Behind the scenes

Getting photos and doing interviews for the stories we put together requires lots of logistical work.  Often most people just see the final story with the photos placed in.  Let me show you a few photos of more of the behind the scenes look at our trips to Denmark and Romania.

P1000568
Photo by Connie Neumann

In this photo we’re either figuring out our next location for photos, and where to eat…or both.  Søren always had lots of great ideas for photo locations especially when the light was just right.  The bag with him is full of his photo gear.

Eating was actually a challenge in Denmark because of the cost.  The Danish krone is worth a lot more than the American dollar, so everything felt very expensive. We ate a lot of fruit, granola and yogurt in the apartment where we stayed to minimize the cost of our meals.

P1000558
Photo by Connie Neumann

We got lost our first time walking around Aarhus, Denmark.  We were almost an hour late to where we were supposed to meet with Søren and Lise.  I think in this picture Jeff and I were in a discussion about how to get to our destination :).

SK_WycliffeRO_047
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

We spent most of our time in Romania in a small village called Margau.  The village had some great old and new contrasts…like…a wood fired water heater along side great wireless internet.  The scenery around us was beautiful, and the slower pace of life made this part of our trip very enjoyable.

P1000807
Photo by Connie Neumann

We experienced the wonderful hospitality of Ghiță and his family.  We had every meal at their big outdoor picnic table.  The food was wonderful.  A special treat that Jeff and I enjoyed was making our own soda.  Homemade syrup (fruit juice and a simple sugar syrup) + sparkling water–try it yourself!

SK_WycliffeRO_046
Photo by Jeff Pubols

On trips like this, you never know when you’ll be busy and when you can relax.  This was one of the moments we had to chill out.

Read More

Meeting with Wycliffe Romania

SK_WycliffeRomania_002Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

Before we left Romania, we spent a day with the Wycliffe Romania administrative staff.  They have a small, but growing team.  This team does publicity, church relations, events, processing new staff, and more.

Administrators play an important role that is often overlooked because these kinds of roles are not considered font-line jobs.  However, without good administrators serving in a variety of functions, Bible translation and related work would be hindered.  I guess it’s sort of like trying to drive a good looking car without an engine. Even though you can’t see the engine from the outside, without it, now matter how good a car looks, it won’t drive.

IMG_5033

After we had finished some interviews and photographs with the staff, Jeff met with Jeroen to assess the IT needs of Wycliffe Romania and consult with them about what kinds of IT systems they need to run their office more efficiently.  His report will go to the Wycliffe Europe Area IT services director.

Read More

All things are possible

SK_WycliffeRomania_047
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

When Petru and Mirela arrived at a small Baptist church in Huedin, Romania, they told the church up-front that they could only make a short term commitment.  They only planned to stay until they were able to go abroad as missionaries. Petru was to be their new pastor.  Not only would he be the main pastor of this small church in the city of Huedin, but he was also to serve some of the tiny village churches not far away.

The reaction was mixed.  Some embraced his vision right away.  Others thought that they should stay in Romania because so much missionary work still needed to be done in Romania. There weren’t even enough trained pastors, especially out in the smaller towns and rural areas.

Church members shared with us how Petru began to teach them about God’s global mission.  He was even invited to share at some of the other churches in the area.  Slowly many who initially had concerns began to change their opinions.

SK_WycliffeRomania_037
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

But, then came the issue with fund raising.  Petru and Mirela desired to join Wycliffe and serve in Africa. They would need to raise financial support to cover their personal and ministry expenses. How would they raise funds?  Can a bunch of little churches in a country with less wealth than others really send a missionary abroad?

YES!

People from Huedin and from small rural churches all over that area came together and partnered with Petru and Mirela.  They provide support through prayer and finances.  Some of their financial supporters don’t even have their own bank accounts, but they’ve found a way to make it work.  Ninety percent of Petru and Mirela’s monthly funding is regularly given by people and churches in Romania.

Petru and Mirela along with their two children now serve in Africa, and after they complete language learning they will begin to help with a Bible translation project.

Ghiță, one of the church elders and a lay pastor, reminded us that in God’s Kingdom, size does not matter…only faith. Another woman who is a church member said to us that if God can multiply the widow’s oil, surely he can do the same for them.  She told us that Petru and Mirela have shared in their last letter that they will need to purchase a vehicle.  She said that they are praying for how they can respond to this financial need.  She was confident that God would supply.

Read More

The Bible smuggler and the almost informant

SK_WycliffeRomania_020
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

Ghiță and Emil are good friends and are both elders at their church.  We listened to them share their stories, today.  They both recalled the days of communism in Romania as the context for their desire to support Bible translation, now.

Ghiță was a Bible smuggler for 10 years.  He said that one day someone approached him and asked him if he could help distribute Bibles.  When he agreed, he was given instructions to meet someone, somewhere to get more instructions.  His additional instructions included passwords, locations, distribution methods… Bibles were illegal.  Getting caught bringing them in and distributing them was punishable with a prison sentence…or worse.

He said that he used to collect the Bibles at night and drop smaller quantities to other people at various locations so that if they were caught, only a portion of the Bibles would be lost.  Then each person who received Bibles had instructions on how to distribute them from there.  Ghiță told us that one night he revealed to his parents what he was doing and showed them his basement which was full of Bibles. His father looked in horror and said, “You’re going to get us all arrested!”

He was followed and sometimes harassed.  Other Bible smugglers, sometimes friends of his, were arrested…tortured…sometimes never heard from again.  He was always at risk.  Even other members of his underground church could be informants who could turn him in at any time.  He said that he thought the government had to know what he was doing, but for whatever reason they decided not to arrest him.

Emil was a member of an underground church.  Just going to one of these churches put him at risk for imprisonment.  He said that many people were approached by the government to “just help get a little information.” Sometimes the request came with threats.  Other times it was put in such a casual manner that it just didn’t feel like it could be all that bad.

Emil was approached.  The government wanted him to be an informant.   He said the way they asked him made it sound very harmless.  It’s just a little information–who comes to the church? what is preached about? where do you meet? who has a Bible? and the like. It could have been easy to say, yes.  He didn’t agree.  He said no.  It cost him his employment.  But, knowing how he was approached, he said he could see how easy it would be for someone to agree.

Whether they knew it or not, informants often supplied information that led to Christians being arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and sometimes killed.  In exchange for the information, they were usually safe from prison, often were able to keep their jobs…but not always.

Both Ghiță and Emil said that it is because of these experiences that they understand the value of the Bible in a special way. When the Bible was not easily accessible for them, people found a way to bring it to them.  Today, they can help others who don’t have the Bible. They can participate in seeing the Bible translated for those that don’t yet have it in their language.

Read More

In Romania

SK_WycliffeRomania_010
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

After two short flights on Czech Airlines and a four hour drive from the airport in Budapest, Hungary, we made it to our next destination: Oradea, Romania. This is the city where Wycliffe Romania is located. It’s in the western part of the old kingdom of Transylvania.

P1000700
Photo by Connie Nuemann

We head to another city an hour from here tomorrow, so tonight was our chance to get a brief orientation on Romania and where we’re going from Jeroen, the Wycliffe Romania director.

SK_WycliffeRomania_009
Photo by Søren Kjeldgaard

Romania was a communist country from the end of World War II until their 1989 revolution. Much of that time, the country was led by Nicolae Ceaușescu, whose rule was characterized by increasing brutality. Christianity was made largely illegal by that government.

Today, the church is growing and sending people to share the gospel abroad.  Wycliffe Romania has more than 10 members who serve both in Romania and in Africa, with several preparing for service in other parts of the world.  Our focus here is on writing a story about a small church that is providing prayer and financial support to a Wycliffe Romania couple that serves in Africa.

My first impressions… it’s really different from any other part of Europe I’ve visited.  It’s also really hot–over 100F (40C).  And…the mosquitos…they are aggressive.  Maybe they are the true inspiration behind the vampire stories!

Read More