Friends and beloved in Christ,
It’s been another six months since our last news letter and we have a lot of news. It has been a very busy six months, but we’ve been greatly blessed in all respects as a family.
The first thing to mention is of course the Sunday evening Bible study. When I mention to outsiders that we spend 2 hours plus delving into Scripture, they roll their eyes in skepticism, but to us who were given this opportune window into God’s redemptive workings, it is something we will never forget. In the end we had a great 28-week spell before some moved to the US, others to Ecuador and we left for South Africa.
Yet, as you know, the Bible study was always in English. And though we had a great translator on standby, it was sparsely attended by our own congregation. Some were of course put off by the language, while others said it was too academic. Whatever the reasons, the Bible Study was not penetrating our own congregation sufficiently. It was mostly carried by people on the periphery of our core group. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing by any means. It is just a recognition of how things transpired.
Regarding the children’s catechism and the Communicants Class, it is a joy for me to report that the two girls in my group who expressed the desire to become communicant members in the end satisfactorily completed the class and were part of three who professed their faith before the congregation. Unfortunately, this all happened while were already in South Africa, so we missed sharing in the event.
The young couple I mentioned in my previous letter with whom we had spent so much time, in the end relocated to Ecuador where the husband enrolled into seminary. We are still in regular contact with them and they seem to be flourishing and enjoying every moment of intense study and being given to the ministry of God’s people.
The illegal immigrant from Moroccan in the end found his way to Italy. His interest with me seemed to digress into mere requests for money. Many would say at this point that they could see his strategy miles away. Yes, perhaps. But we don’t share the gospel and mercy with people only because we can see with surety that there will be gospel fruit. Imagine our Father who is in Heaven was like that! But thanks be to God, He isn’t (Mt 5:45-48).
Finally, this past Sunday, I have started a new series through the letter to the Hebrews. While Rev. Kona and his family are in the USA until April, I will be preaching with translation through the letter. I am very grateful for this opportunity, since as you know, my greatest desire is to preach and teach. Please pray that we as a congregation would submit our sluggish ears and hearts to all that the Lord wants to reveal and teach us through this letter to God’s people.
Change in ministry
But I want to move now to the most important news we have and that is that I have received a call as assistant pastor to a multi-ethnic English church-plant in Pretoria, South Africa. Most of you have been with us through this transition, so apologies to those to whom this comes as a surprise.
In short, we may say that the main thing that triggered the whole move (humanly speaking) is the language barrier. As you know, language has always been the issue for us that has kept ministry from going deep with people who are uncomfortable with English. I could write a thousand pages on this and would gladly relay the whole history of how we’ve come to this point, but I will try to be concise.
First of all, the session of our church has agreed to release us with their blessing from ministry here in Durrës in order to pursue this call in South Africa. This we will do, God-willing from the first of April.
The congregation is called Grace Reformed Church of North Pretoria (GRC), and as I said, it is a multi-ethnic English church plant in the Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid Afrika (GKSA). Furthermore, GRC itself also has close ties with the Heritage Reformed Congregations (HRC) in America through its senior pastor Rev Brian DeVries.This was u before I preached at GRC in Pretoria in November
In addition to serving the congregation, I will also be able to pursue parttime lecturing at Mukhanyo Theological College from July onwards.
With respect to my ordination in the PCA, my desire is that I will be allowed by my presbytery to preach and teach out of bounds as assistant pastor at GRC. As presbytery meets at the end of this month to consider my request, please pray for this.
All-in-all, we believe and are very excited that our urgency to communicate the Gospel and the full counsel of God effectively is being met by God’s grace in this endeavor. We always said that we want to be in a place where we can disciple the Lord’s church and where I can help raise up the next generation of pastors. This urgency has never changed and we will continue to pursue it as long as the Lord allows.
But it is of course also a bitter-sweet time. As we arrived in Durrës last week, I was hit by how much Durrës has become my town in only two years. People live and breath close to one another. This is Europe where we’ve lived for 16 years after all. And we will come to miss it quickly. We will more so miss all the relationships that have grown out of our time here.
The next three months will be strange as we have before us a move south that will sever us until we meet again in the presence of the Lord. But it is our sincere prayer that the Lord will use this time to galvanize among us a lasting love for one another in Him to help edify our faith and confidence in what He is doing with His bride.
The last time I wrote to you, I conveyed that our financial situation had become stable and healthy. Well, that will no doubt be changing in the next few weeks. But I want to assure you that the Lord takes care of us all, in plenty and in need. And thus, we will be content with what He provides.
That said, please know that several of our financial supporters have indicated their desire to continue staying with our ministry, whether in Albania or in South Africa. In addition, Grace Reformed will also be providing us with a small remuneration, according to their ability (see the attached service agreement).
I am not able to provide you with any chart at this point since we don’t quite know what things will look like when the dust settles.
Ok, this letter is becoming far too long. So, please see below our prayer requests for the next 3 months.
- Family: As always, please pray to our Father that He protect each one of us from the evil one: Please pray that God would protect our health, our thought-life, our devotional life, our family worship, our Gospel and Kingdom focus, our bond with one another. Pray that Euodia and I would rejoice in each other and our children and that they too would likewise enjoy us and each other. We so need that God would bless us and keep us!
- Church: Please pray for this sermon series through the letter to the Hebrews to make a powerful impact on us all. If Christ is not high and lifted up in the eyes of our hearts, then our ears quickly become dull towards His Word. Pray that Christ would become foremost in everything as is proper for the Son of God Who is to be supremely valued above all.
Pray for sincere love in our church. It is too easy to put on a mask that looks nice on the outside, but does nothing to change bitterness that so easily take hold of the soul. Continue to pray for honesty among believers. It is too easy in this culture to employ ‘white lies’ instead of just being truthful and trustworthy.
- Medicines: We do not know what the situation will be like in South Africa with regard to growth hormone for Euodia. Here in Albania, we were able to buy it at the manufacturer’s price. Please pray that the Lord make a solution available for us as He had done over the past two years.
May we all continue to be astounded in Christ our Lord in the coming year,
Mauritz, Euodia, Nadya, and Yehoshua.
 GRC subscribes to the three forms of unity along with the Westminster standards, while the GKSK subscribes to the three forms of unity.
 The GKSA is in ecumenical unity with the PCA.
 Dr. DeVries is a colleague of Dr. Joel Beeke at Grand Rapids whom you may have heard of already.