One of the truths that I speak about a lot in my training and coaching in Europe is the importance of focusing on incarnational ministry (going to people on their territory instead of waiting for them come to us). John 1:14 in The Message translation has a good way of expressing how Jesus modeled this- The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
On my recent winter trip, I was thrilled to see believers truly incarnating the gospel-living it out in the neighborhood.
First, I was in Moldova working together with church planter, Stas Boroznets. Stas and his team work in Moldovan villages bringing the light of Jesus to people by partnering with local governments to find ways that they can meet the needs of the community. This includes things like feeding the poor, providing medical care, organizing English classes, and providing training and seminars for teachers and social workers. As they build relationships in these villages, they are able to share the gospel and study the Bible with those who are interested.
The second leg of my journey took me to Eastern Ukraine to visit my friend, Igor Tunik. Igor and his team have started several new churches over the last two years as an outflow of their ministry to those who have been directly impacted by the war and the resulting refugee and economic crisis.
I had the blessing, but sobering experience, of traveling with Igor to Ocherenta, a village only miles from a one time battle zone that has been very negatively impacted due to the war. Igor and his team began awhile back to travel to this village to feed people and to meet medical needs. They would regularly ask people if they would like to study the Bible and hear about Jesus. The response has been so positive that Igor says he has not seen such spiritual hunger since the fall of communism.
Finally, I traveled to Masis, Armenia to visit Tigran Ghazaryan, a church planter who sells milk to provide for his family and at the same time to find people of peace(Matt. 10 and Luke 10) who are open to the gospel and studying the Bible. I had the opportunity to travel with Tigran on his sales route and was especially touched by our visit with a refugee family from Azerbaijan. After just a couple of times buying milk, this family responded to Tigran’s invitation to read and study the Bible together. The mother and her adult daughter committed their lives to Christ within a few months and the rest of the family is very open. Now a couple of other families from the same area also join in on the weekly Bible study.
We are so encouraged to see Jesus changing lives as people are willing to follow His example of going to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).