Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Special Report - BalkanNetworks Meeting

Week of April 14-20, 2014

This week, instead of a prayer directive, we will report on our visit to a refugee camp in Podgorica, Montenegro and the Balkan Networks strategy meeting in Gjakove, Kosovo which we attended last week.

Zuzanna and I started out by driving down the Croatian coast Monday and Tuesday (April 7-8) and were amazed at the beauty our creative Father laid out for us to enjoy.

We arrived to Montenegro and met with Sinisa Nadazdin who pastors in a Roma (Gypsy) refugee camp. At the camp we observed the degrading conditions of life for about 1,600 refugees. Several have come to know Jesus in the camp and are so hungry for Him. This was evident in the mid-week service we attended where about 75% was made up of young people. He has worked with the refugees for some six years and has earned their trust. Sinisa helps them in countless ways, among which is worth noting that he helps the refugees work through the entangled bureaucracy of the paperwork in order to establish their identity. These refugees have been struggling to get legal status for many years. They had fled from Kosovo during the conflict there about fourteen years ago.

On April 10th we boarded a bus for a six and a half hour ride into Kosovo. I want to say, Montenegro has some of the most unappreciated beauty Zuzanna and I have ever seen. The mountains and valleys are just breath-taking.

We arrived in Gjakova, Kosovo for the Balkan Networks meeting Thursday afternoon.  It was great to meet men and women I had been corresponding with, some for years, through Praying for the Balkans, Project. It was good to meet many other Christians who have a burden for the Balkan countries. The meeting was very on purpose and we saw in many ways how each of us fit into the puzzle of the coming revival in the Balkans, which we firmly believe is on the horizon.

The inspiring news is that there has been an increase over the past few years of ministries coming or being raised up in the Balkan countries. We were blessed to have some pastors from the region that came and shared their dreams with us. I know I will leave some out but let me mention some of the participants at the meeting and the ministries they represent.

   ·    Albin Larsson, from Romania, missionary and organizer of the event. Truly Albin did a remarkable job of pulling us together and setting the agenda.
   ·    Jeff McLaughlin, from Kosovo – missionary, who did the ground work in Gjakova and lead our worship times.
   ·    Dag Schjelderup who has been serving in Albania for many years as a prophetic voice and pastor.
   ·    Bryan Brenchley, businessman from Macedonia, spoke to us about deepening our relationships and connecting with Kingdom minded people throughout the region.
   ·    Lee Saville, missionary from Romania, was our main speaker. Thank you Lee, for setting the tone and challenging us to press on with expected assistance from heaven.
   ·    George Markakis, pastor form Athens, Greece. Pastor George was a defining voice that helped bring clarity to the meeting.
   ·    Venco Nakov, pastor from Macedonia, stressed to us the importance of prayer that must precede the move of God coming to the Balkans.
  ·    Werner Woiwode, from Switzerland with Trumpet Call – Europe, is going forth blowing the Trumpet of  the Lord in all European nations; the sounds of heaven are coming to earth. (Werner, I started reading your book “Stranded on Life’s obstacles” )
   ·    Many others:
      o    Michael Long, missionary from Thessaloniki, Greece.
      o    Julian and Beatrice Kastrati, local church leaders in Albania
      o    Barry Ogden, missionary in Albania
      o    Pal Katona, missionary in Macedonia
      o    Rachel Bevan, missionary in Romania
      o    Katrine Drevon, YWAM representative from Serbia
      o    Athol Barnes from the USA, with Call2all, an organization to reach all hidden people     groups
      o    Jerry McCarty and Donald Chandler from the USA with Serve the City
      o    Others, unnamed but special participants to the meeting

We were blessed to also have with us four pastors/evangelist from Argentina that had come with Michael Long. These gentlemen challenged us and spoke into our lives great Hope. They spoke of their plans to mobilize hundreds of missionaries from South America to take the Gospel back to Europe as a way of thankfulness to Europe for bringing it to them many years ago.

To Zuzanna and I, this Balkan Networks meeting was reassuring to us that God is truly answering the prayers we have prayed for the Balkans all these years.

Please leave a Comment or Reaction so we will know you Prayed.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Pray for the Roma People

Week of April 7-13, 2014

The communist governments in Eastern Europe worked hard to settle the Roma (Gypsy) populations in their respective countries. The Roma people, who traveled around a lot without established homes, just did not work well in with a highly controlled economy.

In the mid-1980s I traveled a great deal on trains and buses in the former Yugoslavia and Hungary.  I would see the Roma in the train and bus stations camped out on the pavement or around benches. They would have all their belongings with them and often things they were selling. I was amazed how they could live like that. The new democratic governments in Easter Europe have continued to encourage the Roma to settle and most have complied. Now you see Roma settlements in many East European cities. In some places there are complete villages of just Roma people. They remain true to some of their own tribal structures, with a leader or strong man in charge that helps to keep order. This leader is respected and often becomes the lesion between city officials and the Roma people.  To provide for their families, the Roma do travel to other locations, even other countries for seasonal work but most now have a place they call home.

Much like in any other populations there are some who live in better conditions than others, but it is common to see their homes as pieced together shacks, small, not well ventilated or too ventilated that families crowd into. Most cities now have water going into Roma villages, but generally there are still only outdoor toilets.
However, a remarkable thing is happening; they are accepting Jesus by the hundreds! Foreign missionaries and local Christians are reaching out to them with humanitarian aid and the message of salvation. We also see many efforts to bring Bible training and social help to improve the quality of their lives. Whole villages are being transformed by the power of the Gospel. Villages, which were once ravaged by crime are now becoming peaceful and safe communities.

There have been many studies conducted in universities across Europe concerning this paradigm shift among the Roma. They are amazed because it does not fit the prevailing humanistic worldview.

Prayer Points:
1)    Lord, You are faithful and You have a time of visitation for every people group. We are amazed how You have opened doors into the Roma communities. Pray that many more Roma will accept Jesus into their hearts.
2)    Let us pray for the leaders in the Roma communities. Because of the respect they carry, when these leaders accept Jesus, many in their family and in the whole community will follow suit.
3)    There is a big need in the Roma communities to plant churches. Pray for Roma churches to be planted that specifically minister to Roma needs.
4)    Pray that pastors will be raised up with a passion to lead the communities into transforming grace.
5)    Teaching for Roma church leaders is needed desperately. The Roma Christians are so hungry for the truth and they need teaching and deliverance from their destructive lifestyles. Pray that God would send anointed teachers into the Roma churches to lay out Gospel truth. Pray that God would raise up teachers among the Roma Christians.
6)    For so many years governments have held back education from the Roma communities. A great percentage of Roma can’t read or write. Let us pray for gifted teachers to give of their time and provide classes and much needed education to the Roma.

It is so encouraging to see the efforts of groups like Lighthouse of Life church in Zagreb for example. Lighthouse is bringing education not only of basic academics, but Bible training as well in order to disciple the many who have come to know Jesus through their efforts. They are now sending Roma evangelist out to other Roma villages. There are several such groups which are doing solid work, and of course, we at European Initiative, have sowed into the Roma in Romania for the past six years.

7)    Let us take a moment to celebrate what Jesus is doing for the Roma people!
8)    Let us pray for more Roma evangelist. They are travelers; having the knowledge and ability to travel at low expense. The network they have across the world is naturally setup for quick evangelization. Release them, Lord, into the harvest fields.

Please leave a Comment or Reaction so we will know you Prayed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Pray for Greece

Week of 3/31 - 4/6, 2014

In the News:
The European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed last week on the release of long-delayed emergency loans, after seven months of negotiations. The next bailout tranche is due to be released "well before" Greece faces a large bond redemption in May, an EU official said in Brussels on Thursday. Eurogroup finance ministers are expected to discuss Greece's latest reform pledges when they meet in Athens next week, with a view to formally concluding the agreement by the second half of April. The eurozone's rescue fund still has 10.1 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars) available for Greece. Greece has been granted 240 billion euros in bailout loans since 2010. In exchange, it is required to cut public spending and implement economic reforms. -  
  • Social support in Greece not adequate enough to deal with crisis, says OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Total household income in Greece dropped by 1/3 between 2007 and 2012, with average anual losses of some 4,400 euros per person.
  • At 49 percent, the share of working age people in employment is the fourth-lowest among 34 OECD countries…
  • The social protection system in Greece was ill-prepared for the economic and social crisis.
  • The share of people saying that they cannot afford food has doubled, putting this subjective measure of economic distress at a higher level than in some emerging economies…
  • Young people in particular have been emigrating in increasing numbers, reducing potential future economic growth and further accelerating population ageing.

    Prayer points:
    1. Europeans are very concerned about the failure of the economy in Greece. Let us pray that solutions for Greece will be released from heaven.
    2. God has an answer to crises in nations. Let us pray that godly wisdom be welcomed by policy leaders. Lord, we call forth the Solomon’s of this age, whom You anointed for this time to bring Your solution into the chaos.
    3. When will Greeks look to You for help? How much pain does it take to humble a nation? Lord, we ask for a paradigm shift in Greece that awakens Greeks and brings them to Your table to cry for mercy.
    Proverbs 13:11
    Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase
    …the sovereign debt crisis in Greece has caused many to question the government support and tax breaks given to the Greek Orthodox Church. Some 100,000 people have joined a Greek Facebook page, "Tax the Church." Church finances, tax payments and assets lack transparency. However campaigners claim that [the] Greek Orthodox Church owns more land than any entity other than the state and owns 1.5% of the National Bank of Greece. The government spends 268 million Euros each year paying the salaries of 9,000 priests as well as pensions for retired clergy. The Church says it paid 1.3 million Euros in taxes last year. The Church says payments of priests' salaries are justified by the fact that the Church handed over 96% of the property it owned to the state when Greece became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Also several ministry buildings, universities and hospitals in Athens are on church property that is leased to the state for a nominal amount.
    Prayer points:
    1) Let us pray that the Greek Orthodox Church would stop using the state for financial gain. (Investment)
    2) This church/state union reveals the corruption in the church. Let us pray against this unholy union. The church cannot speak against sin in government if they are part of the government. Lord awaken your remnant in the Orthodox Church and give them boldness to speak out against this perverted gospel their church is promoting.
    3) Lord, we ask that You would send the true Gospel of redemption across Greece. Raise up evangelist who will boldly proclaim the pure Word of God.
    4) Let us pray that Greeks would wake up to the fact that Jesus saves, and not a religious system bound by tradition.
    5) Let us pray for the Greek Orthodox Church. Lord, we ask for an invasion of the Holy Spirit. Lord, let mercy triumph over judgment!
    Please leave a Comment or reaction so we will know you Prayed

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Pray for Croatia

    Week of March 24-30, 2014

    This is the third month for Zuzanna and me living in Croatia, interacting with pastors, church workers and the Croatian people. We are beginning to understand the needs, hindrances and church conditions of this unique nation.

    ⦁    Most Croatians are Catholic  –  over 90% - they follow the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church and most often there is no real dedication to righteousness
    ⦁    Very few evangelical churches – less than 0.5% – most villages  and small towns do not have an evangelical church at all
    ⦁    According to some pastors, even among the evangelicals there is a lack of righteousness – they love to come to church, worship, listen to preaching and even get prayed for but live secular lives the rest of the week
    ⦁    We found a few groups here in Zagreb who are sold out to Him and live the gospel. They present hope for this city. We look forward to finding more such groups throughout the country
    ⦁    There is very little evangelism outside the churches in Croatia
    ⦁    There are a few churches reaching out to the Roma (Gypsies) - the Roma are very open to the Gospel. Though this is hard work, those who are reaching out to the Roma, are seeing real fruit
    ⦁    There is a “silent protest” by the Catholics against abortion that is being conducted in front of hospitals which perform abortions. They call it “40 days of Life”. This is being carried out during the days of Lent. This cannot be ignored by the media or the public due to its length.
    ⦁    God is on the move – a number of foreign missionaries have moved to Croatia in recent years, and especially this past year – they are passionate about evangelism and are stirring up the local Christians
    ⦁    Here is a real positive thing happening in Croatia, the churches are taking steps toward unity. This is significant as the Balkans is filled with disunity and constant church splits over nominal issues
    ⦁    A major victory for Evangelicals recently - the government granted full equality of religious freedom – equal rights to all religious groups

    We love living in this country! We are making new friends weekly and we have seen God’s hand in opening doors to networking. Here at European Initiative Balkans (EIB), we are busy planning several outreaches in the city squares and malls of Zagreb, the capital. We are partnering with 10 churches who will actively take part in sharing the gospel.

    Lets Pray:
    1)    Thank the Lord for the Croatian Catholics and their concerns for the unborn. Let us pray that government officials would take up their cause and pass legislation to stop abortion.
    2)    Thank the Lord for more missionaries coming to Croatia. Pray they will focus on stirring up the Croatian Christians to pray for and evangelize their country.
    3)    Let us thank the Lord for religious equality being accepted by the Croatian government. Let us honor Pastor Mario Ducic and the activism he lead that brought about these results.
    4)    May the evangelical churches now be active through acts of kindness to change the minds of the population that often times still considers all non-Catholics a cult. Also, pray for the media, may they align with this government edict and stop slandering non-Catholics.
    5)    Pray that true intercession would be stirred up for the country.  There are some churches who conduct special times of prayer but it seems orchestrated and not Holy Spirit led.
    6)    Pray that a full time house of prayer would arise here in Zagreb, Croatia. Pray that those called by the Lord to intercede would join together t to pray.
    7)    Please pray for us at EIB as we organize outreaches in Croatia. Pray for deepened cooperation among the churches, favor with government agencies and open hearts by the Croatian people.
    8)    Let us also pray for a team from Bethel Church in Redding, California who is ministering in Zagreb this week. May the Lord touch many as they witness on the streets and hold a faith building seminar.

    Please leave a Comment or Reaction so we will know you Prayed.

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Pray for Bulgaria

    Week of March 17-23, 2014

    Elections for Metropolitan Bishop to be held in Bulgaria’s Ruse

     First round of the elections for Metropolitan Bishop will be held on Sunday, March 16 in the city of Ruse, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced. Two out of nine Bishops will be elected by voters in the Eparchy of Ruse.

    The Holy Synod is to hold a sitting on March 22 and if it deems the results of the vote valid, the second round of the elections will take place on March 23.

    NOTE: The supreme clerical, judicial and administrative power for the whole domain of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is exercised by the Holy Synod, which includes the Patriarch and the diocesan prelates, who are called metropolitans. Church life in the parishes is guided by the parish priests, numbering some 1,500. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church also has some 120 monasteries in Bulgaria, with about 2000 monks and nearly as many nuns.

    Bulgaria without Censorship inks coalition agreement
    Sofia. Bulgaria without Censorship party inked an official coalition agreement with the IMRO – Bulgarian National Movement (IMRO – BNM) and the Agrarian People’s Union, the press centre of Bulgaria without Censorship announced.

    Bulgaria without Censorship’s leader Nikolay Barekov, Krasimir Karakachanov, leader of the IMRO – BNM, and MP Rumen Yonchev, who last month left the parliamentary group of the mandate-holder Coalition for Bulgaria to become an independent MP, and who is also a leader of the Agrarian People’s Union, attended the ceremony at which the document was inked.

    The coalition was officially announced after the three formations held negotiations over several months. They were joined around the principle of equality, the fight against the political status quo in the country and by the desire to achieve a way of governing it so that issues faced by Bulgarian people are resolved.

    Nikolay Barekov said there was no such an agreement in the history of Bulgarian politics, in which a citizen’s movement, grown into a party [his party] along with the two of the country’s oldest formations wanted the whole power and responsibility for the way Bulgaria is governed.

    1)    The Bulgaria Orthodox Church (BOC) claims some 6.5 million members in the Republic of 1)    Bulgaria and between 1.5 and 2.0 million in other countries. Let us pray for this large Orthodox Church.
    2)    Most Protestants and Non-denominationals believe the Orthodox churches are weak in doctrine and have no strategy for evangelism. Let us pray for a genuine love of Jesus to move through these churches.
    3)     The Patriarch of the BOC does not have power over the church like the Pope does in the Catholic Church, but does have influence. Let us pray for His Holiness Neophyte, the Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia. We are seeing the Pope in Rome reach out to other evangelicals may we see the Patriarch do the same.
    4)    Unity is so needed throughout Christendom, pray that Body of Christ can unite in Bulgaria and in the Balkans around Jesus and who He is.
    5)    This new political party, Bulgaria without Censorship Party, in Bulgaria at this junction sounds encouraging. They are challenging the other parties to own up to corruption in their ranks. Continue to pray for this positive move in Bulgarian politics.
    6)    Pray for Bulgarian Ex-Journalist Nikolay Barekov who is boldly stepping out to lead this attack on corruption in Bulgaria. Not only that laws be passed to protect the innocent and punish evil, but that righteousness spring forth.
    7)    Let us pray for a changing of the guard in Bulgaria. Let righteous men and women take their place in guiding the nation.

    Please leave a Comment or Reaction so we will Know you Prayed.

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Pray for Bosnia Herzegovina

    Week of March 10-16, 2014

    Recent News:
    Men make up nearly 90 percent of the missing in the armed conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, which left women and children to fight the difficult consequences alone and they are frequently threatened so that the truth about those missing or killed is not found out, the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) said.

    More than 30,000 people are believed to have gone missing in the 1990s armed conflicts and the latest statistics from the Missing Persons Institute and the ICMP show that men account for 87 per cent.
    Some of the women left behind were victims of sexual violence and they were displaced from their homes, the ICMP said.

    Despite the personal setbacks, many of those women have assumed the leading role in the non-governmental sector and are successfully fighting to solve the issue of the war missing in Bosnia and raise public awareness of this issue. More than 70% of those gone missing during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia have been found but the missing continue to be one of the biggest human rights problems in the country, the ICMP said.

    In the News: Bosnia's worker to pensioner ratio a mere 1.13 to 1

    The ratio of workers to pensioners, known as the support (or dependency) ratio, is worst in Bosnia and Herzegovina when compared to other countries in the area of former Yugoslavia, the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz reported on Wednesday.

    In Bosnia and Herzegovina, on average there are only 1.13 workers per each pensioner. Croatia follows with a ratio of 1.23 workers per each pensioner. In Slovenia, 1.27 workers work for one pensioner, Serbia's ratio is 1.46 to 1, and Macedonia fares best with a ratio of 1.76 to 1.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities are concerned by an increase in the number of pension recipients while the number of workers, that is, pension contribution payers, keeps falling.

    "The ratio is bad. Since the onset of the economic crisis, we have been recording a drastic deterioration," said Tihomir Joksimovic, the spokesman for the pension insurance fund in the Bosnian Serb entity, "Republika Srpska".
    The average monthly pension is slightly over EUR 150 ($208) in that country.

    1)    Lord Jesus, please extend grace to the people of Bosnia Herzegovina and a season of relief come to that land.
    2)    We pray that the country would stabilize. May a national pride arise, which disregards ethnicity for the common good of the country. We pray for a day when the Bosnian Muslims, the Serbs and the Croats can walk together in peace. Let us pray against ethnic divisions, especially where demons of revenge and rage torment people’s thoughts.
    3)    Lord, help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina heal from the effects of the war. Lord, bring a massive revival to this needy land. The emotional effects of war can only be healed by a sovereign move of God. Let our intercession be deep and heartfelt as we ask the Lord to initiate a His plan from heaven.
    4)    This is a time when the men of Bosnia and Herzegovina especially need our prayers. With a lack of men leading families women have to function in dual roles. Lord, give the women strength as they carry on to keep families together.
    5)    Let us pray for the equipping of ministries, with empathy, to go unto the people of Bosnia Herzegovina with a gentle spirit that releasing healing from heaven.
    6)    Productivity is very poor in BH. Let us pray for laws to be enacted that release the entrepreneurial spirit in the country to counter act this negative worker to pensioner ratio. Let us pray for ethical practices between business and government.

    Please Comment or Reaction so we will know you Prayed

    Monday, March 03, 2014

    Pray for Albania

    Week of March 3-9, 2014

    In praying for Albania I was led to look for heroes. I found two whose stories intrigued me. One is Ded Coku, an Albanian freedom fighter and the other Aubrey Herbert, an Englishman who loved Albania and represented her in many world courts.

    Mr. Zef Coku [Ded Coku’s son] said recently through a translator. ''My father cried out before he died, 'Long life to Albania,' and he made the sign of the cross. But in the end, the Communists had their way.''

    Let us take inspiration from a fallen hero of Albania, Ded Coku. He was executed when the communist took over in 1945.

    Impeccably aristocratic and eccentric in a uniquely English tradition, Aubrey Herbert was at first sight an incongruous champion of Albanian nationalism, to say the least. Tall, slender and slightly stooped, with a mustache and heavily lidded eyes, within England - let alone abroad - he cut a colorful figure. But Herbert was also an acclaimed linguist, intrepid traveler and an outspoken and independent thinker, who became enthralled by the Balkans on his first visit to the region in 1904 as honorary attaché at the British Embassy in Constantinople. From that time until his death in 1923, he was unrelenting in campaigning for the Albanian cause. He returned frequently to the country and gained respect as an expert on the region. 

    Aubrey Herbert was twice offered the throne of Albania. On the first occasion, just before World War I, …the second occasion the crown was offered was after the defeat of the Italian Army by the Albanians in September 1920. Again the offer was unofficial, though it was made on behalf of the Albanian government. The National Library of Albania in Tirana was once named after Herbert, as was a village in the country.

    1)    Let us pray blessings upon Albania, a country greatly misunderstood but greatly loved by the Lord. Because Abraham is a blessing to all nations let us pray the Abrahamic blessing. 1)    Genesis 12:2  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
    2)    Let us pray for heroes to emerge who will give themselves like Ded Coku did for Albania. Christian or secular may they work toward the good of Albania.
    3)    May those who have been influenced by a Biblical worldview rise to the top of every institution in Albanian society. Lord, release in Christians a sense of duty and service to country.
    4)    May the churches rise up and touch the social fabric of Albania. Give the pastors vision and strategies to communicate the gospel to the population.
    5)    Let us pray for friends of Albania. People like Aubrey Herbert that went beyond the call of duty to see that justice was extended to Albania. May foreigners of influence be sympathetic toward Albania.
    6)    Lord, I ask You to put Albania on the hearts of Your church throughout the world. Not only that the saints would pray but they would go or send others. Just as Paul (Ro. 15:19) went to Albania (Illyricum) 2,000 years ago, may others hear the call today.
    7)    Investment is coming into the country, although slowly. Let us pray that these assets would not only be invested wisely but that productivity in the country would rise.

    Please leave a Comment or Reaction so we will know you Prayed.