Walking home from running errands, I (Lydia) nearly smacked into a couple who had been walking in front of me. I had been thinking about and praying for several people from our church group. I also was wondering what to share in this particular newsletter, to be honest. The couple in front of me was trying to decide which way to go at the crossroads ahead of us. Knowing where I was going, I went around them as they discussed whether to cross the street or not. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but my mind instantly made a connection between what had just happened and the people I had been praying for.
Beginning a church with a group of new or not-yet believers is interesting and challenging. They often seem like the couple in front of me on the sidewalk today. They have an idea of their destination, but the walk to get there is still new and somewhat confusing. They aren’t confident in what choices they should make along the way, which particular path is the right one. Our walk is familiar and the right choices are more obvious to us because we have been walking with Jesus for most of our lives. Their walk is full of challenges and consequences they sometimes aren’t sure what to do with. New believers in Bulgaria face immediate fallout with very little support from their community. We do all we can to teach, help, serve, and guide, but they are in the workplace and in family and friend situations that expose them to ridicule, arguments, and temptation.
We have seen God at work, transforming hearts and renewing minds, but we have also seen the powerful counterattack of the enemy. We have faced opposition and heard words of disgust. We have seen friends fall, and we have tried to be there to walk with them through the fire. We see apathy creep in or the concerns of “What will people think?” or “What will my family do?” dissuade faithful people from attending church. It can be an emotional rollercoaster some days. What we need to remember is that the Holy Spirit is doing the work. We are called to be faithful, to serve, to love, and to share the burdens, but we cannot make people take the journey with Christ.
God is so good, and we have so much for which to be thankful. We are thankful for the chance to share the gospel with people who have never heard. We are thankful for you, for how you support us, encourage us regularly, and pray for the people that God has brought into our lives. And we are thankful that we now have TEAMMATES!!!! Brenton and Debbie are officially part of Team Shumen, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them!
Prayer and Praise
Praise God for a friend of ours, who recently made the commitment to follow Christ. At first he decided to keep his decision secret, because every member of his extended family is Muslim. But a few weeks ago, he made the decision to tell everyone. He has shown me (Josh) numerous Facebook conversations with different people in his social circle. Outside of our church family, he has received almost zero support. At this stage his parents are deciding whether or not to kick him out of the house. But in the midst of this, his faith continues to grow and he wants nothing more than for his entire family to experience the salvation that is available only through the Son of God!
Please Pray for the weekly Bible study that meets in Vehtovo. Despite numerous challenges, the group continues to meet, with a steady stream of first-time guests. At the present, the biggest decision is whether to continue meeting in a house or to talk to the mayor about possibly renting or fixing up a facility. In my mind I can think of pros and cons on either side and we could definitely use the wisdom of the Holy Spirit!
Praise God for the three weekly Bible study groups we have right now. Twice a week we have Catan: Resources for Life groups (once in Bulgarian and once in English), and then we have a new Bible study on the book of James.
Please pray for wisdom for the upcoming summer ministry season. As you may know, our original plan was to be on Stateside Assignment from June to the middle of September, but well, you know… coronavirus. So now we find ourselves in an interesting situation: restrictions in Bulgaria are rapidly releasing, we have new teammates to come along beside us, and we have no big projects planned, since we weren’t going to be here. Please pray that God would help us to use this unexpected time of ministry effectively!
May the Lord bless you and keep you!