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As we bid goodbye to the old year, we also had to say “see you later” to a dear friend. We met I., a young programmer, at one of the Catan Bible studies shortly after we had arrived in Shumen. We were immediately impressed by his English and critical thinking skills. Even though he considered himself an atheist, we could not help but wonder if there was not more to the story.
Over the course of the next months, Brenton and I. spent quite a bit of time together. They would often hike up to the Shumen Monument, meet up for lunch, or play soccer together. I. would introduce Brenton to certain aspects of Bulgarian culture and Brenton would help I. practice his English. But there was more.
During each of their meetings, I. and Brenton would talk about deep theological questions. Brenton was often amazed at the complexity of questions that I. would come up with! As time went by, Brenton and I. grew closer together and I. started growing closer to God. I. began attending church gatherings and services more regularly. In fact, by the end of the calendar year, he was one of the most faithful church comers! We have been so encouraged by I.‘s desire to ask tough questions and to wrestle with the Christian faith. He has grown so much in his understanding of who Christ is and we praise God for continuing to draw I. closer to Himself.
A few weeks back, I. accepted a new job opportunity and, thus, last week, he moved to the Czech Republic where he will be working for Microsoft. Brenton (as well as Trif Trifonov) was able to send him off at the airport. While we are excited for his new beginning and his new job, we are sad to see our good friend go. However, I.‘s interest in the LORD and his friendship have been some of our highlights in ministry this past year, and for that we give all the glory to God. We are especially thankful that I. decided to go through the discipleship course together with Brenton! They will be meeting online weekly and talking through many spiritual truths. God is at work and we cannot wait to see what else he is going to do in I.‘s life. Please pray for him as he transitions to life in the Czech Republic and as he continues on his quest to surrendering his heart completely to Jesus Christ.
Although we have already had to say “goodbye” to good friends, we thank God for the new people He is constantly allowing us to meet. One of our newest friends is a taxi driver, Mr. D. We first got introduced to him after Debbie took a taxi on her way home from a big grocery store that is located further away from our home. We were pleasantly surprised by Mr. D.‘s friendliness and joyful spirit. He helped us carry the heavy grocery bags to the front door of our apartment building and even gave us some fruit from his garden! We were able to get his phone number so we decided to call him again next time we needed a taxi. Once he came to pick us up, he surprised us with another gift–a cute onesie for Jamie! The onesie bears the logo of Mr. D.‘s favorite soccer club which happens to be the best soccer club in Bulgaria. While we were in his taxi, Mr. D. reached for his glove compartment and proudly took out a bunch of printed photos of him together with some of the star soccer players from his favorite team. We were so impressed by Mr. D.‘s friendliness and generosity! We had also prepared a small Christmas gift for him, and were able to give him a copy of the Gospel of Luke as we were leaving his taxi. We look forward to building our friendship with Mr. D. and sharing the good news of Jesus with him! Isn’t it wonderful that even something as simple as a taxi ride can become a tool for sharing the gospel? 🙂
- This Thursday we will have two parties in the village of Vehtovo, where we will give out Operation Christmas Child gifts and share the good news with 25 children. Please pray that the LORD will open the hearts of these children and that He will use this event to open up further doors for the gospel in Vehtovo.
- Continue praying for Brenton’s language studies.
- Pray for I. and Mr. D.
We pray that the LORD blesses you in this new year, that He makes His face to shine upon you, and that He gives you peace!
Brenton, Debbie, and Jamie