As we mentioned in our previous update we have some important news to share with you in this newsletter. We apologize for its length but ask that you bear with us as it is important for us to properly explain things. Before that however, we’d like to give a brief update on what has happened since our last newsletter:
IN THE LAST MONTH…
GUESTS: In the last month we had a couple guests drop in. At about the same time we had our friend Patrick Higgins (pastor of City Light Church) here from Bratislava, Slovakia. And also we had our friend Tiffany McCarrick from a CC in New Jersey coming to hang out and check out the work. It was good to catch up with both of them and have Patrick share the word at our church on Sunday while he was here.
CCBC ‘S LAST MONTH: After wrapping up my class in late September, the month of October and the beginning of November was simply spending time with them in various ways, whether it was one on one or as a group.
In the middle of October we sent a small team of six students to the island of Crete, Greece to minister with our friends and fellow CC missionaries, Sean & Jackie Colman who are currently planting a church on Crete. It was a time that the students got to share Christ on the university campus, hand out tracs and invitations to the church and minister to those that attend the CC Church plant in the town of Rethymno. We did a debrief when they returned and we were not only blessed that God used them, but that they were shining examples to the church on Crete and were a great representation of CCBC students.
Towards the end of their time we enjoyed the end of the semester banquet, which we held at our friends Arno & Sahar’s Persian restaurant. Our last night with the students we took them to Mars Hill and worshipped the Lord under the stars and then came back to our house for a time of reflection on all God did in them during this semester; needless to say it’s been a very sweet time. We are grateful God gave us this opportunity to pour into this wonderful bunch of young people.
SINCE LAST YEAR: Many of you know that last year we had been praying about and considering leaving Greece to serve in England. In part this was due to our immigration status and need for visas, which God obviously provided through Suzie’s German citizenship but at the time it was a real issue. So in January 2015 we stepped out in faith and sent out a newsletter notifying you all of our plans to go to England. At that point we had been sensing that God was going to make some significant changes in our lives and ministry and were following what we believed to be the path that He was placing us on. Obviously you know the rest, as we began to step out, God began to shut the door and made it clear to us that He wasn’t done with us in Greece yet. In hindsight we can now see that He had more for us to do, more than we could have ever imagined!
As you know we’ve been in the midst of a very busy and fruitful season of ministry since about this time last year. God has been doing some amazing things among the refugees that we’ve been ministering to. As a result of the outreach ministry to Iranian refugees that God led us to begin, a new church was birthed that I am now co-pastoring. Suzie and I have been blessed beyond words to be part of this ministry and church and never dreamed of reaching Muslims with the gospel. Moreover, in all my years of overseas service I have never seen such an eager openness to the gospel. This year alone, we’ve baptized at lest 60 new believers who left Islam to become followers of Jesus. It has simply been amazing!
When we made the decision to stay in Greece a little over a year ago, we did so believing that God was keeping us here for a specific reason. We can clearly see now that getting the Iranian church off the ground was it. The church is growing into a functional and healthy body of believers and we are blessed to see how far God has taken it. However having explained all that, we feel this is as far as God wants Suzie and I to go with this ministry and believe that our time in Greece is now coming to an end. On the one hand this might seem like a strange thing considering that we’re in the midst of a notable move of the Spirit, yet through this process the scripture that God has continued bringing to mind is the story of Philip being called out of a revival in Samaria in Acts 8. We believe this is what is happening with us and will attempt to give you an explanation about what our future plans are and how we have come to this decision.
WHERE & WHAT’S NEXT
PLANTING A NEW CHURCH: The next stop on our missionary journey is Germany in the area around the town of Kandern. Kandern is located in the Black Forest, Germany’s southwestern region and is extremely close to the borders of France and Switzerland. Our vision is to plant a Calvary Chapel that effectively ministers to both German and English speakers. There is a real need for such a church in that region as we will explain next.
WHY WE’RE DOING IT: Two years ago our German friend Frank Moll asked us to consider and pray about coming to plant a church there but at the time we didn’t believe the Lord was leading in that direction yet. However, due to a series of events in recent months the idea of working together was rekindled leading us to talk and pray about it. Frank Moll is the German CEO of a missions organization called Teach Beyond (owner of the Black Forest Academy) that is headquartered in Kandern. Soon after beginning that job two years back, people in the area (both German and North American) began asking him to start a Calvary Chapel, knowing that he had a CC background (For the last eight years up until recently Frank served as the assistant pastor in the only CC in Switzerland, about two hours from Kandern). The reason that Frank asked us is because he does not feel called to be a lead pastor, nor does he have the time to plant or pastor a church. He knows Suzie and I fairly well and knows where I believe my gifts and calling in ministry are.
The demographic dynamics in Kandern are unique as it is the home to the Black Forest Academy, a boarding school for missionary kids. Several missions organizations also have established their European headquarters there which has created a heavy presence of North Americans. This combination of North Americans and local Germans has created a unique need for a bi-lingual church that is able to minister to both cultures. It is our vision to fulfill that need. There is also a refugee camp in Kandern so our experience with refugees will come into play as we will continue to reach out to them as a ministry of our church.
Because the Black Forest Academy is also located in Kandern, it is our hearts for the church to minister to the high school students, many of whom are working through their future decisions for life. These kids are all English speakers but from various parts of the world and mostly the children of missionaries. Our hope is to have the opportunity to pour into them and literally impact the places they are from or will go, by simply discipling them and guiding them in life.
HOW WE CAME TO THE DECISION TO RELOCATE: When we started the current Iranian ministry and church, Suzie and I had the feeling that it was only to help get it off the ground and then fully pass it on to Arno my co-pastor. As we’ve been talking it over, Arno has expressed his willingness to take full lead, in light of our leaving, as he and his wife feel specifically called to work with Farsi speaking refugees (his wife is a former Iranian muslim). The church has been getting established quite quickly, and is in the position now that the refugee men are getting asylum in Greece, some are getting jobs and becoming more settled and beginning to step up to serve and near ready to take on some basic roles of leadership. At this point, there is really no more need for a co-pastor set up and Arno is willing and able to pastor on his own.
CONFIRMATIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: When Kandern came back to our attention we contacted Frank Moll and discovered that he had been praying for us to come since asking us two years ago. This was just the beginning of countless confirmations and God bringing people to begin encouraging us in this new work.
One of those encouragements was a conversation with a senior pastor from the States who knows Germany well and us to a degree. As I shared what we felt God was doing he felt that a church of this type would be perfect for that area and sees it as a good fit for Suzie and I.
Specific confirmations that we have received from the Lord about this decision have been substantial and have been both natural and supernatural. As we began to share some of the different confirmations God showed us with some of our fellow missionaries, senior pastors in the States and a handful of CC pastors in Europe, all bore witness and could see the need for a Calvary Chapel in that region.
Another encouragement came from the pastor of the international church in the Kandern area that is part of the Black Forest Academy. When hearing the news of us planting a bi-lingual church he was actually jubilant and also stated that it was a need and looks forward to us coming soon. Needless to say this was a welcome response and we look forward to having good relationships with the pastors in that area.
Lastly we can NOT overlook Suzie’s German citizenship that was given to her with little effort (so to speak). This was an obvious gift from the Lord and was given to us in His perfect timing.
For the sake of brevity we won’t share any more details of the confirmations God has given us but would be happy to fill you in privately, so feel free to ask.
WRAPPING UP MINISTRY IN ATHENS: Our hearts are to spend our remaining time here primarily training those Arno and I have been discipling in order to prepare them to take the lead in this work in different areas. I plan to completely phase out of my lead and teaching role by the end of this year while helping out as needed. At this point our target date is sometime during the first quarter of 2017 but we are still working through the practicalities of the move and transition.
A SHORT TRIP TO GERMANY: We will be visiting Germany via Italy from November 21 through December 12 to begin looking for housing, meet and connect with various pastors and pray together with our future co-laborers. We hope to have a clearer idea of when the move will exactly take place after this trip.
It’s hard to leave this ministry that God has grown quickly and to leave our church family we have grown so close to and whom we love dearly, but we also know what God is calling us to in Germany and look forward, with anticipation to what God will do in this next season of ministry. Sharing this news a couple months back with Arno and Sahar was well received and they also bore witness but we all knew sharing it with the church would be more difficult, and it was. Like any move a pastor makes in a church it affects people differently. We know there was much sadness but I think they plainly see it was the Lord and they know how much we love them. We have to say it is better that people don’t want to see you leave than them chasing you out of town with torches and pitchforks! So we see this, as a blessed thing to be loved so much by this wonderful group that we call our family.
We will never stop loving or being apart of this ministry here in Athens, whether we are sending teams or just visiting. We leave a peace of our heart here and trust we will always have an open door to minister from afar through our prayers, love and support.
Lastly, we always want to say thanks, to all of you, for standing in the gap with us as you so faithfully do. We pray that you continue on co-laboring with us in prayer and support as we step into this new country of service and new season of ministry. Your prayer and support are greatly needed. Financially we are facing some substantial needs and ask that you pray along with us for God to provide. Spiritually we know that we are headed into another war zone, as the enemy is never pleased with any new work of God so pray for favor, protection and discernment as we make many important decisions in the near future.
IMPORTANT SUPPORT INFO:
We are currently working on a new avenue through which our supporters can give. Until it is set up we will temporarily be receiving our support through Newport Coast Lighthouse, one of our supporting churches. If you have recently sent in a support check or money in any way to our regular giving, that is fine. However effective immediately please begin sending any one-time gifts or monthly gifts to the following information on our giving page of our newsletter, just follow the red link: GIVING FINANCIALLY
Again this is only temporary until we get our support changes complete. We will give you the new information some time next year.
POINTS OF PRAISE & THANKS…
- Praising Him for the opportunity to minister to the CCBC Bible College students and for the temporary teaching site here in Athens these last couple months.
- Thankful for how the Lord blessed the outreach the students did on the island of Crete, Greece with CC missionaries, Sean & Jackie Colman, as well as how they blessed us here in Athens helping out at our Persian church.
- Thankful for God’s blessing on this church He planted, for the fruitfulness of our ministry and for our faithful co-laborers, Arno & Sahar, whom we’ve had the privilege to serve with here in Athens.
- Praising God how he is taking care of Suzie’s health needs, is sustaining her and is bringing relief to her body.
- Thankful how the Lord has provided for every need we have had both physically and spiritually.
- Praise Jesus for how He leads and directs us and for His faithfulness to answer in His timing!
CC CHURCH PLANT CRETE, GREECE: For God to bless Sean & Jackie Colman and their family as they continue to trudge away at this church. God is indeed blessing in many ways and we want to stand with them in support for a CC to be planted on Crete and in Greece.
THE CHURCH IN ATHENS: For God to bless the church that He planted here in Athens and to continue to bless it in every way as Frank steps back from co-pastoring it and Arno fully takes it at the end of the year, that God would anoint and bless him to teach His word faithfully and disciple those that desire it, for the men that are being raised up in leadership to be men of integrity and to lift Arno’s hands as they serve the church and each other.
TRANSITION: Prayers for a smooth transition from Greece to Germany in the coming months and for God to make His timing perfect as always.
CHURCH PLANT IN GERMANY: Asking God for His favor and that He would go before us and begin to prepare the way and bless this new work in the Kandern,Lorrach area. That God would guide, give discernment and unify our hearts even more with our co-laborers, Frank & Melanie Moll. Also that God would bless others that help and those that attend this church. And lastly we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us all, this new work and the people of Germany.
NEW LANGUAGE STUDIES: Please pray as it’s time to upload yet another language to our brains and don’t we wish it was that easy!! The older we get the more stretching and challenging this becomes but with God’s grace we will learn German quickly. We have already begun basic lessons.
SCOUTING TRIP TO GERMANY: Please pray for this important trip from November 12-December 21. We will begin looking for an apartment (please pray for the right place), meet with pastors in the area and a few CC pastors in some of the other cities as well as spend adequate time praying with Frank & Melanie and for the work God is already doing in the Kandern area.
WISDOM FOR THE MOVE: That God would show us if we should sell our furniture or ship it as well as for the right time to move in the beginning of next year. We are praying about moving some time in mid-January or mid February but it all is contingent on God providing a place to live, so we are still praying on this and for God’s timing. Also wisdom on whether we should junk our car here in Athens or fix it up a bit and take it to Germany, use it until God provides for a newer car there and then junk it.
OVER-ALL PROVISION: Prayers are coveted that God would provide for all of our needs for this move and in general. It will cost a lot to ship our furniture; even if we sell our stuff it will be costly because we obviously have to buy new stuff when we get there, so no matter what, it costs! Also in general for our finances to increase monthly as it will be a higher cost of living in Germany and specifically in the Kandern area. God is faithful, that is what we are leaning upon and thankful He always provides even when we have faith as a mustard seed.
Thank you all for standing in the gap with us!
Frank & Suzie