Back At It
We quickly got back into the routine here last month. Everything seemed like we were picking up right where we left off – except for the heat! Those of you who were here during the summer months know how extreme that sun can feel during the day! There are some days that I come home have sweated quite a lot out on the streets.
The church services have been going well. We have had some people visit for the second and third times, which is a blessing. We have also had some faithful people at every service, which is a big blessing on Wednesday night when it could very well just be our family and the translator! I have started doing the Parables of Jesus on Wednesday and Elia is really following along and learning more already. It is amazing sometimes to see how the Lord directs parts of the service as I will get some questions after that are about a comment I just made as an aside but people were really thinking about it.
One such case was with Harula, the elderly lady who comes. I had mentioned something about images and she came right up after to ask if it was a sin to make and have images like they have in the Orthodox church. It opened up a very good discussion with her and she was very sincere in her curiousity about it. These people have been in and around the Orthodox mentality all of their lives and to hear about things such as images, or icons, being wrong is something of a shock.
Last week, we had a problem with an apartment above the church building. Apparently, the occupant of the apartment had left their faucet on when they left for vacation. That meant it was dripping heavily through our ceiling. I met the landlord there and we went around to hunt down which one it was. It turned out to be a blessing because we had curious neighbors come in to expect it and I got to give them Gospel tracts and invite them to come back for service. They have not come yet, but you could see them looking around and taking the building in – and not in a bad way. They may have never thought about coming before but now that they have at least come across the threshold, they may consider coming back. Please pray for our neighbors!
One of the men in the church, Leonidas, had been gone for several months last year with a heart problem. We had been unable to contact him and were very nervous about him. When he came back, he told us about the ordeal and he still looked like he was on the road to recovery. Well, he has been faithfully coming again lately and has even come for church even when things were going on in his family that would have kept him from coming before! He is looking a lot better and very happy, so thank you for your prayers for him!
Finally, one more note about the church. Please pray for Kayode as he has been in London for a few weeks and will be returning soon. Please pray also for Tasos as he is returning next week for a while. Though the job had not worked out for him as well as he had hoped in Germany, we are very happy to have him back (and he is happy as well). He will be studying for another job for several months so please keep that in prayer.
Before we left for the US, we had started to get the ball rolling with our residence permits. When we first came here, we had plans to be gone and on to Israel at the end of the year. So, we had not put too much into the paperwork necessary to stay longer. Well, God has had different plans as our paperwork necessities for Israel are not yet done so we will get to continue to stay here and work with these people for a while! But, that meant working on paperwork. To make a very long story shorter, after 12 visits to the immigration office, visits to government offices, multiple visits to a lawyers office, the changing in demands for paperwork 5 times, and over $1,000 in fees, we have residence permits good for two years! Well, I have mine and the family has temporary ones as we wait for one final paper to come from the US. I know some of you knew about that and prayed and we are grateful!
With school and college out, a lot of the crowd that I am normally able to converse with are not around. Fortunately, I have still be able to meet several people to witness to. Please pray for a young man, Kosmos, who is an agnostic but listened very closely as I got to give him the Gospel for almost an hour. I had challenged him to come to church and he has said he might do that and he knows right where it is (always a positive!). Please also pray for Aries and Dimitris as two other men that I got to give a good Gospel witness to. And, finally, we have been able to communicate more with our immediate neighbors. I cannot write their names because I know I would mess them up (hard to understand them sometimes!) so please just pray for this family as they have small children near our kids’ ages and have been very friendly with us. The language barrier is not too bad, but pray that the Lord would help the Gospel to be fully understood and conveyed.
Thank you all once again for your prayers and your support of this work! It would really not be in the form it is today with your help and we thank God for your faithfulness. Please continue to pray for our little church as we experience some of the growing pains that all churches go through in their early existence. It is difficult for some people as it is like learning about something that they had never heard before. With that simplicity of spiritual things, there can be misunderstanding, so please pray that the church would continue to grow, spiritually as well as physically.
God bless you all!
Charlie Barkowski and family