I first went to Eastern Europe with my father in the early 1980s. At the time, of course, the entire region was under the iron fist of Soviet communism. This was the result of the disastrous appeasement of Joseph Stalin by Western powers meeting at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The war in Europe ended three months later, and Soviet domination spread quickly and brutally.
Two decades later, however, by God’s mighty power, tremendous doors of opportunity began to open up for my father to preach the Gospel, beginning in Yugoslavia in 1967, and later in Hungary, Poland, Romania, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia—even extending into the heart of the Soviet Union in Moscow and Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg).
You could see the spiritual hunger on the faces of the people, who longed for authentic spirituality despite the official atheistic policy of communism. In some countries, the government tried but could not contain the crowds who gathered to hear the Gospel.
My father was hoping to invest the last years of his ministry in preaching across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, due to health, he was not able to fulfill that goal. But I never forgot. That’s why I have made Eastern Europe a focus of our ministry, to carry out my father’s vision.
God has been gracious to us. Just in the last few weeks, I had the privilege of preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in two formerly Soviet-controlled countries of Eastern Europe. In Budapest, the capital of Hungary, we held a Crusade in the largest indoor facility in the country. Just as it was when my father preached under former Soviet domination, the people were hungry to hear the truth of the Gospel.
When we gave the invitation, I was afraid the arena might be filled with too many people from our partnering churches, but it thrilled me to see thousands get out of their seats, streaming forward to repent of their sins and receive Christ as their Savior. The Word of God is always living and active, sharp and powerful, cutting through to the very soul of man (see Hebrews 4:12).
From Budapest I went back to Latvia, where I had preached two years earlier, this time to preach at a youth event, the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. We were there at the invitation of Latvian churches who, grateful to God for the many new believers that had been added to their flocks during the earlier Crusade in 2010, asked us to come again with a focus on reaching young people.
For this Baltic Youth Festival, we asked churches to make advance reservations for the groups they were bringing, and the venue was filled to capacity a month before the Festival. So we added a second evangelistic outreach on the same day, with the first session from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the second from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Nearly 20,000 young people crammed the field, and God was working. In that one arena, in the course of that one day, more than 1,400 people—most of them teens and young adults—gave themselves to Jesus Christ. When it was over, we were exhausted but exhilarated.
One elated Latvian Christian man who served as a counselor said, “I love seeing people’s faces change! When they start to believe, they start to smile.” He experienced the delight again and again as he talked with young people coming forward after each invitation throughout the long day. The churches of Latvia are rejoicing, and we rejoice with them.
Pray for the many new believers in both Latvia and Hungary and for the churches who are following up with them.
Back in the U.S., we have just completed an exciting Rock the Lakes outreach in Rochester, N.Y. We’ll next go to Green Bay, Wis., and then to Buffalo, N.Y., and finally Ottawa, Ontario.
Finances are tight right now at BGEA, even as we head through a very busy summer of evangelism. God has opened many doors for ministry, and we do not want to miss any of them. If the Lord leads you to do so, consider sending a gift this month—a lasting investment in changed lives.
Thank you and God bless you,
U.S. MILITARY: We thank God for the men and women who serve our country. My son Will is involved in preaching the Gospel at different U.S. military bases, and he regularly sees hundreds, sometimes thousands, give their hearts to Christ. We also minister to cadets and midshipmen from the various service academies who come to The Cove for retreats and seminars. We support chaplains when they are deployed overseas and provide them books and Bibles. We also work with other ministries who serve military personnel. We need your help in this area.
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EVANGELISTIC CRUSADES: It is becoming more and more expensive to hold Crusades. The cost to rent a facility, provide technical and imaging equipment so the crowd can all hear and see, and cover the logistics needed for the Christian bands and others involved all add up. With more Crusades coming up, we desperately need your help.
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SUMMER: As we move into summer, various opportunities arise that we don’t have funds for. This has been an unusually busy spring with three back-to-back Crusades, and at this point we need help with our general fund. A gift designated “Where needed most” can be immediately invested into a critical or current need.
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