January 2017 Prayer Letter

I am still dreaming…and praying and working, along with the others in our team. Sometimes our dreams seem to fade and other times seem to take steps towards fruition. I dream of our church plant becoming a full, unified body of believers serving Christ whole-heartedly. I dream of seeing people becoming disciples of Christ and then leading others to follow Christ. I believe in this dream, because I believe it is God’s dream, too.

Baptism
On November 20th, Caleb followed the Lord in believer’s baptism. Due to the colder weather, we rented the Adventist building for a Sunday morning and used their baptismal. Please pray for Caleb to continue to grow in Christ and follow Him.

ESL Ministry
In the past, Ala was the only student who consistently stayed after the English lessons for the Bible study. Another lady has recently been staying more consistently.

For our last ESL meeting before the holiday break, we invited the students to a special Christmas lesson. We announced the week before it that we would be talking about why Christ was born and how one can be saved from sin. Thirteen students came and heard the Gospel! Continue to pray for our students to repent and trust Christ.

Bible Club
Shortly after writing our last prayer letter at the end of October, all the children stopped coming to the Bible Club at our house. We prayed for wisdom to know whether or not to stop it altogether. Last week, I saw three young teens near our house and invited them 30 minutes before the Bible Club. They came that day and came back again this week, along with two of Abby’s friends who had stopped coming last Fall. Please pray for this ministry to continue.

Azimut
Back in September, when we started holding a Bible Club at a children’s home in town (“Azimut”), we were told that it would be closing down after a couple months. Well, the home is still open, and we continue to teach them the Bible each week. Even though we are going to be a blessing to the children, we feel the children are a great blessing to us as well.. The 15 or so children there range from age 2 through teenagers. We appreciate your prayers for these children to come to know the Perfect Father.

Sundays and Thursdays
At the end of summer, a man who was faithfully coming on Sundays and Thursdays suddenly stopped coming and did not respond to our phone calls. For months, we have been praying for him. Recently, he started coming again and brought another young man with him, too! What a joy it was to see him again. Please pray for “V” to grow in the Lord and for us to have a part in it.
We have another older man who started coming. Jacob and I will be starting discipleship meetings with him this week. Please pray for us as we find out more about where he is spiritually and lead him in the next steps for Christ.

Odds and Ends
We would also ask for your prayers on several other areas:
Please pray that we will receive two-year residency permits. We turn in our documents for this over the next week.
Pray for us to find a good 9-seater van at a good price.
Pray for the Jacob and Viola Hughes as they head back to America for a 4 month furlough (and pray for us as we fulfill their roles in their absence).
Please pray for the government here in Moldova. The socialist president won in November and is already pushing to close some ties with Europe and press for a close relationship with Russia. It is hard to tell what the future ramifications of this will be on us here in Moldova. As Scripture says, please pray for the leadership and for us to lead a quiet and peaceable life here.

Thanks again for the thoughts, prayers, and support. We LOVE serving the Lord here and count it a privilege to represent you and our Lord in Moldova.

October 2016 Prayer Letter

Last month we were bombarded with a number of emails from a supporting church, letting us know that they had prayed for us and for the work here. We were very encouraged. Usually much time and thought goes into what to include here, so we loved hearing that people, like you, ARE reading this and praying for us. Thank you!

ESL Ministry
In September, we started back again with the English ministry. More students have been coming regularly so far than the Spring semester. This week, we had 13 adults in the beginner’s class and 8 students in the advanced class. Ala, who stayed faithfully last semester for the Bible study afterwards, has continued to stay and hear the Word of God. A new student, Tatiana, joined us this week, had several questions afterwards, and seems open to the Gospel, which was presented. Please pray that the seed that was planted would grow and not stolen away or choked.

Language Teacher
God answered prayer and provided both the ladies and myself with a language teacher, Ina. Sarah and Jacob’s wife, Viola, have Romanian lessons with her three days a week, and I have Russian lessons with her twice a week. Ina’s religion is Yoga but is very open. She is constantly asking more about what the Bible teaches. Pray for her as we continue to give her the Gospel. Also, please pray that the Lord would greatly bless our progress in these languages.

Bible Club and Azimut
In September, we started holding weekly Bible Club at our house. Our team saw the benefit of having a regular spiritual influence in the lives of the children that live in our neighborhood, rather than one week a year with Vacation Bible School. We have been using the Betty Lukens felt each week, which was given to us while on our last furlough. Though we have not had the number of children come that we had during the summer, we are thankful for those that do come.
Each week, after we finish the Bible Club at our house, we pack up and head to a children’s home, called Azimut, to repeat the Bible Club for the 20 or so children there. Please pray that we will have wisdom to minister to these children effectively.

Baptismal Plans
We have two that are wanting to be baptized, one being our son, Caleb. Pray for the other young lady as she has been having challenges over the past month. Also, please pray for the Lord to provide a good location for us to do the baptism. We have requested to use or rent the Adventists’ building in town since they have a baptistry. This Saturday they are supposed to vote on whether to grant our request or not. Due to the cold weather, having the baptism indoor would be preferred.

Preaching
What can be one of the most exciting and yet fearful things to do as a believer? …go door-to-door sharing the Gospel. Please pray for Jacob and I to have boldness, compassion, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we preach Christ and the hope of salvation to people here.
Just a reminder that BIMI has a new mailing address: P.O. Box 9, Harrison, TN 37341. Thanks and God bless you.

August 2016 Update

Much has happened over the past three months so buckle up as I whisk you through the update. During the summer, we broke from some of our regular scheduled events and focused on special summer outreaches.

MAY
May was the last month of our English Ministry before summer break. Though many did not come on a regular basis, 40 different people came during our 20 week course. About 7 people stayed at one point or another for the Bible study after lessons. No decisions for salvation were made but seed was planted and watered. Please pray for this outreach as we plan to begin again next month.

JUNE
Each Friday in the month of June, we held a “Family Evening” outreach next to the Soroca Fortress and park. We offered games, crafts, and pamphlets of biblical advice for 20160617_194009husbands, wives, parents, and children which also included the Gospel. Though few actual complete families came, a myriad of children and adults did come by and participate. We were able to talk to some individuals about the Lord, too.

During the last week of June, my mom, brother, and his wife came to visit. This was my first time to meet my sister-in-law DSC_0334edited2face-to-face and my mother’s first time to be with our two youngest, Ana and Simeon. We enjoyed getting to be with family again.

JULY
Shortly after my family left, we drove back to the airport to pick up Deanna, a friend of Sarah Bodaly, who came to help out for a month, primarily with VBS.

Last year we did 3 days of VBS near our house in the forest. This year, we decided to do a 5-day VBS at our house and also redo the 5-day VBS in Soroca at our meeting place. Our theme was Creation with the Gospel being the focus on the end. I had a confrontation 20160721_111408with the Orthodox priest from our neighborhood. He wanted us to take down our VBS sign that was outside our house and to leave the children alone. We continued along without any further conflict with him, thankfully. Both weeks combined, we had 45 different children come. Please pray for these children and for us as we plan to start a one-hour Bible club each week at our house to continue to influence the children that came.

AUGUST
August 1-4, we had our annual team planning retreat. We spent time praying and planning for the next year. We thank the Lord for the team God has brought together to serve Christ13901622_10201811223160501_1134238816_o here in Soroca.

In the past we have requested prayer for our elderly neighbor Varvara. Anastasia, a lady in her nineties, who Varvara cared for in her home for many years, died recently. This has been hard for Varvara and has made her more receptive. I was able to have another conversation with her about the Lord after this and she listened better than any other time. She may be moving in with her sister to a different village in the next few months. Pray she will accept Christ before it’s too late.

Just yesterday, we found out that Sarah and Viola’s Romanian teacher decided to move to the capital. This has left them without a Romanian teacher (and me without a Russian teacher, since the same lady was my instructor). Would you please pray for the Lord to provide a really good Romanian instructor for Sarah and Viola?

Please note that BIMI has a new mailing address: P.O. Box 9, Harrison, TN 37341. Thanks and God bless you.

“Arrivals” – April 2016 prayer letter

We usually like the word “arrival.” It often accompanies positive events. With the arrival of Spring, the children have enjoyed being outside and even working in the yard. In addition to Spring, the Lord has blessed us with some other arrivals.

SARAH’S ARRIVAL
Our new team member arrived on March 17th, Sarah Bodaly. We have loved to see the 20160317_213701Lord orchestrate so many of the details. The Lord provided a nice place to rent and wonderful landlords. The Lord provided a Romanian teacher for her. The Lord also provided a way to get her belongings here cheaper, quicker, and more efficiently than originally expected.
     Please pray for Sarah as she adjusts, begins Romanian lessons, and awaits the approval of her residency permit application.

SIMEON’S ARRIVAL
Simeon David Gross was born on Saturday, March 19th at 3:15 am. He weighed in at 3.03 kg (6 lbs. 11 oz.) and 50 cm (19.6 in.) in length. Not only did we see the Lord’s provisions with Sarah’s arrival, but we saw His hand in Simeon’s, too.
20160319_120409     We had planned to go to the capital city on Stephanie’s 36 week appointment and stay there until the birth. The day before, I was leading the Sunday evening Bible study at our house, and Stephanie started to have regular contractions. When they continued for an hour and a half, many being only 5 minutes apart, we quickly loaded up and sped to the capital. The entire way there, the contraction, though not the strong, painful ones, were consistent. When we arrived at the hospital, though, they stopped and did not begin again. While waiting in Chișinău, wondering how this would all work out, we were able to do some other preparations for the baby and pick up Sarah from the airport. The evening after the Hughes picked up Sarah and her luggage to take her to Soroca, Stephanie began to have contractions again. This time we went to the hospital, the contractions continued and Simeon was born.
We were grateful to the Lord for providing the Buck family to help watch our children during the night of the birth. The Lord met so many needs through working out the many details.

VISITORS’ ARRIVAL
Over the past couple months, we have had some visitors come to the Thursday and Sunday meeings. This past Sunday, some believer friends had sent several people our way. One man is Ukrainian and speaks only Russian. He was very happy to find out that Jacob preaches in Russian and we also sing Russian hymns along with Romanian ones. He said he plans to come back.
Three years ago, when shopping for a home to buy, we were considering buying an apartment from a couple who went to the Pentecostal church in town. She and her adult son came this past Sunday after being invited by a friend of ours who works for her. Please pray for these individuals, some who have been saved and some who we do not know about their salvation, to know and follow God’s will.

ARRIVAL UPSTAIRS AND OF STEPHANIE’S PARENTS
A week ago, we had the joy of getting to move upstairs in our house. The bedrooms are now finished. I underestimated how long it would take to finish our house. What I had hoped would be done September of 2014 was not done until April of 2016.
We moved upstairs just three days before Stephanie’s parents arrived for their visit. The children are enjoying their time with “Grammy and Papa.” We have also enjoyed having the finished room in our house for company.

ARRIVAL TO THE GOSPEL
After the English lessons on Tuesday evenings, we have a Bible study for those who wish to stay. The study lasts only 30 minutes. Though some have come only once, Ala has been the only one to faithfully stay for the study. We have spent the past four lessons studying “How we do NOT become a child of God” and then “How we DO become a child of God.” After this past week’s study, Ala said that she had repented of her sin before but was unsure of actually being saved. Please pray for Ala as she thinks through what we have shared from her from the Bible regarding salvation.

February 2016 Prayer Letter

February has come to a close and this year has already been full of activity and encouraging fruit from past and current labors.

At the end of last year we started renting a meeting place in the middle of town that serves 20160219_140558for Sunday and midweek services as well as Tuesday English classes. This past Sunday, a man who lives nearby joined us for the morning service. Years ago he had attended the Adventist church and has since not been a part of any church. Please pray for Victor as we find out further where he is spiritually and help him take the next step.

Over the past year, Jacob and I have been going door-to-door, wondering when we would see some fruit. Recently an older man from town visited our services. It was a man we had met in our door-knocking. He is Baptist, but his wife is Orthodox. She did not even want him talking to us at his own door. Under the guise of going to the market, he visited for part of one of our services. Please pray that he will continue to come to grow spiritually and be encouraged.

About a year ago, we had talked with a man named Ioan, who was open to talking further about the Gospel. Due to him not being home or working in other cities or Russia, we were not able to follow through with a follow-up meeting until last month. We finally were able to meet with him and share in depth the Gospel. He may be leaving to work in another country again soon. Please pray for the Lord to continue to work in his heart.

photo (4)A couple months ago, we started giving free English lessons in order to meet more people and share the Gospel with them. We have had between 15 and 20 people most weeks. Some are Pentecostal, some unregistered Baptists, and some unsaved. We have a Bible study after the lesson in which students may participate. While we were expecting the young adults to be the ones to stay, our only student to join us for the Bible study is a 70 year old woman. Though only one person, we rejoice in her hunger for God’s Word and to learn more. Please pray for Ala and our students.

We have seen the Jehovah’s Witnesses around town for quite some time but have had few encounters with them until recently. We even had a meeting at my house with two men who have been JW’s for a number of years. They said they have never heard the Trinity explained that way before. Please pray for us to have wisdom and answers for the JW’s we now know and for the Holy Spirit (not an impersonal force) to work in their hearts.

Recently Stephanie has been having complications with her pregnancy. She started having contractions at thirty-three weeks. We made an emergency trip to Chisinau where she was hospitalized for observation over night. For the next week she stayed in Chisinau and visited the hospital several more days for shots and ultrasounds. The medicine stopped the contractions and now she is home on bed rest and taking medicine for the next few weeks. Please pray for me as I care for her, the children, the house, and my own responsibilities.

We have been anticipating the arrival of Sarah Bodaly, our new team member. She is scheduled to arrive mid March. The Lord has already provided housing and a language teacher for her here, which are harder to find that you might think. Please pray for her safe arrival and adjustment.

Though someone has been working upstairs, he is still repairing problems that were left after the hired construction team completed their work and left. Cracks keep appearing, so our worker has been mending all of those. He should be able to start priming and painting very soon. We should be able to move upstairs within a matter of a few weeks, Lord willing.

All-in-all, please pray for us all to handle all that is going on right now. I am behind on some work from last year and working through the unexpected issues that are popping up. Please pray for us to love, train, and nurture our children and prepare for the little boy we hope to meet within the next month. Thanks again for your prayers for us and the financial support.

November 2015 Prayer Letter

Building. This word brings different thoughts and words to mind: progress, teamwork, cost, investment, and plain old work. The past couple months have been characterized by this word “building.”

BUILDING ON PAST PREACHING
I had mentioned in our September prayer letter about my follow-up visit to the village of Zgurița to share the Gospel with the family who lost their 4 year old son to a drowning accident in August. Jacob and I were asked if we could deliver a bed that someone had donated for that family. The wife and teenager son welcomed us, gave us a delicious meal, and then allowed us to talk more about the Gospel.
The wife, Ana, told us that in addition to us talking with them, the Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses have also visited them. She said she is confused and wants to know how she can know who is teaching the truth. We talked for almost 2 hours on this theme with her and her son, Andre. Both were very open and attentive. We shared the importance of God’s Word being our basis for truth and how to weed out false teachers. Please continue praying for other open doors to talk with this family and for God to open their eyes to the truth.
In November, I had the privilege to preach for a pastor friend’s church’s evangelization like I did last year. The Lord gave grace with my Romanian. It just flowed. Another man preached after me and gave the invitation, and a man named Valera came forward and publicly testified of trusting Christ that night. The pastor from another village who had brought him told me that he had been witnessing to him for 5 years. Please pray for Valera since he lives with family who are opposed to anything other than Orthodoxy.

BUILDING A PLACE TO MEET
We did decide on a place to rent for the church to meet. It is in the middle of town, near20151021_182049 all routes of public transport, and has two rooms, a restroom, and a heating system. The storefront was recently remodeled, except for the floor. The owners allowed us to tile the floor and reimbursed us for the material and labor. We enjoy having a place to meet for Sunday mornings, Thursday evenings, and for meeting with individuals. Thank you for praying for us to find a good place to rent and for us to have good landlords.

12291031_10153192327983053_6324550877040356735_oBUILDING OUR HOUSE
Right before Thanksgiving, we finished our indoor toilet room! Also, we have a construction team working to finish the upstairs of our house. Lord willing, it will be finished by New Years. Stephanie, Ana, and I are sleeping what will become the dining room, and the other children are sleeping in what will be the living room. Everyone is very excited at the prospects of actually having bedrooms. We will also have an office/guest room. Please pray for the work to finish well and for the talks I have had with the workers about Christ to grow.

BUILDING NEW CONTACTS
The first electrician hired to work on our upstairs was seriously injured at another location, causing serious burns on his face and arms. Jacob and I have visited him a couple times in the hospital and began witnessing to him and his wife. Other men in the hospital room have heard us speak and have also been given Gospel tracts.
Another man I have witnessed to before but did not want to hear it has opened up to discussing the Bible recently. Please pray for Sasha and Vasile (the electrician) as I continue to talk with them about the Lord Jesus.

BUILDING OUR FAMILY
With joy we announce that we are expecting a little boy. Our seven seater car will be full, Lord willing, in April. So far, the baby seems to be healthy. Please pray for Stephanie and this little life and for us to grow as parents.

September 2015 Prayer Letter

In missions, we often focus much on the term “church planting.” If we are not careful, though, we make the establishment and growth of a church the end goal. If we do not see the results to that goal we would like, we cave in to compromise in order to create the desired results. We can end up having many people in the church but few true disciples. While we do desire to establish and grow the church here, our actual command is to make disciples through evangelism and teaching. Our prayer is that the church will simply be a result of us being faithful to His command.

FUNERAL IN ZGURIȚA
With this goal in mind, we end up witnessing to or ministering to people that will never11914904_1545319439054824_2841058944854763470_n actually become a part of our church here in Soroca. In August, I received a phone call from some Christian friends of ours whose friends had lost their 4 year-old son to a drowning accident in a village about 30 minutes away. Because the boy was not baptized as a child, the Orthodox priest there refused to do the funeral. I received the phone call asking for help. Because the family there knew little to no Romanian, I did not feel equipped to conduct the funeral. I called the pastor friends I knew to see if one of them could go with me and help but none were able to. I was then notified that a Pentecostal pastor was found to lead it and I would give one of the messages. You can read a detailed account of the funeral on our website: grossmissionaries.com.
About a week after the funeral, I returned to visit the family with the Christian family we know here in town (the wife of this family translated to Russian for me). The family whose son had died supposedly made a profession of faith some time ago. We went thoroughly through the Gospel and answered from the Bible questions they had in regards to their son and his death. They did not make any decision that day and are still struggling with the loss of their son. Please pray for Alexei and Ana (the parents) and for wisdom for us in making future visits with them.

JEANET
Some people we minister to and even see join the church may be with us for only a short period of time. Jeanet’s husband will be finishing his work here in Moldova soon and moving on. He is still waiting to find out where his next contract will be. This also means that Jeanet does not know if and when she will be able to find a good church to be a part of in the future. She is currently back home in Germany and has found a Baptist church in her town for while she is back home. Please pray for the Lord to guide them to a place where she will continue to have a good church to join.

RUSSIAN LESSONS
A couple weeks ago, I started back again with Russian lessons. We had about 6 months of Russian lessons about three years ago. While those 6 months were priceless, they are insufficient. On a regular basis, I meet people who only speak Russian. Jacob, who speaks Russian, is not always with me, making me very handicapped when he is not around. Our language teacher from Hîncești called me and told me about a language teacher who just moved to Soroca. Since I had not told her that I was looking for a teacher, it was quite providential. Please pray for me to grasp Russian well. Also, please pray for my instructor, Nadia. This week, I found out that a Baptist family from where she used to live was very influential in her life. She even stated that she was “saved,” which is not something most Orthodox would claim. Pray that the Lord will use our conversations during our lessons to bring her closer to Christ.

CAMPER TO NEIGHBOR
During my first trips to Moldova during my years in college, I worked in Eric Chapman’s evangelistic camps. I have often wondered if I would run into campers later on during our ministry in Moldova.
A couple weeks ago, Jacob and I were traveling back to Soroca and picked up a young man who needed a ride. We found out that this young man, Grișa (Gree-sha), actually lives in our village, not far down the road. While on the way to his house, I started sharing the Gospel with him. He then told me that this sounded very familiar and that he had heard this at a camp almost 10 years ago. After talking, we found out that he was at the Chapman’s camp the same summer I was there. His life right now is far from God but he is open and wants us to talk more. He stopped by here yesterday for a little and we talked some more. Please pray for Grișa to repent and become a follower of Christ.

AVENUES FOR FUTURE DISCIPLES
Jacob and I are working on several projects right now in order to evangelize more people and disciple believers. Soon we plan to begin evening English lessons followed by a Bible study for those who wish to stay afterward. We also have very little room at times on Thursday Bible study nights at the Hughes’ apartment. Due to these reasons, we are seeking a place to rent for ministry. While looking at locations, we’ve had opportunity to witness to some of them. One lady, Natalia, is battling cancer. Another man, Vasile, is an affluent businessman. Please pray for us to be bold witnesses for Christ but also to find the right location to rent.