The 2015 Romania mission trip was a great success as we saw salvations, spiritual renewal, encouragement and plentiful gospel seeds planted and watered for the sake of the kingdom. It is always a joy to reconnect with our brothers and | Read More
The 2015 Romania mission trip was a great success as we saw salvations, spiritual renewal, encouragement and plentiful gospel seeds planted and watered for the sake of the kingdom.
It is always a joy to reconnect with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Sighisoara and in the surrounding Roma (Gypsy) villages. Although the language and some of the customs are quite different, one thing is sure — people are people no matter where you go.
Poverty, homelessness, disease and despair can be found in the rural villages of Romania and in the larger cities. Our team tried to minister to the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the people we met during the trip.
Our minds, bodies and emotions were exhausted by the end of the trip as we steadily worked to share the gospel, feed the children and pray with sick and dying people — some who are in Christ, and some who are a heartbeat away from a Christ-less eternity.
It is impossible to un-see the filthy beggar children who pressed their faces against the van windows when we stopped at traffic lights. Their dirty hands, bare feet and hollow eyes are imprinted on our hearts and minds. As much as we wanted to, we could not help all of them.
Then again, how much help are we really doing by giving them a little change and some food. Some in the Gypsy culture have lived for generations as beggars and likely the cycle will continue as long as we attempt to soothe our own emotions by merely offering the charity.
Even the Romanian government is trying to counter the culture by posting signs in high-traffic areas warning people not to facilitate the begging lifestyle by giving handouts.
In the midst of the emotional battle, the Lord kept bringing to my mind the same circumstances in north Abilene. Romania is 6,000 miles from Abilene, but you do not have to look more than a block in either direction of the front doors of our church to see poverty, homelessness, disease and despair.
On any given week, the Elmcrest staff and laity tries to minister to the needs of the poor, sick, mentally disturbed and hurting people in our immediate community and no matter how much we do, it seems like just a drop in the bucket. So what should we do?
The simple answer is to keep doing the last thing Jesus told us to do until He tells us something different — loving our neighbors is still God’s plan.
Loving our neighbors includes intentionally sharing the life-changing message of Jesus Christ with people of all ethnic backgrounds, skin colors, economic circumstances and mental conditions.
It will not be easy. In fact, it will be exhausting. But keep in mind, we are running out of time to make an eternal difference in the lives of those whom God has placed in our Jerusalem.
Here is a starting point: On Sunday nights we are studying what the Bible says an active church member should look like. Join us if you are serious about serving the Lord and countering the culture of lostness in our city by becoming intentional in your witness. If you are in Christ, you are rich — a joint-heir with Him. Won’t you freely offer to others what you freely received from Christ?
They get it! The only Baptist church in Sighisoara has been a traditional congregation for many years, with some of the same leaders overseeing all of the ministries. However, age and health issues gradually led the church to a cross | Read More
They get it!
The only Baptist church in Sighisoara has been a traditional congregation for many years, with some of the same leaders overseeing all of the ministries. However, age and health issues gradually led the church to a cross road in which it had to decide to tread water until natural attrition renders them invalid and irrelevant, or to invest in young, inexperienced members to carry the church into another generation.
Praise God, they have chosen the latter
Sure, the younger generation is green and lacks experience, but they make up for it with enthusiasm and a desire to grow in Christ — no matter the cost.
They get it!
I am thankful for young men like Filip and Roland, who are willing to do whatever it takes to see the kingdom of God advanced. Whether driving vans full of summer missionaries, translating, setting up sound systems, running errands or anything else, they do it as unto God. They do not have to be out front or on the platform, they just want to be involved!
It is refreshing to see the younger men stepping up to the plate to take their swings in leadership; however, just as impressive is the fact that the older generation is letting them! In fact, they are encouraging them and the move is paying spiritual dividends.
The student ministry here was on life-support with only about four teens participating in weekly worship. After equipping and empowering a handful of young disciples, the average attendance has exploded to 35 and still growing. The discipleship training these students and young adults are receiving will insure the local church will survive and thrive for generations to come.The church gets it!
Making and multiplying disciples is still the mission of the church and God’s only plan for the advancement of His kingdom.
The spiritual principle is truth: what we have learned, we entrust to others — and in turn they will teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
I am always refreshed when I worship with my Romanian brothers and sisters in Christ. Their fervent prayers and joyful singing lifts my spirit and causes me to take a spiritual inventory of my own walk with God. This morning | Read More
I am always refreshed when I worship with my Romanian brothers and sisters in Christ. Their fervent prayers and joyful singing lifts my spirit and causes me to take a spiritual inventory of my own walk with God.
This morning our worship service was just over two hours long, with nearly 45 minutes devoted to prayer. Humbly, I listened as one after another my friends poured out their hearts to God in audible prayers of thanksgiving and petition. As each individual prayed, their church family agreed with them.
In those moments it did not matter what the person who was praying was wearing, or if they had a car, or the level of their education. Everyone embraced their equality at the foot of the cross and called out to God to do what only He can do.
During the time for worship through song, the small congregation participated together, singing as if the lyrics were their own prayers to God. Men and women, boys and girls each participated — fully understanding that God inhabits the praises of His people.
Throughout the entire two-hour service, no one got up to go to the bathroom, or left the room — they were fully present and engaged in worship. It was much the same at every mission point:
Carl spoke in Hetiur: “I was impressed with the amount of singing. Even a new family, who just joined the church was already willing to sing as a family to minister to their new brothers and sisters — it was good!”
Jerry (Young) spoke in Archita: “The way the interpreter (Georghie) interacted with me was impressive. He didn’t just interpret for me, he wanted to know more about why we were here. It was a good conversation.”
Vernon preached in Saes: “The church was full and several people spoke. They had a baby dedication and they had a lot of visitors for that celebration. The pastor was encouraged by the special day.”
Les spoke in Danes: “Much of the regular congregation was not in attendance for worship, because they were ministering to a family whose son died. They were helping the family prepare for the funeral; it was ministry.”
Roger preached in Laslea: “I preached about unity among believers and my translator said it was an area in which the church has been struggling. I thought it was pretty cool that the Holy Spirit led me to Act 2.”close x
Almost everyone likes to go to the state fair, but for many different reasons. Some like the excitement of the atmosphere, others enjoy people-watching, while still others are there for the rides — specifically the roller coaster! What is it | Read More
Almost everyone likes to go to the state fair, but for many different reasons. Some like the excitement of the atmosphere, others enjoy people-watching, while still others are there for the rides — specifically the roller coaster!
What is it about the roller coaster that keeps people coming back? Just looking at it from a distance is enough to make you a little queasy, but once you are on board there is a mix of fear and excitement that can only be expressed by those who have gone for the ride. All the anxiety of the slow ascent in which you are positioned so that you can anticipate what is ahead, but you cannot yet see it. Then it happens,
the growing excitement of the climb is met with a plunge that puts your stomach in your throat. There are twists and turns and surprises, but there is also the thrill that leaves us wanting to tell everyone about it.
Come to think about it, going to the state fair is a lot like church growth and riding a roller coaster is sort of like church revitalization.
Anytime a church begins to grow, there will be varied responses. Some will be enamored by the excitement of changes, while others will be anxious and cautious preferring to sit and watch rather than climbing aboard for the ride of their lives.
Once a church begins to see some growth, it can pick up speed and become fully revitalized, just like the fair-goers who choose to move from spectating to buckling into a seat on the roller coaster.
For some, the anxiety of the unknown becomes too much and they unbuckle and exit the ride before it gets started. Some hang on for a white-knuckle ride, unsure if they will survive. Still, others raise their hands into the air and soak in the exhilaration of the ride.
Remember, church revitalization is sort of like riding a roller coaster. Some scream and others enjoy the ride, but generally the only ones who get hurt are those who the jump off before reaching the destination!
You are my God, and I will give You thanks. You are my God; I will exalt You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:28-29) It’s hard to believe Shawn | Read More
You are my God, and I will give You thanks.
You are my God; I will exalt You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:28-29)
It’s hard to believe Shawn and I have been on the ministry field in Abilene, Texas for a year! The past 12 months at Elmcrest Baptist Church have been a roller coaster ride, complete with ups and downs, twists and turns — but through it the Lord has shown Himself to be mighty and sovereign.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
The calendar year has been full of challenges, changes, high expectations and steps of faith. Some of those steps caused us to stretch beyond comfort zones and budget line items, but Elmcrest is stronger in every way and becoming equipped for a revitalization that glorifies God. The plans He has for us are good, promising a hopeful future.
His faithfulness endures forever.
A journal of this year’s accomplishments reads like a laundry list of God grace. It is a powerful testimony of God’s promise to bring restoration from a remnant. Counting our blessings and giving thanks to the Great Giver is the necessary spiritual response for all who recognize His work.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
Take a moment and reflect on His goodness toward Elmcrest and the community we serve. In the last 365 days, the Lord has:
The list goes on, but suffice to say:
His faithfulness endures forever.
One of the biggest changes/challenges came with our worship relocation. The move from the large sanctuary to the small sanctuary was emotionally charged and could have been a source of disharmony, but God’s timing is perfect. Although the idea had been shot down, rejected and sunk in times past, the Holy Spirit moved hearts to follow pastoral leadership and embrace the change as a part of overall church revitalization.
Give thanks to the Lord, for His is good!
Over the past three months the worship through singing, the fellowship, and the overall spirit of corporate worship has strengthened in the smaller setting — and God has been sending us visitors who return! While we will have to wait and see what the future brings, we must be encouraged by the Lord’s blessing on the local church at Elmcrest. Join me in shouting:
His faithfulness endures forever.