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"In the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me."

--Philippians 1:7

In all my life, in all we do, we are ever conscious that you are partaking in this work. We represent you and you enable us. It is humbling and motivating. As blustery January snow blew, I put 4000 miles on a Thrifty-rented Neon.  My mission was to make the most of my sojourn in the US by building relationships with Americans partaking in this grace.

These are the people who lead "what appear to many to be fairly normal lives, [holding a job and raising a family, but they are noted] for their zeal to make disciples wherever they are... caught up in a war that many of their friends and relative do not or will not acknowledge. Their hearts yearn for people they have never seen. They disciple themselves to doggedly love friends that they see once every four or five years.... They relish extended times of prayer. Theirs is a joyous detachment and yet an earnest involvement in the affairs of the world." (Sjogren and Stearns)

This was a moment to stand back from our work and make sense of all we do in light of our giftings. One more church was able to make sense of all I said and became partakers of the vision.

Laurent and Aurelia wed Let me share with you the highlights of a very eventful first half, 2003. It rounded off Aurelia and my first year of marriage. (For more pictures of the marriage, click here.) Both of us will be the first to admit that we are glad to see the end of our "honeymoon period". As our counselor wrote me, "At the wedding, the bride and groom vow to become one.   During the first year they fight over which one to become." Now, we have mellowed into what I call our honeymood. We were hoping that God would provide the Sabbatical year devoted to getting to know each other as recommended by Deuteronomy 24. In faith, we postponed our honeymoon but God did not provide as we expected.   Maybe we will go next year.   (Yeah, right!) Instead, He blessed us with 3 months to appreciate each other from afar. One of those months was January when Go Ye called me to come for "Perspectives" training in missiology.

Romanian flag Romanian ministry developmentRomanian flag

Aurelia is enjoying her ministry. Cristian, a 7th grader who couldn't even hold a pen when she started working with him is now taking dictation! We have amazed and earned the respect of the teachers and of the Director, Ionel. Aurelia is partaking in what I learned at Perspectives. For instance, we started to apply Jacob Loewen's principle of never directly answering the questions of new Christians such as, 'What should we do?' Instead, he would ask them, 'What is the Holy Spirit showing you?'" This gets them to have an individual relationship with God. it also develops an ownership interest in their lives and replaces fatalism with a sense of responsibility for their own decisions. Let me give you an example of a recent meeting with the children.

"What do you do that makes people angry?" I asked them.

"I hit my sister," volunteers one. "I curse," confesses another. "I call my brother 'stupid'." They decided to work on renouncing these sins and 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. Each of our classes finds the kids trying to respond to as many questions as possible. We don't believe in dull Bible story times. There is screaming, cheering, laughing and shouting. Every point counts toward the special prize like a seashell or candy. They are so incredibly interested in getting together that they are begging to come every day. In addition to Bible story night we have English lessons with the Bible and a game night. These are with the adolescents. Then, there are the two nights a week with the teens!! Pray for more harvesters!

UK flagUS flag Effects of the Gulf WarRomanian flagLiberty flag

As the February war winds blew, American actions and European reactions demonstrated to me the vast difference in our worldviews. Most Europeans, being fatalistic, were content to let Hussein decide their futures for them while the Anglophones led the way in shaping the future. In Eastern Europe, most governments submitted to our cause while the populace opposed it. Neither of these reactions bode well for relationships between Americans and locals. According to a recent survey of Romanians, foreigners are the most feared and least trusted of all entities. Since Aurelia and I are both "straini" we don't have the deep friendships which we have in Italy and the US.

Personally, Aurelia and I were enthusiastic supporters of this war.  In fact, I asked the Army if they wanted me to serve again. They have still to answer me. We in the West don't understand how much of our civilization depends on trust and trustworthiness, of our leaders and of others.  Italians have begun to appreciate trust and honesty but Romanians don't see the importance of them except in the government.   Italy went through a history where family was defended above all but predatory behavior, Machiavellian deception, and trickery were acceptable outside of the family sphere.

Lack of ethics is a common handicap to third-world countries. This is a virtually weekly experience for us.  Romanian worldview is that one makes a living only by crafty forms of deceit and theft or, at best, luck. Rarely can you achieve it by hard work, cooperation, and strategy.  The Romanian word "/shmecker/" ("furbo" in Italian) is a compliment to them, although for an Anglo-Saxon it would be an insult because it implies that you can weasel things from others through deception. The result is a reduction in their social or economic productivity. (For more about social capital, read Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.) Some, including the Romanians, like to blame the government for these problems but elected governments usually reflect the character of the voter. Aurelia said that one neighbor told her, "Romanians are among the most smecher people in the world. Who produces the best Internet hackers?" Fellow missionaries in Romania write,

'As many scholars within the social capital movement have pointed out, Christians in Northern Europe ... saw it as a religious duty to treat with honesty and respect the "other" because all humans are equal under God.'

Integrity InterNetwork.  For colaborers you can trust.

Many Romanians would reap significant gains in their life and relationships, if only they were to view honesty as a basic Christian characteristic and put it in practice.   This will be particularly critical if Romania aspires to enter the European Union.  Through building bridges from Italy to Romania and through our Integrity InterNetwork , we are determined to enable this. The Integrity InterNetwork continues to grow.

iBiblioteca.  The largest Romanian Christian library on the Internet
The Christian library even became the top Easter site, and we are starting to develop "HIV Anonim", the top AIDS site. Oh, how we would love to expand our ministry, but we are just financially scraping by at maintaining it. Even my 2nd Lieutenant paycheck would look good right now. Please, please consider who might be interested in joining the team and ask God if you should squeeze out an extra dollar.

HIV Anonymous, working to stop the tide of AIDS

Bridge-building efforts develop

  1. Go Ye has desired that I take a year sabbatical where I can be encouraged. Germany is 44% Protestant and has a great population of professionals like me. It is a few hours from "home" in Italy.
  2. This proximity makes it close enough to Italy to enable us to hold seminars and training on long weekends for Italian churches.
  3. There is a great population of Romanian immigrants and ex-Soviet refugees to whom Aurelia and I can minister.
  4. The German visa will eventually give us all the rights to live/work in Italy.
  5. Thus, we can provide for our prospective children's needs for education and opportunities.  These are not readily available in Romania, and we feel a responsibility to our children

The Masterbuilder's bridge as it has been revealed to us so far:

old bridge construction RT 33
old bridge construction RT 33
old bridge construction RT 33
Long term vision
Praise the Lord through sending missionaries
Praise the Lord through training missionaries
Praise the Lord through hearing and receiving the Gospel
Why a necessary participant?
Church growth requires the demonstration of love towards the needy
Italians believers are not ready to take such a big step of faith to send missionaries all the way to Romania.  Germany is a good intermediate step.
Romania needs people (like the Italians) who are closer to their culture and who have walked in their shoes in order to listen to their message.
Staff Involved

colaborate in 2004
Erika and ???  
(LaBrie's established work and hope God will raise up others.)
  • Motivate and train churches.
  • Motivate churches
  • Train missionaries
  • Educate children
  • Reach with the Gospel.
Programs (proposed in red)
("stretch goals" in green)
  • speaking at churches
  • missions training
  • work with refugees
  • short-term team training
  • church motivation
  • missionary training
  • work with AIDS children
  • short term teams to TB hospital
  • youth job training
  • church planting

We are humbled by being able to partake in this work with you and marveling at how it is all unfolding. We urgently need your support. My first duty is to my family and I must ensure that it is not compromised for ministry.

  1. Please spread the vision and recruit other partakers. We are about $400 under support.
  2. Please pray about partaking in this grace with us.

Laurent & Aurelia

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