Monday 30 May 2022

Spring 2022 Update

Hi friends! 

It's been a couple of months since we last updated you on the ministry here in Romania and the current situation with the war in Ukraine and our efforts to serve the Ukrainians. We hope you enjoy this spring update - stay tuned for news on our upcoming trip to Canada!!

Ministry Update:

Since Jerry returned from Ukraine at the end of March life has become more and more full - he spent the remainder of March with the Bible School team (Christina, the Bible School Registrar, and Ana and Lukas, the two RAs) planning and preparing for the SMBS semester. 

The students arrived on Sunday, April 3 and they've completed several weeks of lectures on Missions, Ministry Tools, Apologetics, Discipleship, and most recently "Jesus the Missionary" (this is the lecture series Jerry teaches). 

They spent one week in small villages around the city of Sighisoara, Romania on the Cultural Encounter challenge designed to get the students out of their comfort zones and interact with the Romanian people and culture.

They also recently returned from a mission trip to a camp near Sibiu, Romania where they spent a week ministering to a group of Ukrainian refugees, running a family camp for the refugees and their children, and helping out practically with some renovation projects at the facility. 

Together with the students and Asociata Izvorul Vietii (the Rasnov church plant our friends Doug and Camelia started several years ago), we served at the Rasnov Easter outreach where the students did face-painting, sang songs, and helped with the Easter Egg Hunt for all the children who showed up (there were several hundred kids and parents in attendance).

The students returned a few days ago from the Outdoor Team Challenge where they hiked over Piatra Craiului, slept in the mountains and completed a mountain biking challenge. 

It's been a busy, full, and challenging semester (as usual!), but the students have risen to the challenges and it's been a privilege to walk alongside them as they grow in their faith through the practical challenges, the lectures, and the discipleship here. We've hosted them in our home a lot, for family group dinners and Friday morning prayer and share group, and as the "house parents" we do our best to make ourselves available to them for casual talks, answering questions, and praying with them.

In addition to the Bible School we have connected with two Ukrainian refugee families who have begun attending our church in Brasov and these connections have led to some new ventures in providing aid to Ukrainian refugees and those in need in Ukraine. 

The first family are Alyona, Ruslan and their children. We've been able to help them by covering their food and clothing costs for the last several months, thanks to your donations. Both Alyona and Ruslan have been able to get part-time jobs here in Brasov, but they are still depending on our financial help to feed their family and buy the things they and their children need.

The second family is Vova and his wife Tania, a lovely couple from a town on the outskirts of Kyiv with 4 daughters. We have treasured our time together becoming friends, listening to their stories of the war (some of what they experienced before fleeing Ukraine over a week into the war is unbelievably horrifying), and working together to provide support to active ministries in Ukraine. Tania's elderly father is also with them, which is an added responsibility as he has some significant medical needs. Thanks to your donations we've been able to help them financially with some basic needs like food and clothing and medical care, as they left their home with only what they could pack in their small car. 

Our girls have also enjoyed playing with Vova and Tania's younger daughters and even though verbal communication is basically impossible, they still manage to have tons of fun together! 

Jerry and Vova are in regular communication, and Vova is helping to facilitate shipments of supplies to Ukraine with his connections and through his local church near Kyiv. Also thanks to your generous donations, we were able to purchase 80,000 RON (over $22,000 Canadian) of food, baby food and diapers, clothing, boots and shoes, medicine, and first aid supplies to send with Vova's pastor Vlodko into Ukraine at the beginning of May. Vlodko and his ministry partner Peter drove to PdF all the way from Lviv to pick up the supplies and their van was SO full and heavy when they left we weren't sure they'd make it back. But we're thrilled to report they made it back into Ukraine safely and have distributed all the supplies to the local people in need.

L-R: Vova, Peter (from Ukraine), Jerry, Lukas (Bible School RA), Pastor Vlodko (from Ukraine)

Together with others from their church and a ministry leader named Kateryna, they have distributed the supplies to the local people who have little access to food and supplies because of the war. The team in Ukraine assembled care packages, and although we aren't able to share many of the photos with you for safety and privacy reasons, believe us when we say they were so grateful for this small act of help. We are equally grateful to have been able to help in this way.

In addition, we partnered with OM Romania (Operation Mobilization) last weekend to send another huge shipment of food, clothes, baby supplies, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, gas stoves, flashlights and headlamps, hygiene items and medicine to a ministry in Bucha (Kyiv region), the site of a recent alleged massacre of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian army. The photos of this area that have been passed on to us are simply devastating. This shipment totalled about 31,000 RON (around $9000 Canadian), which was also paid for by your generous donations. 

Our girls enjoyed getting in on the action, helping Jerry buy all the sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and other survival supplies on the list from the outdoor supply store in Brasov.

These supplies have already been distributed to 62 families who have lost their homes, been displaced or affected by the war. The photos are heartbreaking, and it's hard to believe these photos were taken only several hundred kilometres from where we continue to live peacefully in Romania. 

Vova wrote this message to us a few days ago and sent us the following photos: "62 families received the food and other help already. And the volunteers are working and giving more. Kateryna (in the photo below - black jacket) told me the team is very good - they are from those places, some of them lost their homes, they know people's needs and they do this from their heart and very efficiently. So I'm really glad your help found a good and timely application." We are also very glad, and so thankful for your donations that are making this ministry possible.

Because the flow of refugees into Romania has significantly slowed, PdF isn't receiving many refugees at the centre anymore (we've had only a few in the last two weeks). Not surprisingly, your generous donations totalled far more than what PdF needs to cover the costs of hosting refugees.

Because of this, and as is important to do in full time ministry whenever change happens, we have pivoted to assisting in other ways using the funds you all so generously donated, mainly by providing financial assistance to the refugee families we've connected with in Brasov to help meet their basic needs while they are displaced, and by mobilizing the resources God has placed in our hands to support local Ukrainian ministries and churches as they work to provide for and minister to the local Ukrainian people in desperate need of hope and practical help. 

Yes, it's a huge added stressor for us - Jerry has taken on all the communication with Vova, OM, and the ministry leaders in Ukraine, the shopping, the coordinating of the shipments, and the partnering with local ministry leaders to actually send the supplies with the mountain of paperwork each one requires to cross the border. Chrissie has taken on the financial and clerical side, communicating with Great Commission Foundation to have purchases approved, collecting and processing receipts for reimbursement and advances of funds, and fundraising. It's a lot for us on top of an already busy spring ministry season, but it's something we both feel so deeply called by God to do. 

We're reminded of many times in scripture where Jesus talks about situations just like these - in Matthew 25 Jesus warns of withholding food and drink, or clothing or medical care from those in need "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me." Regardless of the amount of work, for us the choice is easy.

And on the days when we are so tired, we remember God's promise in Proverbs 11:25, "those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." We trust God will give us the rest we need in His timing. 

The students and the Bible School Team have also enjoyed helping with all the shopping (which, believe it or not, is a HUGE task when you're buying so much stuff at once!), packing vans and trucks, and hauling cases upon cases of canned goods and other heavy items. We are SO thankful for their willingness to help and for their positive attitudes!

We are very grateful for all the donations we've received toward the Ukrainian refugees and the shipment of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We would like to ask you for more donations as God leads you to give, so we can continue providing support to the Ukrainian people. The needs are so great, and we're grateful to be in such a place to be able to help. If you'd like to donate, please use the links below. ALL funds raised go directly to support war-affected Ukrainians in Ukraine or Romania (refugees).

Please consider donating toward our work to support Ukrainian refugees in Romania and the Ukrainian people in Ukraine with humanitarian aid.

For CANADIANS: If you would like to donate to help cover the costs of PdF’s refugee support, please visit

**Please choose “Torchbearers Romania Ukraine Relief” as the designation.**

For AMERICANS: please visit to donate

**Please choose “Torchbearers Romania Ukraine Relief” as the designation.**

In addition to the Bible School and the aid for Ukraine, Chrissie also led a muffin-baking workshop for the Romanian Women's Conference here at PdF last weekend. 

She also continues to serve as a mentor for one of the Bible School students, leads one of the girls' prayer and share groups every Friday, and serves as the "house mom" on campus to the students and some of the volunteers. And she was one of the lecturers for the Outdoor Challenge week last week - she taught on Biblical Conflict Resolution.

As we look ahead to the last three weeks of Bible School we're preparing for one more lecture week this week with Peter Reid (the Torchbearers International Director), a second Mission Outreach week in the south of Romania where the students will work with Reinhard and Darcey Neufeld's Gateway to Hope ministry in Rasa and with Vali and Emilia's ministry in Roseti, and the last and final week of the program full of debriefing, reflecting, some lectures, and wrapping up the program.

A few days after the Bible School ends we'll be getting on a plane and heading to the UK for the Torchbearers International Staff conference taking place at Capernwray Hall at the end of June. We're looking forward to this conference to re-connect with other Torchbearers staff from around the world, listen to solid Bible teaching (in English!!) and be refreshed by the surroundings and nature of the Carnforth, UK area.

After the conference we'll be sticking around the UK for a few days for some family time, and then we'll be getting on another plane to Canada for the summer to re-connect with family, friends & supporters, and our church family. We'll send another update about our time in Canada, but for now please mark Sunday, August 21st on your calendar as we hope to host a get-together that day to see you all.

Family Update:

Since we last updated you life has been incredibly busy, as is always the case during the Spring Bible School semester. The addition of Christina Mihai to the Bible School Team as the Bible School Registrar has been a positive thing for our family. Jerry's workload as far as registration and general administrative duties has lessened and made more time for him to invest in the spiritual leadership of the program and the students, and it's also allowed him to step away from work and even turn off his phone some evenings and most Saturdays. 

The weather this spring has been beautiful and we have taken advantage of it as often as we can, going for walks and hikes and bike rides. 

Chrissie and the girls usually join the Bible School on the Cultural Encounter challenge because it almost always falls on the girls' Easter vacation from school. This year the girls and Chrissie came down with some kind of flu (not Covid or influenza) so they had to stay home. Thankfully we have good friends in the medical field, so Chrissie was able to receive IV treatment at home and get better very quickly so she was able to care for the kids while Jerry was away with the students. 

The kids have continued going to school in Brasov which has been both a blessing and a challenge. They're receiving the best education possible for them at this time, and they are both making new friends and building relationships at school. We've gotten to know a couple of families whose children attend school with our girls and spent time together outside of school.

The 3+ hours of daily driving has been a big burden for us, mostly for Chrissie who does the bulk of the driving each week. We're looking into possible solutions to minimize the driving for the upcoming school year when the girls return to school in September.

Another big challenge for our family has been the influence of the world that has entered our lives with great force. The school the girls attend is not a Christian school and many of their classmates have unfettered access to the internet, social media, and music, and so our girls are daily exposed to things that we don't allow in our home and that are far beyond what's appropriate for their ages. We're working on boundary-setting and having lots of conversations about things they see and hear at school and with their friends, washing them with the Word of God and reminding them that God has set eternity in their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3) - which is why what this world has to offer them may seem good and exciting and like it will fill this hole, but that it will never compare to what we have in Christ. 

These are hard concepts for an 8 and 9-year-old to understand, believe, and practically live out, and so we're on a daily journey of discipleship with the girls. Because Jerry is very busy with Bible School and not home as much as Chrissie and the girls, a lot of the responsibility for this discipleship falls on Chrissie, and it's a lot. 

We celebrated Eden's 8th birthday in April with some friends from school and many of the children from PdF.

At the beginning of May Chrissie underwent another cranial MRI to continue investigating her vertigo issues. Thankfully the medication the neurologist prescribed works perfectly well with no side effects, so she's able to live life normally. She has another specialist visit in a few weeks and will continue to see her neurologist on an ongoing basis to explore a possible auto-immune diagnosis.

We are really looking forward to the summer - going to the Torchbearers International Staff Conference in the UK in June will be a first for our whole family together, and the kids are thrilled to be able to participate in the children's program at the conference in English! 

We plan to spend a few days in the UK after the conference for some family time, some hikes and time in nature, after which we'll head to the Vancouver area for a few weeks and on to Winnipeg after that until the end of August. We're a little sad to miss the whole summer in Romania (summer is beautiful here), but we are very thankful to be able to see our family and friends again and re-connect with you all. 

After another busy semester of Bible School and Jerry being away from home a lot, we are all looking forward to prioritizing family time for the summer before we head back to Romania for the Fall Bible School that begins in September. 

Our marriage has continued to struggle under the weight of ministry and the strain of raising kids in another country without much support and care, and no family nearby. Both of us are working through issues in private counselling, but our crazy schedule makes spending time together and date nights nearly impossible - we don't live a 'normal life' with a predictable schedule and set work/family times. We would appreciate your prayers for us as we work together to strengthen our family in the midst of full-time ministry - it's not an easy task, but anything is possible with God.

Prayer Requests:

Please join us in thanking God for:
  1. a safe and successful Spring Mission Bible School so far.  
  2. Possible RAs for the Fall Bible School (please pray for these decisions!)
  3. His financial provision. We have our immediate needs met each month and we're so thankful to God for His provision.  
  4. Successful shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine! We are so thankful for how smooth everything has gone - no border issues!
  5. the progress that's being made on the new Guest Lodge building at PdF! Construction on the second wing is moving very quickly!
  6. Christina the new Bible School Registrar. We are thankful for how Christina taking on a big administrative load has helped Jerry and our family.
  7. Ana and Lukas, the Bible School RAs. They are an awesome part of the team and are connecting with the students so well!
  8. Safety and peace in Romania. We are so thankful Romania is a safe and peaceful country in the midst of what's happening in Ukraine to the north of us.
  9. A positive end to the school year for our children. They worked SO hard this year, despite all the challenges of a second language and cultural barriers at school. 

Please join us in praying for:

  1. God to send the right students to register for the upcoming Fall Bible School 2022 and Ascent Adventure Bible School 2022 (in summer).
  2. God to send the right students to register for the 2023 Bible Schools.
  3. our marriage and family; that we would prioritize our marriage over our work, and make time to communicate and nurture our marriage even in the midst of a very overwhelming ministry schedule.
  4. Our children; that God would continue drawing them closer to Himself every day, that they would learn to see that God's way is the best way, and that nothing this world has to offer will ever satisfy. That they would experience Jesus' love each day.
  5. Our girls' education; that they would continue to grow in their Romanian language skills. That they wouldn't be influenced in a negative way by the things they see and hear at school.
  6. Miriam. Please pray for us as parents to have wisdom to parent her through the mental health challenges she's experiencing.
  7. Continued health and protection from Covid-19 and other sickness and injury.
  8. Safety. Please pray for safety for Jerry, the staff, participants and students for all the PdF programs.
  9. Continued open borders and limited travel restrictions between Europe and North America so students and staff from Canada and the US can come to Torchbearer Centres throughout the world.
  10. Chrissie's health. Pray for healing in Chrissie's brain and body, and for a diagnosis regarding her vertigo and other symptoms.
  11. Staff relationships at PdF.  Please pray for peace among the staff, for heaps and heaps of understanding and love despite the cultural differences, and for us all to learn to serve one another better, being considerate of one another. Also, for healing in places where there has been hurt, and for wisdom for us to know how to manage difficult interpersonal conflicts and challenging issues over cultural barriers.
  12. The people of Ukraine who are affected by this horrible war.
  13. The two Ukrainian refugee families we have gotten to know - Alyona and Ruslan, and Vova and Tania. 
  14. For future Ukrainian humanitarian aid shipments - that God would provide the funds and the time, and the means. 

Please consider donating toward our work to support Ukrainian refugees in Romania and the Ukrainian people in Ukraine with humanitarian aid.

For CANADIANS: to donate please visit

**Please choose “Torchbearers Romania Ukraine Relief” as the designation.**

For AMERICANS: please visit to donate

**Please choose “Torchbearers Romania Ukraine Relief” as the designation.**

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