Thank you all for your continued love, prayers and support in the ministry that God has called us to overseas. We hope you enjoy the read about our latest happenings in our lives and ministry and that this update sparks you to continue to labor with us in prayer!
Suzie and I headed up to Saint Luke’s hospital in Thessaloniki once more at the end of June for a CT and an MRI of her back. (While there we had the added blessing of being able to spend some time with Mark & Celeste Yocom once again, while Celeste was receiving her 7th chemo treatment.) Following the MRI & CT scan we had a consultation with the neurosurgeon. After reviewing the films he confirmed that she does indeed need surgery. The consultation brought both good and bad news. The bad news is that beyond her spine being very unstable and having bulging discs; she also has a deteriorating disc in her lower lumber. At this point it is pretty far-gone. The good news is that there isn’t any nerve damage as of yet. The surgery will fix the bulging discs and bring stability to Suzie’s spine by implanting two small bars on either side and will ultimately allow her spine to fuse naturally over time. The elimination of the instability will guard her from any future nerve damage and hopefully minimize the pain that she deals with daily. And that about sums it up.
After much prayer and consideration we have decided to do the surgery earlier than written in our last update. If all goes well with our insurance covering this (which it should) we will plan the surgery for either the first or second week of September. We’ve chosen to move the surgery date up because her back has been hurting her more often and we’d like to see this alleviated as soon as possible. Currently we are waiting for the insurance to approve the surgery; while waiting Suzie has been faithfully working out (i.e. swimming and on her stationary bike) to get in even better shape as doing so will help with her recovery.
The surgery and recovery time will be about a month and a half, three to five days in the hospital, a few more days of rest in the Thessaloniki area before flying back to Athens and then another three weeks or so of rest and healing at home. After the first month she will be able to resume her normal workout schedule to regain her strength. Lord willing, everything will go smooth and this will help my wife’s quality of life for the future. As we know more and get closer to the date, we’ll fill you all in.
Extra Blessings of Fellowship & Exploration…
Unexpected Vacation: We ended up turning the few days before and after the medical trip to Thessaloniki into a mini vacation. Someone actually provided the funds for a vacation for us so we couldn’t say no. Because we realized we haven’t even seen much of this country and have lived here for over three and half years, we decided to take a scenic route to Thessaloniki. This route took us through northern, central and the west coast of Greece. Needless to say it was absolutely beautiful the whole way! Our first destination was Meteora (a region of mountain top monasteries), with breathtaking views. After Thessaloniki we went west on a very beautiful cross-country drive (small country as it only took 5 hours coast to coast) to the island of Lefkada (known to inhabit some of the best beaches and most beautiful waters in Greece). We spent four days there just spending time together, talking, praying and swimming. It was an absolutely amazing time and we are extremely thankful to the Lord for this blessing!
Fellowship on Crete: At the end of July we took a weekend trip to the island of Crete to visit fellow CC missionaries serving there. I (Frank) was also invited to teach at a Romanian church on the island on Sunday evening. Not sure if many of you know but there has been a family of five ministering on the island for about 6 years now. Their names are Sean, Jacky, Gloria, James and Henry Coleman and they came out of a CC in Arizona.
These two are likeminded with Suzie & I and have a desire for church planting Calvary Chapels, have a small Bible study that they started a few years back and do an English service at the Romanian church on Sunday mornings. Most recently they have had an incredible open door and favor with a Romanian church they minister to. Since we arrived in Greece we’ve had the heart to visit and encourage them. A couple of weekends back the Lord finally opened the door for us to do so. We had a great weekend of blessed fellowship and got a birds-eye-view of how God is using their family in a significant way. We look forward to what God will do with them in the future. Please pray that the Lord would use the Coleman family in greater and greater ways to be a witness for Christ, and that they would be able to plant a Calvary Chapel on Crete if it is His will to do so.
Missions Conference & Visiting Friends Along the Way -August 13-26: We are headed to the missions’ conference in Austria once again to get filled and refreshed with the Word and fellowship with many missionary friends. Also looking forward to catching up with some of the pastors we know that will be sharing the Word with all of us. During this trip we plan on stopping by Padova, Montebelluna, and Treviso, Italy as well as Salzburg, Austria to visit with fellow CC missionaries and enjoying their fellowship. This will be possible because we are traveling by car and taking the ferry across from Greece to Italy. This year it was the cheapest way for us to go and is turning out to be the best! Looking forward to all God has during this time!!
Surgery: As we previously explained we will be diving into Suzie’s surgery shortly after the missions conference. Lord willing we can set an actual date when we hear from our insurance (please pray).
CC Bible College Italy Group: A Bible college team from CC Montebelluna is coming to Athens from October 13th – 17th on an educational “Footsteps of Paul” tour and Suzie and I are hosting them (i.e. showing them around, sharing about Greece a bit etc…). This trip is in the planning stages so we are not sure of all the details as of yet. But, we are always blessed when we get CC visitors and guests so we shall see what the Lord has for us all.
Short-Term Ministry Trip to England: As we shared in our last update, we were invited by our friend, pastor Bob Claycamp, to take a trip to the southwest part of England to help with some up coming ministry needs. Bob and his wife Jeanne have much on their plate with two churches, ministry training meetings, various outreaches and no workers to help. Originally we had planned on going for part of the summer in conjunction with Creation Fest in August but obviously due to Suzie’s surgery needs we are postponing the trip to a later date. Currently we are praying about taking some time in late October and possibly into November to help with the things I mentioned above. God is doing a notable work in that area of England; among other things there is a very real potential for new churches to be planted by nationals with a little training of prospective pastors. If there is one thing that God has consistently placed in our hearts since we’ve been on the field, it is the work of church planting and training pastors and leaders for the ministry. Throughout our time on the mission field we have been involved in training, teaching, and discipling in one form or another. The need for this work in England fits in well with what we are already doing in Greece. Serving this way with a Calvary Chapel work is an added bonus and blessing. We are looking forward to this potential trip and will see what God will do!
Ministry Training: My time with “Peter” is still going strong and he is proving to be an excellent and hungry student of the Word. Whenever he teaches on Sundays, he is always so excited to tell me how it went when we meet for our private training time. I love it! I taught last Sunday at his fellowship but will be taking a break until we get situated with Suzie’s surgery date. Our training times will resume after our missions’ conference trip.
Men’s Discipleship: We started back up a few weeks ago and have just begun going through 1 Corinthians. I will continue to take turns teaching with my friend Kenn and a couple other pastors in the city. It’s a joint effort with our ministry (CC Hellas) and two other Greek (refugee) ministries in town. Each week we spend time with a handful of men that are mostly young in the Lord going through the Word together, having open discussion about the study and sharing a meal together. It’s a special time with them because we never know how long we will have them. Most refugees want to leave Greece and head for better lands as life here is dangerous and unbearable for them in every conceivable way. Our hearts are to pour into them as long as we have them here; we pray for them to get plugged in to a good church in whichever EU country they end up in. Some of the men I mentioned in the last update that are now attending some of the Calvaries in other countries, came from this study. God is good!
CD Project –How Can a Man Be Born Again and Worship Songs: Praising God that the recordings are all done and we have sent them off to Firefighters for Christ and to CC Cost Mesa Missions to be made into CD’s. Suzie and I were able to go down to the studio to see the final touches that our Greek brothers did in their studio. To hear pastor Chuck’s message and Scott Cunningham’s songs in Greek was a blessing; they sound AMAZING! We shared one of the songs with Scott and he was very excited and blessed! We want to give a special thanks to our friends Akis and Yiorgos, Noble Sound Studio, the Greek Christian Music Association, CC LAX worship team and the contributing artists for singing and being the voice of Chuck Smith and Scott Cunningham.
Here is a snipet of the music…
Reflection: I recently watched a message from the Calvary Chapel Deep South pastors conference by Sandy Adams. Pastor Sandy shared about what it means to be a CC pastor. Along with many of my fellow missionaries and pastor friends, I know that I am a Calvary guy through and through and am not ashamed of that. I love being under that umbrella and would always choose to serve in or pastor a Calvary work. However I was challenged with this thought provoking question that Sandy asked, “Can we as pastors, and as a group of pastors, stay true to what God has made us; yet be open to and be part of the larger Body of Christ?” Looking back over the last ten years of ministry on the mission field, especially during our time in Greece, I see that we have been doing this and want to continue to do so. It is my prayer that God would bless any endeavor done for Him by any sound ministry and that we would never go so far as to say we as Calvary Chapel are the only ones reaching people for Jesus. I encourage any of you to check out the message he shared, it was a blessing to hear. Just click here.
- Ministries: That God would bless the weekly Bible studies, training times with different men and our discipleship group. That we would be a light in this spiritually dark city and that God would pour out His Holy Spirit on Greece and bring a fresh filling to the believers and save those that don’t know Him. Also that God would use the CD, How Can A Man Be Born Again that we recently finished in Greek and has been sent off to Firefighters for Christ and CC Costa Mesa.
- Peter –the Pakistani pastor that I am training and encouraging in the ministry: Please pray for the Lord to grant him the papers that he needs to live legally in Greece and get political asylum. He left Pakistan under threat of death and is currently ministering to his people here in Athens.
- Daniel –An Iranian brother from our discipleship group: He was beaten up badly by the police last week and is facing false charges of resisting arrest. The police created these charges to cover their misbehavior. He is facing serious jail time if convicted. Please pray for God to heal and deliver him!
- Missions Conference August 17-23: Pray for God to bless our time with our fellow missionaries both in Austria and Italy, that we would get refreshed in the Word, for fruitful meetings and times of sharing about the ministry with some of the pastors/speakers that are sharing the Word with all of us at the conference.
- Suzie’s Back Surgery in September: Tentatively planned for the first or second week of September at Saint Luke’s hospital in Thessaloniki. Pray for insurance approval so we can set an actual date. Also for God to sustain Suzie both physically, emotionally and spiritually as she goes through the surgery and her recovery time of a month and a half. Lastly, that she would recover quickly and it would alleviate the pain she has been having for the last few months and overall that this surgery would help her in the long run!
- CC Bible College Italy Trip to Greece in October: Pray for God’s blessing in the planning and for a fruitful time as we show them around, spend time in the Word together and have sweet fellowship.
- Ministry Trip to England, October-November: That God would bless our time helping the ministry in Exeter and beyond in the southwest part of England, both in teaching and training future pastors and leaders and praying over that area of new CC church plants.
- Fellow CC Missionaries on Crete, Greece: Thankful for our weekend visit with our friends the Coleman family. Please pray for God to bless them, use them to continue to minister to those He puts in front of them, for a Calvary Chapel to be planted on Crete in God’s time if it is His will, and for God to sustain and provide for every need they have!! If you want to know how to get behind them in their work in any way, please email us and we will be happy to connect you with them.
- Outpouring of the Holy Spirit: That God would pour out His Holy Spirit on this nation, the people that we are ministering to and on us, also that He would guide us, that we would discern His will and most of all…not get ahead of His plan for us and “help” Him. Lord keep us from pride and show us your grace!
- Provision: That God would continue to faithfully provide for all of our needs both financially and spiritually. He has faithfully been providing for every aspect of the back surgery for Suzie and praying for it to continue!
- German Citizenship: Thank you for your prayers for this and we ask that you continue to pray. We heard back that Suzie’s papers are in the process and will take time to authenticate her citizenship that she naturally has through her grandfather. Once they do, we are good to go. Please pray this process goes quickly. Also pray for God’s will to be done. Again, this will help us to stay legal in the EU without the hassle of visas. We want to be above reproach and know that if God wants us on the field, He will keep us here legally without strife.
We’d like to end this newsletter with a thought in light of two friends that have recently gone home to be with the Lord, Tom Roberto (long time friend at CC South Bay) and Phil Pechonis (CC Missionary and pastor in England). They passed away about a week apart and did not know each other. Tom was killed suddenly on his motorcycle just one day after he celebrated his 13th wedding anniversary. He leaves behind his beautiful wife Bridget and two wonderful children, Vinnie and Sariah. His legacy was his love for Jesus. We were so honored to celebrate his life with our church family at CC South Bay via live stream. Then a week later Phil Pechonis ended his battle with cancer and we also had the blessing of being part of his memorial service via live stream at CC Fort Lauderdale. He leaves behind his wonderful wife Megan and their four children. Since this has happened we’ve thought a lot about what is important in this life and that is to live the gospel until Jesus takes us home, to not take one day that we have on this earth for granted and lastly to treasure every moment we have with the spouses, families and friends God has placed in our lives. Those that are in our lives are on loan and we should remember to make every moment count. Just something to think about that has made us really evaluate much. May the Lord bless you, keep you and make His face shine upon you.
Support Info: 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.
Thank you for standing in the gap with us!
Frank & Suzie