put to good use!
Home Bible Study: I was recently invited to begin teaching a home Bible study led by our friends Arno & Sahar. This home group that they lovingly call, “Care Group” is a ministry of the church they attend. As many of you know they recently had a new baby, Fiona and have a lot going on right now in addition to this ministry. Because of such time constraints they have asked Suzie and I to step in and help for a time. As we took time to pray about it we felt led to accept and be a blessing to this wonderful couple that we have grown quite close to. Currently there are about 20 or so who attend this Bible study most of who are Farsi speakers and people from their church. After praying about it and talking it over with Arno and Sahar we all felt that the gospel of John would be the best book to cover for the people who come and will be helpful for me because I have already taught through it a few years back. Beginning this Sunday evening, October 13, I will start teaching verse-by-verse and interactively through this wonderful book. Suzie and I are both excited about this because it is a ministry we can participate in together. We are looking forward to seeing what God will do!
Continuing Ministry Meetings…
Men’s Discipleship: Our ranks have dwindled a bit because several of those who began these meetings with us have either left the city or the country. Nevertheless we are continuing on with the five or so men who are still committed to coming. We are currently meeting on Thursdays from 2-4pm and working through 1 John. The teaching is a joint effort between our ministry and three of the major refugee ministries in Athens. Each of us attends each week but alternate teaching taking turns at bat. Please pray as we continue to pour into these men with the vision of equipping them as much as possible before they leave the country and flee to another for a better life.
Seekers’ Class: One of the things we’ve learned to expect here working with refugees is that you never know how long you will have them for. I am mentioning this because within a two months span all of the actual seekers who had been attending our class have left the country for other parts of Europe. We can only pray that the seeds that were planted will bear fruit. There are still a few believers who would regularly attend because they just enjoyed getting into the word. They have expressed a desire to continue to meet in some way. With that, Kenn and I are praying about what to do next. Please pray with us as we seek the Lord’s will!
Women’s Bible Study: The study through the gospel of Matthew is underway. This last week the ladies had two new women join them (who also happened to attend the IBS seminar). They have all been enjoying these times together and are building each other up through the word.
This, That and the Other…
Connecting: I think that I have mentioned this in a past update but one of the things that God has been using us for in recent months is to connect believing refugees with churches in other European countries. Some of the other missionaries in town have been approaching me more and more to ask if Calvary had a church in X city or country because they had a family just move there. It has been such a blessing to be able to make the connection because of the wide array of Calvary Chapels throughout Europe. This has also become somewhat of an inside joke among these missionaries and me as they’ve prodded me about CC’s being everywhere. What can you say beyond being blessed when you are part of a movement whose greatest focus beyond teaching the word is planting churches that teach the word as well?
Our Immigration Status: We have begun taking the first steps toward certifying Suzie’s German citizenship by ordering her grandfather’s birth certificate from Germany. Lord willing they will find the right one and get it to us within the next two weeks. Once we have that document we will be in position to acquire the remaining vital records that she will need from the United States. Even though by law Suzie is a German citizen, the entire certification process can take a while to complete and will depend on the amount of documentation that we will be able to provide to prove it. With that we are continuing to pray for a speedy and successful process. Please keep this all in prayer because as of now this citizenship is the only legal means that we have to continue living and serving in Greece. As we have previously mentioned there are only a few visa options for us to attain but we do not qualify for any of them (i.e. meet the financial requirements, have an invitation from an NGO, or a church inviting us to work with them specifically). Most of you know that we entered and are living in Greece on residence permits from another E.U. country. Our initial plan was to come in this way in order to search out a viable visa for Greece itself. Getting this type of information can be difficult from outside the country so we came hoping to attain information and apply within a reasonable amount of time. With that we have come to realize that Suzie’s German citizenship is the way that God is providing. It is our conviction that God is able to make a legal way for us to live here and that ANY bureaucrat cannot prevent Him from doing so in any government system. If God wants us here He will make a legal way. If we are unsuccessful in certifying Suzie’s German citizenship or getting a visa for Greece we will see that as an obvious closed door. Many of our fellow missionaries now serving in Athens have been approved for the visas they qualified and applied for in the last year, even though many other were denied. We serve a big God, there is no need to strive in the flesh and we know that nothing will stop Him. We are surrendered to His will!
Trip to the States: We are continuing to pray for the Lord to provide the funds we will need to fly back to the U.S. to apply for Suzie’s German citizenship certification. It will be best for us to do this in Los Angeles as we will have to be in the U.S. to collect the remaining vital records that she needs. As we mentioned in last months update, we hope to return sometime in mid-December and stay through the end of February, 2014, or as long as needed. Please pray with us on this.
Church Planting: I think everyone can see that Suzie and I are serving in a variety of ways in Athens but church planting was our main purpose for coming to Greece and is still a strong desire in our hearts as the need is becoming more and more evident. Nevertheless we want to reiterate and expand on church planting to give you a more in-depth understanding what we are praying about in this specific aspect of our ministry in order to help you join us in prayer. As we mentioned in our last update we have placed beginning a church from scratch on hold. What we mean by “from scratch” is the method of church planting that literally begins with the missionary leading people to Christ over time and then beginning a church with them. There are several reasons that are too lengthy for us to get into that are causing us to question this, but in short we feel that we must always be in a place of evaluation to be sure that we are still on track with the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are therefore seeking Him about other approaches. Specifically we are asking if He would start us off by sending us either a couple of families who are like minded and desire to begin a Bible study, or a Bible study already in progress that is looking for someone to lead. We are also asking if He would have us step into a pastorate of a church in need of a shepherd rather than literally beginning a new one. Our end goal is the same in each of these situations: Establish a Bible teaching, Calvary Chapel style ministry, where men and women are discipled, trained and equipped in ministry and sent out to further the work of the kingdom and ultimately to raise-up a national to replace me as the pastor. Regardless of how things unfold we want to be sure that we are following the leading of the Spirit and not just trying different things hoping that something will take. If God is in it, He will breath life into it! These might sound like pretty big things to ask for but we do have a big God don’t we?
Pastor Chuck: Suzie and I are joining all of our Calvary Chapel family in mourning the loss of our pastor, Chuck Smith. CCCM is the place where we were both initially grounded in the Lord many years ago under Chuck’s teaching. He was a true shepherd and knew who we were and where we were serving. This is an amazing thing coming from the pastor of a church that supports over 200 missionaries worldwide. Chuck’s legacy has impacted our hearts and we can earnestly say that our ministry in Greece is literally an outgrowth of the ministry that he so faithfully fostered for so many years (see pic of Chuck and notice where he is standing). Though sad about losing him, we thank the Lord for the time that we had with Chuck and rejoice that He is now face to face with Jesus! He didn’t die, he simply moved!
If you’d like to see our most recent prayer needs please visit our “Partner thru Prayer” page or click here.
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 you can visit our “Becoming A Sender” page or click here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’d like to see some more pics of the IBS seminar just click here. Sorry this too is password protected. We have given out the password to our email recipients. If you’d like it please email us. As a practice we only give out the password to people we know personally.
Thank you for standing in the gap with us!
Frank & Suzie