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On December 10th Bishops Stortford Community Church hosted the first Relational Mission prayer day for pioneering situations in South and Eastern Europe.
Rather than give you an account of the day I thought it more beneficial to share an overview of each place that we prayed for along with some things that we can be praying for moving forwards. That way you can join the prayers of many and witness how God responds to our prayers in the future.
Pete Vincent, Bishops Stortford, led us to pray for the Ukraine. This nation continues to experience violence and conflict in some areas, especially in the east of the country. Some areas are safer for us to visit than others and the church is desperate for new leaders and a desire to see growth in numbers and maturity. The churches we work with in Relational Mission are in Mukacheve, Western Ukraine and Enakievo, in the eastern part of the Donetsk region, Eastern Ukraine. We have long been in relationship with the churches and leaders in the Ukraine. They have suffered much and we long to see God bless the church and bring peace to the nation. The people in the church sacrifice a lot for the advancement of the kingdom in the Ukraine and have literally laid down their lives to serve God here. Let us honour them by supporting them in prayer. Pray for their government, that the leaders would be men of integrity, God fearing, and men of peace.
Martin and Sarah Lazenby are currently part of Hope Community Church, Brentwood, and are planning to move, with their two children Isabelle 5 and Joel 2, to Malaga, a city in southern Spain in 2017. Their priority is to learn the language, find work and then build a team to plant a church in Malaga. Martin shared their passion to build a church where family and community are at the heart of what they do. I remember many years ago Ginny Burgin (Sheffield) brought a prophesy about Spain, that we were to not just build on the beaches, but in the cities. So, pray for Martin and Sarah as they do just that! Spain is in great need of churches that are built on a solid foundation of grace and a clear understanding of biblical principles. Pray for the Spanish people. Their nation is in a political mess with high unemployment and disenchantment. They need a new reason to fiesta!
Czech Republic. (Czechia)
The Czech Republic has a rich cultural heritage, a highly developed economy and was under communist rule until 1990. Pete and Michelle Foster live in Pardubice, a city 96 kilometres east of Prague. They moved there from Dublin in 2014 after clearly hearing from God precisely where they were to go in Czechia. The church has received prophetic words about revival in the Czech Republic and are praying that others would go and join them to be part of their team. As a result of their painful and tumultuous history there is much fear in the nation of Czechia. We are looking to our great and powerful God to heal their land and give them a hope for the future. Pray they build a church where people experience the "love of God that drives out fear. " I John 4v18
Vlada and Sonja Stojanovic are leaders of Good News church in Nis. It is a city of more than 350,000 with only a handful of Bible believing Christians. The break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990's occurred as a result of a series of political conflicts and the war in Bosnia saw some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War 2. Whilst Serbia continues to recover and is now experiencing a growth in the economy the scars of war are still evident. Vlada shared about the amazing things they are seeing happening in Nis and the favour they currently receive in the city. During the summer they hosted a Kids camp where they were joined by many un-churched children. They are praying for an increase of people coming to faith in Jesus and a desire to see more mature disciples in the church. The people of Serbia need to experience a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit to heal their land and write them a new story.
An encouragement to pray
Vlada encouraged potential church planting pioneers to be in it for the long haul. Building a church true to New Testament principles is no short term mission, there is indeed a cost and sacrifice involved. Sharing your successes is the easy part, but the day to day challenges can be tough. Let us continue to pray for all these faithful couples in Spain, Serbia, Czechia and the Ukraine. Pray for their families, for health, education, provision and their own faith in God to deepen as they serve the nations in which they live.
Never believe the lie that your prayers go unheard or unanswered. God always hears the cries and whispers of our hearts and always responds. Our problem is that we think we are cleverer than Him and are looking out for what would be our answers to the prayers we pray. Be diligent in seeking His will for these nations and be discerning as you see change occur. We are privileged to be part of a big picture and a lengthy volume. We know the ending is great! Pray on!
The future dates for pioneering prayer days are… April 22nd and July 1st