Well, it has been almost 6 months since I last wrote a ministry update, so I figure it is about time to catch you all up on what has been going on in our lives.
We are still here in Craiova, Romania, more determined than ever to stay and continue to work with our church, Pro DEO and with the student ministry OSCEC.
As before, I have broken this update into three sections: past, present and future.
Raluca and I were able to go to OSCEC's evangelistic Ski Camp in February as part of the leadership team. It was a nice, small intimate group of 14 people, about half of us from the church. This event had very little structure, allowing everyone to hit the slopes as often as he liked, but we were still able to have some good group discussions, which I led in the evenings.
We also started up the weekly English Lounge again in the spring, but instead of leading just one group, we had three different types of English Lessons! We contined the English Lounge itself, which is a discussion group for students who want to practice their English. We added a Book Reading group, for anyone who wanted to practice his reading and comprehension skills and Raluca led a Beginning English class for those who were not advanced enough to be part of the discussion group. These English classes are one of OSCEC's most successful outreach programs and we love that we are able to serve the ministry in this way. A number of the students from our classes will be attending English camp this month (more on that below).
I have continued to be utilized as a speaker both at church and ministry events. These have included preaching at church, speaking at the OSCEC Easter Celebration and giving the "Remember to be Romantic" talk at the evangelistic Family Cafe.
As I mentioned before, the way Pro DEO is structured, we meet once every two weeks as a whole church and on each other Sunday we meet is smaller house churches.
There are a number of reasons why we do it that way. Two of the most important are that it allows us to discuss the sermon from the week before in more detail and decide together how we can apply it to our lives and it put everyone in the church into a context in which he or she can develop more intimate relationships with other members of the church. One problem with this structure had been that the three home church groups had grown too large and they were losing a sense of intimacy. Earlier this year it was decided that a good solution would be to create a fourth home group and I have been leading that since the spring. This has been a lot of work for me, since it involves not just planning and running the Sunday morning meetings, but also being directly involved in the lives of each of the people in my group, actively creating fellowship that reaches farther than our fortnightly meetings.
Next Tuesday (14 July), we will be headed to English Camp! English Camp is OSCEC's major evangelistic event of the year. They invite college students to come and take English lessons from native English speakers for a week and at the same time, they introduce them to the student organization and to the basics of our faith. I am very excited to be going to an English Camp again, since it have a long history with these events. It was at an English Camp back in 1996 when I first fell in love with this country. Raluca and I have had experience being leaders of both the visiting American team and of the organizing OSCEC team (and Raluca has experienced being a student at English camp!). Given our past experience, this year we will be asking as liasons between the American and Romanian teams, helping to ensure everything goes smoothly. We will probably help to lead some of the English classes as well. Unlike Ski Camp, where we went alone, we will be taking our children with us to English Camp, much to the delight of our English Lounge students (who like our kids even more than they like us!). After a very hectic year, it will be nice to all get out of the city together.
Raluca is directly involved in a woman's ministry which she helped to start called "The Mommy Club". This group has been important in getting the women of the church to start connecting with each other more intimately again, which is one or Raluca's passions.
We continue to be involved with planning the Family Cafe events, which happen every other month. The final event of the six-part, one-year series will occur sometime latter this summer.
As always, we have a lot of evangelistic relationships which we are developing and growing, which all take up a lot of time and energy, but which are immensely fulfilling.
Once the students return to Craiova from their summer break, we will be starting up our third semester of English Lounge. We're not sure how many groups we will have this time, but we expect to pick up quite a few students following English Camp.
Given my success in the past at using table games as a way of connecting with students - both in and outside of evangelistic camps - I am considering starting up a gaming club as a way of making even more connections with the university students in the city. I am still praying about this and talking it over with other church leaders, but I will keep you updated as this idea takes form.
Thank you again for your continued interest in and support for our ministries here.