Albania Update

Hello from Albania! Team America has been at English Camp on the beaches of Vlore since Monday, and we all agree that it is a privilege to serve alongside the Cru team in this outreach ministry to college students. I just escaped Albania Night for a few minutes so I can tell you what is happening on this side of the world.

We have four classes of fairly proficient English speakers from the University in Tirana, so several of us have had to increase the level of our lessons significantly. Beyond teaching article adjectives, contractions, and conjunctions, we are playing lots of games and having deep discussions about God.

On Monday we had the students fill out a form which identifies their worldview. On Tuesday we read through Genesis 1 in order to discuss creation based on our worldview and theirs. Today we went over to Genesis 3 where they learned about sin and separation from God from a Biblical perspective. This led to many thoughtful questions, which we continued in the afternoon by taking individual students to “coffee” (a generic term describing a time of socializing with friends). We, of course, do this in order to know the students on a more personal level with the hope of sharing the Gospel and them making a decision to follow Jesus.

On Tuesday night, we hosted America Night. We attempted to explain the great diversity that exists in our country through a skit, team games, dancing, and a few boring statistics (Darin’s words…not mine). The kids ate brownies and ice cream, enjoyed our photo booth, and went away with their very own American T-shirt. The one thing that surprised us all is that none of them had every played BINGO. They are a very competitive group, so you can imagine how serious they took this game!

And now for some hi-lights from team members about the exciting things God has done thus far:

Jim~ “The students in our discussion group have really enjoyed and engaged in the Bible topics. My student helper and I met with two students. One has begun to understand what it means to be a true Christian, while the second desires to know who God is. She said she would study the Bible so she can hear from God.”

Pam~ “I had an amazing conversation with a girl who has never heard anything about the Bible. Both of her parents have a Communist background, so they never talked about God in her family. I was able to share a clear presentation of the Gospel with her, but she said it will take time to process. At this time she believes there is a God, so I explained His promise that if she seeks, she will find Him. I also encouraged her to get involved with Jetmira, one of the Cru staff, in order to navigate all of this new information.”

Zoya~ “I had a good conversation with a young man who said that he believes in God. I shared my testimony with him, and he has many questions about God. I am going to give him a devotional so he can read every day and know God more. I also talked with another student who believes in God, but he wants to have a more personal relationship with Him.”

Darin~ “I have liked everything about this mission trip so far. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the kids and the culture, and I am realizing that missionaries work really hard! One of the students I’ve talked to about God is receptive to hearing the Gospel and my beliefs, and is open to share the differences with his beliefs. I was able to share my testimony for the first time since being here, and we were able to connect over that. He is interested in learning more, so I hope to have more one-on-one time with him before we leave.”

Rick~ “I had good discussions with two students and was pleasantly surprised with the interest one of them showed. When the other left he said, ‘I need to go think.’ Hopefully that is a sign that God is working on his heart.”

Ashley~ “I have had promising conversations with two boys who believe in God but have misconceptions about who He is. Their main struggle is with the question of suffering. As they ask very good questions, I have had to take a step back and really think about how best to articulate a clearly defined response. I believe that God is working through these discussions to address their concerns, but in doing so, to continually redirect them back to the cross where it all make sense. I hope to continue these conversations and pray that both will develop a personal relationship with Jesus.” 

Kelly~ “After class, I was able to get into a good conversation with one of my students who believes in God but doesn’t understand forgiveness. I am hoping to have ‘coffee’ with her tomorrow to continue our discussion. I also spoke for several hours with a young lady who has a worldview unlike anything I’ve ever heard. She is highly intelligent and has created a theory based on an algorithm in our brains which enables us to function in this world. She is very curious and allowed me to explain my beliefs. She also asked many questions and left the conversation saying that she would continue to learn about Christianity, though she really likes what she believes.”

Lucy and Charles~ “The students in our class acknowledge God in one way or another. We have one that has been influenced heavily by Islam, so he doesn’t believe in the Trinity or that Jesus is God. We also have one that leans very much toward Pantheism, believing that ‘everything’ is God. Another approaches this topic from a philosophical and intellectual mindset. He has quoted Nietzsche, and yet is not an atheist. A couple are medical students who are looking for a way to reconcile ‘science’ with Christianity. None are Atheist. None are hostile. All are actively and eagerly asking questions and re-evaluating their worldviews in light of the Gospel.”

Blessings and love from all of us!

Albania (July 19-29)

Thank you for joining us on our journey to Albania and partnering with us in prayer. Our mission will be to share the love of Christ with college students from the University in Tirana, while teaching English. We will be working alongside a team of seven Cru staff on the southern coast of Albania.

Camp begins Sunday, July 22, with registration and testing to divide participants into beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes. Monday through Friday mornings will include English lessons, games to promote learning, and Bible discussion. In the afternoons students will have free time, during which our goal will be to have one-on-one Gospel conversations over coffee and/or gelato. In the evenings Cru and American teams will host fun, group activities.


Prayer Requests:

·         Pray that God would go before us to prepare the hearts of each student who will be at  camp.

·         32 students have signed up so far, including 28 nonbelievers and 4 believers. We can    accommodate 36 students, so please pray that God will bring students with receptive hearts to hear and receive the Gospel.   

·         Pray that true disciples of Christ will come from this group of students, and that they will impact many for the kingdom of God in the future.

·         Pray for the team’s boldness and for opportunities to share the Gospel.

·         Pray for flexibility and unity among the believers.

·         Pray for our safety and the safe arrival of the luggage and teaching supplies.

·         Pray that we would serve the Cru staff well.

·         Pray for the health and strength of the team members.  Most of the Cru staff are finishing up another week of language camp just before we arrive.

·         Pray that we would build relationships that will continue to grow even after camp is over.

·         Pray for the protection of our loved ones while we are away.

·         Pray that God will remove all roadblocks and distractions, so that we are fully focused on our mission.

·         Pray that God prevents the enemy from gaining any foothold in or influence over the minds of the lost students.

·         Pray for humility and that all glory goes to God.

Clarkston Rocks!!

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.
I know the Lord is great,
That our Lord is greater than all gods.
— Psalm 135:3a & 5a
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Beginning June 11, thirty happy and eager servants traveled daily to Clarkston, Georgia.  It is difficult to imagine so many people groups—sixty languages in a one-mile radius—live in this small Georgia town.  It was an honor to be a part of this week’s Camp Encounter where children could receive academic tutoring, be a part of sports camp, or art and music camp (a.k.a. Clarkston Rocks). Of the 150 registered campers, approximately 70 attended our Clarkston Rocks music and arts sessions, which included Art, Crafts and Musical Instruments.

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Each morning began with a chapel session, during which Pamela taught songs about God’s goodness, greatness, everlasting love, and power to the children.  Lauren McCook taught the children to sign the memory verse and each day Pastor Eric, from Clarkston International Baptist Church, taught a different attribute of God to the children.  So, every day all of us learned something new of God’s Glory and Wisdom, that He is Almighty and sovereign.

What a blessing it is to hear the children’s sweet voices singing praises to the Lord!

You have set your glory in the heavens through the praise of children.
— .Psalm 8:1-2
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At art and music camp, the kids had a great time learning how to play instruments and how to make them too!  They also got quite good at reading and playing different rhythms. 

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Boot camp and music bingo taught the kids to read the many symbols that are found in a musical composition, while we all exercised, ran, hopped, and jumped to the music. We really got our steps in each day while having so much fun! 

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Have you ever tried to balance an Oreo on your forehead and get it in your mouth without using your hands?? Try it....great family fun and lots of laughs. 

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We also expanded our repertoires with Chinese art techniques. Adults and kids alike became quite adept at managing the brush to create fish, flowers and birds...truly works of art.

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Throughout the week, our team members remained alert for possible opportunities to have gospel conversations with the children.  During art classes, team members were especially sensitive to praise each individual’s artistic ability, instead of focusing on our “mistakes.” We used that opportunity to talk about how, through Jesus, God can see each of us as His perfect children.

Friday’s highlight was having the families join us for celebration and sharing of all that the children had learned and built in camp: scripture, sign language, worship through song and playing of instruments, arts, crafts, new friendships, and so much more. 

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Looking into the eyes of these beautiful children from so many corners of the world is a precious reminder of how diverse Heaven will be.  Our daily prayer was, and is, to be an instrument in sharing the Good News!

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To God be the glory. Our God is in the Heavens; He does all that he pleases.
— Psalm 115:3

We pray that the Lord was pleased with our efforts and will multiply them and those of Clarkston International Bible Church and the Proskuneo School of the Arts that is housed there. 

 

 

Clarkston, GA (June 11-15)

JFBC is sending another team to Clarkston, GA, this time for five days. We will be helping with the Clarkston Rocks summer music camp. Since the team will commute back and forth from Clarkston every day, we would really appreciate prayers for safe and easy commutes, as well as for health and energy. We are so excited to share our passion for the Lord with these children as we teach them about music—not simply for its own sake, but as an expression of worship. Music can be such a powerful tool to share about the Lord and to lead people into relationship with Him. Please join us in prayer as we show love to these children and their parents and as we serve as the instruments of the Lord in His mission to seek and save the lost.  

Here is an outline of prayer requests specific to each day’s events:

June 11: Transportation safety driving from JFBC to Clarkston, GA daily, as well as good health of team members

June 12: The spiritual songs, Bible stories & scriptures we are teaching to penetrate the children’s hearts

June 13: God’s joy to be captured by the students as we learn about His gift of music & art            

June 14: Divine appointments & God’s power as the team has opportunities to share with the music camp participants – perhaps encouragement, a testimony, a prayer, or the gospel message

June 15: Parents that come to the parent performance will understand and know the One True God about Whom we are sharing                        

We thank you for your prayers and support, and we cannot wait to share with you what all the Lord has in store over the upcoming week and beyond!

Clarkston: A "Roaring" Success!

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A “Beats and Brushes” class is just that!   BEATS: getting to play all kinds of cool instruments; using your body to clap, stomp, and pat out neat new rhythms; and learning new songs!

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. . . .  And BRUSHES: making cool crafts with paint, glue, and who knows what else (macaroni, perhaps?)!

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BUT . . . here is the key:  all those BEATS and all those BRUSHES point to the WORD OF GOD—in our case, specifically to “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.”

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We made “prayer boxes” to save all the prayers that our young people will want to lift to God and to then observe His answers!

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We made backpacks with lions all over; a lion puppet; a lion sun catcher; and a lion’s mask for our final performance.  We had to admit that having a wonderful story about God’s protection involving lions leads to some really fun crafts!

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Ireland (June 1-11)

Greetings from Ireland!

We’ve had an eventful and productive time so far. At just halfway through the trip, more has been accomplished than expected, and God has tremendously blessed us with new friends at Operation Mobilization (OM) – the organization we’re assisting. Before the trip, we asked the Lord for good weather so we could get as much work done as possible. The weather has been clear and warm all week, which is extremely unusual for Ireland!

The Irish countryside is spectacular, and Lacken House is an incredible place. It’s exciting that God placed it in the hands of OM to be used for the Kingdom.

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 An aerial view of Lacken House and the surrounding grounds and chalets. 

An aerial view of Lacken House and the surrounding grounds and chalets. 

On Sunday, we attended church at Life for the People Church, a Portuguese congregation dedicated to outreach in Ireland. They were welcoming, friendly, and fun to interact with.

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We ate lunch with Daniel and Ashlyn Lowe. Afterward, we watched the Soap Box Derby.  The track had a ramp and curves, and the entire town came to see.  We finished the day at the ruins of Castle Roscommon – a fascinating site!

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Monday and Tuesday, we set to renovating the chalets here at Lacken House.

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Here’s Kay removing caulk from one of the chalets.

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Since the sanding machines couldn’t remove paint from the grooves in between the planks, Jim had the “character building” job of hand sanding these areas. 

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After the sanding was complete, the team began putting two coats of paint on the chalets.

God has blessed our progress, and despite one or two hurdles, we’re ahead of schedule! It’ll be exciting to see what’s accomplished by the end of the week. 

Clarkston, GA (June 5-7)

How is it that our team from Johnson Ferry will be participating in an “international” mission by driving 21 miles to the southeast to Clarkston, instead of to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport?  Here are some fun facts on Clarkston, Georgia!  TIME Magazine once called it “the most diverse square mile in the United States.”  It would seem that that is very true, since according to the Clarkston website, there are 60 different languages spoken within the 1.4 square mile that makes up Clarkston!

We will be working with Proskuneo Ministries, a ministry in Clarkston with a vision for “bringing all nations together in worship” so that we might “worship on earth as in heaven” as the Apostle John describes in Revelation 7:9.

Proskuneo Ministries offers various music and art classes to students of all ages in Clarkston.  In the last couple of years, our teams have been a part of their expanding the ministry by offering various music and art camps in the summer.  As part of that vision, our team of 9 ladies will be leading a “Beats and Brushes” music camp for a group of 4-6 year old’s from a wide variety of nationalities.  Our theme is “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.”  So, we are equipped with some fun songs on prayer, obedience, and LIONS!  The van will also be loaded up with cool crafts and yummy snacks! 

So…..now what we would covet is your prayer support!

Please pray for safe travel to and from Clarkston each day and the health of the team.

Please pray for divine appointments as team members have opportunities to share with the music camp participants, parents and staff.

Please pray that the spiritual songs, Bible story (Daniel in the Lion’s Den) & scriptures we are teaching will penetrate the children’s hearts.

On the last day of the camp, we will invite the parents to a short program to listen to the songs their children learned and see their handwork with the crafts.  Please pray that the parents and care givers will come to the performance and will understand and know the One True God about whom we are sharing.