Traveling Mercies

The hours of peace during a smooth day of travel is the latest example of God's mercy in our lives. Thank you to those of you who prayed. Lam. 3:22-23

Why Seminary and Why Now?

In 2007, just a few months after we moved to Orahovica, our pastor asked Jeremy to "share something" on Sunday morning. In preparation, Jeremy wrote a short testimony and a few thoughts revolving around Paul's benediction in Ephesians 3:20. As the Sunday service progressed, Jeremy realized that he wasn't called up during the normal testimony time. We looked at each other and joked that "maybe Jeremy's the preacher today...haha!". It turns out Jeremy was the preacher that day.

Since then, Jeremy's been asked to preach or lead a Bible study at least twice a month. Our pastor Slobodan and members in the church have been extremely supportive of Jeremy's role as teacher and assistant to the pastor over the last few years. Additionally, Jeremy's been serving on the board of elders since 2008. All of this has given Jeremy an increasing desire to be involved in leadership in the church.

Jeremy preaching at a church retreat in 2009
When we write Proverbs 16:9 at the top of each newsletter we are reaffirming the fact that God has put so many things in our lives together to make our calling to Orahovica obvious. One of those things is the tremendous emphasis on Scripture and bible memorization Jeremy grew up with. It's one thing to be called to a foreign culture and adapt to new surroundings. It's another to be in a position of leadership in a completely new church context. Scripture has been the primary source of wisdom during the numerous difficult times in our lives and ministry.

From a personal standpoint, Jeremy feels a tremendous call to full-time ministry. The encouragement of the church and the enjoyment Jeremy finds in teaching have been two major factors . On one hand going to seminary was the natural 'next step'. On the other, Jeremy has never had so much fun reading, studying and learning.

Additionally, there's a tremendous need for theologically trained leaders in Croatia. Many evangelical pastors have full-time jobs outside the church and most are not paid by the local church they work for. For various reasons, there is very little emphasis put on Biblical or theological training in local evangelical churches. This has been another motivating factor in Jeremy's decision to go to seminary.

Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia
With our fourth child on the way, it's an extremely busy time in our lives. From the outside it may seem like a strange time to go back to school. But with the turnover in youth groups, and a pause in teaching English, we're experiencing a natural transition in focus from outreach in the community to leadership in the church. As Jeremy's familiarity with the language and culture has strengthened, there is simply more he can do in the church than he could before. All of these factors combined convinced us that last fall was the right time to get started. A year into his studies, while in the States, he's had the opportunity to study at Gordon-Conwell for a semester. He'll begin his thesis in the fall with a goal of finishing sometime in 2014.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Here are three goals Jeremy has within the context of the evangelical church in Croatia:

1. To continue discipling, teaching, and encouraging biblical literacy in the local church.
2. To support biblical and theological training in Croatia.
3. To begin writing in Croatian within the next 5 years.

When we first began working with the local church we found that there is a major need for leaders who are committed to Croatia. Most who are dedicated to serving in Croatia (Croats) lack theological education and most missionaries don't stay long-term. We believe the investment we have made has only begun to bear fruit.

From the beginning we've had prayer partners and financial supporters join our efforts. A couple years ago we connected with Christian Educators Outreach who further strengthened our ministry. Throughout the first six years the Lord's hand of provision has been so obvious. He has always been faithful. We rest in the promise that he will continue to be.