"Though one may be
overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is
not quickly broken."---Ecc. 4:12
friends and fellow stakeholders,
It is amazing how much
better the battle with Darkness goes when you have a supportive group
behind you. For their valiant service with us over the past three
months, Aurelia and I would like to dedicate this letter to the team.
Looking back in my prayer journal, today, I found an entry on June 7;
it was for our team to grow stronger. We can't help but think that the
events of the last few months were God's answer to that prayer. Friends
tell me that the Iraq war has made Americans battle-weary or perhaps
many have just grown out of the spiritual battle phase implied in I John
1:12-14. The easiest thing for us to do would be to give up the battle
and permit immorality to pervade the church, homosexuals to marry and
raise children, etc. But we are all called to lead this mission of Love,
regardless of what is on CNN. So
although this might not be financially lucrative, I'm going to use
military analogies with the hope of bringing you some encouragement,
strength and healing from our loving Commander in Chief (God who spoke
from the burning bush, not the presently burning Bush). My advisers have
reminded me that many of you have never served in uniform, so whether
you disapprove of the present war or didn't serve in uniform, think of a
war movie you liked--Braveheart, Ben Hur, M*A*S*H, Veggie Tales' Joshua and Jericho.
Got it? OK, read on.
A key to winning battles is to have soldiers of the highest quality. By
drawing our team only through your recommendations, we have sacrificed
financial gain to limit membership to only people whose lives are
characterized by love and integrity. For we know that "the prayer of a
righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16). And, as when I
was in the armor battalion calling upon the field artillery, we felt the
power of your prayers with us destroying the strongholds of Darkness.
For soldiers to win
in battle, they must know each other and how they will act in battle.
(For David, even how his soldiers drank water was important.) Soldiers
often don't get to go home in the evening but live, sleep, and fight for
months in the foxholes. There is no way to know someone better. We make
sure that we know our supporters and they know us. We are a team, so I
am open with you about our correspondence, our trials, and even our
failures. You, the stakeholders in this ministry should be as involved
as you desire. In a world recently shaken by the likes of Enron, many
people are seeking love and honesty. "Love and integrity" was our battle
hymn long before it hit Wall Street and it will be long after it is out
of style. We are determined to make this ministry an outlet for those
who cherish these character traits and a source from which the children
of Romania can receive them. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in
the counsel of the wicked." (Ps. 1:1) Human nature is such that we
become like those with whom we associate. Thus, we choose and review our
partners carefully. We take relationships seriously and one thing that
the Army impressed on me was to give people every opportunity to
succeed. I am very impressed with our team and how they gave our former
accounting agency every opportunity to correct themselves and put into
practice written policies. But, when a soldier refuses to make
correction to ensure victory in battle and safety for himself and the
group, he needs to be gently and lovingly released from his duties as
Matthew 18 advocates.
Feeling like Larry the Cucumber among creamed French peas from Jericho,
we are seeing fruit in our year of learning and planning. Sure, there
will still be some terrorist action. But what is meant for evil is
achieving good and God has richly blessed us beyond what we could ask or
imagine. Let me share that with you.
The Romanian house assembly is going well. Pisti and Geta lead some
phenomenal worship and I have led some Bible studies. They seem to show
the fruit of salvation and should be a big help in our plans to train
missionaries in Romanian culture. Please pray as I prepare studies to
teach how to study the Bible.
In Italy, we had a time of planning for Casa Biblica's
Internet bookstore. This is the only Christian bookstore in an area
the size of Switzerland that has the lowest percentage of evangelicals
in all of Europe. They reported that Internet sales are way up and that
while most Italian bookstores reported declines in sales in 2003, the Casa Biblica's
sales rose 17%. Italians need to hear God's gospel of grace and to learn
how to live fruitful lives. More than ever they are having their need
met at the bookstore. Since we changed to Least of These, Alfred
(president, at right at the Colosseum) invited me to join their board,
and I accepted. Please pray for continued fruit from this work.
After much delay due to the turmoil of 2003, I completed my Perspectives course and I am in
a place to use it! The weekend after Easter, I preached at our
supportive church in Trento. We discussed what they hope to achieve with
regards to future cross-cultural outreach, and I hope to be a valuable
part of that. Amedeo (see picture on next page), a leader of an Italian
evangelical association, also decided that their group could work with
us now that we were with Least of These. Amedeo is eager to sponsor our
proposed missions seminars and my colleagues at the bookstore have
provided many connections with people who have a like heart for
stimulating Italians to missions. Praise God for more workers to build
this spiritual bridge. (Incidently, I heard yesterday that even the
international community sees the cultural similarities between Italy and
Romania and in Iraq, Romanians serve with Italians under an Italian
An Italian Toastmasters
club started this month in Munich. I would like to get involved this
group so that I can share the gospel and our vision with the Italians
while they help me improve my presentation and language skills. They
have expressed a common interest with me in bringing this professional
development club to Romania. Another truss gets added to the
Italo-Romania bridge. Meanwhile, learning German is going well and I
have a vocabulary of about 250 words. So, thanks to the help of our
team, our efforts to promote God's Kingdom are germinating in Germany.
- For the
members of our team who came through the battle, strengthened by fire,
God's spiritual refinery.(1 Peter 1:7)
- For the
Aurelia and my chance to return to a familiar culture for a year of
planning, studying, and preparing.
God's deepening our two-year colaboration with Amy and Least of These International.
- For a
donation recovery we think we are seeing now that we are back on track
with our team's vision. (March was our best month ever, coming after the
worst 4th quarter in 3 years.)
In loving service of our Commanding Officer,
rest, binding of wounds and team headcount from the wearying battle. May
God heal and strengthen for the next battle.
- For our
financial needs. We have $5000 in unpaid expenses from our prior
Laurent & Aurelia
Pictures: Above and right, just some cherished members of this team.
After each paragraph: the crest of the IV
Infantry Division where I served prior to serving in the Lord's