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Reports from Romania

Over the summer period folk from Highland churches made trips to Romania to visit work going on there in both pastoral and outreach settings. Kenny Cormack travelled to Bistrita in connection with the Luis Palau Association mission there, and a group from Kinmylies Church (Inverness) visited Dave and Joy Spriggs in Cluj-Napoca.

Report from Kenny Cormack who travelled to work with the Luis Palau Association in Bistrita
Report from George and Elizabeth Barnie (part of the Kinmylies team which visited Cluj-Napoca
Report from Dave and Joy Spriggs who have been working in Cluj-Napoca for several years.

LPA Mission to Bistrita, Romania

Ed preface: The trip which Kenny Cormack made was as a direct result of his involvement with the team from the Luis Palau Association's 'Highland Festival' in June 2009. It seems that 'lorries' were part of the 'excitement' of the 4000-mile round trip. There is a possibility that this visit, which took him close to Dracula's Castle, could lead to others in the future.

Kenny reports:

I attended the main Luis Palau Highland Festival events in Inverness with my wife and family on the Friday night and all day Saturday (June 19th & 20th) along with 1000s of others from around the Highlands. I was delighted to see so many people respond to Christ at the festival. It was an excellent weekend with top Christian bands such as Hillsong and Delirious leading worship and it was great to hear Luis Palau share The Good News with so many people. Thanks must go to all who worked so hard for these events and who seized this opportunity to spread the Gospel in this remote and beautiful part of Scotland. [Ed note: pick up Kenny's report and reflections here.]

Afterwards I was invited by John Grant who is the Luis Palau Association (LPA) Mission Director for Eastern Europe to attend an outreach weekend with him in Romania during September of this year. I had worked with John in Caithness on one of the various smaller festivals that were taking place around the Highlands.
I’ve recently returned from this 4000 mile round trip which began with a 3.5 hour bus trip from Wick to Inverness. A lorry stuck on the Berridale Brae hairpin bend, could have caused me to miss my flight, but thankfully it eventually managed to free itself. I then had an EasyJet flight from Inverness to Luton, a Wizz Air flight from Luton to Cluj in Romania and a 2 hour drive to the Transylvanian town of Bistrita (pronounced Bristritza). Within an hour of landing in Romania, we had a close encounter with eternity when a lorry we were overtaking decided to pull out in front of us, but for the grace of God and the quick reactions of our driver we managed to avoid a serious accident. We eventually arrived at the hotel 'Mya' where we were staying and holding most of the outreach events.
Bistrita has a population of 86,000 and is located in the Transylvanian region of northern Romania. The north of Romania is more affluent and prosperous than the south.
With me during the weekend were John Grant, English evangelist Fane Conant and LPA Missions Facilitator for North West Romania, Daniel Rus. The weekend had 6 affinity meal events planned for different groups consisting of students, ladies, teachers, teenagers, doctors / nurses and finally business and civic leaders.
The planning of these events had begun 6 months ago when John Grant met with local evangelical church leaders, which in Bistrita consisted of 7 Pentecostal and 4 Baptist churches. One of the Pentecostal churches had a membership of 1200 and another had 600.

Evangelicals viewed with suspicion and seen as 'traitors'

While the majority of Romanians would call themselves Orthodox Christians, as it is the national church, few would know about a personal experience of salvation and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Evangelical Christians (such as Pentecostals and Baptists) are often viewed with some suspicion, and to leave the Orthodox Church can in some circumstances be seen as being a traitor to Romania.
The meal events all followed a similar format of Christians bringing their invited non Christian guests along to the hotel restaurant where they were made to feel very welcome. During the meal we were blessed with some great local singers and musicians. Sometimes a testimony was shared.
After the meal, evangelist Fane Conant would passionately share The Good News message and clearly explain the way of salvation. He would also mention that although it is best way to live, it can sometimes be difficult to ‘go against the flow’ in this world. After the message Fane would ask people to respond to Jesus Christ and lead them in a prayer asking for salvation.
People were encouraged to then fill in a response sheet where they could be contacted for future help. They were given details of a ‘Next Steps’ meeting where they could go with their friend that invited them to learn more about the Christian faith in a similar relaxed, friendly and non formal environment.
These meal events are not new, as from the Gospels we see that Jesus conducted much of his teaching and ministry over a meal with friends and guests. Alpha courses have proved very successful over the past 20 years and are conducted in a similar environment.
Over the weekend 600 attended the 6 meal events, over half were non Christians and 170 gave their life to Jesus Christ for the first time. A big thanks must go to the translator Oli Oniga who did an excellent job over the weekend and was even able to understand my Caithness accent (most of the time) when I gave my testimony and preached.

A great feeling of liberty

On the Sunday morning the team attended ‘Betesda Pentecostal Church’ which meet in an old factory office block. There were about 150 (mostly young people), in attendance led by visionary Pastor Stephan Buhai. There was a great feeling of liberty within the congregation and the worship was enhanced by a variety of singers and musicians who had taken part over the weekend.
John Grant took part in the service and proved to be a very able preacher himself. Daniel Rus spoke briefly about one of his ministries called ‘100% for Christ’. This ministry is aimed at encouraging young people who’ve been brought up in church to have a personal faith and their own experience of Christ. As the title says it encourages them to live 100% for Christ and not to compromise with sin.
I then shared God’s word from Matthew 9:35-38 where Christ desires that more labourers would be willing to go and work to bring in his harvest. I encouraged them to step out in faith and to clearly communicate the Gospel to today’s generation in a relevant way.
At the business and civic leader meal on Sunday afternoon, the Bistrita Mayor turned up along with a Mayor from another town and also 2 Senators. The Mayor spoke very favourably afterwards about the event. There was a high response rate from this group that gave their life to Christ which was one of the highlights of the weekend.
On the Sunday evening the team took part in the final church rally held in ‘Emanuel Pentecostal Church’. It was a large church with about 750 in attendance. The atmosphere was more formal than the morning service. Fane delivered a very challenging message on the need of local Christians to follow up and nurture those who’ve given their life to Christ over the weekend.

"We need these people to come over to the UK"

It was a great weekend and I met many wonderful Romanian Christians fully committed to Christ. At times I thought, ‘What am I doing here? We need these people to come over to the UK and evangelise our country. There’s more life in these churches than in our own'.
We heard lots of local talented singers and musicians. I was able to sing along sometimes when I recognised songs from Matt Redman, Hillsong and Delirious. One of the after dinner talks by the evangelist was filmed and will be shown on one of the Romanian television channels
The LPA have been running these affinity events in Eastern Europe for a number of years and they’ve proved to be very successful in helping people find Christ as Saviour.
I was amazed at the hard work, commitment and personal financial cost of those involved in organising this mission. One wonders if they had more support in the UK, how many more missions could be funded in Eastern Europe and how many more could be won for Christ. They already have various missions planned to Romania and Moldova for this and next year. From my personal experience I would say that the LPA is able to effectively reach people in Eastern Europe with this method of evangelism.
It was a great weekend, John, Daniel and Fane were great company and I met many wonderful Romanian Christians. It was great to see God work in so many lives. I hope to go on another trip to Eastern Europe with the Luis Palau Association in the new year.
Kenny Cormack
Wick & Keiss Baptist Church



Kinmylies Church visit to Cluj-Napoca

Ed preface: A group of six from Kinmylies Church (Inverness) went out to visit the work being done in Cluj-Napoca by Dave and Joy Spriggs. The group which went out in August 2009 consisted of (Rev.) Peter and Kathleen Humphris, George and Elizabeth Barnie and Chris and Janice Angwin.

George and Elizabeth Barnie report:

SIX of us from Kinmylies Church set off in early October to Romania to be David and Joy's first ever mission team. It was with fear and trepidation and really not knowing what was to be expected of us that we arrived in Cluj to be warmly greeted by the Spriggs.
We stayed in the Daniel Centre set up by Blythswood. They have a bed and breakfast part along with premises to accommodate nine boys in their teens and twenties. These boys come from difficult backgrounds and there is a 3 year programme to rehabilitate them into society. The boys made two excellent meals for the team and sang Christian songs for us in Romanian and English, joy evident on their faces.
We visited Joy and David's church where 150 mostly younger people sang and worshipped God. The service lasted two and a half hours and we learned how this church had grown rapidly in the last 5 years from just a handful of people. The teaching was excellent.
We visited a gypsy church at night and our group took part in the service singing
'The Lord's my Shepherd.' David preached in Romanian and Peter Humphris, one of the team, preached about the shepherd knowing his sheep. One of the Spriggs' adopted sons ,Alfred , translated - incredible as he's not a Christian.
We saw many amazing things from squalid flats to gleaming new shopping malls. Romania is still recovering from Ceauseseu's rule. We visited disabled people who are really being stimulated in a day centre, a children's home and a Bible study for young people held at the Spriggs' home where Joy cooks a 3 course meal for about 15 people every week.
The Spriggs say that people are open and there are more opportunities to share their faith than in the U.K.
It was a privilege for us to shadow missionaries for a week. It gave us tremendous insight into their lives and demands. It was a challenge to see how they have responded to the Lord and how well-suited they are to what God has called them to do. It is so encouraging to see that despite the awful time this country has had the Lord is building His church.
George and Elizabeth Barnie
Kinmylies Church, Inverness

Dave and Joy Spriggs Prayer/Newsletter

Ed preface: Dave and Joy Spriggs (from Inverness) have been working in Romania  since July 2004 and are in partnership with Blythswood Christian Care and Operation Timothy, working in Cluj-Napoca - the capital of Transylvania.
Operation Timothy is an orphan student support project.

Dave and Joy report:

PRAISE GOD for His love and patience with us. We have had a very exciting and interesting month.
It was wonderful having Peter, Kathleen, George, Elizabeth, Chris and Janice here from Kinmylies for 6 days in which they taught English, helped with music and dance lessons for Downs Syndrome adults, spent an evening playing English word games with boys from the Daniel Centre, played with the children at the Usa Sperantei Children's Home in Blaj, visited Bogdan and other the students at the Christ for All Nations Bible School here in Cluj, went 'Go Carting' with Alfred, did an assessment for a blind, mute and partially deaf boy that Mihai helps to look after, visited the Turda salt mines, walked through the Cheie Turzi gorge, spoke at our house group, preached in the Pentecostal Gypsy Church in Floresti, scoured through the huge Marasti market, drank lots of coffee and ate sticky cakes. They experienced too Romania's special weather... 26 C and beautiful sunshine on Monday.... -3 C with snow on Wednesday. We are praying for their recovery!
A special word of thanks must go to Alfred who gave up a week to drive the folk around. Winter has arrived very early this year - central heating was switched on in our block of flats on 15th October as it is every year, whatever the weather. It will stay till 15th March, again whatever the weather. This is a throwback from the Communist system when everything was regulated, and dates were fixed and inflexible.
There are still so many reminders of Romania's dark past. For example because Bogdan is an orphan he will have to go back to his home town to register his existence every November. He cannot do it by post or electronically or in the Cluj office - he will have to make the 13 hour train journey to and from Ortenia for an official stamp on his form that will take 5 minutes, which he has to obtain in person otherwise his meagre pension of £41 per month will cease.
Meanwhile Mihai on his crutches and with his medical apparatus still attached to his leg has to make 10 bus journeys to and from the hospital, his work place, his family doctor, the Health Ministry and a specially designated post office every third Monday in the month to obtain his sickness benefit of £65 per month.
He even has to do this if he is in hospital - the hospital provide him with an extra warm dressing gown for a day out of the hospital. If he is too ill or in the operating theatre on that 3rd Monday he loses his benefit for that month.
Alfred has a similar trek between various offices and ministries, every Wednesday in order to keep receiving his redundancy pay of £62 per month. He however has managed to obtain a month of labouring work beginning tomorrow but it will only pay him £39 for the month, and next week he has a more permanent job interview.
We are ready for the winter - Joy has over 120 Kilner jars filled with bottled, pickled, jammed and preserved everything, and a friend gave us a 50lb barrel full of salted and pickled vegetables!!
I noticed that the street stalls that last week filled the air with the smell of freshly cooked pop corn today filled the air with the smell of roast chestnuts. Everywhere gypsies are selling bags of wallnuts for storing or pickling. Fruit and nuts are simply here for the picking by the roadside, and in the hundreds of abandoned orchards - abandoned by decree of Ceaucescu who wanted an industrial not a agricultural society.  A neighbour recently picked 100 kg (220lb) apples free by the roadside for bottling.
News just in and requiring much prayer is that the Mayor has responded very positively to the request for the old cinema in Marasti to be changed into a church/centre for the disabled.
He and other councillors have asked if they can come to our church next Sunday or the Sunday after for the service and to meet us afterwards. We have been collecting an offering for the town council for some time to use on any charity they wish so we will present it to them when they are with us.
Please pray this is a very special privilege for us and an opportunity to share with the leaders of our city that Jesus is Lord Our thanks to you all so much for your prayers and support. We are very busy at the moment but we are well aware that we are living in times when God is moving.
May God's presence fill you with joy and peace. In Jesus,
David and Joy Spriggs,
(plus our ever growing family)   ------
Ed footnote:  Dave and Joy send out regular news/prayer letters regarding their work in Romania. You can see some of their earlier reports here.
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The annual Scottish Northern Convention is sceduled to be held in Dingwall (Castle Street Church of Scotland) with a full programme of events and speakers. (Author: )

Discovering the Treasure of Life
A week of restoration, refreshment and personal revival aimed at finding the hidden depths and reviving the joy of abundant life. (Author: )

Microchip implants
It is increasingly likely that many citizens will soon have micro-chips (RFID devices) implanted under their skin. (Author: The Editor)

Churches, employment law and sexuality
According to the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, a recent ruling on employment law requires churches to have "clearly stated positions" on the issue of sexual morality (Author: )

Clan Gathering 2007
Collection of views on the July 2007 Clan Gathering event in St. Andrews. (Author: )

New Bible Society youth worker
A new youth development manager has been appointed by the Scottish Bible Society to encourage young people to engage with the Bible and SBS (Author: )

Report from Bogota conference
Today in excess of 60,000 people pass through the doors every week; 45,000 attending the Sunday morning services and 15,000 on a Friday evening. (Author: Steve Taylor)

Taking, making and faking human life
Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern for our Nation and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship speaking on the prospect of human/animal hybrids. (Author: )

Teenager takes school to High Court
After nearly 12 months of waiting, Lydia Playfoot will this morning (22JUNE), take her school to the High Court over her right to wear a Christian 'purity ring'. (Author: )

Sexual health crisis in young people
Health experts warn increasing consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs among teenagers and young adults is fuelling soaring rates of sexually transmitted diseases (Author: Independent Online)

CLAN Gathering 2007
The CLAN Gathering in St. Andrews has become a regular holiday/conference event in the annual Scottish Christian calendar. (Author: )

Aberdeen City Mission wins top award
Aberdeen City Mission emerged as one of only three Scottish winners of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the equivalent of an MBE. (Author: )

Free Teaching Day - One nation, one King
Free Teaching Day as part of the prayer conference for Israel - One Nation, One King! with Eliyahu Ben-Haim, Chuck Cohen and Ofer Amitai (Author: )

New Bishop for Moray, Ross and Caithness
The Rev Canon Mark Strange has been elected as the new Bishop for the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. A service of consecration is planned for October (Author: )

A response to Dawkins
Dundee Free Church of Scotland minister David Robertson has published a book entitled "The Dawkins Letters" which challenges the views of arch-atheist Richard Dawkins. (Author: )

Edinburgh University and Pagan Conference
Edinburgh University has granted permission to the Pagan Society Scotland to use the campus grounds for a major pagan conference involving Druids, shamans and witches. (Author: )

NHS hospital hosts occult activities
LAST SUNDAY, 20th May, Hope Hospital in Salford, allocated a substantial area of the hospital for a 'mind, body, spirit awareness festival' which included a range of occult activities. (Author: E-mail report)

Resources for ministry into the cults/occult
Reachout Trust is a well-established ministry providing resources, help and training for those who need a fuller understanding of the cults / occult. (Author: )

Scottish Christian Resources Exhibition
This exhibition will provide an exciting blend of exhibitors, church stories, seminars, fellowship, worship and much more. (Author: )

Complaints about Gay Police advert
In a record year for complaints to the ASA, the Gay Police Association advert was the most controversial, attracting more than 500 complaints. (Author: )

Life Issues update
A number of live issues at the moment are to do with the beginning and end of life. This will update you on the developments that are taking place in these areas (Author: Andrea Minichielllo Williams)

World View comes to Scotland
The Bibleworld SBS Studios, Scottish Bible Society’s travelling multimedia educational resource has taken on a new staff member. (Author: )

Key issues update from CCFN/LCF
A "key issues" update from CCFN - includes news from campus at Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities; and George Hargreave's (SCP) actions on drug classification. (Author: )

3 million waiting for an invite to church
A Tear Fund church report states that one in seven adults in the UK attends a Christian church each month, with nearly 3 million more people saying they would attend church if only they were asked, (Author: )

The Ultimate Text Message
The Scottish Bible Society (SBS) is participating in a new venture to make the Bible available to mobile phone users so that it can now be carried and accessed anywhere. (Author: )

Prayer walking Scotland video
A Pray for Scotland project from Easter and Pentecost (Author: )

BBC Radio News
A link to Radio Scotland (Author: )

Press Release from Lawyers Christian Fellowship
A Press Release by the Lawyers Christian Fellowship - 21 March 2007 (following the vote in the Lords). (Author: )

Rush to introduce SOR legislation
An interview with Conservative MP Peter Bone on his views of the rush to introduce new SORs legislation. (Author: )

True Womanhood 2
An new week at Ellel Scotland for women of all ages designed to enable women to move forward into their true identity. (Author: )

Parliamentary Prayer for Scotland
The PPS team led a seminar at the recent Pray for Scotland's Storehouse Conference in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness (Author: )

Sexual Orientation Regulations
A "must read" from Christian Concern for our Nation / Lawyers Christian Fellowship (Author: )

HTC - Job vacancy
A vacancy for an Academic Officer working with the Highand Theological College (Author: )

Highland Heritage
The Gospel in Highland 2007 (year of culture). (Author: )

Christian Fellowship of Healing (Highand)
A news update from Jim Rettie (Author: )

SCP's Highlands and Islands candidate
Murdo Murray from Lewis is to stand as the Highlands and Islands candidate for the Scottish Christian Party (Author: )

Highland-wide activities and news
A place for news relating to different areas across the Highlands (Author: )

Faith Mission activities
Have a look at the things that the folks in the Faith Mission have planned to do. And please pray for these ventures. (Author: )

Information for Christian guest house operators
The newly-introduced Sexual Orientation Regulations are already having a serious impact on Christian businesses. (Author: CT)

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