As I mentioned in the previous post, we have been back in Craiova for two months now and have been heavily involved in ministry ever since returning.
Today, I want to briefly list the different projects which we have been involved in, so that you will have a better idea of the kind of work we are doing here.
I should stress that Raluca and I are not employed by the church nor do we receive any financial support from either organizations or individuals, so in addition to being involved with these various projects we are also both self-employed.
In addition to the major projects which are listed below, we are also involved in many different relational ministries. That is, we are creating, developing and strengthening numerous relationships both within and outside of the church, since we feel very strongly that this is a major part of God's plan for us here in this city.
The first major project which we were asked to be a part of was proDEO's annual Christmas banquet. This banquet is an evengelistic event, intended to make our non-Christian friends feel comfortable within our community and to give them a chance to hear a scriptural perspective on Christmas. Raluca and I were both part of the planning committee for this banquet, which took place on 20 December 2008.
This event was quite successful. There were more than 100 participants at the dinner (up from roughly 70 last year), 1/2 of whom were from outside the church community.
Raluca and I were also asked to take over an English language outreach ministry in early December. The "English Lounge" was a discussion group sponsored by OSCEC with the intention of raising awareness of the ministry among the student community and involving more students in evangelistic events (similar to the English classes which I taught back in 2000 & 2001). The previous leaders of "English Lounge" were a young missionary couple who had been living here in Craiova and working with OSCEC for a number of months. They ended up leaving Romania earlier than expected and instead of allowing this program to sputter off, we agreed to finish out the remaining weeks.
The structure of proDEO's Sunday meetings is to meet once every two weeks as an entire church for community worship and to hear a sermon. On alternative weeks, we break into three smaller home groups in which we discuss the ideas of the previous week's sermon in greater detail. Over the first month and a half, we attended every house group in order to make an objective analysis of the current state of this system and of each of the smaller groups.
What we have found is that by being so separated from the church for so long (almost two years), we were able to come back into the community and see certain things from a different perspective than those who had never left. Changes (both good and bad) which had occured slowly over time - and thus went unnoticed by much of the community - were glaringly obvious to us.
I have also preached at proDEO twice in the past month. I actually gave the last sermon of 2008 and the first of 2009.
I am currently working on editing a DVD of the Christmas Banquet, which the church plans on giving out to all of the attendees, so that they will have something nice to remember the evening by and to serve as a reminder that they are invited to join us again next Christmas (or any time before then).
We are both on the organizing committee of this month's "Family Cafe." "Family Cafe" is an outreach ministry similar to the Christmas banquet, but on a smaller, more intimate scale. In general it occurs once every two months; this months will be the third of its kind. Our intention is to provide a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere, where couples will be entertained and will also be exposed to topics which are relevant to modern families.
We have finished our commitment to lead "English Lounge", but we have agreed to start up a new version of the program starting in March. In addition to the English conversation group, we may also add an English Reading Book Club to the program.
Finally, we have been asked to be involved in leading OSCEC's Ski Camp this year. The Ski Camp is an evangelistic event (yes, we try to do a lot of evangelism here) to which Christian students invite their non-Christian friends. There will be skiing and other events during the day and discussions and other relevant interactions in the evening. It will be held over the course of four days sometime next month. Both of us would very much like to be involved in this camp, but the cost is fairly high (given our current income) and we are trying to evaluate whether this is something which God wants us to do (in which case, money should not be an issue) or merely something which we personally want to do (in which case, there are much better uses of our resources). We would appreciate if you would pray for us to make the Godly decission in this matter.
I believe that covers all of the major projects which we have been working on. We will provide updates to many of these events in the near future.