Photos

Super Six Day Stay in Serbia!

4 hours at the border looks like this!

Blogger’s Note:  The worst thing about making a trip to Serbia is that you spend almost the equivalent of one working day (8 hours) waiting at the Serbian-Hungarian Border!  I am writing this report to you while I am at the border.  (I have already spent 3 hours writing emails, reports and composing messages.)  Let’s see if I can get this blog done before Jeannie gets to the front of the line!

Our one-week Serbia trip was super as well as long overdue.  We have been through Serbia many times since May but we have not been able to stop in the country because of Covid restrictions.  So we were looking forward to being with our Serbian CHE Teams face-to-face.

We started by catching up with Emil and Klara Kisgeci who direct the REZ Serbia team and are in the first stage of a project in the village of Nadalj, north of Novi Sad.  Covid was hard on Klara and Emil, who both came down with it, Klara very severely, and on Zoran and Ivana, the village champion couple they are working with in Nadalj.  They have still been able to do Bible studies and practical trainings online and in-person when Covid permitted.  All of our CHE Teams have been willing to take health risks working in their communities during the pandemic.  Keep them in your prayers.

We were unable to visit the ZZ Serbia project village of Donji Petrovci because of covid cases there, but Marijana Čizmanski, the ZZ Director, and Tamara Beres, leader of children’s ministries, both gave encouraging reports.  Children’s programs are well-attended and they are now working on their Christmas program presentations.  The youth have also helped clean and paint the community center.  

edZZ Serbia Intern, Nicole, from France, helps the children of Donji Petrovci with an art project inside the Community Center. The children recently helped paint the interior and floor.

The ZZ Serbia team needs to add a man or men!  Serbia is a male-dominant country.  CHE work with women and children is progressing but men and older male teens do not come to meetings or participate in home visits unless there are men on the team.  Marijana has solved this at times by using interns or male students from the Belgrade Bible School.  But what they need is a full-time man on the team.  If you or someone you know is looking for a meaningful internship or sense a calling from God to Serbia, please contact Marijana Čizmanski (marijanacizmanski@gmail.com).

It was the height of fall color-season as we headed to the picturesque southeast part of Serbia.  We were traveling with Marijana and Tamara to visit Stefan and Jasmina, a young couple who had done volunteer work with ZZ in Donji Petrovci and had recently  begun pastoring in the city of Zajecar.  They wanted to learn how to use CHE in their city and how their church could partner with ZZ!  

The best way to explain CHE is to see CHE in action, so they joined us on an inspection trip to the village of Lebane-Mahala in south Serbia

Snezana Randjelovic, Director of GHNI South Serbia (L), talks with Marijana Čizmanski, Director of ZZ Serbia

Four and a half years ago, we recruited Snezana Randjelovic from Lebane, trained her in CHE, together selected her first Roma community and helped her begin a partnership with Global Hope Network International (GHNI).  Four years ago, when I walked the streets of Lebane-Mahala they stank of human feces and urine because the community had only 4 outdoor privies, houses were ramshackle, Christians numbered around 2, hope for the future was non-existent.  

Snezana went to work.  When we walked the same streets this week they were swept clean by the villagers, houses had indoor toilets, roofs were repaired, new believers are in every household, people smiled and laughed with us, one showed us his micro-enterprise tomato garden, the community leadership team wants to spread Jesus and CHE to the surrounding Roma communities!  God has done great work through this quiet, loving, devoted woman, Snezana Randjelovic.  If you want to know more about Snezana and her expanding ministry, write me and I will put you in touch.  (She understands English and is learning to read and write it as well.)

Snezana hopped into our now-full van and we headed off to our last village populated mostly by Roma who are professional musicians.  We went there to meet with the village’s champion, an enthusiastic, passionate believer named Kruna.  Kruna wants to start community development in her community and also plant a church.  

Three people in this house prayed to receive Christ

God-things happen in Kruna’s house.  Marijana and Snezana have witnessed 5 or 6 people receive Christ when they led Bible studies there.  On this visit three Roma prayed and asked Jesus into their lives.  In addition we prayed and anointed two who had serious medical needs.  Plans are now on the drawing board to begin follow-up, have a seminar on starting a church and training in how to do CHE.  

What a great trip.  

Would you believe that I finished this blog as we exited border control?  4 hours plus!

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

CHE EuroNet Teams Gather in Albania

In the middle of this summer of 2021 I was beginning to wonder if CHE EuroNet would ever, ever have a live, face-to-face meeting again, let alone our annual CHE Team Gathering. 

In 2021 the Gathering of all our CHE Teams from Central Europe and the Balkans was to take place in Hungary in late September.  But, with national border travel restrictions throughout the region making travel all but impossible and Hungary’s then-strict in-country protocols eliminating everyone without a vaccination, it looked like we were going to be back to a virtual, video event.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  That’s the sound of my teeth grinding.

Like every other organization, CHE EuroNet and I had our share of virtual meetings and trainings via computer during the ongoing Covid Pandemic in 2020-21.  So much so that I began to call 2020-21 “the virtual years.”  (Did you know that, in computing, “virtual” means “not physically existing as such”?  That means that 2020-21 never really existed — only on my computer!). No one wanted to have a virtual Gathering!

Pastors Hessel Keuter and Feri Oláh of MEK Hungary gave messages at the Gathering

Agron Aga, Blerta Kamberi, CHE Albania (and, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ) to the rescue!  They were able, on short notice, to shift our Gathering to Albania and the coast of the Adriatic Sea!   The Conference ran from September 28 to October 3 with the theme “How to  be a wholly healthy CHE worker while seeking to make wholly healthy people.”  The 70 attendees broke into table discussion groups to explore many of the facets of remaining a wholly healthy CHE Worker.  Pastors from our CHE Teams presented very practical messages at our inspirational times on this theme, with the main point being that to remain wholly healthy ourselves, we need to make certain always that we are remaining in the True Vine, Jesus Christ.  The worship team and music was truly uplifting.  No one sings quite like mission workers do!

There was much free time for networking, fellowshipping, a ladies’ meeting, team meetings, swimming in the Adriatic (watch out for jelly fish!) and in the hotel pools, using the sauna, steam and salt rooms and eating great food.  

Those who worked hard in preparing the Gathering believe that we achieved our goal:  to send CHE workers home healthier than when they came!  We praise the Lord for giving us this blessed time together with Him and each other.  Hungary in 2022!

CHE Teams from Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania Gathered on the Adriatic Coast of Albania for CHE Euronet’s 2021 Gathering

Categories: A Good Story, Happenings, Photos, Travel

MEK Hungary Begins a New partnership with Gödöllõ Baptist Church

A vision was given by God to Sandor Kovacs, a Hungarian born in Romania:  to mobilize the Church to transform the poor communities Hungary and Romania by the mighty power of God and His Word.  His willing church in Gödöllõ, Hungary struggled for many years, without much success, to see this vision realized.

Two years ago Sandor shared his unfulfilled vision-burden for the poor and unreached of his city with Ibolya Palinkas, a quiet, small lady with great energy from God.  Ibolya, who now serves on the Board of MEK Hungary, suggested that Sandor contact MEK Hungary Staff Member Feri Oláh and learn about Community Health Evangelism (CHE).  

When Sandor and the leadership of his church heard the CHE strategy of MEK Hungary from Feri and MEK Director, Laci Daroczi-Csuhai, two visions meshed.  From its very start in 2013, MEK has been on a mission, not only to begin CHE programs in impoverished Hungarian villages, but to mobilize, train and equip Hungarian-speaking churches to do the same.

Because of Sandor’s vision, MEK Hungary is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Gödöllõ Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Levente Lyõrik, to do Biblical-based community development in three impoverished communities around the city of Gödöllõ.

Sadly, Sándor Kovács went home to be with the Lord in late September, but his son, Attila, has picked up his father’s dream.  Atilla, Pastor Levente and András Szabó will lead the CHE program for Gödöllõ Baptist Church.  The MEK Team assisting them will consist of Laci, Feri and his wife, Juli

Leaders of the MEK-Gödölló Baptist Church (GBC) Partnership, left to right: Attila Kovács (GBC), Lace Daroczi-Csuhai and Feri Oláh (MEK), András Szabó and Pastor Levente Lõrik (GBC)

The first CHE Program is planned for the 3000-member Roma community in the Gödöllõ area, followed in the future by development work in Valko and Isaszeg, with a population of another 2000.  This is a huge vision for a church of 80 people!   However, under Pastor Levente’s guidance, this flock is very active in ministry and mission.

“They are so excited and filled up with hope and vision and dreams,” said Laci, describing the church’s response to CHE strategy.  “They can’t wait to start the new way of ministry.”

It will commence on November 4, when the church leadership team begins Thursday on-the-job trainings in Gödöllõ with the MEK Team.  This will be followed by two weekends of intensive CHE training in February for volunteer church members.  Then community entrance will begin in earnest.

You can partner with your MEK Team by praying…

  • for the start-up of leadership, on-the-job training, November 4.
  • that many Gödöllõ church members will be able to take the 2-weekend training in February.
  • that, as the leaders do door-to-door visitation, they will find God’s “persons of peace” who will help them gain entrance into the community.

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

CHE North Macedonia is Bringing Clean Water to Two Roma Communities with a Whole Lot of Help from You!

“Nobody ever told us the truth before. Thank you.”

“I thought you were just like all the politicians who come to this place,” the young Roma Muslim father said to me in the village of Tribagremi on the outskirts of Prilep, North Macedonia.  “They all make promises at election time and they never keep them.  They all promised to bring us water but they lied.”  

We too had promised to bring water to the villages of Tribagremi and Meksiko … almost 2 years earlier.  These 2 Roma communities had sprawled up the mountain outside Prilep beyond the reach of city utilities.  For years the only water they had was unsafe-to-drink irrigation water that completely dried up for 3 months in the hot summer.  But after we made our promise to bring water Covid hit and our US work team was grounded from coming to help kick-start the huge project.  

In the meantime, the CHE Macedonia team risked their own health visiting village homes, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and organizing for the day we could start the water project. And now we were finally back, in May 2021, with a brave crew of workers from North Dakota ready to get to work.

“Look down there.” I pointed the young man to a spot over 500 meters down the hill.  “See the drilling machine there?  They’ve started drilling for clean and sustainable water.  Pretty soon you’re going to see trucks coming up here with materials to build the tank house where we’ll store the water.  If you go over to Meksiko, you’ll see bulldozers moving the garbage dump right now for the water project there.”  Just then the first truck with building supplies came into view.  The young man turned to me, smiled and stuck out his hand to shake mine.  “No one has ever told us the truth before.  Thank you.”

Left to right: Erv VanVeldhuizen, Jimmy Polikarp, Joel Gensler, Mike Strommen and Tevche stand with the tank that will hold ten tons of water. Erv, Joel and Mike were the US work crew.

“Don’t thank me,” I replied, smiling back.  “Thank Jesus who sent us.  He always tells the truth.”  The young man and I joined the US Team, the CHE Macedonia Team and the men from the village to start the building work.

The water project in Meksiko and Tribagremi has proven to be much bigger, more expensive, more complicated and more diplomatically delicate than we imagined when we began.  But the Lord Jesus has moved mountains.  Our US team had to return home after two weeks with the projects barely begun.  The CHE Macedonia team and the village leaders and workers in Tribagremi built the tank house and pump house.  The Prilep city officials have kept their promises to move garbage and grade our build-site in Meksiko and trench the half-kilometer for the water line from the well-site to the storage tank to the water delivery spigots in Tribagremi.  Nafia, a community-minded woman in the village, donated the land for the well and pump house.  

I write this, a 1.5 kilometer trench is being dug from Tribagremi to Meksiko.  A storage tank in Meksiko will be connected to the one in Tribagremi, and soon both villages will have an abundant supply of clean water.  Pastor Alit, one of our CHE workers in Tribagremi reports that over 50 people are now attending his little church!  

It appears that only one mountain still needs to be removed.  We need a final $5,300 to buy the water pump, build the pump house and the storage tank house and connect the electricity in Meksiko.  Residents in both villages will buy water filters, if necessary, and pay for water connections to their own houses.

We all look forward to the day when the two water projects are dedicated and Jimmy Polikarp, Director of CHE North Macedonia, preaches his message on the True Water of Life.  If you would like to send a tax-free donation to finish this water project, contact me (ronseck@me.com) and I will send you the details on how to do so.

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

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

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