Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Advent of Christ - The King

Is Jesus your personal King? Is he the supreme authority in your life? Do you serve him in all things?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Advent of Christ - The Servant

Christmas is not about Christ! This is the sad state of the world that has people of all religions celebrating Christmas. Mark's gospel deals with what is really important. Forget the birth of Christ, it is his purpose and message that are important.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Baker Update - december 2011

"And they,whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them." - Ezekiel 2:5

This is the verse that comes to mind when I think about all the times we have shared the gospel with Spaniards. We long to see one heart bow in repentance to the King of Kings.

We recently held a traditional thanksgiving meal for our Spanish friends. We used this opportunity to present the gospel to them. I shared with them that God told us to come here and give them this great news. We also had a time of going around the table saying things that we were thankful for. To my surprise, Danny a born-again Spaniard told all of our guests how thankful he was that we are here in Spain sharing the gospel. He went on to explain how that for centuries the Catholic Church has persecuted non-Catholics and that many were burned in the town square. He even cited a street named after one of those burned! He really validated our presence here.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are planting seeds and watering, but it is God that gives the increase. Please take a moment and pray for our friends that have heard the gospel… Miguel, Mayte, Carlos,Rosa, Oscar, Alberto, Gemma and Flo.

Every Wednesday night for the past eight months we have been meeting in a local café/bar for a bible study. This is an opportunity to invite people to a public place to study with us. Maybe I have not said it before but anyone who is not Catholic are considered a cult. So if we are asked what we are doing here we say something to the effect of we are teachers of the Bible. We avoid like the plague, the terms missionary, evangelical, church planters etc. So having a study in a public place eases the suspicion of the locals.

So recently Miguel (same as above) came to our Wednesday night bible study. It was incredible how he danced around the issues concerning salvation and the authority of the bible. He is reading the Bible now because our teammate Luke challenged him to do so many months ago. But he believes that you cannot take any of it literally. This is what we are up against here in Spain. Satan has done a great job closing every possible door to a man's heart.We desire so much to find "good ground" to which the seed of the gospel will take root and bear fruit!

As Christmas approaches we are missing our family and the grand kids. Please pray for us (especially Ally) as the absence of our kids during the holiday season tugs a little bit harder on our hearts.

This will be the first Christmas with our whole team assembled. We are looking forward to Ally cooking a traditional Christmas dinner and enjoying time with our team. We are growing more and more in love with the people that God has given us to serve with. We are a quirky bunch!

As a team we are now raising funds for an office space. This will provide us with a place to meet, pray and invite others to for worship. We have discovered that an office space will give our team legitimacy among the locals. Avant have asked us to try and raise as much of the rent as we can for the first two years. If you would like to donate towards this project please send it to Avant Ministries in Kansas City and designate "Team Valladolid Office Project". We need to raise $30,000 and we have already been given over $7,000!

Ally and I are also falling short each month of our required support. Would you consider an increase in your giving to make up the difference? We still need approx $1200 a month in regular giving. Please pray about what God would have you do.

We have just moved into our new apartment and we love it! It is in the perfect central location. It is large enough for our whole team to assemble and it is affordable.

Continue to pray also for our language learning. It is a huge challenge for us.

Thank you again for your prayers and financial support.

It's all for Him,

Steve and Ally

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

James and Lori Clarke - News November 2011

Working with the Albanian Evangelical Mission (AEM) in southern Albania

Answers to prayer

Thanks for those of you who prayed for the trip to Fushbardhe. Both Petrit and I felt encouraged by this trip. We gave out gospel newspapers to nearly every house and had conversations with several people. By a remarkable providence I met the woman who I'd witnessed to before (whom I've mentioned) and had another good talk with her (She doesn't live in that village anymore but comes once in a while to collect herbs and tea from the mountain - she had come the day before and was leaving the next).

Thanks also for those of you who prayed for Alba. I'm glad to say that she has attended meetings of a Christian students union in Tirana (the capital of Albania). Pray that she continues to go to these and attends a church next! Thanks for praying for the other teenagers I mentioned in the last bulletin too. At this stage their situations remain the same as far as I know. It also seems that some of their parents have been discouraging them from coming to meetings.

Thanks for those who prayed for Albina (sorry that names are so similar here). Her parents still will not allow her to come to church or to have a Bible. One day she had printed some pages from the Bible off the internet and her when her mum found them she burnt them. But recently I asked her how things were and she said that she feels a great need for teaching but that she has faith in Jesus.

Thanks also for those who prayed for my preaching. I ended up preaching at the church in Gjirokaster, in a nearby church in Memeliaj and giving a talk at the students meeting. It all makes me feel out of my depth, but I'm sure it's good!

Weekend Camp

A church in Delvina (a town further south) organized a weekend camp for young people which included evangelistic talks. We sent some young people from Tepelena and Gjirokaster and they all seemed to enjoy the weekend. Perhaps more than ever, young Albanians are being exposed to Western culture - both the positive and the negative aspects of it. Sadly the negatives seem to be more appealing. In this climate this sort of evangelistic activity for young people really seems like a 'candle in the dark. Pray that many would see Christ's light and believe.

Teenage lads

We had to change strategy with regards to the teenage lads in Gjirokaster. At the beginning of the academic year we decided to begin a short Bible study on Saturday nights for them. Sadly attendance was very low - sometimes with only one boy turning up. So we decided simply to have a social evening on Saturday nights instead, which would simply be a way of meeting young men. Attendance at these have been good, sometimes with 15 boys turning up. We've then been able to invite these lads to church and to other activities like the weekend camp mentioned above and have had good opportunities to present Christ to them. I long to be able to move forward with these lads and to see them coming simply out of a desire to read God's word, but maybe this is not the time. On a positive note, one young man who used to come to the lads meeting a couple of years ago became a Christian whilst at university in Tirana. He has been professing faith for a while now and takes an active part in a church there.
Family News

Lori is well and enjoying being a Mum although it is tiring at times! She's enjoying doing a little bit of English teaching and is currently doing some translation work. Little John is finding his feet but is not quite able to walk yet. My mum will be coming over in December for a long visit. She always enjoys being here and is a great help. She'll be here for Christmas and New Year which will be a great blessing - especially as she will be able to help with the Christmas roast potatoes! At 27 years old I bought my first car this month - a 1989 VW Golf Mk 2 (nearly as old as me!). Although it won't be able to get to the most remote villages, it will certainly help to get to places that I couldn't get to before. I've already used it to makes some visits for witnessing.
What's coming up..

In December we'll be going around towns, villages and markets with the Gospel newspaper once again. As a church we'll also be putting on a big Christmas event on 24th to which many non-Christians will be invited. I'll hope to invite some people along to this who have never been to a church service or anything before. I'll also be doing some more preaching.

Prayer Points:

Thanks for answers to prayer
For continued progress of the Gospel amongst young people.
For outreach over Christmas.
Thank you again to all who support us.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Call to the City - A final Challenge

Looking back. Have we accomplished what we set out to do?