We are so thankful to be back in Svishtov for almost 3 weeks now! Thank you to all of you who prayed especially for safety in our travels and return to Bulgaria! It amazes me (Lydia) how our Father works in our lives through your prayers, even in “little” details like flying back to our beloved second home. In the grand scheme of eternity, our family’s trip across the ocean seems so small and insignificant, but still God chose to reveal Himself as He gave us strength, allowed our children to sleep on airplanes, kept us safe in the air and on land, and brought us back to the country and people He has called us to.
Being back in Svishtov has been so joyful in so many ways, and so painful in others. As we joyfully greet our friends and fellowship with our church family, there is a gaping hole in the midst of all of these sweet meetings. As most of you know, our dear friend and teammate suddenly passed away last month. Spending time with people who were also close to Radi and hearing stories from their time with him while we were in the States has been so sad, but so special during these last few weeks.
We have made two trips to Shumen to look for potential houses for our family and future ministry there. We are excited to begin this new phase of our ministry, looking forward to sharing the Good News in a new place, yet each of these exciting trips has been tinged with sadness, as we mourn anew the loss of what we thought would happen in this city.
Losing Radi has changed our perspective in many ways: realizing that God’s ways are higher than our ways, trusting Him completely as we prepare to move to Shumen, in spite of feeling like everything we planned has come crashing down. Most of all, I think, it has given us more of an eternal perspective, a longing for Jesus to come back and put everything right, and a sense of urgency to reach the lost in the meantime.
On Sunday, as our families and friends in America celebrated Mother’s Day, our family walked with flowers in hand to the cemetery. Sunday was the 40th day since Radi suddenly left this earth and entered the presence of Jesus. Traditionally, a graveside service is held on this day, and we are thankful that we were able to gather with Radi’s family and friends to once again remember the impact he had on our lives, to celebrate his life on this earth, and to remind others of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Orthodox rituals were carried out by his family, but Josh also had the opportunity to speak about Radi, his life, and his Savior! We are praying that God’s Word would penetrate the hearts of those who were there who have not yet accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. Radi’s brother was at this service. He and his wife and daughter live in Shumen. Please pray with us that God will be at work in their hearts, and that they will be willing to study His Word with us when we move there this summer.
More Prayer Requests
Please pray for our family as we make some big decisions in the coming weeks. We have looked at seven houses in Shumen and have narrowed the options down to two. This week, we are planning a trip that involves some of our teammates and an architect to give their opinions on the two houses we like best. Please pray that God would lead us as we try to choose a house that will be the site of our ministry in Shumen in addition to being where we live for the next several years.
Josh is also looking at and hoping to buy a car this week. Please pray for this decision, as well as for the man who is selling the car. He claims to be a believer, but has been disappointed by the protestant church because of some unchristlike behavior by “Christians” in the past. Josh was able to have a good spiritual conversation with him, and we pray he grows closer to the Lord and begins going to a church where he will be fed and can grow in his faith.
Please continue praying for Radi’s mom, Rumyana. She has stopped coming to church since Radi died, and is really struggling to live her life. Pray that she would allow God and His people to comfort her, that she would not listen to the lies of the enemy, and that she will grow in her faith even as she mourns.
Please pray for the Bible study in Butovo. While we were in the States the group continued meeting for about two months, but then fell apart in January. Praise God, the majority of people in the group wanted to reorganize. While we are here in Svishtov, Josh is going down on Wednesdays to help them with a new video Bible study. They have committed to continuing on even after we move to Shumen. Please pray that they do!
Thank you for your continual prayer and support for our family and our team. Lord willing, our next newsletter will be sent to you from Shumen!
-Josh, Lydia, Naomi, Phoebe, Zoe, and Malachi