Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… I recently got back from an amazing tour of the ministries Fellowship International missionaries are enjoying in Poland and Bulgaria.
Warsaw, POLAND: Pierre and Hanna Jutras
I visited Pierre and Hanna Jutras in Warsaw, Poland. This godly couple and their two children, Timothy and Rachelle, are doing well. We visited with the launch team of their current church plant in the city of Biala Podlaska. A city of 70,000 – with only one charismatic church. Pray for the church planters, Gnal and Gosia, whom the Jutras are preparing to lead this plant. We also visited with Pastor Henryk and two of his leaders from the Chelm Baptist Church (pronounced: Helm). This church plans to partner with this church plant over the next couple years acting as its mother church.
I also had the joy to see Camp Kunow (pronounced: Canuf) where five work teams from our Fellowship Pacific Region worked building a chapel, four cabins, a bath/wash cabin and an impressive dock on the lake beside the camp. Our teams did an extraordinary job. The workmanship was excellent. Pastor Jacek (the Camp’s Director) spoke of the many churches and denominations taking advantage of the camp’s ministry. He also wanted to express his gratitude to the Fellowship for our past support.
Wroclaw, POLAND: Ben and Krista Taylor
My visit with Ben, Krista, Lucas, Elias and Alex was a delight. Ben and Krista are doing an amazing job of raising their three active boys. Krista is expecting the fourth boy in August 2016 … pray with me for a safe arrival.
Ben’s ministry is primarily the discipling of students from the area universities. I met with a few of the young men he is discipling. One is in Engineering School but currently considering theological training. Krista is a busy mom who also serves in Women’s Ministry — mostly at their local church, “Christian Community Church of Wroclaw”. Krista also recently wrote and translated a women’s Bible Study in Polish, which is a testament to her excellent Polish language skills. Many linguists say that Polish is the most difficult language on earth to learn.
It was a joy to meet Pastors Mirec and Adam who pastor the Taylor’s church. Mirec began the church 10 years ago with 30 people. Today it is a thriving Gospel, life-giving community of 400 people. A mega-church by Polish standards, with only 400 evangelical churches (only 0.4 of 1% self-identify as evangelical) in Poland. Ben Taylor and Pastor Adam co-lead the church’s student ministry.
A highlight of my visit was the Sunday evening baptismal service. Pastors Mirec and Adam baptized 16 believers. Like most of the church, they were all new converts. Fourteen were in their 20s and three were being discipled by Ben and Krista. This was an incredible sight to see in a former Soviet Eastern-bloc country.
Plovdiv, BULGARIA: Susie Frey and Gisèle Laplante
Time spent with Susie and Gisèle is always sweet. My brief tour of Plovdiv (population of 350,000 and third largest city in Bulgaria) and their ministry was a tremendous encouragement. I love history and so we toured this ancient city of 6-7,000 years. A city surrounded by seven hills and seven distinct people groups who conquered and left their mark on this city – the Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Empire, Huns and Slavs. A fascinating city for history lovers!
In the midst of our tour we walked through the market and spoke with several of Gisèle and Susie’s contacts who own a variety of shops.
· Gingka, who owns a cleaning products shop. She receives Christian literature and now reads the Bible and prays only to Jesus. Most Bulgarians pray to Mary.
· Nellie and Vakrill who own a vegetable stand. Nellie attends Bible study with Susie and Gisèle while Vakrill remains a committed communist.
· Nasko and Mladenka, who both own shops in the market. They greeted Susie and Gisèle with hugs, received Christian literature and spoke to me of their love for our missionaries.
· Margarita and her son Pietre who own a florist shop. Again, she received Christian literature and spoke of her gratitude for their regular visits to her.
These contacts were representative of many more whom Gisèle and Susie have made through the ten years of their ministry. Some are involved in regular Bible study with Susie and Gisèle and several have come to Christ.
Susie and Gisèle also serve in two Baptist churches in Plovdiv and Pazardjik (two hour bus ride away). I spoke at both churches and many wanted me to express their deep gratitude to our churches for sending our two missionaries.
It was a joy to see how the people expressed their love for Gisèle and Susie. They are very effective ambassadors of Christ for our Fellowship family in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
I trust this brief report is an encouragement to all of us to be about the “work of an evangelist” wherever the Lord has placed us in His mission field.
Please join me in praying for the Taylors, Jutras, and Susie and Gisèle as they minister to the spiritual orphans of Poland and Bulgaria.
Have a blessed week,