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Yes, God is expanding CHE Work in CE and the Balkans During the Pandemic!

The Covid 19 virus infection rates continue to ebb and flow in each of the countries of Central Europe and the Balkans.  Consequently, so do the opportunities to do village work for each of our CHE EuroNet teams in these countries.  However, we are experiencing encouraging openings and advancements in a number of regions.  Here are a few exciting reports.

North Macedonia — Pastor Jimmy Polikarp and his CHE Teams have barely missed a beat during the pandemic.  The team of Adams, Marija and Tevche are holding well-attended CHE community meetings in the villages of Przdevo and C. Bregovi.  The people of Przdevo have chosen their Community Leadership Team and C. Bregovi is not far behind.  The next step will be to disciple and train these leaders to guide their community through personal and community transformation in Christ.  Dimce and Alit are seeing similar progress with the Roma in Meksiko and Three Bagremi where 60 people recently prayed to receive Jesus Christ.  Meanwhile, Stojan and Zorica have begun CHE entry into the village of Trebotiviste.  CHE Training modules 1 and 2 (called TOT1 and TOT2) will be held in North Macedonia this fall.  Please pray that more Roma Muslims will come to Christ and find hope in Him for a new life.

Baptisms in North Macedonia

An open-air CHE community meeting in North Macedonia

Bulgaria —  CHE EuroNet has formed a “New Expansion Projects” Working Group to pray for and seek out new regions to begin CHE Teams and community outreach and development projects.  This is leading us to new connections with people of similar vision in Bulgaria where we have long wanted to begin work.  Pray for a gathering of Bulgarian Christians to attend a CHE TOT1 course in spring of 2021.

Serbia — Klara and Emil Dudas of REZ Serbia recently held a disciple-making, team-building retreat with the family of their “CHE Champion” in the Roma section of the village of Nadalj.  This was a totally new experience for Zoran, Ivana and their children as they went to a retreat facility, prayed, studied the Word, played and ate together.  They now have a vision for reaching their neighborhood for Christ.  This week, Klara and Emil held a vegetable canning workshop and Bible study for the community to teach how to prepare food for the long Serbian winter.

Family retreat in Serbia

Klara, upper left, leads canning project in Nadalj, Serbia

Albania and Kosovo —  New CHE community programs have reached the Community Leadership Team training stage in Sector Seman and Mbrostar Ura, Albania.  A south Serbia CHE Team is in the process of forming.  Patriot Hoxhaj and Agron Aga, Directors of MAI Albania and CHE Albania respectively, will soon visit pastors in Kosovo who are very interested in rescheduling a TOT1 that was cancelled last March due to the Pandemic.

Hungary —  The MEK Hungary central team has begun holding weekly Bible study meetings in Boldog with those interested in planting a church in their community.  Please pray for this.  The team is also engaged in upgrading the Boldog community center by hooking up plumbing and electricity and putting on a new, rain-proof roof.  Members of this team will also begin formal CHE entrance in the village of Apc where they have done children’s work for 2 years.

Church planting Bible Study in Boldog

Putting a new roof on the Boldog Community Center

Bosnia —  EZZ Bosnia, under Director Sasha Cipra has been able to hold community meetings in Kiseljak, their long-term project outside the city of Tuzla.  The Friday night New Life group is growing.  The team is also reengaging with the people of Moznik by assisting them in building a soccer field.  Sasha asks for your prayer for this village where there is currently stiff resistance from some to their Christian presence there.

EZZ Bosnia helps build a soccer field in Moznik.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training

Ron and Jeannie Launch a GoFundMe Campaign for Serbian Co-Worker Marija Maran

Adrijan and Marija Maran (when they are not “clowning around.”

Marija Maran is a joyful, beautiful, energetic, faithful and hard working ZZ Serbia Board Member and volunteer.  God has miraculously taken her through three extremely serious surgeries recently and preserved her life.  Many of you prayed for this miracle.  One of the surgeries required the removal of two-thirds of her stomach, so recovery and rehabilitation will take an extended period of time off work.

Since Serbian government health insurance did not cover these medical procedures, she and her husband Adrijan have been saddled with almost $15,000 in debts.  This is the equivalent of two-years salary for Adrijan.  The Serbian bank loan they have taken out is at an interest rate around 20%.  

Because of this crushing financial need, Ron and Jeannie have set up a GoFundMe campaign to defray the costs.  They have contacted those people most interested in their ministry.  So far they have received over $6000 in contributions but are seeking to hit $15,000.  If you would like to contribute to this very worthy cause, please go to their GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/marija-miracle-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1.  You will meet Marija, hear more of her story and learn how you can be part of the “Marija’s Miracle Fund” campaign.

Marija and Adrijan serve ZZ Serbia as Board Members but they also enjoy teaching, clowning and cooking as well at Roma community activities.

Categories: A Good Story, Happenings, Photos

A Pandemic Brings Many New Opportunities

So, what are Jeannie and I doing with our time during this Pandemic?  We have been at home in Phoenix now almost 7 months because we are unable to return to Hungary.  Some of that time we have been on home lockdown due to the spikes of Covid 19.  Are we sitting in our house and fretting until we get back to Central Europe?  Hardly!  There are just too many opportunities right now to take advantage of to build the Kingdom of God.  Let me show you what I mean.

Bible Camp in Apc was packed with children and adults!

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to be the only game in town!  Due to strict Covid 19 policies, Hungary was able to open up in mid June. This meant that our MEK Hungary Team (led by Laci and Eszter Daroczi-Csuhai) could plan and run three three-day children and youth camps in the villages of Apc, Zsambok and Boldog with help from a team of Word of Life Hungary students.  

Since no other organizations were willing to take the risk of entering these communities, we were the only game in town.  In Apc, the “God’s Heroes” Camp, based on the life of Samuel the Prophet, attracted over 60 activity-starved children plus interested parents.  Numerous children, plus one courageous parent stood to pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”  Each hot summer day of the Zsambok camp saw more children attend than the day before and more decisions to follow Jesus.   The camp in Boldog was also well attended, even in the heat.  Check out this video to see what the camps were like:  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v28TT3Rh76I&t=6s.   The best thing about our work is that our team members are regularly in these villages and will be able to follow-up those who made professions of faith.  

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to spread the love of Jesus Christ!  In our May newsletter we wrote about our Food for Community Service project in Boldog.  Twenty-two families participated in this six-week project where they helped clean up their own community and received ‘wages” in the form of food and necessities for the week.  The people were doubly blessed and saw the grace of God in action.  We are preparing for a predicted Covid 19 spike this winter and a possible expansion of this program.

Ron facilitates an online training course for CHE Staff workers in Central Europe

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to equip the saints better to do their works of ministry.  Jeannie and I are coordinators for Community Health Evangelism teams (like MEK Hungary and ZZ Serbia) for Central Europe and the Balkans.  We train our teams to be CHE wholistic community developers in a series of week-long modules.  These training conferences are hard to schedule due to travel distances, poor roads, very busy schedules and the costs.  Covid 19 gave us the opportunity to try to do an entire module of 32 hours of training online.

For 7 weeks 17 of us met on RingCentral (like Zoom) on Mondays and Thursdays.  The training was excellent.  The RingCentral medium was flexible and exciting to use.  We used four trainers and graduated 13 CHE Team leaders.  We are making plans to use this method again.

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to organize ourselves better for the busy days in the future.  Covid 19 will not last forever.  When it’s over we want to be ready to take advantage of the new open doors throughout Central Europe and the Balkans.  We are using this time to reschedule canceled short-term teams and to schedule new ones.  MEK Hungary, ZZ Serbia and CHE Central Europe Partners are working with us to better organize their Boards and add new members, do budgets and strategic planning for this fall and next year.

Toxic Stress affects many Roma who are in the cycle of poverty

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to write.  After working with Roma/Gypsies for over 10 years, we see two things:  1) They desperately need Jesus for eternal life and and a much more abundant life here on earth.  2) Almost all of them are victims of toxic stress.  For over a year I have been working off-and-on in my active schedule on a CHE-style lesson series on Dealing with Toxic Stress.  Covid 19 has given me opportunity to finish writing and editing these strategic lessons.  I now hope to beta test them with an on-line group this fall.

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to read great books on my list.  I have waited a very long time to dive into Hugh Ross’s books on science and scripture.  But where does a pastor and then a CHE coordinator and Hungary Field Director get time to read science?  The answer is “during a pandemic!”  Wow, these books are good.  I find myself blown away more by Jesus Christ the Creator/Scientist!  What a great boost to my worship and faith.

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with you.  Since I am at home in Phoenix, I am nearer your time zones.  I have had more opportunity to visit with some of you.  But I’d love to chat with more if I can.  If you want to connect for a visit, I am on Skype and my phone number is 586-419-8728.  Give me a holler.

We are taking advantage of the opportunity to to pray.  Each Wednesday, our CHE team members from Central Europe gather on-line for a one-hour War Room prayer time.  We virtually march around our target village walls and pray for God to tear them down.  Jeannie and I also meet with a great prayer team from Calvary Baptist in Reading, Pa. and with our church small group for fellowship and prayer.  We even have more time to pray together as husband and wife.  What a wonderful gift from the Lord.

If you’ve stayed with me through this blog, I hope you see that this pandemic is both a tragedy (I too have lost a close friend to Covid-19) and also a blessing to those who wait upon Him.  We pray that it will soon be over, but we also pray that we will mine all of the God-given treasures out of it that we possible can.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Videos

Covid 19 Doesn’t Stop Community Health Evangelism in 2020

We will all remember 2020 as the year of Covid-19.  When significant events happen in history, like President John Kennedy’s assassination or 9-11, we can all answer the “where were you when it happened?” question immediately.   It will not be hard for most of us to answer “where were you when the Coronavirus pandemic took place?”  Our reply will be “We were locked down at home.”

This is an update report to share with you what has been happening the last few months in regards to Our Travel, Our Teams and Our Time at Home.  It has been a weird but God-blessed time.

OUR TRAVELS in 2020 — They Were Unexpectedly Exciting!

That’s not how it started with Jeannie and me.  We were on a 6-week tour of NAB churches in the US and Canada with Laci and Eszter Daroczi-Csuhai and their 2 young sons.  When we began the trip in mid-February, people were saying, “Covid-19?  It’s just like the flu.  Nothing to worry about.”  By the end of week 4 in mid-March churches were closing, borders were closing and meetings of every size were being cancelled!  A term new to us was been heard everywhere:  social distancing.  We found ourselves in the Seattle airport, the US center of the pandemic at that time, trying to get home.  The Daroczi-Csuhai’s had to scramble back to Hungary and Jeannie and I needed to seek safety back in Phoenix, AZ.  

Up to that point it was an awesome, blessed and encouraging adventure.  We want to thank all the churches, pastors and mission boards in Detroit, MI; Reading, PA; Seattle-Tacoma, WA and the Vancouver, BC region for their warm hospitality, mission-minded enthusiasm and partnership in prayer, short-term team and financial support.  To those churches in Oregon, Washington and California that we could not visit because of the pandemic, we look forward to seeing you in the near future, Lord willing.

Jeannie and Eszter hang out with members of the Fellowship Chapel Mission Team

OUR TEAMS in 2020 — They Have Been Weirdly Busy!

Because of pandemic travel bans, Jeannie and I were not able to return to Hungary and Central Europe on March 25 as planned.   So we will have to ride out the pandemic here in Phoenix and work with our co-workers long distance. 

The Community Health Evangelism (CHE) Teams in Central Europe and the Balkans we work with are facing restrictions on travel, on entering villages and holding meetings. However they are still as active as possible within their country’s, coming up with new and creative ways to provide health and spiritual care to their impoverished Roma communities.  They are also finding time to tackle some important administrative assignments that often get neglected when their team members are busy out in the field.  We’re even using the opportunity to do some advanced CHE Training online with team members.  Doing this without being in the same room is kind of weird.

Marika registers families in Boldog.

Laci and Eszter and the MEK Team, along with their Boldog Roma Community Leadership Committee, have launched a wonderful relief/development project.  Because of the coronavirus, many Boldog Roma villagers are now out of work and without food.  But they do have time on their hands.  So the Leadership Committee, led by Marika, has organized a food-for-community-service program and have enrolled 23 families in it.  Each week the leadership team selects the community project (village clean-up, community center clean up, yard and house clean up) and those families that participate in the project receive groceries and necessities  from MEK.  The food parcels have printed information about coronavirus protection methods, MEK and about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in them.  

So far (this is week 6 of 8), the villagers are loving it!  People are having a good time visiting with each other and improving their community while having a guaranteed source of food.  The MEK team is buying, packaging and delivering the food, printing the materials and keeping in touch with villagers via social media.  (Click on https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YCS83npJ8Pc&feature=youtu.be to see a video about this project.)

A member of the Food and Community Service Program Cleans up the ditches in Boldog.

Marijana Čizmanski and her co-worker and sister, Tamara, are able to do care visits to Donji Petrovci, Serbia regularly and are exploring community needs and how to meet them in the midst of the crisis.  

Klara and Emil Kisgeci-Dudas are seeing spiritual, emotional and health progress in the lives of the Roma family that are championing the development project in Nadalj, Serbia.  They have also started a food parcel relief program. 

The Galilee Foundation CHE Teams in North Macedonia are able to get into their villages periodically.  Adams and Marija Polikarp have advanced to selecting their community leadership teams in their two villages near Nagotina,  and Dimce and Alit continue house-to-house visitation in the two Roma communities outside Prilep, our latest projects.  Pastor Jimmy held an outdoor evangelistic crusade there at the end of May and 60 people raised their hands in response to the invitation to receive Christ.

A sea of raised hands in the Roma village in Prilep, North Macedonia called “Mexico”

Sasha Cipra of EZZ Serbia reports that his New Life Group in Kiseljak, Bosnia has now grown to 31 adults.  He has also begun to train his new Community Leadership Committee there.

Please pray for all these CHE workers plus those in Slovakia and Albania who are risking their own health and well-being to serve others in need.

The CHE New Life Group in Kiselyak, Bosnia is growing. Sasha Cipra is in the center

OUR TIME AT HOME in 2020 — It Has Been Topsy-Turvey Terrific!

Jeannie and Ron have logged many miles on their tandem this spring.

Although we are anxious to get back to Central Europe, we are also enjoying our time at our home in Phoenix.  We are near family and friends.  We have had a house here for 9 years, but have spent most of our time in Europe.  We have never seen spring-time in Arizona.  Each day we go out for an hour-long bike ride on our tandem and marvel at the splendor and beauty of the desert in bloom.  God is so creative!

We’ve also helped to instigate a bit of a community development project in our own neighborhood.  Twice a week 8 to 16 of our neighbors get together (at a proper social distance) for coffee (Thursdays) or dinner (Saturdays) on the street.  It is helping everyone to cope with their Corona cabin fever and lack of social connection.  We even held an outdoor Easter Sunday service!

Work-wise, we are catching up on a lot of administration and paper-work and reading, doing team planning meetings, organizing team projects and participating in on-line prayer meetings.  In May and June we are facilitating a 28-lesson training course for our Central Europe and Balkan CHE staff.  It’s great to have tech tools to be able to do all of this long-distance.  We praise the Lord.

Pray for our return back to Europe in God’s perfect timing.

An old saguaro cactus enjoys her crown of flowers

This cactus blooms in the spring but only at night when it is cool. Cool!

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel

An Incredible Month of Travel and Ministry in the Balkans

Forgive me!  This blog article is much longer than any I have ever written.  The reason is that some incredible things happened in the last month as Jeannie and I traveled through the Balkan countries, ministering in Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia.   We were too busy to write blogs as events happened.  So, I thought it best just to tell the story in chronological order, meaning the most recent events are reported last.  I’ve tried to include lots of pictures to break up the reading.  Please hang on until the last article. It may be the most exciting of all.

Teaching CHE to Students at Albania’s International School of Theology and Leadership (ISTL)

One of Community Health Evangelism’s and CHE EuroNet’s chief goals is to change the paradigm Evangelical Christian churches, denominations and mission agencies use in ministering to the poor and marginalized to a more Biblical, wholistic and fruit-bearing approach.

CHE Course syllabus

A key way to do this is by engaging young and future Christian leaders with CHE strategy and methodology before they fall into the rut of aid-driven and spiritual-focus-only ministries.

Ron and Jeannie had a rich opportunity to do this September 23 to 27 when they taught an introductory CHE course at the International School for Theology and Leadership (ISTL) in Tirana, Albania.  Along with Agron Aga, Director of CHE Albania, they led 35 Christian college students through fifteen hours of Community Health Evangelism’s Biblical basis, principles, strategies and methods.  

In the process the three instructors eschewed the common college practice of lecturing in favor of using CHE’s village teaching methods

ISTL students engage in a CHE lesson exercise

of problem-posing dramas, Q and A, discussion, small group discovery Bible study, role-play, art work and story telling.  The participation was often lively and enthusiastic.

After the training course the students went home to introduce their new CHE concepts to their churches and leaders throughout Albania.  After three weeks they will return to Tirana and the ISTL to take a final exam on this crucial subject.  CHE Albania will follow up on the students and their churches, hoping to mobilize some of them for further training next spring in how to begin their own CHE community programs.  Pray for fruit to come through these newly- trained, future Christian leaders in Albania. 

Wow!  That Was Quite a Change!  The 2019 CHE EuroNet Gathering.  Learning to “Abound.”

The Rafaelo Resort on the Adriatic Coast, site of this years CHE EuroNet Gathering.

Each fall CHE Teams from Central Europe and the Balkans that make up the CHE EuroNet have a Gathering of workers and board members.  We meet together for in-service training, networking, fellowshipping, inspiration and sharing of best practices.  

It is my absolute favorite meeting of the year!  And I enjoy my part as CHE EuroNet Coordinator in planning it.  This October people from Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, the US and the Roma nation who have given their lives to serve Jesus by serving the poor lived and interacted as God’s family for 5 days.

The last two years we held our Gathering at rustic camp facilities in Serbia and Bosnia.  This year was CHE Albania’s turn to play host and

CHE Workers look on as Eno Demiral teaches on Disciple Making Movement, with the Adriatic Sea in the background.

they came through with a resort on the Adriatic Sea at super-low, off-season rates!  Paul once wrote the Philippians that he had learned how to live humbly most of the time and how to live abundantly some of the time.  This was our turn to live abundantly.  The resort rooms were super, our meeting room was first-rate with a view of the sea-side, the water was very swimmable for October and the food was tasty and abundant.

On top of that we were treated to a challenging and vision-stimulating two-day training on the Disciple Making Movement and Discovery Bible Study Methods by Eno Demiral of Global Nomads.  Keith Holloway, World Challenge’s CHE Director, gave three

Ron, Eno Demiral, Keith Holloway and Agron Aga at the 2019 Gathering

Randy Schmor talks with Keith Holloway, Jeannie speaks with Eszter Daroczi-Csuhai

encouraging messages designed for CHE workers.  Jon and Tanya Parks from Slovakia facilitated an evening of worship and renewal and Ron led a closing Communion service.  Randy Schmor, Director of Gateway Teams, was also on hand to help CHE Teams plan for summer mission teams.

Close to 75 persons attended all or part of this year’s Gathering.  We are growing as a network!  

Eno, Keith, Jon and Tanya and music team and CHE Albania, especially Blerta Kamberi, thank you all for making this a fantastic and memorable Gathering.

 

The Third Roma Network Conference Was Held in Sarajevo, October 9-12

Members of the Hungarian delegation meet at the Roma Network Conference

After the CHE EuroNet Gathering, Ron and Jeannie drove to Sarajevo, Bosnia to attend the third Roma Network Conference.  Held every three years, this conference brings together leaders who work in various Roma ministries throughout Central Europe and the Balkans.

The Conference theme was Partnering and morning sessions involved trainings on how to form effective partnerships within the region.  Ron and Jeannie had the joyful opportunity to participate in Hungarian, Bulgarian and Macedonian regional networking, partnering and planning sessions. They were encouraged to see throughout the conference that wholistic mission

Ron networks with Hungarian delegates

concepts akin to CHE’s are beginning to gain a foothold in the thinking of a number of leaders. 

Some of them openly acknowledged the failures of old aid-driven, top-down approach to poverty and Roma work

Networking is a key purpose of these meetings and Ron and Jeannie were able to make and renew some important contacts, particularly with workers in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.  We are praying that these will lead to some significant meetings and partnership discussions in the near future.

 

Come Over to Macedonia!   A New Door of Ministry Opening in North Macedonia

Ron and Macedonians survey new poor communities

Our last stop on this four-week road trip was North Macedonia and on-site visits with new and potential CHE project sites with our new CHE partner there.   

This Macedonian band of trained evangelists, church planters, disciple makers and church leaders has established churches of various sizes in some 35+ communities in North Macedonia.  Now they want to use Community Health Evangelism to go deeper into many of these communities to transform lives and whole communities in Jesus’ name.  They began their first two CHE village programs last fall.

Our primary purpose was to visit two Roma Muslim communities numbering over 1000 people that could be their next program site.  Both communities are struggling with lack of water in this very dry year.  The little water they have is contaminated and making them sick.  The sewage runs down their dirt streets and garbage is not collected.  Men work for bare, minimal wages and few children attend school. 

A Roma mother washes dishes with scarce and contaminated water

It was reported that the new Imam is telling them they must now come to the new mosque regularly if they want to be buried in the cemetery.  The local CHE-trained pastor is visiting homes in the 2 communities, sharing Jesus and the vision of community development.  The village leaders we met with said they were ready to work together with us and the Lord to solve their communities’ desperate needs.

In November, CHE trainers from Albania will lead Macedonian workers in intensive training to begin this development project.  These trained workers will then begin the village entry process.

In May 2020 we plan to bring a team from the US to help CHE workers and these two villages build temporary container-style community centers for use during their development process.  Randy Schmor of Gateway Teams (rschmor@nabconf.org) and Erv VanVeldhuizen will be organizing this build team.  If you are interested in details, contact Randy.

Ron’s partners seek permission from Roma village leaders to take first steps in the development process.

The challenges here are many: garbage pollution, contaminated water, poverty, lack of community unity, great spiritual needs.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel

Team Builds a Container Community Center in Serbia without Containers!

So, what do you do when you have an international team coming to build a shipping container building to help your Roma community in its development efforts and you can’t find shipping containers? 

This challenge faced Marijana Čizmanski, Director of ZZ Serbia, who had planned for over a year to turn two twenty-foot shipping containers into a much-needed 20 foot by 16 foot community center in the Roma section of Donji Petrovci, Serbia in September.  But, as a team of 18 men and women from Serbia, Macedonia, Hungary and the US were preparing to descend on the site to do the work, one thing was still missing — the shipping containers.  None that size were available anywhere in Central Europe!

Two steel frames were fabricated and shipped to the work site.

Marijana began to pray and then went to the shipyard nearby.  The Lord led her to a man whose shop built frameworks for shipping-container-styled buildings!  Just days before the building team arrived, two large custom-built steel container-frames were delivered to the job-site in Donji Petrovci.  If you go through the toll booths near the city of Ruma, you will see the damage that the oversized-load did to one of the booths!  But that’s another story.

Using a truck with a crane designed to pick up illegally parked cars, the two frames were wrestled into place side-by-side so that construction could be begun on the building.

The work crew first joined the steel frames and built the wood floor

It is worth mentioning the names of the hard working crew that participated in turning the framework into a functioning building in less than two weeks between August 30th and September 13th.  Wes, Rob, Joel, Troy, Aaron, Julia, David and Jo came from the US under the leadership of Erv and Marty VanVeldhuizen.  Ron, Jeannie and Laci traveled from Hungary.  Tevche, Dimce and Zlatko also came from Macedonia to help.  Marijana, her sister Tamara and the folks from Donji Petrovci represented Serbia.  We totally thank all of these dear people for their hard, dusty, muscle-aching and sweaty work

While the majority of this team was engaged in the building project, a smaller team spent each day on an equally

Tevche tells a Bible story to the children. Both tents were often full of parents and kids.

important venture: doing Christ-centered learning and play activities with the children of the village as well as visiting with parents.

The new building has now been dedicated to the Lord for use as a place where the children and adults of the community can meet for church, CHE training, Children’s CHE Club, women and men’s meetings and community social events.  Marijana is truly excited about the great possibilities.  

 

 

That’s enough reporting.  Let’s let some pictures tell their “thousand words” stories.

Steel siding for ceiling and walls are installed, insulation and studs added.

Aaron Barger makes a list of hardware for Marijana to go and try to find.

Rob Grunden screws down the roof.

The trim is made for us on the spot! Praise the Lord!

Dimce (R) translates as Troy gives dimensions for trim strips to a master craftsman.

 

A new Community Center for Donji Petrovci in two weeks! Thank you, Lord!

Every CHE Development project needs a “champion” or “Person of Peace.” In Donji Petrovci, that’s Vukitca, our cook.

Celebrating with chicken wings and Romani Lecho soup. Joel Gensler chows down.

Dedicating the building to the Lord’s use. From left, Erv, Marty, Vukitca, Joel, Marijana, Vukitca’s daughter and grandchildren, Ron, Vukitca’s husband, Dusa.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Travel

Report on Fruitful Summer Camps in Serbia and Hungary

Hot summer days in Central Europe means day camps in our Roma/Gypsy villages for our CHE community development teams (Zdrava Zajednice (ZZ) Serbia and Misszió az Egészséges Közösségekért (MEK) Hungary).

On the way to day camp in Donji Petrovci

DONJI PETROVCI, SERBIA

Sometimes spiritual breakthroughs happen in the midst of trials.  Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team recently held a four-day camp in their village of Donji Petrovci.  The children here are very poor, often abused and most do not go to school.  There is much anger, fighting abuse and neglect.  

On the first day of camp one of the children stole a valuable smart-phone out of the purse of a ZZ Serbia team member.  He ended up senselessly destroying the phone and all the important saved data on it!  Because of this incident, no one in the village expected the team to

What a great day! Hot dogs and clowns!

come back the next day, but they did.  When the villagers asked why they returned, the team said that it was because of the love of Jesus.  The ZZ worker who had lost her phone and data also returned.  The mother of the boy who had destroyed it came up to her and pled with her, “Please remove the curse that you placed on my son.”

“What curse?” the worker replied.

“The one you put on him for destroying your phone,” the mom answered.

 

“Hello!” from the campers at Donji Petrovci.

“I didn’t put a curse on him,” the worker said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because I love your son,” the worker said.

“Why?” she asked

“Because Jesus does,” was the worker’s answer.

Marijana reported the the spirit in the camp and with the children changed dramatically after that. 

Pray for the “gates of Hell” to be broken down in Donji Petrovci.

A busy day in Apc, Hungary

APC, HUNGARY

Laci and Eszter and their MEK Hungary Team ran three camps this summer in the villages around Hatvan.  Several weeks ago they went into the new community of Apc, near Hatvan, by invitation of the village’s social worker.  The 3-day Bible camp was well-received and the village has asked the MEK Hungary team to return and begin on-going ministry ther

Pray for more open doors!

 

 

“Bring them in!” Volunteers bring kids to camp in Boldog

BOLDOG, HUNGARY

Around 25 children attended the camp in Boldog, which featured both morning meetings as well as evening programs for the children’s parents.  The evening activities included arm-wrestling, folk dancing, games, karaoke, testimonies and food.  We were all very pleased with the growing number of volunteers, both from the community and the nearby-churches, who helped run the camp.  Many of the children now say they “have Jesus in their heart.” 

Pray for genuine conversion!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laci does a CHE Lesson on the dangers of smoking in Zsámbok. Roma children often start this habit as early as 12 years old.

ZSÁMBOK, HUNGARY

The Zsámbok camp was held in partnership with the Zsámbok Evangelical Church where Feri Olah of our MEK Staff is the pastor.  Over 40 campers were present for the first day’s theme which was ‘follow Jesus and be healthy (spiritually and physically).”  The second day students learned about “Satan’s illusions that trick us and make us sick.”  The third day focused on “walking with Jesus.” 

Please intercede on behalf of these children who grow up daily where Satan dwells and for our Teams who are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare on behalf of these village people.

Campers in Apc want the MEK Team to return

“If I don’t smoke, I can save the money and put it in this bank I am making.”

Ivan “puffs” on a cigarette and shows how just one smoke can turn the cotton brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campers at Zsámbok wish Ron and Jeannie a “Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary!”

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training

A Report on New Community Outreach Projects in Romania, Serbia and Macedonia

A very invigorating part of Ron’s ministry as CHE Central Europe Coordinator is mentoring new teams and strategizing and launching new development and outreach projects in poor Roma communities.  In April Ron and Jeannie went on a 18 day, eye-opening trip to explore 8 new projects, one in Romania, two in Serbia and 5 in Macedonia.

Pastor Zsolt and a member of the Roma Church in Parhida, Romania

We started in Romania where Pastor Zsolt Albert has planted a Roma church in the community of Parhida from which he would like to begin a community development project.  As Ron was presenting to the church group that Sunday, a family burst into the room announcing that their daughter had just given birth to a still-born baby.  (The infant mortality rate among Roma is twice as high as among Romanians.)  It was encouraging to see the close-knit body of believers share in the family’s shock and grief.  This is a solid core for a CHE project.  Pastor Zsolt needs a church partner to launch his dream program here.

In Serbia, we surveyed the site in the small Roma community of Donji Petrovac, where Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team are now working, where a community center will be built out of shipping containers this September.  A short-term

Marijana Čizmanski surveys the site for the future community center in Donji Petrovi.

team from North and South Dakota will be assisting Marijana and the villagers in this effort.  The community center will be used for CHE trainings, community events, children’s meeting and church meetings.

Klara and Emil Kisgeci-Dudas from the REZ Serbia team took us to the agricultural village of Nadalj, north of Novi Sad, where they have been doing community visits since last fall.  We discussed strategy for a community-wide survey of the mixed Serbian and Roma population as the first phase of their outreach program this summer.

Our main objective was to spend 10 days gaining a vision of the new CHE projects being started by members of the Galilee Foundation in Macedonia.  Since their first CHE training last year, team members have begun door-to-door visitation and surveying in five very challenging communities both urban and rural.  

Adams and Marija Polikarp have moved into Bregovi to begin a community program through the Roma church plant there.  Their presence has gained the attention of local muslim leaders who have sent an Imam to Bregovi to “reconvert” the muslims who have become Christians.  Muslims in the Balkans have been largely nominal in the past, but are now being challenged and coerced to become more fundamentalist and radical by leaders sent from the Middle-East.  

Adams and Marija (left) are starting two CHE programs near Negotino, Macedonia

Delchevo is a small, economically depressed city in northeast Macedonia.  Stojan and Zorica Manovska, who oversee a small church here, are now doing home visits among the destitute Roma population.  Men make $2 per day recycling plastic bottles to supplement $25 per month government

Stojan and Zorica Manovska

checks.  Eight people or more often live in small one room room apartments without utilities or water.  Taking a bath or washing clothes involves using a baby bassinet in an outdoor privy.  The majority are generally unhealthy and without hope.  Stojan would like to quit his $200 a month job to devote himself to full-time evangelism and community development among this group.  Zorica is finishing Bible School to join him in this.

Two Roma squatter-neighborhoods totaling 1000 people sprawls up the side of a mountain on the outskirts of Prilep, Macedonia.  The people call their community Mexico because of the high crime and drug problems they face.  Mexico has no running water or sewage system.  The water supply is contaminated and the children are often sick because of it.  No children go to school here. The community is illiterate.  The only work

Alit Halidoski and a community leader from “Mexico”

involves illegally collecting wood from a distant forest and selling it in the city for a couple of dollars a day.  Alit Halidoski, from the Galilee Foundation, has been visiting homes in this community.  The leaders I met with are ready for CHE to come with the gospel and with training and sustainable solutions.   But we have a closing window of opportunity.  Radical Islam, with its tactics of intimidation, is encroaching rapidly in the region of Prilep.  Alit has already had a gun held to his head and a knife to his chest for leaving Islam and becoming a Christian leader.

The fields are white and ready for harvest.  Our job now is to pray for laborers and resources and to help find sustainable individual, church and mission agency partners to stand with these faithful, hard working nationals during the process of personal and community transformation.

Sewage runs through the community of “Mexico, ” while villagers draw contaminated water from this only water source.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Travel

Workers Needed for Building Project in Serbia, September 2019

How about joining a short-term work team that will be helping to transform two shipping containers into a CHE Community Center this September in Donji Petrovac, Serbia?

$_20

Help us put two of these…

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…here…in Donji Petrovac, Serbia…

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…to build something like this, a CHE Community Center for community development.

In February, 2018, Marijana Čizmanski and her ZZ Serbia team began an outreach and community development program in this extremely poor and marginalized Roma village between Novi Sad and Belgrade.  Now a secure meeting place is necessary for the children and adult work to continue and grow.

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Erv, far right, will be back with some of his 2018 crew.

The building team will again be headed by Erv and Marty VanVeldhuiezen from Hillside Baptist Church in Dickinson, North Dakota.  Erv, a retired industrial arts instructor, led the men last year that built two 40 foot shipping containers into a community center/church building in Boldog Hungary.  Erv and Marty will also be joined by several members from the 2018 team and workers from Donji Petrovac and ZZ Serbia.

We are still looking for a few more NAB workers who are skilled in using tools like welding machines, grinders, hammers, saws to do steel-cutting, welding, stud-frame construction, insulation and drywall.  This team will be made up of men and women from a number of NAB churches.  So ask the Lord if He wants you to be a member.

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Women from Donji Petrovac make fried bread for a CHE community event.

If you would like more information about this trip, contact Erv at emvanveld@icloud.com or by phone at 701-225-6252 or 701-260-5799.  As team leaders, Erv and Marty will be handling questions state-side, arranging airline tickets, travel, training and other preparations.  

How much will it cost?  Erv will also be able to give you a close estimate of the cost for one week (August 30 to September 8) or two weeks (August 30 to September 15) in Serbia as well as guidance on how to raise your support.   Be sure to give Erv a call.  He’s a great guy and team leader.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Travel, Uncategorized

The CHE Gathering Wave Is Spreading from Sea to Sea!

The Coast of Albania and the Adriatic Sea

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

Counseling students at the International School of Theology and Leadership, Tirana, Albania

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.  

Hervin Fushekati

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.

Jeannie and Marijana on the Bulgarian Coast of the Black Sea

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

The Roma Ghetto in Sliven, Bulgaria

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.

Ron tells a story during CHE Vision Seminar in Bulgaria

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.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos, Training, Travel

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