Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mt 11:28

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Angels Among Us!

There are a lot of new folks at WBF. Praise God! We are enjoying the blessing of seeing new people walk in almost every week. We're also hearing from them that we are doing a better job of making them feel welcome. All this is great news but it also makes it harder to know who is who and what is happening within the congregation.

This is the first is a series of postings that will highlight areas of ministry and service that might otherwise go unnoticed. I think we can all benefit from the opportunity of knowing that all the ministry that flows out of WBF does not happen solely on Sunday morning. Any fully realized ministry comes as a result of everyone in the body of Christ contributing their part and the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, flowing freely among all the parts, overflowing through each part and into the community around us. I call these folks angels because it is in their service to WBF and the community around us that God ministers; sometimes to the congregation, sometimes outside the congregation. Either way, God uses these folks and their willingness to serve as a way of spreading His love, provision and protection to a world that needs so desperately to see evidence of His power and glory.

So we want to pause from time to time and look at how some of the members of our body are reaching out to minster or serve in the unique way that Gods call each one of us to be part of His great plan.

Steve and Betty Aiello just spent an amazing week in Romania. You may recognize Steve from his new position in our worship group on Sunday mornings. You probably recognize them both from around town. Betty has an amazing ministry in her "Precepts" class which is hosted right here at WBF. If you get the opportunity, ask him to show you some of their pictures from Romania or you can click on the link below to see their album. . They're amazing and the stories he and Betty have to tell concerning God's provision and blessing are equally amazing! The great thing, as you will read, is that we all had the opportunity to take part in their trip by providing the much needed prayer covering that accompanied them throughout their trip.

Here's their report:

Romania, 2007
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9"
It’s hard to begin to describe Romania after our week there. Many images crowd together in my mind - Nerves about sharing the Gospel! Praise to God for His providence in every situation as we stepped out in faith. All the small miracles He gave us each day, proof of His glorious provision and might in all the circumstances we faced..., the extremely depressed economic situation of the country and people who have an an incredibly high unemployment rate, the drought that has left the countryside dry and dusty and has dried up many wells, the misshapen feet and toothless mouths of people who were younger than me, the meetings only God could set up, the long, curvy, bumpy roads from Surduc to Resita, seeing villagers gather outside their houses in the early dark of evening as the cows were coming home to catch up on the days’ events..., the warmth of the people and the gratitude they had for our being there, joining with the Romanian youths in singing “Shout to the Lord” and “Heart of Worship” during our services (in Romanian and English!)... the stories of the team on the way home each night and the eagerness each morning on the way in for the day to begin in our work for the Lord. e3 was partnered this week with Speranza (Hope) and Betel (Bethel) Baptist Churches in Resita. One local translator and one national (most between 18-22) were partnered with one American. My best memory will be the smiles and joy and energy of the young people who served as our translators and nationals all week . A striking contrast is the reluctance of anyone over 25 to smile in public; a sad legacy of the Communist era.

Each day we spent 3 hours traveling to and from Surduc to Resita making our days long (however, the other 4 of our group of 8 had another hour’s ride to their villages, so I am not complaining!); we left Surduc at 7:30 in the morning and returned around 10:30-11 in the evening. We shared the Gospel for about 6 hours a day . The 8 Americans on our two teams shared the Gospel with 251 people and 94 prayed with us to receive Christ and for many others, we planted the seeds that the nationals will water and God will bring to fruition. In our evening cell meetings, we had an average of 36 people attend, including the 12 members of our team. We worked in 5 villages during the 4 days we went out and all of them were incredibly poor. Many of the homes have no running water and the people have to rely on the village well for water unless they are fortunate enough to have their own well. In one of the villages, the women met at the creek to wash their clothes, the villagers sometimes bathed there, and the animals also shared that creek... In one of our villages, the small stream that ran through it was also used for dumping trash. In fact, trash was a fact of life in our villages, as were flies and a strong smell.

The cities were run-down, but had many modern conveniences including cell phones. However, as you moved even a little bit away from the city to the villages you seemed to move back in time. Wells, outhouses, and animals freely roaming the streets... The streets were lined with walls with double doors that each made up a small family compound. Inside the compound you would find an outside common area that might be garden, or farmyard, or parking area for cars or wagons, patio furniture or an old wooden table and chairs. The “house” might be one structure with small rooms or sets of small rooms on different walls of the ‘common area’. There was no set pattern. Every compound was different.

Our job was to help open doors - and what better way than to travel over 7,000 miles to share our faith?! People were naturally curious to hear why we would do something like that. Overall, they were very gracious and interested in what we had to say. Although each of us had a different way of presenting, the wonderful story of the Gospel was part of all of our visits. Many of these people grew up under Communism and any form of worship was forbidden or at the least, discouraged. Our driver to and from Surduc shared that his family was not allowed to worship and they applied for visas to the US in 1981. The visas were granted because of religious persecution, but the Romanian government would not give them passports for 9 years. They did not get their passports until 1990 after the fall of Communism. Another man told that in school they were taught that Stalin was their father and Mother Russia their mother - he said that they prayed to grow up orphans. That sounds funny until you stop to think about it. Add to this heritage the fact that the Orthodox church is the main church in Romania and they teach condemnation and salvation by works and you can begin to understand why it was so good for the people to hear about the free gift that God offers all men in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for their sins. It’s hard for them to accept the thought that their own works won’t get them into heaven; that they can know now that they will be in heaven with Jesus and God when they die. That is the good news we shared with each of them and even those who did not accept it, heard it and the seed was planted for God to grow in the future. One more important note, we were not there to change anyone's denomination but to talk to about and encourage them to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our nationals were careful to tell them this because it's not about what church you go to but your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him alone for your salvation.

This, my friends, is what you were a part of last week. Your prayers and your support brought about a wonderful change in some lives and made possible future change in many others. I can tell you we had no strength of our own. Your vigilant prayers were answered and we did and said things we could never have done on our own. We went, but you sent us and together we were fulfilling the great commission of Christ in Matthew 28:19-20. For this we join the Romanians we encountered in saying, “Multumesc si Dumnezeu sa te Binecuvinteze” (Thank you and God bless you!)

In Christ’s love,
Steve and Betty

to see some pictures from our mission trip.

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