From the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea in two weeks! What a trip!
Ron and Jeannie recently had two great opportunities to equip future Christian workers, pastors and church planters to use Community Health Evangelism strategies and materials to sharpen their ministries. The first week was in Albania on the Adriatic Sea and the second in Bulgaria near the Black Sea.
In Tirana, Albania they joined CHE Albania Director Agron Aga to teach a week-long course at the International School
of Theology and Leadership, the largest Bible college in that country. They were able to show the versatility of the Community Health Evangelism’s library of Christ-centered resource materials by demonstrating lessons that could be used in churches, schools and communities on basic community mental health issues. Their 19 students were mainly those in the school’s counseling track. Mental health issues are very common in poor communities and preventative health-care is urgently needed.
The training team was pleased by the intensity with which the students participated in the class-room presentations, role plays and practice sessions. President of the school, Hervin Fushekati, is looking for our team to return next fall to do a complete CHE introductory course for pastors and church planters.
Ron and Jeannie and Marijana Čizmanski got their first peak at the Black Sea on a raw and blustery March day, before settling in at the Global Nomads training center near Burgas, Bulgaria. Their mission was to give E.D. and his team a vision of how Community Health Evangelism could better help them plant churches in Bulgaria and along the Silk Road to China. On Friday, E.D. took them to survey Roma urban ghettoes of about 15,000 people each in the cities of Yambol and Sliven as well as one village near their training center where they had already begun outreach.
Since it was Friday the narrow, muddy ghetto streets were
packed with milling people trying to move in multiple directions. Wedding celebrations and parades with loud Roma/Turkish music blared away. Merry children tried to slap dirty hands with passers-by. The smell of barbecue and burning wood and plastic filled the air. On a side street, what appeared to be a bride-sale was taking place as older men drinking wine watched young girls dance mirthlessly to a beat. In one setting, garbage was strewn as far as the eye could see.
In both urban settings we interviewed local Roma about conditions in their neighborhoods. We also met with two local pastors and visited their humble church buildings, a quiet oasis from the steady din in the streets and a hope for lost people.
The next two days we shared how Global Nomads might make inroads into these seemingly hopeless environments by combining their Disciple Making Movement strategies with wholistic community development methods. Christian Roma from the nearby village attended many of the meetings.
An unexpected blessing for our CHE Team was to get to know E. D. and his amazing work more fully. We are currently researching how to incorporate Disciple Making Movement strategies into our own community work. It turned out that E.D. is an expert in DMM, having trained over 200 active church planters. It looks like we may be training each other’s teams in the near future. More about that later.