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Romania ministry trips

Ministry visits to Romania continue each year. We anticipate each mission with great excitement. Family and friends have been extremely generous to assist with the costs. It seems that each time we travel to Romania that we leave with a sense that the blessings bestowed on us far exceed any little encouragement that we have taken into that country.

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thanks for helping Romania

BARNABAS BRIDGE – SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 13 2014

In August we emphasized our mission work to Romania. It was a blessing to pull together these stories and photos for you. We appreciate the response so far (yes, we are still receiving donations) and have begun to disburse some of the donations already, assisting with some real needs in Romania. The balance will be saved for the next ministry trip and, if there is enough, to go towards some Christmas gifts for ministry partners. Pray that God will generously provide. We are trying to facilitate some important medical care for a few individuals right now, and await additional gifts to make it all possible. Watch for a more specific summary to come. Details on support are found here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/
People in Kimberley, Canada & the USA have been very generous – God bless you!

Enjoy these photos which are so typical of much of rural Romania.

leading cow in Romania

Cornel's home village pic Albele

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living in the shadow of orthodoxy

Barnabas Bridge – Sunday August 31 2014 – living under the shadow of Orthodoxy

We knew little of Orthodoxy until we started spending time in Romania. The churches dominate the landscape, both rural and urban. Still, in parts of the country, and in museums, one can view the famous wooden Orthodox Church buildings with incredible paintings both inside and out. Inside, every inch of wall space and ceiling is covered in gold and icons. The saints look down on all who enter. The saints are kissed. The saints are knelt before. The Priest will pray for people out of his prayer book when he appears from the special room through the special door that is just for him. He is held in high regard. People of all ages still cross themselves every time they pass the church, whether on the bus, on foot or in the car. We must make it clear that we have had good conversations with a few priests, and we were able to witness an impressive special dedication ceremony of recently discovered historic icons. The choir of Priests sang at this service, and the music was incredibly stirring. It seems, though this is difficult to describe or verify, that there is a degree of fear, control, and perhaps superstition on the part of the common people. It is not our place to judge another’s spirituality, but sometimes tradition and ceremony can get in the way of a vibrant living faith in, and walk with, Jesus. Sometimes the rules and customs get in the way of receiving the forgiveness that comes when the step of faith is taken to personally trust in Christ. Our opinion, which is surely biased and that of an outsider, is that part of Romania’s darkness is due to the oppression of Communism and part is still due to the ‘shadow’ of Orthodoxy. The history of Orthodoxy is complex and its liturgy rich in symbolism. Look for future blog posts on BarnabasBridge that will speak to the history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Andrew Louth wrote Introducing Orthodox Theology in 2013 (Inter Varsity Press Academic) – it is a fair presentation and a great help to those wanting to know more. Our fear is, and this can happen in Protestant/Evangelical Churches too, that many can get ‘locked into’ a system without fully understanding what everything in the system stands for. Many have warned, no matter what expression of Christianity one finds themselves in, that all religion can be ‘dead’. So be careful. Embrace the One who is “the way, the truth, the Life” – don’t embrace the ‘package’, the ‘wrapping’. All this to say, with almost 90% of the Romanian people claiming Orthodoxy as their religion, there is plenty of opportunity for evangelism. Yvonne and I are happy to have a small part in encouraging those who take on the job.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania

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Posted in orthodoxy

meeting a PCC colleague in Romania

Barnabas Bridge – Saturday August 30 2014 – finding a PCC colleague in Romania

The central Romanian city of Cluj (full name is Cluj-Napoca) is one of the most important academic, cultural, industrial and business centres in Romania. Among other institutions, it hosts the country’s largest university, Babeș-Bolyai University, with its famous botanical garden; nationally renowned cultural institutions; as well as the largest Romanian-owned commercial bank. Cluj is the 2nd largest populated city in Romania; only the capital Bucharest is larger. There has long been a significant Hungarian population in Romania, and Canadian Brian Johnston is working as an English teacher at the Theological Seminary of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania. Besides teaching, Brian directs two choirs made up of students from the seminary. The choirs are an opportunity for students to both practice English and share the gospel through song. In the words of choir member Emese Nagy: “It is great to feel how, in music, all the boundaries of the different languages and nationalities vanish. There is no more Hungarian-Romanian conflict, there is no ‘me’ and ‘the other’. There is just ‘us’ connected in beautiful harmony.” We were pleased to spend an afternoon with Brian and a few of his students. We were impressed with their enthusiastic sense of call to ministry and their desire to see the Hungarian churches increase their influence on a younger generation. In the photos you see Brian leading the male choir; Brian & Doug with a former student now a Minister of two Hungarian congregations; a current student who leads ‘hot-line’ counselling service to Hungarian speaking Romanians in crisis. This student-run ministry was amazingly well organized. Volunteers were trained and carried out their work with confidentiality, compassion and careful documentation. We were impressed. Brian is supported by our denomination.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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Ghimbav, where church meets every day!

Barnabas Bridge – Friday August 29 2014 – Ghimbav, where church meets every day!

Ghimbav is a short drive from Romania’s major tourist city of Brasov. Biserica Stanca Vieti (Rock of Life Church) was a blessing to visit. Meeting in an “upper room” the small congregation is joyful and welcoming. Pastor Mihai Livadaru and his family provide the worship leadership but there is opportunity for others to share songs and poems in the service. Crina leads the singing with daughter & oldest child Otni on guitar, youngest daughter Anna on keyboard, and middle child, son Naty working the computer/projector. It is amazing that for over one year, this church met every day – yes, every day! Mihai is a full time construction worker and would appreciate prayers for good health and energy, and more time to devote to the church. Crina asks prayer for a job for herself and for resources to take a driver’s license. The family needs prayer for, and guidance for, a few things: they need to move from their flat because of ongoing problems with the apartment block roof; finances are stretched but they really need to find money to repair and register their car; the children start school in mid-September and we can support them through prayer for a new school year – public bus service to Brasov makes for long days for the kids. It is joy to count this family and their church as friends, and to stay connected with Crina, Otni & Naty via Facebook. We admire their commitment and dedication to ministry. They have opportunities to minister to the reform school next to where their church meets. As with many of our Romanian connections, it all started on Facebook. God has brought us together and we are thankful.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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sometimes just a little practical help

<Barnabas Bridge – Thursday August 28 2014 – practical help

As we have explained before, Barnabas Bridge is primarily a ministry of encouragement and education as we, along with those who travel with us, connect personally with Romanian churches and their leaders. A secondary emphasis will be to take steps to match up in supportive partnership North American congregations with congregations in Eastern Europe. There are so many ways this can become a mutual blessing. We are waiting to play ‘matchmaker’ – minimal costs; technology & social media can make this easy. What is preventing you from putting the idea in front of some of your key missions people at your church? Barnabas Bridge knows what it is not. It is not a high-budget, fund-raising driven aide organization. But, sometimes it is just a little practical help that is appreciated. There is not much room in our suitcases, but sometimes we can squeeze in craft & school supplies, or clothes. Small gifts are appreciated. Thanks for helping us.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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Ghimbav 4

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risky business?

Barnabas Bridge – Wednesday August 27 2014 – Risky Work?

The photos below are from Tg Mures. They could be from any city in Romania. And the brutal living conditions we have seen in rural villages break our hearts. We have great admiration for the pastors and their families who take incarnational ministry to an exemplary level. Limited resources, a lack of affirmation & appreciation, betrayal, frustration, are all experienced by almost everyone in ministry. But it is intensified in this country. There is not the same level of training. Many are isolated. Support networks are missing. There are also additional challenges for those who are called to the cross-cultural ministry to the Roma. Trust and respect issues, destructive gossip, threats & theft, constant violence and drunkenness, little progress in discipleship, – special people are doing this work. We get off easy when we travel. There is a sense of safety as we stick close to our friends when walking in the community. Sometimes residents refuse to move their children or work tools or carpets (being washed) when we try to take the car down the lane to & from the pastor’s house – and our hosts must do some good Romanian raised voices confrontation persuasion. It is a rented car, and to save money we do not take out extra insurance (perhaps a little risky if you have seen Bucharest traffic, or shared the road with countless horse-drawn wagons). Thus, for safety, Pastor Horvath invites us to bring the car into their courtyard. This is their garden and a play area for all the grandchildren but it is important to keep the car safe. Well, sort of safe: from the top of the hill above their house, locals often rain down stones and rocks onto the house roof, aiming for people and our rented vehicle. So we cover the car with pillows and blankets. Yet Pastor Horvath and his family remain, being there to help people in life’s challenges: offering worship & prayer opportunities. I applaud them. I thank God that we have an opportunity to partner and assist.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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the solution is quite simple, really!

Barnabas Bridge – Tuesday August 26 2014 – The solution is quite simple, really!

These churches need help, really! It is a harsh reality: the difficult challenge of keeping a church open in Romania is a test of trust. It is frustrating and requires hope to stay the course. Pastor Horvath of Maranatha Church in Tg Mures has indicated that they have two major challenges as summer ends: (1) the church roof leaks: what will the damage be when the Fall rains begin? (2) gas bills are already overdue: how long can they go without heat this winter? This church has a volunteer pastor who takes from his own monthly pension (less than one day’s wage for many westerners) to pay for the building and ministry costs. He is stretched beyond limits. This congregation in the Cold Valley community is desperately poor and any idea you have about church budgets or offerings must be pushed from your mind – totally not even ‘on the radar’. Our friends in Gherla really need help to rent a larger room to accommodate worshippers and buy wood for winter heating. Our friends in Ghimbav want to minister to children and keep up with their rent of their ‘upper room’ church. And we know 1st hand of a few other churches in similar need. The solution? (1) a handyman/contractor could help assess and repair the roof (2) congregations in Canada or the USA could partner with these churches, and with just a few hundred dollars from a mission budget, make a huge difference. So ….. any people good with tools want to take a mission trip? Someone with building expertise could assist with some home repairs too. Lots of opportunity!

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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the children

Barnabas Bridge – Monday August 25 2014 – The Children

Corruption and poverty – this is the future for many Romanian children. Whether, Hungarian, Roma or Romanian, these kids will grow up struggling to either cope with or break from the leftover corrupt and discouraging oppressive systems of Communist rule. Even 25 years later the cycle of hopelessness persists. Now graduating from Universities is the first generation raised in freedom – freedom to see via TV, movies and internet how the western world lives. Who can blame the young adults from seeking a better future outside of their home country? The population of Romania is about 20 million. Demographic data shows children up to 14 years old make almost 16 percent of the population; young people 15 to 24 = 12.3 percent; Those over 65 = 16.1 percent of Romania’s population, and people above 85 are 1.3 percent of the country’s population. Barnabas Bridge can’t begin to make life better for all Romanian children. But by partnering with a few families and a few congregations we can bring some encouragement, some resources, & some smiles to small groups of children. We can assist some congregations that are divinely positioned to have an impact for good, for God – on your behalf let us link you to some of these opportunities.

As we seek encouragement and confirmation in our obedience to God’s call to this work, please read about why our Barnabas Bridge August campaign is so important by clicking here https://barnabasbridge.net/31-08-14-campaign/

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maranatha church thank you kids

Marta & Romi kids

Y with Lidya

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