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Go Ye's ministry in southcentral Europe
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Go Ye Fellowship in southcentral Europe

is determined to be the ministry of choice for people of integrity who desire to provide the youth of Romania with the grace of the Gospel and hope for a better tomorrow.

WHERE Building a bridge of grace from Italy to Romania
WHAT Our focus is the education of the Romanian youth and Italians. We impart hopefor this life and that to come.
WHEN We are primarily concerned with long-term development.
HOW If we cannot do what we do through relationships and with integrity, we will not do it.
WHY Our stance is clear and unmistakable. The reason for our work is the Glory of God.

Parameters of Romanian ministry

Target: Who?ethical ministry to Romanian children

  • Children with AIDS
  • Orphans
  • Impoverished Youth
  • Long-term Hospitalized Youth

educating children with AIDS and Tuberculosis

child evangelism in Timisoara, Romania

  • General Education
  • Spiritual Education
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship
  • Counseling
  • Teacher Training
  • Summer Camps

educating children with AIDS and Tuberculosis

Christian missions

  • Of Europe's Children with AIDS, 60% live
    in Romania.
  • 1,895 children have died of AIDS between
    1990 and 1998.
  • 86% of those with AIDS are children.*
  • Romania has lost its faith--88% think that
    the church has lost its ethics.
  • Romania has lost its hope--Most think that
    to prosper you must be dishonest.**
  • Relief agencies which have sent containers
    with items that compete with Romanian
    businesses and have taken jobs from

"Romania probes child HIV infections for first time." The Business Review.
November 9-15, 1998. p. 2
*UNAIDS fax to SCOP dated March 4, 1998.
**Romanian news survey July 1999.


Our long-term vision remains the same:  Build a bridge of grace from Italy to Romania

1.  Motivate Italian Christians to reach out around the world, especially to Romania.

2.  Partner with Romanian Christian churches and organizations.

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The Year of Our Lord 2003

Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2003

Organization of ministry

Orphans with tuberculosis: Romania

  • Classes continue for computer, reading, math, and Christian character.

AIDS patients: Romania

  • Youth work rounds off a great year thanks to an alliance with Areopagus Center and Greater Europe Mission  
  • HIV Anonim becomes Romania's site of choice for information on AIDS and sexual abstinence.

Publications & Integrity InterNetwork:  Romania

  • Integrity InterNetwork prospers. 

Christian mobilization: Romania and Italy

  • English lessons, Bible study, and youth group continue in Romania.
  • Bible study progresses in Italy.
  • Casa Biblica takes its place among Italian Christian bookstores.
  • iBiblioteca is largest and second most popular Christian library.

The purpose of this annual report is to update you on our progress in 2003 and share with you some of our planned directions for 2004.

Organization of annual report

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Forward:  Pragmatic Faith

Ministry Reports:  tuberculosis  | AIDS  |  Publications  |  Christian mobilization

Financial Report
Numbers of donors grows.   Donor base is more diverse. Amount donated grows. Number of missionaries grows.
A Glimpse into 2004

Parting Word:  How does one become a good middlebrow pragmatic?

4 a Word

Pragmatic Faith

How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip.

"What do we have that is any different than what is offered by the world?"  This is a question we often ask ourselves, especially when so many religious groups are no more loving or ethical than the "lost" they are trying to "save".  For too many people, religion has become a mental affirmation and not an applicable truth.  This is the faith that James says the demons have.  

The world needs the message of the gospel, of love, of peace, of joy.  This is the message that brings hope.  Whether we are referring to the US or to Romania, this is a message that is hard to find outside of Jesus Christ.  In an attempt to do that effectively, one must cultivate a teachable attitude and a devotion to learning from others.  He must have a voracious reading habit.  He should have a passion to learn languages so that he can understand people first-hand, see the filters that each of us have and communicate with a minimum of filters and translators.  

This year, God gave me the opportunity to correspond with a friend from the ivory towers of theological academia, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.  He has a fantastic grasp of things I could just dream about--Greek, the end times, etc.  But, I can't think of any friends from university fellowship groups that would be unable to hold their own in a debate with him about the basics of the Christian faith and practice. 

Needed: Pragmatic love
We are pragmatics.   Compared to those with whom I brush shoulders, we are interested in studying things that are applicable and essentials of the faith.  This prevents us from legalistic extremes where people apply laws to others that are impractical and counterproductive.  

At Lehigh, I found experts in invention.  In the Army, I found true patriots and this Spring nobody doubted their excellence when they marched into Baghdad in four weeks with so few casualties.  So in ministry, I expected to find people like me who love God above all else.  But this expectation was naif and unreasonable and, as you could well expect, resulted in disappointment.  Most of us missionaries have families so, as I Corinthians 7:32-33 says, the needs of the individual and family are often more important than the commands of God.  After 30+ years of single life, this is a hard principle to comprehend and even harder to practice. This old dog doesn't like this new trick, but if I am devoted to excellence in my marriage, perfecting this trick is a necessity.

During the summers of my college years, I worked with people who Wilfred McClay calls the lowbrows.  Ashland Oil hired me at an oil refinery, cleaning spills, cutting grass, and aiding welders and pipefitters.  These grassroot people were down to earth, practical people with little thought for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Then, when I was in medical research, I daily interfaced with highbrow academia.  There, theory and idealism often crowds out practical reality.  They tend to be more pacifist and more left-wing--not an easy place for someone who prefers Rush Limbaugh to Howard Stern.  Understanding both points of view is probably the reason why I am a middlebrow today.

As McClay observes, "The highbrows [have become] ponderous, impenetrable, professionalized academics, whose air castles of thought were surrounded by moats of jargon designed to keep the dabblers and dilettantes at bay."*   However, the lowbrows "were the manufacturers and purveyors of commercial mass entertainment, with debased aesthetic standards and a coarsening effect on the populace."  We live in a world where "political discourse was debased by the domination of the [lowbrow]... instead of being elevated by contributions from on high."   

As a result, the vital center of ideas still stood largely unoccupied.  The leavening effect the two halves of the American cultural schism might have had upon one another--and occasionally did have--was hard to find, and harder to sustain.  Those few hardy souls who were able to cross over--a Leonard Bernstein in music, a Tom Wolfe in literature, a David McCullough in history, an Andrew Wyeth in painting--won the scorn (often masking envy) of the illuminati and were dismissed as middlebrows, popularizers, and sellouts.  (ibid, p. 84)
Content to be a middlebrow
As middlebrows in ministry (considerably less talented than Wyeth, Bernstein, et al were in their fields), Aurelia and I don't expect a great reception by the highbrows.  "Yet it is precisely in that vibrant democratic middle ground, where ideas drawn from elite and popular cultures mix and mingle, and where the friction between idea and lived reality is most powerful and productive, that the genius of American culture has been found in the past."(ibid)

This was the power of pragmatic Jesus over the theoretic Pharisees.  He was scorned by the highbrows but the sinners and the tax collectors found a friend in Him.  He polarized the Pharisees and changed the world like no man in human history has or will.  (After all, He is God!) God tells us, "Little children, you are of God, and have overcome [the world]; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."(1 John 4:4)
Over the past few years in Romania, God has let me witness an overabundance of highbrow knowledge and an underabundance of practice.  Part of it is that I had 22 years of marital bliss with only the Lord Jesus Christ, while many others experienced few if any.  This is not something to be depreciated nor boasted of, it is pure grace of God.

The ivory towers have jargonized the definitions of words so that they no longer recognizable in the original Greek or in the present English.  One highbrow theologian here deconstructs Greek and English words to twist Scripture to his liking.  This is a very real temptation for all of us, and to keep us faithful to the original text, God provides us people with other interpretations.  These are not enemies but our friends who keep us open minded and accountable.  We must not be adversarial towards them but must love them.

Aurelia and I want to bridge the gap, the largely unoccupied vital center of ideas, and apply Christian concepts to the lives of the poor, neglected Romanian children. One Italian group commented on how pragmatic I was--how much I put faith into practice, something they considered intimidating.  I told them that Jesus has been living in me much longer, so He has had more time to redecorate my life.  

"You Americans are so pragmatic!"
But, part of it is cultural, too.  We, Americans, are renouned for pragmatism.  "Alexis de Tocqueville voiced the theme early in the 19th century:  To the extent that Americans cultivated science, literature, and the arts, he remarked, they invariably did so in the spirit of utility, not out of any high regard for the dignity of thought itself." (McClay, op cit)  But, as I was trying to convey to the Italian group I was teaching, we must practice love, practice truth, practice honesty, not just learn and talk about it.  "Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth." (I John 3:18)

May we always respond to God's call to pragmatism!  

---Loving Him,

How does one become a good middlebrow pragmatic?  Click here for part 2 of the article.

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Orphans with tuberculosis,

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"we were to remember the poor, which very thing I was also eager to do." ~~~The Apostle Paul (Galatians 2)

Awards day for the kids. Poor children get poorer education (Ballantine, 1989; Macionis, 1994)  and less exposure to the computer.  Tuberculosis is so strongly viewed as a disease of poverty that children don't even want people to know that they are at the TB hospital.  (They even renamed the hospital this year, to take out the word "tuberculosis" .)  Romania has the largest TB popullation than any other European country.  Since Jesus' ministry seemed to have more success among the poor, we feel that our ministry here is strategic and extremely well-placed.  

The children in this hospital are from the lower strata of society, since TB affects the poor.  Common vectors of transmission are being near someone with the bacillium who coughs, sharing eating utencils, and poor sanitation techniques due to no hot water.  Also, researchers have just discovered that smoke from wood stoves produces an inflammatory response in the lungs, and this makes it 2.6 times easier for TB to infect someone.  (Mishra V, Retherford R, and Smith K)  Poverty increases the probability that a child will be subjected to these transmission vectors.

More Romanian children were abandoned last year than any time in Romania's history.  However, the government (under pressure by the European Union) continues to close orphanages.  The result is that many of these children get tossed in the streets.  

Under such pressure, in July the hospital had to find a disposition for over half of the children under their care.  Children with living parents had to be sent back to the parents indifferent to the fact that their home situations and sub-standard schools were the cause of their developmental retardation.  First graders that can't speak, 2nd graders that don't know the alphabet, and 6th graders that can't read came from these same village schools to which they had to return.   The children that are from unknown origin will be retained in the hospital or sent to an orphanage that will likely be soon closed, forcing them into the streets.  Oana (see Annual Reports for 2001 and 2002) is still at the hospital while Rodica was sent to an orphanage inTargoviste.

Two floors were consolidated into one, healthy children with unhealthy children.  This means that we started working with truly contageous TB patients and had to start taking more precautions against getting sick.  Please pray for God to keep the healthy children (as well as us) healthy.

In this way, this state-run hospital reduced teaching staff, forcing into retirement anybody who is over 50 and has had 30 years of work. The director's position has been eliminated, so Ionel has been replaced by a lady who seems to be equally favorable towards our work. Nothing should have to change there.  

Working at the hospital is very draining and could drive a youthful couple of 30-somethings like us crazy.  I don't know how some of their professors manage when they are in their 50's and 60's!  Aurelia takes the kids needing help in basic education and I usually hold computer classes.  In the halls, the kids are constantly fighting, yelling, and knocking on the doors, impatient for their turn to learn.  They will beat on each other with sticks and any body part that can gather some inertia. MargaretaMany of the children who remain in the hospital have good reason to feel fortunate and unfortunate at the same time.  They are fortunate to have our donors supporting them and people like Amanda (a short-term missionary) visiting them.   They are fortunate to not be among the thousands on the streets.  However, they have the misfortune of being in a place where they are unsupervised most of the summer.

The summer time is the worst for these children.  The staff is short because they go on vacation.  At best, the staff basically leaves when we get there.  At worst, we will go days without seeing the people that are supposed to care for and educate the children.  Then it becomes a zoo with children walking on ledges outside, leaning on patched screens three stories above the pavement, or just beating each others heads on the stone floor.  It got so bad that we had to register complaints.  Whether or not we were the catalyst, some of the staff got replaced by young girls who have impressed us in their first month on the job.  Let me introduce you to some of the children. Cristian is a 13 year-old that comes from a very poor family in Arges.  He was unable to understand oral communication because he couldn't tell the difference in sounds between letters, especially 'b' and 'p'.  He was embarrassed to be called upon to read because he couldn't.  The kids would make fun of him so he was very inhibited, compounding his problem.  

After 5 months of working with Aurelia, he was able to read and write.  His reading comprehension is good now.  He who couldn't even hold a pen when Aurelia started working with him began taking dictation!  He has now returned to his family.  Please pray that he will continue to progress.   The children are growing and Aurelia is having a great time teaching. 

Rodica (below) was 6 years old when we found her several years ago. As I was doing a regular trip down the dark unlighted hall of the hospital, there was Rodica, alone, standing on the black and grey stone floor, gazing half at the green and white tiled walls and half at the intervening space.

Rodica"What's your name?" I asked.
Without replying, she punched me.
"Why did you do that?" I asked.
Another punch was her reply.

It was a good 5 minutes before I got her to say anything. That same day I learned that she didn't know a single color.
  If you asked her the color of anything, she said, "verde".
Rodica came from a Bucuresti orphanage, where she was totally neglected. She learned that hitting and misbehaving would get her the attention for which she thirsted.  In fact, her 10 year-old sister was so violent that last year, she knocked another child out with a wood plank that she found somewhere.  She was soon kicked out of the hospital.  But Rodica stayed, each day greeting us with a slug to the legs.

She was a bright girl and quickly learned 16 colors. She had an attention span as short as her temper, but she was soon tamed by our affection. Not long after that, she had learned to count and her alphabet. By the time she entered school, she was nearly normal. She is now learning to multiply.  Best of all for us, her punching has been replaced with warm hugging.

Spiritually, she had a warm heart for God also. Her behavior has improved very much and she is generous with the clothes and toys we give her. Aurelia asked her, "Why do you let all the other girls wear your clothes?" She replied, "Well you taught us to share with others." She became one of the most eager and capable quoters of Bible verses. The scars of orphanage life remain with her. She is still very jealous of attention and when Aurelia is working with someone else, she always wants to return to the center of attention.  

With Rodica and all the children,  we hope to introduce them to a vital relationship with the Lord.  On June 29, Ionela had a heavy heart to know the Lord.  She wanted to know if God could forgive her grandmother for practicing witchcraft.  After we responded affirmatively, she asked,new kids on the floor "Can God forgive me and love me?"  I asked Amanda to chat with her as we continued the service with the other children.  After about 30 minutes of chatting in her broken English, Ionela prayed to follow Christ.  This is only one child, but it is one step towards the revival that needs to occur in Romania so that the civilization can attain its God-given potential.

  • Please pray that God would provide the people to continue this work. 

 Graduates, including Valea Iasului 
Subject 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Typing 3 8 8 6 14
Word 0 2 3 0
Excel 0 0 2 3 0
e-mail/Internet 0 0 3 0 0

AIDS patients

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As with TB, Romania has the largest pediatric AIDS population in Europe, more than all the rest of Europe combined.

Our AIDS work is composed of two portions:  The Romanian portion of and our sponsorship of the work of Erika Tonko with children in Timisoara who are HIV positive.

HIV Anonim

Visitors and pages viewed at HIV Anonim The site continued to grow and serve more people.  We saw a distinct growth in unique visitors this year as you can see in the graph to the right.   We estimate that we are in the top 0.1% of Romanian AIDS sites.

By the end of the fiscal year, we had become Romania's fourth most respected HIV/AIDS site and the country's #2 source for abstinence education.


How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip. In November, Mission Network News in the US, broadcast a segment on Erika's work.    Unfortunately, they don't name Erika and the person from Greater Europe Mission (GEM) claimed it as solely their work.  I wrote to the broadcaster but they don't seem to want to correct the error.  (In reality, GEM is affiliated with the foundation providing daily supervision for Erika, so they do have a right to claim some part of the work.)

Erika continued working at two hospitals, Louis Turcan and Victor Babes.  She has approximately 10 children to whom she ministers each day, plus family members.  Her degree in social work is put to good use as she does her best to bring God's Word, song, and comfort to these suffering children.  We have been proud to sponsor her work.
You can read a copy of Erika's February Report by clicking here.

  • Due to financial and personnel constraints, Go Ye Fellowshp is likely to pull out of this work this year.  Please pray that God's will be done here. 

Mobilization of Christians

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Building a bridge of grace

Building a bridge of grace

Building a bridge of grace

Romania map


How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip.
Romanians are struggling for their spiritual identity.  They are moving from communism to capitalism, from absence of pornography, drugs, and MTV to free market economy where everything is permitted, from superstition to science, from the shadow of atheistic USSR to the shadow of a liberal and secular Europe. 

In Romania, our community education programs for teens and adolescents include Bible study and prayer groups, English lessons, and the iBiblioteca Christian library.

The situation in Romania

The Romanian economy continues to struggle but it has probably seen the bottom of its depression. Missionary friends of mine write,

'We recently came across an article stating that there are 50% more people on pensions or disability than there are workers! Many people have gotten pensions for "disabilities" such as varicose veins or crossed eyes. Retirement age was 55. Somebody years ago decided that this was a good way to keep down unemployment. The demographics and the strain on the economy from this is tremendous.'

We are working to develop the social capital of the country with English lessons and Bible-based character development.  Let me give you an example of a recent get together with the kids.

living room "What do you do that makes people angry?"  I asked the newly spiritually reborn children in our Bible story time.  This led to a discussion on what sin looks like in their culture.

"I hit my sister," volunteers one.  "I curse," confesses another.  "I call my brother 'stupid'." These are some of the things they came up with and they decided to work on renouncing them. 

Having the kids define sin is within their culture is what we were taught in the Perspectives class.  It is so important to avoid putting requirements on them that make no sense in their culture (like the headcover groups do) as well as to ensure that you help them avoid sins that really disrupt the culture like is typical for Repenters.  

I guided them to hold each other accountable.  Whoever was able to go a day without committing their pet sin got a point in the next session's competition.  (This is something that perhaps America could use.  Last year, with Enron hogging the headlines, ethics was the rage.  Now, morality seems long since forgotten, conveniently dwarfed by the gross offenses of a dictator half a world away.  As Christians, however, we are not to compare ourselves to others to make us feel better.  We are not to take comfort in that we are better than our neighbor but whether we are better than we were last month.)

Each of our classes finds the kids trying to respond to as many questions as possible.  There is screaming, chearing, laughing and shouting.  To the untrained eye, you wouldn't imagine that we are having Bible story time.  Every point counts towards the special prize like a seashell from North Carolina or a candy.

They are so incredibly interested in getting together that they are begging to come every day.  If I only had the time...  In addition to Bible story night we have English lessons with the Bible, game night, and Aurelia even taught practical life-training (hygiene, manners etc.)  These are with the adolescents.  Then, there are the teens!!

iBiblioteca grew to over 900 articles during the year.  A few of these are written by myself, but virtually all of them are links to articles written by some of the most famous Romanian theologians. I often field questions from visitors.  Because of my background in research, I know better than to give my opinions. Instead, I refer to published works to provide answers for these seeking individuals.
visitors and pages viewed at the Christian library
As you can see from the graph on the right, for the time which data has been collected, there has been a rise in the amount of people to whom we minister.  The two months of June and July were when our server was down.  In July we found a new provider who is a professional and this is perhaps one reason why we have more visibility.

In fact, by the end of September, we were the #1 site on the major search engines for the following topics:  spiritual growth, and Bible in Romanian.  We are in the top twenty in many topics, including prayer and salvation.  We have reason to believe that we are in the top 0.2% of Romanian Christian sites.

Iustin has been partnering with me in this work and we have been able to help him get computer trained and to afford a computer.  He will be increasing his role in our Internet work.

  • Please pray that God's blessing continues upon our work.


How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip.

The Italian Evangelical church is mostlyintroverted with little orientation towards a vision to reach the world for Christ.  They consider Italy in need of receiving missionaries, not of sending them.  

This year, we continued development of the Bridge of Grace from Italy to Romania.  We want to motivateAmedeo Italians to reach out to Romanians.  This would serve two purposes.  Italians need to expand their idea of the international Church and Romanians need evangelism and discipleship from people closer to their own culture and who have walked in their shoes.  For more about this bridge, click here.

As is explained in the linked report, this Bridge of Grace is similar to the one my boss is building between Norway and Turkey and to one that the MacTavish's are building between Spain and Romania.  So, we are not walking untrod ground but we have some great resources with people with whom we have had a long-term relationship.

For instance, as I wrote in the section about Valea Iasului Hospital above, Ionela's grandmother fits into the area that Paul G. Hiebert of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School calls the "excluded middle".  From a practical standpoint, Protestants tend to believe in a physical world and a spiritual world, the latter being a domain in which God is virtually the only active agent.  If pointedly asked, we say we believe demons and angels, but do not usually recognize their activities. 

This arose "in the 17th and 18th Centuries with the growing acceptance of a Platonic dualism and of a science based on materialistic naturalism....  The result, Lesslie Newbigin has argued, is that Western Christian missions have been one of the greatest secularizing forces in history." (emphasis mine)  The Orthodox and Catholics see a world with many more messengers and active agents.  Unfortunately, they believe that these are saints while the Bible tells of many stories where angels interceded.  

Through witches, ego-centered humans "seek to control supernatural powers through rituals and formulas to achieve their own personal desires." (ibid)  The local evanghelica libera pastor puts a "Christian" twist on it, telling people that if your car doesn't start, you'd better determine for what sin God is punishing you.  The implication is that you do what he tells you to do so that a deity will bless you with a car that starts.  Teaching people that God can be controlled through our actions glorifies self, not our Father.

The Italians believers know what it is like to escape the Roman Catholic saints orientation.  Weekly, they have to deal with people who consult witches, since the average Italian spends an astounding amount of money to seers.  They emerged from Mussolini's dictatorship and poverty decades before Romania dealt with Ceaucescu.  They spent decades cleaning up their acts to overcome a reputation for immorality almost as bad as  Romania's.  Their social and family-oriented cultures are similar as is their language and their economic and dictatorial histories.  

Casa Biblica Christian bookstore
The Casa Biblica bookstore continued to prosper.  We get approximately 5 customers a day.  

  • Please pray that God's blessing continues upon our work.

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The Internet is receiving ever increasing levels of travellers.  Everything is available to the Romanians and Italians in their maiden voyage into hyperspace:  pornography, cults, the occult, truth and urban legends.  We see the need to present ultimate Truth, Jesus Christ.

Here is an overview of our ministry:

Missionary Assistance
English informs anglophiles of the spiritual and cultural situation among the youth of Romania and Italy.

Eternal adventure is an interactive gospel presentation.
Integrity InterNetwork helps  missionaries in Romania to find partners that are ecumenical and ethical, and a way to reconcile differences.
Best Practices Guide helps missionaries in Romania to share what they have learned in resolving logistical problems.
Our partners and the founders of HIV Anonymous maintain this site.
romanian Calatorie in vesnicie interactive gospel presentation.

iBiblioteca Christian library

Christian library
HIV Anonim is intended to provide a Christian answer to the temptations that Romanian youth feel to engage in promiscuous lifestyles that damage them spiritually, psychologically and physically.  We provide information, news, and a forum where they can encourage each other to resist temptation.
italiano Casa Biblica Christian bookstore

Interactive gospel presentation under construction
Possible future expansion of HIV Anonymous.

Visitors to liv-n-letliv.netThis year, I myself got trained so that I can more effectively train others.  My first week of 2003 was at a Perspectives "intensive" course.  One of the main thrusts of the course is to break down barriers between denominations and rally all to reach the world for Christ.  This was already our work in Romania. W
e are trying to build bridges between all believers and help non-believers to establish a relationship with God.

In contrast, there are many legalistic fundamentalist groups called Repenters, what Perspectives would call likely a small socio-peoples, composed of 3-4% of the population.  Each of them usually distinguishes their group as the "true" church and won't cooperate with the majority of believers.  They have their own traditions and cultures which are usually rather foreign to most Romanians.  They usually require people to become a part of their culture in order to be accepted as a brother or sister in Christ.  Thus, they build what we call "cultural barriers" between people and God.  Instead of bridges, they are digging canyons.  I don't write this because we have anything against them, but to outline a difference in perspectives.

Since I am from a scientific background, I put great stock in precedence.  If my idea is different from the bulk of the historical church and, even worse, I am unbending in asserting that belief on others, I had better have a mass of verses to back me up and some valid reason why few of the millions of saints before me didn't think of it.  Otherwise, I am in great danger of becoming a cult.  

To you, this may sound like clear common sense.  But there are some missionaries and pastors, not to mention laity, who insist that their Repenter 4% is "God's movement in Romania."  We had better compare what we understand of that Word with the assent of the saints, and not create a fracture and battles within the Body which germinate from peculiarities in our logical processes.

We continue to catalyze cooperation between the Romanian Christian workers.  This is being attempted through. 1. The Integrity InterNetwork  and 2.WWW Best Practices Guide

Integrity InterNetwork

As you know, morality has been a keyword for us and this ministry.  Not long ago media seemed to "get religion" and morality got some positive reviews.  Time magazine selected the three female whistleblowers, Sherron Watkins of Enron, Coleen Rowley of the FBI and Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom, for their Persons of the Year  

Now, I don't presume to count myself equal to these brave women, but I noticed many common traits.  Two out of three of them expressed a faith in Jesus Christ.  All were overachievers in their youth.  Rowley discovered a lack of interest in ethics while working for the government just like I did at the University of Michigan.  So, I felt good seeing that there are others out there getting recognized for holding the straight line. 

Gregory "Boyd suggests that Western worldview assumptions may have turned the Church away from the mission of fighting evil to a practice of merely explaining evil."  (Hawthorne S.) Thus, taking a stand for integrity with a society like the Integrity InterNetwork puts you at odds with the Western Christian worldview and doesn't make you any points with your fellow missionaries.  The Integrity InterNetwork is designed to address the atrocious ethics of many people in organized religion in Romania.  It was established with certain criteria. First, they must  agree to follow Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives.  Secondly, they must accept that the Body of Christ includes believers  in all denominations, including Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant.  To read our goals, click on the banner above.  

This year, we didn't add many members but we did resolve some misunderstandings and bring reconcilliation to some missionaries.

  • The Best Practices guide is on the Internet at . Four WebPages take some of the mystery out of some of the legal aspects of working in Romania. 

This year, an article I co-authored about child development was published in a Romanian Christian woman's magazine.  It was thrilling to minister in that way.

On the site, the most popular articles were:

  1. An Inside Look at a PEER EVALUATION SYSTEM
  2. Europe: Romanian Orphanages
  3. Rwanda Trip Report Summary


Ministry to the Cyber traveler

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Support $US Cash only 
Excluding goods
 (Fiscal years except for donor retention) 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
General Ministry 9885 17,509 35,661 34,310  33,747 37,280
Year-to-year Increase   +77% +104% -4%  -1.6% +10%
Special Projects       633  
AIDS Medicine     2344 200,000 offered but not accepted  
Romanian Family Assistance     300
V.I. Hospital Evangelization   339 490    
V.I. Hospital Assistance   300   758  622


Orphans   270      
GRAND TOTAL 9885 18,418 39,015  
 34,369 38,670
Year-to-year Increase   +86% +112%   -9%  -4% +12%
Donor Retention


This year, general ministry support rose to a record high.  This was vital to the continuing of our work since I am now married, planning to move to western Europe and to start a family as per God's callling.

vEmporium marketThe vEmporium came to age this year and became the #2 site on Google for "inexpensive gifts".  We started selling cosmetics on the site as well.   If you are interested, click on the banner above.
  Markets Outlook logo
Returning the blessings
Through my weekly Markets Outlook publication, readers have been blessed to have 5 consecutive years where they have outperformed the stock market, both in rising and falling markets.  Doing our small part of blessing the economy and citizens of the United States in time of war and economic hardship was a blessing to us as well. 

If one figures that the readers have at least $10,000 invested, I've been able to bless them as much as this ministry has been blessed by our donors.  This is a way I bring blessing to my donors so that they can bring blessings to the needy.  If you are an investor, I welcome you to take advantage of this.  Let me know if you are interested in receiving it for a free-will donation. 


Support for the work continued to diversify, meaning that we are less dependent on a few donors.  This should continue.

Last year, we were short on the year-end giving and the number of donors fell.  I don't know why this occured.  This year, we should recover some of that loss.

A negative turn of events was seeing the support from outside the US decrease.  The only support came from purchases of items from the vEmporium and this money went right to the people who created the items.  Thus, we received no support from people outside the US.  A part of this might be that the European economy fell into a recession.  Since wages in Europe were already lower than those in the US, disposable income declined much more.  Another reason could have been that we shifted our focus more towards ministering in Italy, so there was a perception that our ministry to the poor and orphaned in Romania would be decreasing.

One event that touched my heart was when a little poor boy named Bogdan offered to donate 5000 lei (about 15 cents) to us.  He had been in the English lessons and gave his life to Jesus.  I might have been able to handle the situation better but I was so shocked and touched that I just thanked him and declined.


Diversity CY 1997 CY 1998 CY 1999 CY 2000  CY 2001 CY
CY 2003 (Projected)
Number of donors (excluding special projects) 5 33 43 56 57 40
Percentage from 4 largest donors 100 43 37 36 35 36
Percentage from outside USA 0 3 6 3 4
  FY 1998 FY 1999 FY 2000 FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003
Missionaries Supported 1 2 3 2 3 3
Short-term or part-time missionary-months 3 9 19 43   4
Total missionary-months 15 33 55 67 40
Year-to-year Increase   +120% +67% +22%  -40% +17%
Annual turnover in personnel 0 0 0 20% 0 0


We had two people to visit us as short-time missionaries at Valea Iasului.  

Rathna was on Curtea de Arges TV in October as he has been bringing music to the hearts of Romanians singing on the radio, at weddings and in restaurants.  One of the things I wanted to do was to find something that interested him so that he could get serious about his time as a volunteer.  Children, singing, English lessons, Bible studies, nothing seemed to interest him for long.  He's a young 20-something on his first trip out of his country, so I just ended up letting him play tourist.

After the end of the fiscal year, as of this writing, we have had to terminate the support of Erika's work.  Due to our move to Italy and the financial commitments required, it is likely that we will likely no longer be able to support another worker.  Plus, our not having control of her activities would put in question the accountability for your support.  Thus, turnover will increase and total missionary-months are likely to decrease next year.

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A Glimpse into 2004

How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip.

With the caveat of James 4:13ff, we have the following expectations for our work in the three countries. May God grant us the grace to bless Him in whatever ministry He puts us.  Please pray for those who direct us at Go Ye, that God's will is clear to them, as we submit to our authorities.

Here are the prayer requests I have for you.  Please beseech the Lord on our behalf.

Porto Nave, Padova, ItalyItaly

  1. The Casa Biblica will continue to serve Italians who are searching for and following  the Lord.  
  2. Early in the fiscal year, I plan to publish a series of articles on that should help missionaries to understand the Italian culture.
  3. It seems likely that I will get my visa.  Aurelia's will come later.  The American embassy says that it should not be hard to get hers once mine is in hand.  We will see.  Please pray that both these occur.
  4. I have received a request to work at a university which will provide opportunities to reach students for Christ but will provide no funding.  This will give me the legitimacy that missionaries need in the minds of the students.  The simple missionary is looked upon as an oddity when he comes to a country that is already "Christian".This is the biggest obstacle right now.  Please pray for more support.

The center of the bridgeGermany

  1. I have a visa and a vision is taking form.  We plan to be establishing a ministry to refugees that will serve as a training ground for Italians interested in missions.  We should be able to learn from my boss who does the same thing in Augsburg.  Please pray that we get established and can keep supervisors focused on our mission.
  2. Pray for us in our attempts to motivate to missions.

door to our apartment


  1. The iBiblioteca should continue to grow in its service to Romanians who are searching for and following the Lord.
  2. An article that I co-authored about emotional intelligence in children should be published.
  3. The Integrity InterNetwork will continue to serve as a forum for Christians to resolve issues and encourage ethical conduct.
  4. The vEmporium should continue to grow and benefit the needy Romanians
  5. HIV Anonim will continue to educate and encourage youth who want to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and who suffer from AIDS.  We hope to see support groups form with the same goals.
  6. There are people from around the world who are presently praying about coming to work here short-term and long-term.  May God guide them in their plans.
  7. Eventually, I hope to be bringing Italians to Romania and complete the Bridge of Grace.  The door to our apartment (left) should continue to welcome missionaries and students for years to come.
The obstacle to growth here right now are resources, human and financial.  Please pray. 

Aurelia and Laurent 

2004 will have its challenges and opportunities. Through God we can make the best of both.  Aurelia, Erika, Iustin, and I join all the children in thanking you for your participation in this ministry.  Paul says in Philippians 1:7  "In the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me."  Those who participate in our work, and even more those who mobilize others to participate share a vital part in fulfilling God's purpose around the world.  It is an exciting era.

Respectfully submitted,

email me at: e-mail address

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Parting word.

How do I participate in this work? Print a donation slip.

How does one become a good middlebrow pragmatic?

In general, the truth of the Bible is pragmatic.  Its viability can be evaluated by testing its truth in the real world.  I don't claim every promise made in the Bible and apply it as my own.  We see that Jesus and Job had many occasions where righteousness went unrewarded in the physical world.  That is true in our lives also.  I don't believe that God can be manipulated to act as we want Him to by our doing what He wants us to.  We must do everything God wants even if He doesn't do everything we want.  

Avoid extremes
Lack of pragmatism in faith leads to a theoretical Christianity and an unchanged life.  David Landes, economist from Harvard, would say that pragmatism separates the First and Third Worlds.  Not applying knowledge to life results in lost opportunities and poverty.

"One can be utterly besotted with ideas, yet fail all the more readily to make use of them in the right way.  In some respects, the emergence in the 20th century of an entire class of individuals who deal professionally in ideas--and the more ideas the merrier--has only deepened the problem." (McClay, op cit)  If I were to ever lead a ministry, I would choose a missionary who had a good handle of the basics that he puts in practice over a theological grad who keeps it all theoretical and can tell you why every other type of Christian but his own is "nutty".  As William James writes, "What difference would it practically make to any one if this notion rather than that notion were true?  If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then...all dispute is idle."  (Pragmatism.  1907)
One instance of where non-essential and non-practical issues of faith produce division, arguments, stress, and unhappiness is in the discussion of original sin.  The Dallas graduate friend got bent out of shape when I told him that for adults, original sin is a moot issue.  In God's eyes, the sins that each of us as individuals have committed greatly outweigh a single man's biting of a forbidden fruit.  This man wanted to waste a lot of time and energy proving to me the importance of Adam's sin on my salvation.  I told him that if he thought that he would have fared any better than Adam, or that if it weren't for Adam he would make it into Heaven on his own goodness, he has a distorted view of himself.

friends at a Chinese restaurant Most missionaries and churches are preaching a works-based or knowledge-based salvation.  The former is overly pragmatic and the latter is under pragmatic and what James calls demonic.  Read my article on the subject by clicking here.  Chuck Colson agrees with me on the serious problems of seeing holiness as only keeping rules.
"First, it limits the scope of true biblical holiness, which must affect every aspect of our lives.
"Second, even though the rules may be biblically based, we often end up obeying the rules rather than obeying God; concern for the letter of the law can cause us to lose its spirit.
"Third, emphasis on rule-keeping deludes us into thinking we can be holy through our efforts.  But there can be no holiness apart from the work of the Holy Spirit--in quickening us through the conviction of sin and bringing us by grace to Christ, and in sanctifying us--for it is grace that causes us to even want to be holy.
"And finally, our pious efforts can become ego-gratifying, as if holy living were some kind of spiritual beauty contest. Such self-centered spirituality in turn leads to self-righteousness--the very opposite of the selflessness of true holiness."  
Aurelia and her sister noted the difference in levels of pragmatism on our last trip to Moldova.  Romanians are "more cultured" because they learn a great deal about things they will never use.  (And we at Lehigh lamented the inutility of some of our classes!)  They have a much broader education but are less practical.  Tocqueville complained of our lack of philosophical education.  America, he said, was where "the precepts of Descartes are least studied and best applied."  Walt Whitman, Matthew Arnold, Sinclair Lewis, George Steiner and many other intellectuals complained, "America is a philistine society, interested only in the arts of self-aggrandizement and enhanced material well-being, reflexively anti-intellectual, utterly lacking in the resources needed to support the high and disinterested curiosity that is the stuff of genuine cultural achievement."(McClay, op cit)  

"So breathtaking a statement formulates on a national scale the powerful, if largely informal, everyday American social taboo against discussing either religion or politics in public.  The taboo makes for a considerable measure of social peace, but it would be hard to imagine a deeper devaluation of the role of ideas."  (ibid)

Have the right focus
This brings up another subject.  In our public discussion of religion, in our teaching of a pragmatic faith, we want to be missionaries for Christ not missionaries for American culture, materialism, etc.  As missionaries in a foreign land, we must not incorporate cultural issues like baseball and apple pie in what we portray as Biblical.  Instead, we must teach the Bible and listen to understand the people we serve.

“Does the gospel we proclaim present people with other threats that are unnecessary, because it calls for the abolition of harmless customs or appears destructive of national art, architecture, music, and festivals, or because we who share it are culture-proud and culture-blind?” (ibid)  Taking a note from the typical missionary's loathing of pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, many Romanian converts think that they must destroy historical works of religious art in order to become Christians.  This is part of the Romanian "canyon", a term that Steven Hawthorne uses in Perspectives:  A Reader.

“Superficial matters such as diet, dress, music, family names or any number of other peripheral matters are not what the gospel is all about... No people should reject Christ because of a false impression that He is calling them to commit cultural suicide by abandoning and divorcing themselves from their own people. On the other hand, no 'cheap grace' should be broadcast such as an easy, quick conversion.”  (Op cit, p. 121.)

I will try to apply Jacob Loewen's principle of never answering directly "any questions from the new Christians such as, 'What should we do?'  Instead, he would ask them, 'What is the Holy Spirit showing you?'"  This not only gets them to have an individual relationship with God but also develops an ownership interest in their lives and a sense of responsibility for their own decisions.  For instance, this week we discussed what shows "egoism" to your classmates.  Each of them chose the one that is the biggest problem for them and are to report back in two day how they improved.  Additionally, the international team that is germinating should enable us to root out many cultural sins.
"Some of us refuse to identify with the people we claim to be serving. We remain ourselves, and do not become like them. We stay aloof. We hold on desperately to our own cultural inheritance in the mistaken notion that it is an indispensable part of our identity. We are unwilling to let it go. Not only do we maintain our own cultural practices with fierce tenacity, but we treat the cultural inheritance of the land of our adoption without the respect it deserves. We thus practice a double kind of cultural imperialism, imposing our own culture on others and despising theirs. But this was not the way of Christ, who emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve." --Stott JRW. (The Bible in World Evangelism)

Emphasis should be on ethics and love.  Italy has changed much due to increasing influence of the Protestant north.  In Romania, stories are told about how people used to tape more corn on cornstalks for Ceaucescu's visits around Romania.  Italy of the 1960's is similar to Romania 40 years later.  As my intellectual and spiritual partners Ron and Brandi Bates write, 'As many scholars within the social capital movement have pointed out, Christians in Northern Europe managed to take seriously the ethical implications of the Christmas story, and saw it as a religious duty to treat with honesty and respect the "other" because all humans are equal under God.'   This was the Protestant Reformation that, according to David Landes in Poverty and Wealth of Nations was the reason for the advancement of Protestant countries with respect to those of other religions.  When northern European concepts entered Italy through the north, it made it the most productive region of Europe.  In our experience with Africans, Asians and eastern Europeans, lack of ethics is common to all  third-world countries.  During game nights with Risk and Management, we had to put cheaters penalties on our Indian and Romanian brothers to keep them honest while this has not been a problem with Americans or former Soviets.   This is not a matter of race but of culture.

In Romania, where the Protestant Revolution ideas have evaded Orthodox, Catholic, and Repenter groups, trust and ethical behavior have been little experienced--and thus the self-discipline required is not valued.  Their worldview that personal gain is by crafty forms of deceit and theft or at best, luck rarely by hard work, cooperation, and strategy.   The Romania word for a "smart" or a "deceptive" person is one word, "/shmecker/".  (In the communist era, only the smart were able to swindle without getting caught.)  Aurelia said that one neighbor told her, "Romanians are among the most smecher people in the world--who produces the best Internet hackers???!"  The result is a reduction in their social or economic productivity.  (For more about social capital, read Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.)    Romania needs to learn to develop trustworthiness as Italy did, and I hope to team up with our Italian brothers in Christ in order to train them.

"Even good changes, if they are introduced in the wrong way can lead to cultural disequilibrium and demoralization.  Among the Ibibio people of southern Nigeria the message of God's gracious forgiveness resulted in may people turning to the Christian God because He was seen as much more lenient than their traditional god.  But the converts saw no need to be righteous, since they believed God would always forgive them, whatever they did."  (Kraft CH.

So, to be a good middlebrow pragmatic, we must focus on the inner character of a man, not on externals that are culturally dependent.  We must put aside materialism to persue God.

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copyright © 2003-2006
Ballantine, J. (1989).  The sociology of education.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice Hall.
Colson C (1994) A Dangerous Grace, Dallas: Word Publishing. p. 53.
Hawthorne S (1999). Perpectives: Study Guide Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.  p. 25.
Hiebert PG (1999). "The Flaw of the Excluded Middle", Perspectives: A Reader Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.  p. 414.
Kraft CH (1999) "Culture, Worldview and Contextualization" Perspectives: A Reader, op cit.
Landes DL (1998).   The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Are Some So Rich and Others So Poor? (New York: W.W. Norton). ISBN: 0393040178  Order The Wealth and Poverty of Nations from
Macionis, J. (1994).  Sociology (4th Edition).  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice Hall.
McClay WM (2003). "Do ideas matter in America?"  Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2003.
Mishra V, Retherford R, and Smith K.  (2002) "Indoor Air Pollution: The Quiet Killer" AsiaPacific Issues Oct. 2002.