Three weeks, 5000 miles (8000km). I had a very fulfilling 2 weeks in Montenegro and Serbia before visiting new ground in Romania and Moldova. It’s always great to see Central and Eastern Europe. I traveled with my family, so it was much cheaper to drive than to fly and much more interesting.
In Montenegro and Serbia, I visited family, friends and ministry partners. It was great to encourage and be encouraged by our Christian family there.
In Montenegro, we stayed with a family, Jesse and Andrea McCourtney + three kids, who are Operation Mobilization missionaries working with Violeta and the youth group. They are starting their third year in Montenegro. Since they will be working closely with Violeta it was good for me to get to know them better and talk about future plans for the ministry.
I had several meetings with Vladimir and Marijana Cizmanski. I highly value their friendship and honor their selfless service. I also spoke at the Brethren Assembly on Podgorica, Montenegro (you can hear my sermon here). I really love that congregation. I met with Violeta, planning for next summer and talking about the youth ministry.
I also met with some Cru (Campus Crusade) missionaries and was able to encourage them. It’s nice to be able to share from my past experience and help younger people who are starting a similar path.
It was good to spend time with Sinisa Nadazhdin, the director of the Roma ministry. Right now we’re working on a project to help local Roma sell jewelry in the States. I’m coordinating with a team in the States who will help sell, and a friend of mine has experience selling online so he’s serving as a consultant.
It has been great to see the Roma youth and the Montenegrin youth meeting together on a regular basis. God is building unity between those two very different groups.
While Stoneworks doesn’t have any projects in Serbia, I’ve made a good connection with some believers there. Jan and Nada Dudas and their family have become good friends, and I spoke at a small group meeting, encouraging them toward unity and mutual submission.
From Serbia, we passed through Romania on our way to Moldova, we unexpectedly made great connections in Sighișoara, Romania right in the heart of Transylvania. We were welcomed warmly by local believers and learned a bit about what God is doing in that area. I hope to visit again (and it was fun driving through the Carpathian Mountains).
Early this year I received an email from a Norwegian believer I met a few years ago. He’s been helping the Urasinovs, and as he was praying for them my name came into his mind. So, he felt that perhaps the Lord wanted me to be involved in some way. I immediately started communicating with the Urasinovs. My purpose in the visit was to build relationship and discern if the Lord wants Stoneworks to partner with them.
Victor and Victoria are foster/adoptive parents to 8 children and have two biological children. Victor was a drug addict who came to the Lord several years ago. They’ve now opened their home to abandoned children. Two children are currently at university and one was out of the house when I took the picture at right. Victor is the pastor of a Full Gospel church (about 50 members).
They are a bit isolated. They partner with the Norwegians, who visit less than once a year. They’ve never hosted a mission team or received help from the States. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and it quite an experience to visit there. Much of the population is either quite old or young; many adults have left to find work in other countries (never to return), so many children are living with grandparents and then orphaned when the grandparents die. The State has little interest in helping orphans, so there is a great need for believers to serve.
We really like the Urasinov family and had a good visit, though it was too short. We look forward to seeing if/how the Lord opens doors for us to pursue partnership with them.
Please contact me if any of this touches your heart. Perhaps the Lord has something new planned for us.