After a great year, expect more change in 2016! First, I want to express my thankfulness not only to God, but also to all our partners for all that was made possible this past year. Thank you so much!! It is such a joy and privilege to see Him at work through you, me and our partners in Eastern Europe. Realizing that more fruit can grow on twenty trees than one, I thank God for more than twenty 4D partners throughout Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Moldova and, since the end of 2015, also Slovakia (our newest partner). These partners are not individuals, but national ministries with talent, reputation, and potential to help their churches reach out within their own communities and beyond. They have asked 4D to come alongside. In response, we help them with networking, mentoring, and sometimes, partial funding. Our goal in all this is to build partners that are vital, long-term, self-sustainable and used by God within their own culture. Our largest partner – and really much more than a partner – is Rei Abrudan and his team in Cluj, Romania. Rei and I have worked together since 1991, when he had just graduated as a young engineer after his country had thrown off the yoke of communist dictator Ceausescu. At that time, churches had regained their freedom to work with children and youth. Rei, together with his wife Ramona, developed a local church-based model, translated and published resources for youth workers (much of this was a first in their language), developed training events and eventually also a website with ministry resources, camps, student ministry and more. Last November, a major change took place for Rei when he was asked to start a new church and become the founding pastor. When I talked with Rei about this great new development, he responded: “It will be an opportunity to build an even more culturally relevant church that is attractive to the unchurched in our city. It also will help us even better as a platform for training others throughout our country.”
Three months after the start, the church has grown from 62 to over 300 in attendance. A first baptismal service with 10 took place in January, and another one is already scheduled for April. All members are in small groups, 70 kids in Sunday school, and the youth and student ministry has over 150 in attendance. Exhilarating, isn’t it? A new member of Rei’s team is Doroteea (Dorothy). She assists Rei in leading the Ambassadors Together program – an amazing and growing movement of missional churches and their outreach. This past year, 15 church-based mission teams reached out to about 1,000 kids (and their families) through camps, community, and follow-up programs. Though Romanian salaries are very low compared to the US, over half of the expenses were raised from the sending churches and friends. It gives local ownership, prayer, and involvement. It’s not only transformational to many of the 1,000 reached kids, it’s also transformational to the 15 sending churches and the 150 volunteers that were trained and involved! When I asked Rei if this year we could expand the Ambassadors Together program to 20 teams, he responded, “For many years we have trained hundreds of students that came and studied in our city and were part of our ministry. Many of them have graduated and now live scattered throughout our country and ask for our help.” Exciting, isn’t it? So, in response, our goal for 2016 is:
- 20 teams
- 200 volunteer leaders (and their training)
- 2,000 kids and their families reached and involved in follow-up groups and activities.
I hope this communicates the overwhelming thankfulness for God’s work thus far, and also for the exciting opportunities to keep building on this solid foundation with all that has been planned for 2016. So, please continue your journey with us this year. You can do that by sponsoring Rei and his team, or by sponsoring one or more children (for $25 each) to hear the Good News of Christ. Or, maybe even by sponsoring part of or an entire year-long Romanian Ambassadors Together team for $2,000. With thankfulness to God and to you for what has taken place these past years, and with great expectation for especially this upcoming summer of ministry, please join me in partnering with Rei and God’s ministry in Romania with a special summer ministry gift at this time. Together on His team, Hank P.S. Though the summer still seems like it’s a long time away, now is the time for reserving facilities and making commitments (and partial payments) for ministry this year. Please encourage Rei and his team by coming alongside today by donating here.