Feb. 24, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

This summer it will be 17 years since I first came over to this country to start working as a missionary! Just like anything in life, ministry over here has been full of its "ups and downs." There were many times when I just felt like "throwing in the towel" and moving back. But still to this day I am so thankful to God and feel so priviledged that He sent me to help this nation come into a relationship with Himself. His arms of grace are definitely extended out to these people and I know He will continue to raise up workers for the harvest here. Please continue to pray for this to happen. We need all the help we can get! There are still millions over here that need to be reached!!
Thank you so much for being involved in our mission through prayer and financial giving. We realize that your regular prayers for us require time and effort, and greatly appreciate this sacrifice. We are also aware of the fact that you (who support us financially) could be giving to any other number of good causes, and we are extremely grateful for all that you set aside for us. I know the Lord will reward you accordingly.
Below are a few highlights of the last few months. Hope you enjoy reading them. Thanks again!

Love in Christ,

Greg













Alpha Course Follow-up

In our last newsletter, I asked you to pray specifically for those who got saved recently through the Alpha Course. Well, the Lord answered those prayers! Three of the five new converts have continued to stay in fellowship with the rest of the church and are growing nicely in the Lord, withstanding persecution, sharing their faith, etc. Please continue to pray for them and for the two who are wandering a bit.

Humanitarian Aid Ministry


Back in the early nineties various civil wars broke out in Yugoslavia, as many of you already know, between Muslims, Serbs and Croats. It was a horrible time and many lives were lost on all three sides. The people above in the picture are Serb refugees whose homeland was "ethnically cleansed" by Croatian troops. They, along with 200,000 other Serbs, were forced to flee their homeland in a huge exodus that lasted several days. This huge mass of people came to Serbia seeking shelter; leaving everything they owned behind them except for a few items they managed to take with them and the clothes on their backs. These particular refugees came to Sombor and were given a temporary place to stay at a local hotel by the government. These horrible circumstances literally drove the wife of the man, in the picture above, insane. To make matters worse, the boy, in the picture above, is handicapped, unable to walk properly or carry anything in his hands. The man, named Milan, has no work and their only form of income is welfare, which is not enough for their basic needs. They are now living in a small two-room house they have to rent. My heart just breaks every time I go to visit them. I try to comfort them, but it's so hard to relate to them when they've gone through such hardships I can't even imagine. I deliver once a month packages of food to them that are sent from a caring organization called "Eurovangelism" based in England. A few people from our church and I visit about 80 poor families in all each month with this aid in Sombor. Through this ministry, so many lives have been helped. As we try to help them with some of their material needs, this always opens up opportunities for us to meet some of their spiritual needs as well. Just a few days ago I got to share the Gospel with Milan and his son for the first time. They had never heard this message before in their lives! It was so great to be able to share with them a message of hope and to talk about a Savior who totally understands them and loves them. Milan thanked us for the help and told us that he didn't think people like us existed in the world! The love of God flowing through us really made an impact on his life.

New Ministry

About a month ago I got a call from an aquaintance who has become the designer and head administrator of the City of Sombor's official website. He asked if I would like to be one of their main "bloggers," writing articles for their site whenever I get the chance and on whatever subject I choose. When asked why he wanted me to write for it he said that it's because I'm the only American who has come to live and raise a family in Sombor and also because of the interesting job I have as a missionary/humanitarian aid worker. I was overwhelmed by this opportunity and agreed to start writing immediately! So far I have written two articles that over 1,000 people have read! I've been able to introduce myself, meet new people and share the Gospel, information about the Bible, respond to their comments, questions, etc. It's like a modern-day soap box ministry; all done in the comfort of my own home! If you speak Serbian, check it out sometime - www.soinfo.org

New Convert and Regular Attenders

The most amazing thing happened a few months ago. A family I've been praying for for years started coming to our church regularly! The man is not yet a Christian, but his wife prayed to receive Christ about a year or so ago. Their kids love coming to Sunday School. I must admit though that I kind of felt like those people that were praying for Peter to be let out of prison and then when it happened they just couldn't believe it! Sometimes I'm tempted to think that my prayers aren't really doing any good. A couple times I even thought about scratching this family's name off my prayer list after seemingly not seeing any real progress. When something like this happens that reminds me to just keep praying and never give up! Luke 18:1-8

About a month ago one lady named Sneza invited a friend of hers named Nancy (Yeah, I know; unusual name for a Serbian woman!) to come to church. Jelena got to talk to her for a long time after the service and came to find out that she had just left her husband, who was beating her up all the time. One time she was beaten so badly that she had to go to the hospital and the when the doctor found out what happened, he called the police. Jelena gave her a Bible and about a week later Maca, one of our coworkers, went to visit her and lead her to the Lord! Nancy is so excited about her new relationship with the Lord and has started bringing her two small children to church as well!
Praise the Lord that he is continuing to add to His church here in Sombor!!

Divinely Appointed Surgery

About a year ago, a mole started growing on the side of my head that became very large. I went to go see a doctor about it and he set up an appointment for me to go into the hospital and have it removed. As I was laying on the operating table and the doctor was performing surgery, he started asking all kinds of questions about who I was, then what kind of church I lead, what I believe about God, the Bible, etc. We had such a great conversation! After about twenty minutes, the operation was over and I stood up. He shook my hand and said, "Thanks a lot. I'm really interested in those things we talked about, but just never seem to have enough time to learn more about them. This was a good first lesson for me."
The Lord has given me opportunities to share my faith in all kinds of different places and during various occasions. But this has definitely got to be the most unusual place and occasion I have ever done this! ON AN OPERATING TABLE, WHILE HAVING SURGERY DONE ON MY HEAD!! God certainly has a sense of humor! I was chuckling all the way home.
(By the way, I just found out the mole was benign a couple days ago.)

We Need Your Help!

 
This is a picture of some of the kids that attend Sunday School in a room that desperately needs to be fixed up. (We have about 20 kids all together.) If you remember, last spring, because the church was growing in number, we decided to knock down a wall to make more room for our main services. We literally waited until the last minute to do this (after we started to get squeezed like sardines!) because we knew that we wouldn't have an adequate place to move the Sunday School to. Fortunately, over the summer the kids were able to have their meetings outside, but once it started to get colder we moved them into the room you see above. Our elder and I worked over the summer to get this room fixed up a bit but it is still in poor condition. (We are probably some of the worst handymen in the world!)
In the fall we had a visit from some Irish people that support one of our coworkers named Maca. They brought with them a generous gift of approximately $700 that their Sunday School kids had raised for our Sunday School kids (through shoe shines, car washes, etc.). We used some of this money to buy a heater for this room and to hire an architect to make up blueprints for a renovation project for this part of the church building. He also drew up a plan for the rest of the building that we'll be able to use one day if we ever receive funds for this. (Even though the Sunday School area is in bad condition, the rest of the building, though useable, needs lots of work done on it too, in order to make it more functional). He estimates total renovation for the whole building will be somewhere around $60,000.
As you know, just a few months ago thanks to the donations of many different supporters over the years, especially "North Coast Church" in Vista, the Lord answered our prayers and finally got us out of debt for the building itself. It's such a relief having this burden off our shoulders and after much prayer we have decided to try to make going into debt for the renovation of this building a last resort if we can. We will try to raise money through this newsletter and in other ways and then, if the Lord provides, we will begin renovating the building little by little starting with the Sunday School room.
Please pray about helping us take care of this problem. If you feel lead, maybe even present this letter to a few friends or pastors who you think would be interested. If you would like to give a donation for this project:

1. Make a check payable to:

Calvary Chapel of Vista

2. Send check to:

Calvary Chapel of Vista
885 E. Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084

3. Write in memo section of check:

Sombor Church

* Note - All donations are tax-deductable. All donations given for "Sombor Church" will be used for renovation of the building. No percentage of your donation will be taken by Calvary Chapel for administrative services.


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