July 24, 2002
As I wrote to you early this year, it was shaping up to be a very busy one, and we have certainly not been disappointed. First though, the good news about additions to the number of those being saved.
On Thursday, July 4, Maria Caboi put on Christ in baptism. Maria had been visiting services with increasing frequency, and now that her marriage with our Daniele was nearing, so was her decision for the Lord. They have since become man and wife and are continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
Damascus Trip Bears Fruit
My trip to Damascus, Syria, in February-March was a bit of an adventure, but the Lord brought blessing out of it all. While in Damascus, I had several Bible discussions in particular with Ruba, the sister of Ziad, my contact in Wiesbaden, Germany. Two weeks ago, I received a call from him saying that his sister had since joined him and his brother in Wiesbaden and had just been baptized that past Sunday. He said their parents in Damascus are well. Their mother is the only one of that immediate family who has not yet been baptized. They are all of the Syrian “Roman-Orthodox” tradition, their father being one son of a long line of priests, which is reflected in the family name “El-Khoury”. Ziad wants to visit us in Stuttgart sometime in August.
Guest Speakers and Church Retreat
April saw a flurry of teaching among us by proven brothers from the churches in Augsburg and Munich, Josef Achatz and Reiner Kallus. Josef instructed us in personal evangelism and Reiner lectured on the rise of Roman Catholicism out of Early Christianity. The latter was visited by Daniele's sister who has since visited our services.
The weekend before my May-June trip to the USA, our congregation enjoyed a weekend retreat in Tettnang close to Lake Constance where our former members Wolfgang and Lissi Schaper now reside. They had moved there in order to be near their daughter and her family during the autumn of their lives. They helped with the planning, of course, and were very happy to be able to host us in their new surroundings. Our members were encouraged, and the whole event was also a good testimony for the Schapers’ children and grandchildren and friends, who may come to visit our gospel meeting planned for October.
Having arrived home on Sunday evening, I then departed on Tuesday for an extended furlough in the US. I visited with three congregations in Tennessee about future support of the cause in Stuttgart and was very pleased at the positive response of the Charlotte Avenue church in Nashville which has been a faithful supporter of missions in Germany for many years. We are still waiting to hear of a decision from the others. If enough support can be found, we want to be able to use the German donations previously made toward my support for the support of one of their own in training for ministry. The subsequent time spent with the congregations at Sylvan Hills and McRae in Arkansas was very encouraging for me and, I believe, for the supporting congregations, as well. In spite of the warm reception by all, however, I was ready to get back to the work in Germany when the time arrived.
Seminar on Mark's Gospel
Last weekend, we were privileged to have Tom Olbricht as a guest speaker for our seminar on the Gospel of Mark. The feedback on the seminar was overwhelmingly positive. We were all encouraged by the messages, and we appreciate Tom for his willingness to serve us and our guests in this way. The word “Evangelium” (='gospel', 'good news') was demonstrated to be in truth “good news”. It was a chore to function as translator for several hours on Saturday. The next time we attempt such, I hope for more than one translator.
Next on our calendar is this year's transport of aid to Minsk, Belorus. Three or four brothers will accompany the goods. One of the recently baptized in Minsk will be staying with us over the next few weeks attempting to find work in our area.
Also joining us for worship the next three weeks will be individuals from the Ghanaian church in Bad Canstatt that I have been teaching. Two of the Ghanaian brothers from our English-speaking congregation are now helping me with them, and it is now looking as if we may have a Ghanaian congregation forming to meet in our building in the near future. This would be of great value in teaching and encouraging these brethren in their own growth and outreach.
God bless you for your prayers.
Grace and peace in Christ,