As 2014 comes to an end and a new year is about to begin, we stand amazed at how quickly this year has flown by. Looking back over the last 12 months Suzie and I feel grateful for all we were able to be apart of as we continued to minister to Muslim refugees, discipled new Christians, trained and mentored pastors and leaders how to teach the Word, taught God’s word in different arenas, and finished the Greek translation of the book, “Why Grace Changes Everything” which we are now working to publish. Through it all we witnessed God provide for our every need and answer some big prayer requests, including making Suzie’s back surgery possible and effective. But with this New Year, so also comes a new chapter in our lives, and in this update we would like to take the opportunity to share about it with you…
OUR NEW SEASON
As many of you know, we recently returned from a three week trip to England that we intentionally went on to seek the Lord regarding our future in ministry. The trip turned out to be exceptionally fruitful and has led us to conclude that God is leading us out of Greece to begin serving in England.
Since being on the field we have always loved sharing our lives with you through our newsletters and have always tried to be as transparent as possible. We have sought to bring you into our missions experience with us, through every step, challenge or change we’ve gone through! Our heart for doing so has not only been to express our love and gratitude for you, believing that you are in the trenches with us as you’ve read and prayed over the years, but also out of a sense of accountability to those who support us through finances and prayer. So with that we would like to walk you through the path that led us to this decision.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? As you all know from reading our updates this year, we’ve been praying over and considering the possibility of leaving Greece and or changing our ministry focus here. There are several factors that led us to consider this, our visa situation being one of them. However beyond that practical aspect, we’d been taking time to evaluate our service here in general and to ask the Lord if He wanted us to continue on serving Him in the same way and in the same place. This is a practice that is good to follow, especially for those of us serving in ministry. It is always good to seek the Lord and simply ask, “Is there anything that I am doing that needs to change, or should I keep doing the same things?” Through this evaluation we began to feel very strongly about moving back into direct pastoral ministry within the context of the local church once again.
As you know the vast majority of our time in Greece has been spent working in para-church ministry among refugees from the Muslim world and helping to equip local migrant pastors for ministry. We’ve been very blessed by these experiences and know that it has been a fruitful time for us. Nevertheless, our hearts never changed toward church planting and pastoral service in each country we’ve served in. Because of this we always felt that our work among refugees would be for a limited season and in recent months, the Lord began to remind us of this reality again.
WHAT SPARKED ENGLAND? Before the recent trip to Exeter, England that Suzie and I just took, we spent a week there in the summer of 2013. Our reason for going then was to just visit with our friends, Bob Claycamp (Pastor of CC Exeter & Wotter) and his wife Jeanne before traveling to the mission’s conference in Austria together. During our visit we couldn’t help but see that God was moving in their city and specifically in the southwest as a whole. Calvary Chapel itself was making an impact and God was drawing people who were hungry for the Word. While there, Bob Claycamp and I began to talk about the possibility of us coming to serve in the south west of England with them in light of the need and the things we’d been considering regarding our ministry. So from that point we began to pray about it in hope of discerning God’s will.
A TIMELY WORD: In January of 2014 we attended the Calvary Chapel Mission’s Conference in Murrieta, California while on furlough. During one of the afterglow times we received a very direct word from the Lord while specifically asking Him if it was time for us to move on from Greece. As we were praying those exact words, someone stood and shared a word of prophecy and said, “There is someone here right now asking the Lord if they should leave the country they are serving in but the Lord is telling you to give it one more year. If you do so you will begin to see fruit and He will show you where to go from there.” We took this to heart, returned to Greece and continued to serve, seek the Lord’s direction and wait.
A PRAYER BREAK: After Suzie’s back surgery in September a couple pastor friends who knew what we’d been praying about encouraged us to take some time outside of Greece and the environment we were serving in to seek the Lord’s direction. We saw the wisdom in this and felt England was a perfect place to do so, as we had already been discussing taking a trip for a few weeks to help and to explore the ministry there anyway. So in November we went to test the waters there while praying about some other options that we’d also been considering, staying in Greece being one of them. While there we attended a pastor’s prayer time in York, shared God’s word at Calvary Exeter and Wotter, spent time getting to know the people in the churches a bit, and had a lot of time to just sit and pray. This time turned out to be exceptionally fruitful as day by day God began to show us the spiritual climate of the land (specifically in the southwest part of the country) its need for churches, pastors, ministry training and the gospel in general. Throughout our short three-week stay our hearts began to knit to the people of Exeter and Wotter and to all the possibilities that lay beyond. Through this the answer became very apparent that after 4 years of service in Greece, the Lord was closing this chapter of our lives and opening a new one in England.
A WORD OF CONFIRMATION: One of the things we asked the Lord to do was to give us another prophetic word through someone in England who was unaware of the things we’d been considering and praying about. It’s a big request but we have a BIG God who faithfully answered our prayer. After one of the mid-week Bible studies we attended, a lady from the church walked up to us and shared a scripture that she believed the Lord gave her for us three days before. Until then she had been too shy to share it but at that moment felt so compelled to do so that she could no longer wait. The scripture was Song of Solomon 2:10-13 “ My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!”
In short she said that the Lord wanted to encourage us by saying that the winter season we’d been going through was coming to an end and that He was going to bring us into a new season of fruitfulness. Suzie and I were left speechless by this and knew that God had answered our prayers. We also saw how it also fit into the word we received at the conference in Murrieta earlier in the year. To us after praying about it more we felt like this was a clear word to us that we were leaving Greece and that England was our new mission field.
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING? As many of you know Bob Claycamp has been pastoring the Calvary in Exeter for about two years now. But about a year or so ago a group that had been traveling for an hour twice per week from the city of Plymouth asked if they could start a home Bible study closer to home on Sunday nights. Within a short time the home Bible study turned into a full blown church (Wotter Community Church) and was even given their own building to use full time in the small village of Wotter, a suburb of Plymouth. Currently the church is not only made up of the original group from Plymouth but also several families from the neighboring villages that surround Wotter. For the last year Bob has been pastoring both churches and has been making the hour plus drive two or three times per week. Needless to say the pace that one must keep in order to pastor two churches cannot be kept indefinitely. The church in Wotter has also reached the point of needing its own pastor. This reality has become apparent to Bob, and several of those in the church, including its leadership. This need became obvious to us during our recent trip as well.
So with that, at the end of May, Suzie and I will move to the city of Plymouth in England and I will begin to transition into the pastorate of the church in Wotter over a three-month period of time. Our plan is to spend the summer settling in, build relationships with the people in the church, give them time to get to know us a bit more, I (Frank) will take on the bulk of the Bible teaching on Sundays, and then go through final appointment by the eldership as pastor by the end of summer. Our purpose for taking this path is to build a ministry based on relationship and trust with the people of the church by allowing them to be part of the transition.
In addition to this I will also be partnering with Bob to train leaders, set up potential new church plants in the region and plan outreaches for the southwest. Many of the Brits have shared with us that there is a lack of churches in the south west in general, empty church buildings, churches without pastors, and some that only meet one Sunday a month. We pray that God will use us, and the ministry of Calvary Chapel to help change this situation.
After praying on it, seeking counsel and talking it through with a few pastors both in Europe and in the States, we believe this is what the Lord is doing and have begun to take the steps of faith that are necessary to get us from Greece to England. We are excited about this new season of life and ministry and are greatly looking forward to what God has planned.
Suzie & I leave Greece in faith, trusting that God accomplished the specific things that He desired to do in us and through us while here. We also believe that the relationships we’ve gained and the ministry bridges we’ve seen built have created a wide and open door for future ministry for Calvary Chapel in Greece that we’ve already seen begin. We are confident of this new step and know in our hearts that we waited patiently and took adequate time seeking the Lord’s will through prayer and pastoral counsel before making this very important decision. We don’t always know all the whys and whats and even where but we do know that He is always so faithful to guide each of us and we truly know that His timing is perfect and in our case, it is absolutely perfect. We trust in Him to continue to guide us as we step out in faith.
THE NEXT TWO MONTHS: These next couple months we will be wrapping our lives up here in Greece, as we finish the publishing of ‘Why Grace Changes Everything’ into Greek, finish up teaching sessions with different pastors I am working with, selling our stuff, packing, getting a pet passport for our kitty (yes he’s going too) and saying our goodbyes.
STATESIDE MARCH 3-MAY 26TH: We recently bought plane tickets for a stateside visit from March 3 thru May 26. During this time we will be sorting out visas (if Suzie’s German citizenship hasn’t come thru yet), share about the new direction/vision with supporters, sharing at churches where God opens the door and Lord willing raise more support. Our current monthly support level is about $1000 below what we will need to live in the UK. We are trusting where God guides, He truly does provide and He will do above and beyond what we think or ask.
PUBLISHING OF, WHY GRACE CHANGES EVERYTHING: As you know we have been working with Logos Books, one of the largest Christian publishers in Greece to get the hard copy out. In our last meeting a month ago with Fotis Romeos the Greek pastor and director of the publishing company believes that the book will be a valuable contribution to Greek Christian literature. Something he and I were also discussing was the subject of grace and that it’s something that is not very well understood here and is a need for Greeks to have a better understanding of. With the publishing, Logos will be doing a full-blown promotion of the book, distribute it locally through their bookstore and make it available to all of Greece and to Greek speaking people worldwide through their online bookstore. Our goal is to complete this project by late February. Please keep praying for this! If you would like to support this project financially please contact me (Frank) at email@example.com
Thank you all for taking the time to read and pray. It is our desire that you are blessed by the news we just shared, that it leaves you trusting that we are always seeking the Lord’s will in all we do, and that we would continue to have your support and prayer in our work for the Kingdom overseas.
PRAYER & SUPPORT INFORMATION
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 by following the link.
The greatest way that you can get behind our ministry is to join in the battle through prayer. Please visit our “Partner thru Prayer” page to read our current prayer requests and praise reports.
Thank you for standing in the gap with us!
Frank & Suzie
P.S. Enjoy the slideshow below 🙂