Dear Prayer Partners,
Several months ago we shared the news about what we believed to be a major change in direction regarding the country of our service. But as you know we soon found ourselves running into some set backs that caused us to reevaluate and continue seeking the Lord’s will in order to be sure that we were going in the right direction. Since then we’ve been doing our best to update you on our efforts to discern God’s plan for us regarding our lives and ministry.
DECISION AND FUTURE PLANS…
While we were in the States from March through May we spent ample time in prayer and seeking counsel from the pastors who speak truth into our lives and help to guide us. As a result, it was not too long after we returned to Greece in early June that we felt that we had reached a point of decision based on what God was showing us and on the guidance of these godly men. So how has God led us after months of toil in prayer? The answer to this question is the simplest one that was right under our noses the whole time… stay in Greece, recognize what God has already done and is doing, return to the original vision, and press on until the Lord says stop. The various scriptures, visions and prophetic words specifically given to us from fellow believers, pastors and missionaries, over the course of the last year all point to promises from God regarding what He wants to do, but not direction to go elsewhere to do it. We are simply waiting for Him to unfold these promises to us and for us and at the time, place and manner of His choosing.
After our recent experience the question might come to mind, “How can you be sure this is what God wants you to do?” Well in short, we can’t. It is a step of faith based on how we are discerning God’s will through His word, circumstance, the need to persevere and a direct answer to prayer. Every step of faith involves risk and our step of faith to stay in Greece is no different. Nevertheless we are as confident as we can reasonably be and are acting accordingly and trusting the Lord to guide us as we go.
Over a year ago Suzie and I began to ask the Lord to make a legal way for us to continue residing in Greece or we would have to leave. It was soon after that we discovered the possibility of her German citizenship through her maternal grandfather and began the process in February 2014. In March Suzie was recognized as a German by their government a year after we submitted her paperwork. Although this citizenship would allow us to live in any EU country with little effort, we see it as the direct answer to our prayers regarding a way to continue on in Greece.
So what is our plan now? Since making the decision to stay put, our hearts and vision for Greece have been revived and renewed. To summarize it, our ministry vision is three-fold: Church Planting, Training & Equipping Foreign Church Leadership, and Serving the Refugee Community.
CHURCH PLANTING: Our long-term goal is to plant a Calvary Chapel in our city that is Christ centered, Bible teaching, multi-ethnic, and representative of His love through service in our fellowship and community. Ultimately it is our heart to see this church established as a model for future church plants in Greece. To do this we are currently planning a few things. The first is to move to the neighborhood in town where we plan to do the bulk of our church planting work. The second is to begin building relationships through regular interaction with people in that area. The third is to begin specific intentional outreach efforts that will build bridges and open the door for the gospel. As most people know Suzie and I love to cook and enjoy food. Food is a central part of Greek culture and lends to a natural setting to get to know people. In light of this we are planning to begin a cooking club that will teach Greeks how to cook foreign dishes. These meetings will be used to build relationships, share the gospel and build up to a larger outreach later in 2016. In addition to these two specific things we are currently working with several Calvary Chapel churches and Bible colleges in Europe who are interested in bringing out short-term outreach teams next year. Over the last few months we’ve been approached by different Calvary Chapel ministries in Europe about getting involved in the work in Greece. Some of the more developed churches and Bible colleges have expressed interest in sending teams to support us in what we are doing here. Needless to say this has been encouraging. Knowing that Calvary Chapel has become very fruitful and strong in Europe, has sparked me to pray for Calvaries in Europe to become more involved in Greece and it’s neat to see it begin to happen. It will be a true joy to see CC’s that were planted throughout Europe, participate in furthering the work here in Greece, now that they are in the position to do so after many years. Finally, we are planning to begin a new home Bible study within the next six to twelve months.
EQUIPPING FOREIGN CHURCH LEADERSHIP: There are at least seventy foreign (non-Greek) churches in Athens from a variety of countries, especially those of the third world. Many of the men leading these churches have had little or no formal training in pastoral ministry, Bible study or teaching. It is our hearts to help bring greater strength and health to these churches by helping to equip and train their pastors and leaders to teach the Bible and faithfully serve their fellowships. As a Calvary Chapel pastor I have a strong spiritual heritage from our movement that I am compelled to share with others in order to bless them. Our hearts are not to “Calvaryise” them but to introduce them to the fruitfulness and beauty of teaching through God’s word and the importance of knowing what a shepherd’s responsibility is. Over the last couple of years I have had the privilege of doing this very thing, have the opportunity to continue and would love to continue doing so.
SERVING THE REFUGEE COMMUNITY: As you may have noticed from the evening news there is a growing refugee situation in Europe. This situation isn’t new to Greece, as it has existed here for several years now. However the volume of migrants entering the country has increased innumerably. Over the last three years Suzie and I have been heavily involved with one of the refugee centers in town in efforts to minister to these people from the Muslim world in order to share the love of Christ and the hope of the gospel with them. With that we plan to continue ministering among this people group but in some slightly different ways. In October we will be helping to run a medical outreach in partnership with City Medical Care, a developing Christian medical ministry ran by our friends Arno & Sahar, and with two Calvary Chapels in Europe. This outreach will be the first of many to be regularly held throughout the year. Our work with the refugee center will also continue but in different ways that we are still working through.
MISSION STATEMENT: With the wide variety of cultures that live in this small nation and city our mission statement is one that reflects our desire to minister to as many of them as the Lord makes possible. “Our ministry exists to reach and disciple the nations in the nation of Greece.” Our key verse of service is Colossians 1:28 where Paul writes, “Him we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
THINGS AROUND THE CORNER…
MEDICAL OUTREACH OCTOBER 5-9: Things are in motion for this outreach and the planning is nearly done. Teams from CC Kaiserslautern, Germany and CC Treviso, Italy will be staffing the outreach for the most part. In total there will be about 12 people coming for this. CCK is providing the doctor, nurse and general helpers and CCT is providing children’s ministry workers and supplies. Part of the CCK team will also be volunteering at Helping Hands refugee center for their regular programs. The vast majority of those attending will be Muslims from Afghanistan and Iran. Looking forward to what God will do as we reach out with simple but necessary medical care.
GREECE RESIDENCY HOOPS: Over the last month and a half we have been in and out of various Greek and German government offices in effort to apply for our residency here. To make a long story short we have found out due to certain circumstances that apply to our specific situation that we will need to go to Germany to get residency first before applying in Greece. Again the details are far too complicated to explain but this process is still much easier than having to apply for visas to Greece as Americans. We are still researching the details as how much time to give ourselves in Germany and will share with you once we know. For now we are planning to go there at the end of October/early November and stay from two to six weeks. NOTE: Just to be absolutely clear we are NOT planning to move to Germany!! This is just a formality that we have to go through for me, Frank, to keep legal here. Both governments will be happy by us doing it this way and it will all be legal!
GREEK LESSONS: With our decision to stay in Greece we have decided to continue on in studies in a more aggressive manner. We enrolled in a local language school that teaches Greek to foreigners and had originally planned to begin lessons in October. However in light of our need to go to Germany for a couple weeks and other things on top of this we have made plans to begin in January of next year instead, when their next semester begins. We visited the school and met the director a few weeks ago and are very comfortable with them. We look forward to these classes and the teacher’s teaching style that will further our Greek skills.
CAR: Several people have recently blessed us with substantial donations specifically earmarked for a new (used) car. This couldn’t have come at a better time as the old green machine (18 years) is getting far too old and worn to continue sinking money into it’s repairs and maintenance. Recently the starter went out after we sunk 230€ into it for brakes, oil and suspension. Also our muffler keeps falling off. If this isn’t a sign we need a new car, we don’t know what would be. With the money we currently have we could go out and buy something that is newer than what we currently have but instead we are being patient to see if we can gather a bit more in order to invest into something much newer that will last for years. We desire to be good stewards with what God has given us and will wait to see if God adds to the funds we’ve accumulated thus far. We hope to make a purchase within the next month or so depending on what we find and whether or not we can get our car at least running again for a short time. We have to say we are very blown away by the generosity of those who’ve donated and how those involved have been so helpful to even spread the word of our need. God’s people are awesome!
RECENT TRIP HIGHLIGHTS…
We’d like to end on a fun note. We had a blessed time at the European Missions Conference in Austria in August. We were able to take our friends Arno & Sahar and their three little girls. We traveled by boat via Italy, drove together first to Padova where we visited Jim & Margie Stewart, attended their church the following day and then headed out from there to the conference. The thing we prayed most for was that God would bless Arno & Sahar with a refreshing time, and He did! Their daughters were extremely excited every day to go back to the VBS that the CC Costa Mesa team put on for the kids. They were introduced to many of our friends and fellow CC missionaries and pastors working in Europe and made many friends of their own. We were very blessed to see this happen!! We also had a great time ourselves, enjoyed rich teaching and lots and lots of fellowship with people we can only see once or twice per year. After the conference Arno & Sahar and we headed back to Italy for a few days of down time and reflection as well as visiting CC Treviso on the way out.
We want to thank you all for praying with us over these challenging months of discerning God’s will and are blessed that you have stood by us and encouraged us along the way!!
OUR FRIEND SAHAR: Please pray for our friend. While we were all in Italy she swallowed a peace of glass in the food she was eating in a restaurant. When it passed after returning to Greece she was admitted to the hospital as it caused cuts and internal bleeding. She is out now but on iron therapy due to her heavy blood loss and on antibiotics for the next two weeks. Please pray for swift healing and for the enemy not to steal the joy she had coming back from our time away and at the conference.
GREECE: Upcoming snap election in light of the prime minister’s resignation. A new government has to be elected so please pray for people to vote in a way that will genuinely help the country.
MIGRATION SITUATION: Pray for Europe to come together to treat the tens of thousands of refugees coming here to escape war and violence with fairness and dignity, pray for the church to embrace this opportunity to reach normally unreachable people with the love of Christ.
HEALTH: We have both been sick for over two weeks now with what we think is an upper respiratory infection. Please pray for swift recovery, as it has been very debilitating. Also for Suzie’s back as she has had a weird knot in her neck and shoulders for over two weeks now. Not sure what it is but need prayer.
PASSPORT/RESIDENCY PROCESS: For Suzie’s long awaited permanent passport in her married name to arrive from Germany, for Frank’s residency process to go through quickly without further delay, for our travels to Germany at the end of October to work through this process so he can then go back to Greece to apply for residency. If you are confused by this prayer request, please read update.
MEDICAL OUTREACH OCTOBER 5-9: For God to prepare the teams from CC Kaiserslautern, Germany & CC Treviso, Italy, for all final details to be worked through, for the hearts of the people receiving care to see the love and grace of Christ through these acts of mercy!
FUTURE OUTREACH PLANNING: For God to guide Frank as he plans for various future outreaches here in Athens, both those we will do on our own and those we will do with the help of short-term teams from several different Calvary churches and Bible colleges from Europe.
TRAINING/EQUIPPING MINISTRY: For God to bring faithful men hungry to learn and willing to make the effort and commitment necessary for training.
CAR: For God to bring the right new car to us at the right time for the right price, discernment to see through any dishonesty of any sellers and that our current car would keep running until then. Pray for it to actually work again as it currently took a dive.
PRAISE: For a fruitful conference and blessed time with Arno & Sahar and for God speaking clearly to us at the conference!
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 again for taking the time to read and for standing in the gap with us!! Below is a short slide show with pics from our conference in Austria with fellow CC workers in Europe.
Frank & Suzie