Shadows from the flickering firelight play across the face of the beautiful young woman dancing to the beat of the tambura. An older woman has been telling fortunes throughout the evening while professionals have done a brisk business picking the pockets of the locals, and men on the outskirts of the group have been engaged in shrewd horse trading. When the music stops, the gypsies load up their wagons and disappear. This romanticized scene has often played across the pages of fiction and the silver screen, but the reality is much different.
Called gypsies, as they were believed to have immigrated from Egypt, the Roma people came into Europe from India hundreds of years ago. Today many of them live in Bulgaria in utter squalor barred from health care, education, and employment. Living in homes constructed from what others have thrown away and most without running water, they are the marginalized people of Europe. Alcoholism and prostitution are rampant; girls are often sold as Bulgaria is the entry point for much of the European sex traffic.
Seven years ago, the Lord touched the hearts of Chance and Dee Dee Galloway as Dee Dee prayed for God to break her heart for what was breaking His. Soon after, the Galloways and their four children sold their possessions and were on their way as missionaries to work with Al and Diane Mellinger in Bulgaria.
When they arrived in the country, the Galloways were quickly introduced to the harsh realities of sex trafficking across Europe. To bring these realities to the attention of others, they began hosting community awareness sessions. They were told, “No one has ever talked about this before.” After learning about the challenges locals face and many additional obstacles they have endured over the last seven years, hope is alive among many of the Roma people today. Monthly training has begun for nearly 30 of their own pastors and leaders, and multiple churches are being planted. Four acres of land have been purchased, fenced and plowed, awaiting spring planting under the direction of a Roma pastor as the fertile Bulgarian soil will provide both food and paid labor. The St. John’s Home was purchased in July 2017 with renovations scheduled to allow occupancy this summer for Roma girls at risk of being trafficked.
The success of the gospel in this area has been so dramatic that another missionary couple there now feel the Holy Spirit’s nudge to move on to another harvest field. May the national leadership continue to build the Free Methodist Church in Bulgaria!
As Free Methodists, our core strategies include strong partnerships. As we hear God’s voice and see what He sees in the world, we are moved to partner with our brothers and sisters where He is working. The Lord invites us to participate with intentionality, and compassion moves us to respond and not just to observe.
The United Kingdom (U.K.) has been in the news in the past year, mainly because of the Brexit issue, causing many people in the U.K. to think about their country first, before others. There are many issues affecting the livelihoods of Brits, such as immigration, unemployment and commercial trade. In the spring of 2017, I attended the U.K. Annual Conference, where I had the privilege of engaging with pastors such as Michael Bretton and Andrew Gardner. Separately, both pastors shared that God had placed on their hearts to be more intentional about partnering with Europe. “Even though the political atmosphere was that of self-centeredness, the church is tasked with the responsibility of building bridges and partnering with the church in Europe.” The next questions were: “How can we partner? What would that look like?”
Several months passed, and the questions remained in our hearts. We knew God was asking us to take steps, explore the possibilities, and open doors. As we gathered together in the fall of 2017 in Budapest, Hungary, for a church leaders conference, we felt the Lord nudge our hearts once again. So, we made plans to host a group from the Helston Light and Life Free Methodist Church in Cornwall, U.K., and take an exploratory trip to the Canary Islands. A small group joined us as we visited three islands in three days. Local leaders were excited and encouraged to host our group. One pastor commented, “Your visit encouraged us, and we feel connected. Please come again soon!”
In Madrid, we shared about the future plans of adding a cultural center in one of the most under-served neighborhoods of Rivas (Madrid). Plans are being made to provide integration classes for migrants and refugees, as well as an afterschool/English program for underprivileged students. Pastor Michael and the group shared, “We can hear the Macedonian call !”
There were many special moments during the trip, and we could see God linking us together even though the political and social climate in Europe is leading in another direction. We understand the church will need to set an example of showing love, sharing life, welcoming the foreigner, and bringing hope to the hopeless. Together we’ll take small steps, and in God’s kingdom He will multiply our efforts!
In the late 19th century, the Free Methodist Church grew by embodying a
gospel message that dared to cross ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic divisions. This expression of faith was and remains deeply countercultural. Fast-forward over 150 years, and we are experiencing a renewal in our midst, centered around the recovery of the ministry of reconciliation.
In 2012, Bishop Samuel Kayinamura of Rwanda hosted a group of pastors and leaders in which I had the privilege to belong. The Rwandan Free Methodist Church was thriving and growing despite the horrific genocide of 1994 in which 1 million people died in 100 days. The division in Rwanda was not ethnic, but cultural and political. Yet 18 years later, their society is made up of both victims and perpetrators of the most heinous brutality, journeying and growing together. Reconciliation was not a luxury, but foundational for its growth and healing.
This same process —
familial, racial, cultural and social reconciliation, moved by the Holy Spirit
— is arising in the Free Methodist Church in the United States. Churches such as Chapel of Change in Southern California, which has been celebrated as one of the fastest growing multicultural, multiethnic and socially diverse churches in the U.S., are doing so by embodying reconciliation.
Free Methodist institutions, such as Seattle Pacific University and its John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, have begun to equip pastors, leaders and churches to begin the hard work of reconciliation throughout the U.S., highlighted in the African Heritage Network Conference in February.
We are beginning to understand that the Free Methodist Church was not created to fix the “race problem,” but the conflicts of race and culture are sent to heal and shape the church.
World Missions Prayer Calendar: March
Pray for Christians to recover confidence in the gospel and boldness to share it lovingly and unapologetically. Pray for global impact through outreach to immigrants.
Creative Access C
Pray for the individuals serving as university teachers in this country where laws are becoming more and more oppressive to Christians and sharing their faith requires careful discernment and creativity.
Birthday: K. R.
Pray for the many new believers coming to faith in Christ in the Middle East. Pray for Impact Middle East leadership as they train pastors.
Pray for Mike and Vickie Reynen as they study French in Belgium this month. Pray that their language immersion program will be effective to their learning styles and they’ll be able to retain and use what they learn for years to come.
The Lorenz family has been studying Spanish this past year and now Glenn has been appointed as pastor of Peniel Free Methodist Church in Alajuela. Pray for the Lorenz family as they relocate into the Alajuela community.
Birthday: Glenn Lorenz
Pray for Bishop Alan Bacus’ leadership and the major urban church planting initiatives taking place in the Philippines.
Pray for the people who are coming to the Budapest Ministry Center and learning about Jesus. Pray that the Holy Spirit would open hearts and draw people closer to God.
Pray for Roger and Deb Varland as they minister in Kenya at Rift Valley Academy. They are the head sponsors for the freshman class. Pray also for their two sons, Reid and Sid who are in high school.
Birthday: Roger Varland; Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver (Latin America)
Pray for Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver as she gives leadership to ministry in Latin America as the Area Director for Free Methodist World Missions. Pray for wisdom, discernment and courage as she coaches and supervises country leaders and missionaries to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ.
Asia & Bulgaria
Pray for the health, wisdom and safety of Eric and Virginia Spangler as they travel throughout Asia as part of Eric’s job as Asia Area Director. Pray for Eric as he seeks to have a close walk with Jesus and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Birthday: Eric Spangler
Bulgaria: Please pray for the ten new churches that were planted in 2017, for the first growing season of the new agricultural project, and the construction on the home for girls.
Birthday: Chance Galloway
Creative Access C
Pray for Wendi (the wife and mother of three young children) as she homeschools, leads Bible studies and serves as a volunteer at an orphanage for handicapped children. Pray that Wendi’s investment in children and adults would bear much spiritual fruit.
Co-Directors David and Rose Brewer work to empower holistic, livelihood-group ministries in FM churches around the world. Pray for the many artisans that are planting churches and supporting their work through microenterprise efforts connected to SEED.
Birthday: David Brewer
Christmas outreach ministries touched the lives of many in the ISIS-scared region of northern Iraq during the Christmas season. As a result, one pastor is starting a lending library to distribute Christian books. Pray that this Christian lending library will be an avenue to transform lives through the power of the gospel.
Following the country’s independence in 1975, a Marxist state developed. All Free Methodist medical work was nationalized and private schools closed. Missionaries were withdrawn from the country. The church stayed strong and has carried on despite oppression. Pray for Bishop João Luis Uanela Nyaphale as he provides leadership and wrestles with financial challenges.
Pray for Mike and Andrea Green as they continue to adjust to a move to Montevideo, Uruguay. Pray for their new neighborhood, La Blanqueada – that the Lord would bring a great harvest to this city.
Birthday: Mike Green
Pray for the Asia Area Leadership Team as they gather this week for strategic planning meetings in Thailand. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading that they would have unity in their decisions and plans.
Pray for Mike Long as he wraps up his two-month sabbatical in Egypt doing doctoral research as part of his theological studies in Thessaloniki.
Nearly 25 years ago Ricardo and Maria Elena Guerrero moved from Chile to Argentina to start a church in the small town of Carmen de Areco. The church now has more than 600 members. Pray for the continued multiplication of disciples, leaders and congregations.
Leaders from the Middle East have begun planting house churches in Europe among Arab refugees. Pray for continued resources to meet the needs of the refugees and for continued open doors to connect with the many refugees that are hungry to know Jesus.
Pray for VISA Ministries Coordinator Jonathan Eccles and Rev. Trevor Owen (Salem, OR) as they organize a team of Free Methodist adults from across the U.S. to minister in Kenya this July.
Buddhism has been the national religion since the 1400s. During the mid-1970s, the Khmer Rouge sought to eradicate all religion and 90% of Buddhist monks and most Christians were killed. Today Christians are allowed to worship openly and the Free Methodist Church is growing. Pray for Cambodian church leaders as they seek to lead the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirt.
The Free Methodist Church in France is primarily composed of Haitian immigrants. Pray that the church would be effective in reaching out to other immigrants in the area.
Pray for Bolivian leaders to be raised up to minster to their own people and for strengthening of the church in the city of Santa Cruz.
Most Syrian refugees live in substandard housing that cannot provide adequate warm shelter as the rough winter weather descends on the area. Please pray for the church in Jordan as it ministers to these extremely vulnerable people.
Pray for the continued formation of a healthy, strong church as well as effective learning in the training sessions conducted by pastor-trainers.
Persecution is an everyday reality in Sri Lanka. Pray for safety and wisdom for Christians, as they interact with neighbors and civil authorities from other religious backgrounds.
Pray for new church planting opportunities and effective spiritual outreach.
An active social outreach program to needy children, a vital youth group, and an evangelistic outreach program are helping establish the church in Chile. Pray for the leaders to share good discipleship methods that pass on the essential truths and practices of Jesus’ disciples.
Using Community Church Planting (CCP) methods, hundreds of house churches have been planted throughout the Middle East. Pray for God’s continued blessing on the Free Methodist Church in the Middle East and for leaders to remain sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for Kathy Williams as she leads inductive Bible studies and assists with hospitality ministry.
Birthday: Kathy Williams
The Free Methodist Church in Cameroon is expanding work into new cities. Pastor Wilson Esambe and his leaders are eager to minister as widely as possible throughout the country. Pray for the growth of the new fellowships; training for new church leaders and for biblical values and a clear understanding of Jesus to be developed among the people.