Dear Prayer Partners,
We hope this update finds you well and are blessed to share about the recent things we’ve seen the Lord do since last we wrote:
A MONTH IN REVIEW
BIBLE COLLEGE OUTREACH TEAM: Shortly after our last update an outreach team from the CC Bible College in York England came to serve with us in Athens, from November 8-14. The team of five made up of students of various ages, from a wide variety of backgrounds, three different countries and different American states. Our primary focus that week was to assist the Greek staff of a nearby makeshift refugee camp that at the time was housing refugees mostly from Afghanistan. This team was a great encouragement and blessing to us as they served faithfully in whatever capacity was asked of them. Most of our work that week was simple manual labor that included sorting clothing donations, serving meals, cleaning sanitary facilities and the like. The amazing thing that we witnessed throughout the week was the open door that we had to get to know the Greek government employees that were overseeing the camp. At the end of the week we had more opportunity to get to know these men and women and build relationships with them than we did with the actual refugees housed in the camp. We are hoping to continue fostering these relationships over time and to continue being a support to these overworked, and underpaid government workers. We know they appreciate it so we will do so as long as the door is open for the glory of Christ! In addition to the work at the camp the team spent time praying with us over the future church plant.
REFUGEE SITUATION: The refugee situation in Greece has been rapidly changing, often day-by-day. Recently word got out that countries like Germany and Austria were generally only accepting refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, though mostly Syria. All the rest would be swiftly deported back to their home countries. In addition to this change in policy the border between Greece and Macedonia were closed in order to stop the flow. Doing this essentially shut down the path on which the refugees have been freely traveling over the last several months in order to reach northwestern Europe where they are planning to apply for asylum. As a result of this change those traveling have either willfully returned to Athens or have been forcibly sent back here by the thousands. Those returning our way are from a wide variety of Muslim nations from the Middle East and Africa, however the majority of them do not fit into the true definition of refugees, as they are not fleeing war or persecution. The overwhelming numbers and mix of opposing cultures has created an extremely tense and stressful situation for the Greek authorities. The government permanently shut down the camp we frequently work at after a violent riot by the Moroccan residents. Several of the residents were arrested and the remaining ones were shipped to the other remaining camp in town. In the near future all camps in Athens will be shut down and their residents will be relocated to a new permanent camp at a nearby military instillation that will be able to house up to 4000 people. Our prayer is that the Christian community in Athens will continue to have the same open door to serve at the new facility but we are uncertain about what will happen at this time.
MOVING APARTMENTS: In our last update we mentioned our plan to move into a new apartment in a different part of town. The move went smoothly and we have been happily living here since December 1. We love both the new apartment and the new part of the city that we now call home. As we become more and more integrated into our new community we pray for open doors for the gospel among those who live in this and the adjacent areas. We’ve already started to get to know the people who work in nearby shops and cafes. It is also our prayer that God would use our home for His glory and for effective ministry.
GREECE RESIDENCY: The biggest news to share this time around is that I (Frank) received my residence permit for Greece just a few days ago. One amazing fact about this news is that the process literally took only a week, once my immigration attorney submitted my application. Normally the process takes at least a month if not longer. This is a major answer to prayer that you all know we’ve been asking prayer over for quite some time now. Because my permit is based on being a family member of an E.U citizen it is good for five years before its first renewal, after which I will receive a ten-year permit. Thank you all for laboring so long with us through this process. This permit is an essential need. Without it we would have no way of continuing to live legally in Greece and would have been forced to leave. We would have accepted either outcome as God’s will for us. We trust that God is able to both open and close the doors and we would never want to force open a door that has obviously been shut by our unstoppable God.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
NEW BIBLE STUDY PLAN: Now that the two foundational bricks of our legal residency and home have been put into place we feel free to begin moving forward in our church planting work. Our plan for this is simple… assemble a small core group of those who are likeminded with us, begin a small home Bible study with this group through which we can communicate the vision to them, and invite non-believers with whom we and those attending are building relationships with. Despite the simplicity of this approach we understand that it will only come to fruition through prayer and God’s favor. We know that it could be a long and hard road ahead but are trusting in the Lord to establish His will.
BUILDING BRIDGES: Shortly after the New Year we hope to kick off one of our main efforts of outreach, …International Cooking Club. We are still working out the details but in short we are planning to hold meetings twice per month and introduce how to cook a different foreign dish each time. We are considering advertising through some of the local language schools as many of those who attend will have enough English comprehension to understand the directions we will give. As mentioned before, food is a central part of Greek culture and a hobby for Suzie and I. Teaching others to cook will lend to natural opportunities to build relationships and ultimately share the gospel as they get to know who we are. We are also continuing to work on bringing teams from various Calvary Chapels and CC Bible Colleges to aid us in our outreach efforts. CCBC York is considering sending another team in the spring, and there are two Calvary pastors who are praying over vision trips for early next year. Together we are praying along with them all to see how God leads.
EUROPEAN PASTORS/LEADERS CONFERENCE –JANUARY 25-29: In January I will be attending the annual winter pastors conference hosted at the Castle in Austria. Arno will be joining me again this year. This year we will be flying to Bratislava, Slovakia and will have the chance to visit City Light, the Calvary Chapel pastored by my friend Patrick Higgins. I will be teaching at their Sunday service that week. I am looking forward to a fruitful week of connecting with friends and colleagues serving in Europe, much needed biblical encouragement and opportunities to pray and seek the Lord with likeminded men.
THANKFUL FOR SENDERS
As we are coming to the end of one year and stepping into the beginning of another, Suzie and I would like to thank you for your support this year both financially and through prayer. The monthly financial gifts that we receive from each of you throughout the year allow us to continue doing the work that God has called us to so your participation in our ministry through your giving is just as if you were here doing the work yourselves. Although we are all called to give of our resources to the Lord within the context of our local churches, we know that God also calls individuals to get behind those whom He has sent to serve on the field. We trust that God will continually guide you in this regard and look forward to your prayers and financial partnership in 2016!
Throughout 2015 we have seen God open many doors we did not expect and close some that we did not expect, He’s answered prayers that have boosted our faith, we’ve had our hearts dashed a few times but it left us trusting Him even more, and lastly we have enjoyed watching God set the stage for things that He’s been showing us all year! Through it all we continue to trust Him with the outcome and are bold enough to say that we expect Him to do above and beyond what we think or ask in 2016. We pray the same for you, that God would answer prayers, heal you, use you and bless you richly during this Christmas season and new-year to come! We love each of you and thank you very much for standing with us!
“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.” – Proverbs 24:27
CCBC YORK TEAM: Blessed week serving alongside Greek government officials at a local refugee camp and the opportunities to be witnesses for Christ that doing so has brought.
GREECE RESIDENCY: A few days ago I was awarded with a five year residency permit. We praise the Lord for His faithful answer to prayer!
OUR NEW HOME: We thank the Lord for providing a new apartment in an area that we love and believe God will establish us in.
VISION & PLANNING: Clarity and guidance on some of the specific elements of our overall ministry vision that we are praying through right now. We have a few ideas in mind that we are in conversations about with other people and ministries that we can’t get into details about yet. Please just pray!
CHURCH PLANT BEGINNINGS: For God to assemble a small core group to begin the new Bible study with, for the group to catch the vision and for opportunities to invite non-believers to come and hear about the love of Christ.
EQUIPPING & TRAINING: That the Lord would continue to bless my private meetings with Shazeb (Peter the Pakistani pastor) and my visits to his Bible studies where I will be teaching from time to time. He is now allowing me to use his real name as he has recently received asylum in Greece.
REFUGEE SITUATION: Leading of the Spirit as we continue to serve the refugee community, open doors for ministry within the new but ever changing circumstances in Athens.
INTERNATIONAL COOKING CLUB: Clear plan on how to begin, where to host it, how to invite people in a safe manner, and for open doors to share the gospel with those we meet.
NEWER CAR: God to provide the rest of what we need and the right car for us. Still waiting on these two things.
GENERAL PROVISION: That God would provide for each of our personal and ministry financial needs each month.
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!!
Frank & Suzie
P.S. Below is a short slideshow with pics of the CCBC York outreach…