Dear family and friends: You have not heard from me for a while but I thought of sharing a great report that brings glory to God from our dear people in the village of Yastrebovo, Bulgaria.

An amazing summer in Yastrebovo

For us, like the kids, summer is our favorite season. Children are happy because they have a summer vacation and we are happy because we can share with friends the fruit we have labored for the past year. Our joy is full when we see the smiles on the faces of our guests who had seen many pictures but now they can see with their own eyes what God is doing in the village of Yastrebovo.

A long-awaited event has started a new beginning for God’s church and ministry in our village. A few years ago, God put in the heart of Gopi Kolev the desire to extend the place where Christians met. Years of prayer and expectation of what God will do for us. We are sothankful to The Macedonian Outreach for the tremendous confidence and support to build asanctuary where the local believers can have their services.

On June 30 and July 1 we had a seminar, with main speakers Jim Krouscas and Pantelis Sidiropoulos. The topics encouraged the believers and enriched their knowledge about God’s Word. The subsequent discussions showed the importance and timeliness of the eternal truths that we have in the Scripture.

On July 2,2017 we had the official opening of the church building. The dedication of the church was carried out at a special worship service and of couse there were many special friends from the USA – Rachel Kennett, Kerri Perdew, Kelly Maclean, Ilene Ferguson, Mike Mullery, Jim Krouscas, Elaina Krouscas, Don Meyer, Michelle Meyer, Pantelis Sidiropoulos, Vula Rushdoony. Gopi Kolev shared with the whole church the vision God had given him years ago, and now he saw this realization. Vula read the verses of prophet Isaiah, who now became real in front of her eyes – the desert became an oasis. (On 9/14/14 I had underscored in my Bible Is. 32:15-18 and had written next to it Yastrebovo). The children enjoyed the dances that they prepared especially for the occasion. The tears of joy were great and no one stopped them. And the Spirit of God poured without measure.

The church of Pamukchii also attended the seminar and the dedication of the new church building. They always rejoice when we all gather together to serve God. Regardless of the difficult life and daily struggle for daily bread, our brothers and sisters from Pamukchii are a great encouragement to us. Every week, our services are very emotional. They sing, weep and laugh before the Lord sincerely. And God hears their prayers. Thank you, Elaina Krouscas for making food bags for those wonderful people and show them God’s love.

We sent our guests back to their homes but our work on the construction continued. The four houses that are being built to accommodate families whose homes were destroyed by the flood still require a lot of work. The inside and outside insulation took us a long time, but we are now at the stage of placing windows and doors. Pray with us to be able to finish the houses before the winter comes because for the third year the families live in containers.

Summer is the time when all children expect their Vacation Bible School. We spent a whole week with games, lessons, and various entertainment. This year the Biblical lessons were written on the Ten Commandments of God. We looked at each one of them and thought with the children about their practical performance in our lives. The children understood that we daily violate these commandments and we have to ask for forgiveness and power from God to fight against sin. We learned a lot, we laughed a lot, and believe that the seed sown in the hearts of the children will bear fruit.

And here is the well-deserved award – one day at the Sea. An astounding experience is to see the eyes of children who for the first time in their life saw the sea. All excitement is written in their faces. About 30 children (5 to 17 years old) spent an unforgettable day on the Black Sea. For more than 6 hours the only time they came out of the water was to eat a sandwich and ice cream. And our prize – their tales; to this day they talk about the unforgettable day at the sea.

The ministry before God is a constant challenge. Everyday we learn how to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Thank you, The Macedonian Outreach, for the enormous support – financial and spiritual! Without you, the oasis of Yastrebovo would still be a desert full of thirsty people. Let God bless you abundantly.

Gratefully!
Gopi and Reni Kolev

On Sunday morning, July 9th, a team of ten of us headed to Albania for our annual summer camp. Most of the team had been there before so there was much joy when old friends saw each other again. Ten of us, Kerri, Rachel, Kelly, Christine, Kendall, Jim, Elaina, Benny, Elias and myself joined another 80+ for a week of eating, playing, swimming but most of all of singing praises to our God and learning from the daily teaching on the greatness of our God.

We thank God for another wonderful time at camp where we met God and He met us in a big way. Thank you to all of you who prayed and gave. May our Lord bless you abundantly! A huge “THANK YOU” to Focused Living Bible Study women. These ladies come from eleven churches of San Ramon Valley and meet at Community Presbyterian church in Danville, CA and have supported this camp for over 20 years.

Happy times of eating! When the camp first started over twenty years ago, there was hardly any food. Now, thanks to the generosity of the Focused Living Bible Study women, there are three delicious and healthy meals a day!

Daily teaching by Jim Krouscas!

More teaching!

Kitchen crew joined by niece Christine Aardema of Long Beach, CA

Craft time with granddaughter Elaina Krouscas!

Game time!

Leadership team at morning devotional!

We praise God for the eleven who gave their hearts to the Lord this summer. Pray that with continued discipleship they will stay firm in faith all the days of their lives!

On Sunday, July the 2nd, we celebrated God’s faithfulness by dedicating the new church in Yastrebovo. The first Christian church in this town ever! It was such a praise to God! We cried from joy, laughed, sang and prayed!

Gopi finally got the cross and the bell in the new church. Eventually I will send you a video so you can hear the bell. There were ten Americans and one Greek pastor among those that came to celebrate. We had about 130 people. 50 percent of the town! What a glory to God. All this He did through prayer and generous giving by some very generous people!

Praise God that 17 years ago he brought us together with Gopi and eventually Reni through our American missionaries, Keth and Margie Brown. What a dedicated couple serving in Bulgaria for 20+ years.

Elaina with her sisters and friends raised over $600 to buy food for a very poor ghetto where people still live in chicken coops!

This was a day of hard work but the joy on the people’s faces made it all worth it!

Gopi and his wife Reni. What a blessed dedicated couple!

DAY OF CELEBRATION!

Jim and Pantelis did the dedication service!

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHURCH EVER!

Hello again:

After the mini conference at the Turkish church in Pazardjik, we moved on to the Pastors’ Conference in Yundola. We lost track of time but it is either the 12th or 13th annual.

It was wonderful to see our pastors and their wives once again. They were all ready and anxious to learn more and were very attentive to the teaching. Pantelis and Jim did five lessons each and I had the privilege of doing three sessions with the women.

We started the morning at 7:30 with singing and prayer

Very attentive audience

It was hard to say good bye!!!

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